Infomotions, Inc.Faith Gartney's Girlhood / Whitney, A. D. T. (Adeline Dutton Train), 1824-1906



Author: Whitney, A. D. T. (Adeline Dutton Train), 1824-1906
Title: Faith Gartney's Girlhood
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gartney; armstrong; miss henderson; faith; miss sampson; paul rushleigh; roger armstrong; aunt; glory mcwhirk; faith gartney; glory; aunt faith; henderson gartney; aunt henderson; miss henderson's; nurse sampson; rid hin
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Title: Faith Gartney's Girlhood


Author: Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney



Release Date: July 22, 2006  [eBook #18896]

Language: English

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FAITH GARTNEY'S GIRLHOOD

by

MRS. A. D. T. WHITNEY

Author of "The Gayworthy's," "A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life,"
"Footsteps on the Seas," etc.







New York
The New York Book Company
1913




CONTENTS

       I.   "Money, Money!"                            1
      II.   Sortes.                                    4
     III.   Aunt Henderson.                            6
      IV.   Glory McWhirk.                            10
       V.   Something Happens.                        15
      VI.   Aunt Henderson's Girl Hunt.               26
     VII.   Cares; And What Came Of Them.             31
    VIII.   A Niche In Life, And A Woman To Fill It.  34
      IX.   Life Or Death?                            37
       X.   Rough Ends.                               40
      XI.   Cross Corners.                            43
     XII.   A Reconnoissance.                         49
    XIII.   Development.                              54
     XIV.   A Drive With The Doctor.                  59
      XV.   New Duties.                               65
     XVI.   "Blessed Be Ye, Poor."                    68
    XVII.   Frost-Wonders.                            75
   XVIII.   Out In The Snow.                          79
     XIX.   A "Leading."                              85
      XX.   Paul.                                     89
     XXI.   Pressure.                                 94
    XXII.   Roger Armstrong's Story.                  99
   XXIII.   Question And Answer.                     103
    XXIV.   Conflict.                                112
     XXV.   A Game At Chess.                         116
    XXVI.   Lakeside.                                120
   XXVII.   At The Mills.                            124
  XXVIII.   Locked In.                               127
    XXIX.   Home.                                    135
     XXX.   Aunt Henderson's Mystery.                140
    XXXI.   Nurse Sampson's Way Of Looking At It.    147
   XXXII.   Glory Mcwhirk's Inspiration.             152
  XXXIII.   Last Hours.                              157
   XXXIV.   Mrs. Parley Gimp.                        160
    XXXV.   Indian Summer.                           164
   XXXVI.   Christmastide.                           169
  XXXVII.   The Wedding Journey.                     177




FAITH GARTNEY'S GIRLHOOD

CHAPTER I.

"MONEY, MONEY!"

"Shoe the horse and shoe the mare,
And let the little colt go bare."


East or West, it matters not where--the story may, doubtless, indicate
something of latitude and longitude as it proceeds--in the city of
Mishaumok, lived Henderson Gartney, Esq., one of those American
gentlemen of whom, if she were ever canonized, Martha of Bethany must be
the patron saint--if again, feminine celestials, sainthood once achieved
through the weary experience of earth, don't know better than to assume
such charge of wayward man--born, as they are, seemingly, to the life
destiny of being ever "careful and troubled about many things."

We have all of us, as little girls, read "Rosamond." Now, one of
Rosamond's early worries suggests a key to half the worries, early and
late, of grown men and women. The silver paper won't cover the basket.

Mr. Gartney had spent his years, from twenty-five to forty, in
sedulously tugging at the corners. He had had his share of silver paper,
too--only the basket was a little too big.

In a pleasant apartment, half library, half parlor, and used in the
winter months as a breakfast room, beside a table still covered with the
remnants of the morning meal, sat Mrs. Gartney and her young daughter,
Faith; the latter with a somewhat disconcerted, not to say rueful,
expression of face.

A pair of slippers on the hearth and the morning paper thrown down
beside an armchair, gave hint of the recent presence of the master of
the house.

"Then I suppose I can't go," remarked the young lady.

"I'm sure I don't know," answered the elder, in a helpless, worried sort
of tone. "It doesn't seem really right to ask your father for the money.
I did just speak of your wanting some things for a party, but I suppose
he has forgotten it; and, to-day, I hate to trouble him with
reminding. Must you really have new gloves and slippers, both?"

Faith held up her little foot for answer, shod with a partly worn bronze
kid, reduced to morning service.

"These are the best I've got. And my gloves have been cleaned over and
over, till you said yourself, last time, they would hardly do to wear
again. If it were any use, I should say I must have a new dress; but I
thought at least I should freshen up with the 'little fixings,' and
perhaps have something left for a few natural flowers for my hair."

"I know. But your father looked annoyed when I told him we should want
fresh marketing to-day. He is really pinched, just now, for ready
money--and he is so discouraged about the times. He told me only last
night of a man who owed him five hundred dollars, and came to say he
didn't know as he could pay a cent. It doesn't seem to be a time to
afford gloves and shoes and flowers. And then there'll be the carriage,
too."

"Oh, dear!" sighed Faith, in the tone of one who felt herself
checkmated. "I wish I knew what we really _could_ afford! It always
seems to be these little things that don't cost much, and that other
girls, whose fathers are not nearly so well off, always, have, without
thinking anything about it." And she glanced over the table, whereon
shone a silver coffee service, and up at the mantel where stood a French
clock that had been placed there a month before.

"Pull at the bobbin and the latch will fly up." An unspoken suggestion,
of drift akin to this, flitted through the mind of Faith. She wondered
if her father knew that this was a Signal Street invitation.

Mr. Gartney was ambitious for his children, and solicitous for their
place in society.

But Faith had a touch of high-mindedness about her that made it
impossible for her to pull bobbins.

So, when her father presently, with hat and coat on, came into the room
again for a moment, before going out for the day, she sat quite silent,
with her foot upon the fender, looking into the fire.

Something in her face however, quite unconsciously, bespoke that the
world did not lie entirely straight before her, and this catching her
father's eye, brought up to him, by an untraceable association, the
half-proffered request of his wife.

"So you haven't any shoes, Faithie. Is that it?"

"None nice enough for a party, father."

"And the party is a vital necessity, I suppose. Where is it to be?"

The latch string was put forth, and while Faith still stayed her hand,
her mother, absolved from selfish end, was fain to catch it up.

"At the Rushleighs'. The Old Year out and the New Year in."

"Oh, well, we mustn't 'let the colt go bare,'" answered Mr. Gartney,
pleasantly, portemonnaie in hand. "But you must make that do." He handed
her five dollars. "And take good care of your things when you have got
them, for I don't pick up many five dollars nowadays."

And the old look of care crept up, replacing the kindly smile, as he
turned and left the room.

"I feel very much as if I had picked my father's pocket," said Faith,
holding the bank note, half ashamedly, in her hand.

Henderson Gartney, Esq., was a man of no method in his expenditure. When
money chanced to be plenty with him it was very apt to go as might
happen--for French clocks, or whatsoever; and then, suddenly, the silver
paper fell short elsewhere, and lo! a corner was left uncovered.

The horse and the mare were shod. Great expenses were incurred; money
was found, somehow, for grand outlays; but the comfort of buying, with a
readiness, the little needed matters of every day--this was foregone.
"Not let the colt go bare!" It was precisely the thing he was
continually doing.

Mrs. Gartney had long found it to be her only wise way to make her hay
while the sun was shining--to buy, when she could buy, what she was sure
would be most wanted--and to look forward as far as possible, in her
provisions, since her husband scarcely seemed to look forward at all.

So she exemplified, over and over again in her life, the story of
Pharaoh and his fat and lean kine.

That night, Faith, her little purchases and arrangements all complete,
and flowers and carriage bespoken for the next evening, went to bed to
dream such dreams as only come to the sleep of early years.

At the same time, lingering by the fireside below for a half hour's
unreserved conversation, Mr. Gartney was telling his wife of another
money disappointment.

"Blacklow, at Cross Corners, gives up the lease of the house in the
spring. He writes me he is going out to Indiana with his son-in-law. I
don't know where I shall find another such tenant--or any at all, for
that matter."




CHAPTER II.

SORTES.

"How shall I know if I do choose the right?"

"Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content, and seek no new."
                         MERCHANT OF VENICE.


"Now, Mahala Harris," said Faith, as she glanced in at the nursery door,
which opened from her room, "don't let Hendie get up a French Revolution
here while I'm gone to dinner."

"Land sakes! Miss Faith! I don't know what you mean, nor whether I can
help it. I dare say he'd get up a Revolution of '76, over again, if he
once set out. He does train like 'lection, fact, sometimes."

"Well, don't let him build barricades with all the chairs, so that I
shall have to demolish my way back again. I'm going to lay out my dress
for to-night."

And very little dinner could her young appetite manage on this last day
of the year. All her vital energy was busy in her anticipative brain,
and glancing thence in sparkles from her eyes, and quivering down in
swift currents to her restless little feet. It mattered little that
there was delicious roast beef smoking on the table, and Christmas pies
arrayed upon the sideboard, while upstairs the bright ribbon and tiny,
shining, old-fashioned buckles were waiting to be shaped into rosettes
for the new slippers, and the lace hung, half basted, from the neck of
the simple but delicate silk dress, and those lovely greenhouse flowers
stood in a glass dish on her dressing table, to be sorted for her hair,
and into a graceful breast knot. No--dinner was a very secondary and
contemptible affair, compared with these.

There were few forms or faces, truly, that were pleasanter to look upon
in the group that stood, disrobed of their careful outer wrappings, in
Mrs. Rushleigh's dressing room; their hurried chat and gladsome
greetings distracted with the drawing on of gloves and the last
adjustment of shining locks, while the bewildering music was floating up
from below, mingled with the hum of voices from the rooms where, as
children say, "the party had begun" already.

And Mrs. Rushleigh, when Faith paid her timid respects in the
drawing-room at last, made her welcome with a peculiar grace and
_empressement_ that had their own flattering weight and charm; for the
lady was a sort of St. Peter of fashion, holding its mystic keys, and
admitting or rejecting whom she would; and culled, with marvelous tact
and taste, the flower of the up-growing world of Mishaumok to adorn "her
set."

After which, Faith, claimed at once by an eager aspirant, and beset with
many a following introduction and petition, was drawn to and kept in the
joyous whirlpool of the dance, till she had breathed in enough of
delight and excitement to carry her quite beyond the thought even of
ices and oysters and jellies and fruits, and the score of unnamable
luxuries whereto the young revelers were duly summoned at half past ten
o'clock.

Four days' anticipation--four hours' realization--culminated in the
glorious after-supper midnight dance, when, marshaled hither and thither
by the ingenious orders of the band, the jubilant company found itself,
just on the impending stroke of twelve, drawn out around the room in one
great circle; and suddenly a hush of the music, at the very poising
instant of time, left them motionless for a moment to burst out again in
the age-honored and heartwarming strains of "Auld Lang Syne." Hand
joining hand they sang its chorus, and when the last note had
lingeringly died away, one after another gently broke from their places,
and the momentary figure melted out with the dying of the Year, never
again to be just so combined. It was gone, as vanishes also every other
phase and grouping in the kaleidoscope of Time.

"Now is the very 'witching hour' to try the Sortes!"

Margaret Rushleigh said this, standing on the threshold of a little
inner apartment that opened from the long drawing-room, at one end.

She held in her hand a large and beautiful volume--a gift of Christmas
Day.

"Here are Fates for everybody who cares to find them out!"

The book was a collection of poetical quotations, arranged by numbers,
and to be chosen thereby, and the chance application taken as an oracle.

Everything like fortune telling, or a possible peering into the things
of coming time, has such a charm! Especially with them to whom the past
is but a prelude and beginning, and for whom the great, voluminous
Future holds enwrapped the whole mystic Story of Life!

"No, no, this won't do!" cried the young lady, as circle behind circle
closed and crowded eagerly about her. "Fate doesn't give out her
revelations in such wholesale fashion. You must come up with proper
reverence, one by one."

As she spoke, she withdrew a little within the curtained archway, and,
placing the crimson-covered book of destiny upon an inlaid table,
brought forward a piano stool, and seated herself thereon, as a
priestess upon a tripod.

A little shyly, one after another, gaining knowledge of what was going
on, the company strayed in from without, and, each in turn hazarding a
number, received in answer the rhyme or stanza indicated; and who shall
say how long those chance-directed words, chosen for the most part with
the elastic ambiguity of all oracles of any established authority,
lingered echoing in the heads and hearts of them to whom they were
given--shaping and confirming, or darkening with their denial many an
after hope and fear?

Faith Gartney came up among the very last.

"How many numbers are there to choose from?" she asked.

"Three hundred and sixty-five. The number of days in the year."

"Well, then, I'll take the number of the day; the last--no, I
forgot--the first of all."

Nobody before had chosen this, and Margaret read, in a clear, gentle
voice, not untouched with the grave beauty of its own words, and the
sweet, earnest, listening look of the young face that bent toward her to
take them in:

  "Rouse to some high and holy work of love,
    And thou an angel's happiness shalt know;
  Shalt bless the earth while in the world above;
    The good begun by thee while here below
    Shall like a river run, and broader flow."

Ten minutes later, and all else were absorbed in other things
again--leave-takings, parting chat, and a few waltzing a last measure to
a specially accorded grace of music. Faith stood, thoughtfully, by the
table where the book was closed and left. She quietly reopened it at
that first page. Unconscious of a step behind her, her eyes ran over the
lines again, to make their beautiful words her own.

"And that was your oracle, then?" asked a kindly voice.

Glancing quickly up, while the timid color flushed her cheek, she met a
look as of a wise and watchful angel, though it came through the eye and
smile of a gray-haired man, who laid his hand upon the page as he said:

"Remember--it is _conditional_."




CHAPTER III.

AUNT HENDERSON.

"I never met a manner more entirely without frill."
                                      SYDNEY SMITH.


Late into the morning of the New Year, Faith slept. Through her half
consciousness crept, at last, a feeling of music that had been
wandering in faint echoes among the chambers of her brain all those
hours of her suspended life.

Light, and music, and a sense of an unexamined, half-remembered joy,
filled her being and embraced her at her waking on this New Year's Day.
A moment she lay in a passive, unthinking delight; and then her first,
full, and distinct thought shaped itself, as from a sweet and solemn
memory:

  "Rouse to some high and holy work of love,
    And thou an angel's happiness shalt know."

An impulse of lofty feeling held her in its ecstasy; a noble longing and
determination shaped itself, though vaguely, within her. For a little,
she was touched in her deepest and truest nature; she was uplifted to
the threshold of a great resolve. But generalities are so grand--details
so commonplace and unsatisfying. _What_ should she do? What "high and
holy work" lay waiting for her?

And, breaking in upon her reverie--bringing her down with its rough and
common call to common duty--the second bell for breakfast rang.

"Oh, dear! It is no use! Who'll know what great things I've been wishing
and planning, when I've nothing to show for it but just being late to
breakfast? And father hates it so--and New Year's morning, too!"

Hurrying her toilet, she repaired, with all the haste possible, to the
breakfast room, where her consciousness of shortcoming was in nowise
lessened when she saw who occupied the seat at her father's right
hand--Aunt Henderson!

Aunt Faith Henderson, who had reached her nephew's house last evening
just after the young Faith, her namesake, had gone joyously off to
"dance the Old Year out and the New Year in." Old-fashioned Aunt
Faith--who believed most devoutly that "early to bed and early to rise"
was the _only_ way to be "healthy, wealthy, or wise!" Aunt Faith, who
had never quite forgiven our young heroine for having said, at the
discreet and positive age of nine, that "she didn't see what her father
and mother had called her such an ugly name for. It was a real old
maid's name!" Whereupon, having asked the child what she would have
preferred as a substitute, and being answered, "Well--Clotilda, I guess;
or Cleopatra," Miss Henderson had told her that she was quite welcome to
change it for any heathen woman's that she pleased, and the worse
behaved perhaps the better. She wouldn't be so likely to do it any
discredit!

Aunt Henderson had a downright and rather extreme fashion of putting
things; nevertheless, in her heart she was not unkindly.

So when Faithie, with her fair, fresh face--a little apprehensive
trouble in it for her tardiness--came in, there was a grim bending of
the old lady's brows; but, below, a half-belying twinkle in the eye,
that, long as it had looked out sharply and keenly on the things and
people of this mixed-up world, found yet a pleasure in anything so young
and bright.

"Why, auntie! How do you do?" cried Faith, cunning culprit that she was,
taking the "bull by the horns," and holding out her hand. "I wish you a
Happy New Year! Good morning, father, and mother! A Happy New Year! I'm
sorry I'm so late."

"Wish you a great many," responded the great-aunt, in stereotyped
phrase. "It seems to me, though, you've lost the beginning of this one."

"Oh, no!" replied Faithie, gayly. "I had that at the party. We danced
the New Year in."

"Humph!" said Aunt Henderson.

Breakfast over, and Mr. Gartney gone to his counting room, the parlor
girl made her appearance with her mop and tub of hot water, to wash up
the silver and china.

"Give me that," said Aunt Henderson, taking a large towel from the
girl's arm as she set down her tub upon the sideboard. "You go and find
something else to do."

Wherever she might be--to be sure, her round of visiting was not a large
one--Aunt Henderson never let anyone else wash up breakfast cups.

This quiet arming of herself, with mop and towel, stirred up everybody
else to duty. Her niece-in-law laughed, withdrew her feet from the
comfortable fender, and departed to the kitchen to give her household
orders for the day. Faith removed cups, glasses, forks, and spoons from
the table to the sideboard, while the maid, returning with a tray,
carried off to the lower regions the larger dishes.

"I haven't told you yet, Elizabeth, what I came to town for," said Aunt
Faith, when Mrs. Gartney came back into the breakfast room. "I'm going
to hunt up a girl."

"A girl, aunt! Why, what has become of Prudence?"

"Mrs. Pelatiah Trowe. That's what's become of her. More fool she."

"But why in the world do you come to the city for a servant? It's the
worst possible place. Nineteen out of twenty are utterly good for
nothing."

"I'm going to look out for the twentieth."

"But aren't there girls enough in Kinnicutt who would be glad to step in
Prue's place?"

"Of course there are. But they're all well enough off where they are.
When I have a chance to give away, I want to give it to somebody that
needs it."

"I'm afraid you'll hardly find any efficient girl who will appreciate
the chance of going twenty miles into the country."

"I don't want an efficient girl. I'm efficient myself, and that's
enough."

"Going to _train_ another, at your time of life, aunt?" asked Mrs.
Gartney, in surprise.

"I suppose I must either train a girl, or let her train me; and, at my
time of life, I don't feel to stand in need of that."

"How shall I go to work to inquire?" resumed Aunt Henderson, after a
pause.

"Well, there are the Homes, and the Offices, and the Ministers at Large.
At a Home, they would probably recommend you somebody they've made up
their minds to put out to service, and she might or might not be such as
would suit you. Then at the Offices, you'll see all sorts, and mostly
poor ones."

"I'll try an Office, first," interrupted Miss Henderson. "I _want_ to
see all sorts. Faith, you'll go with me, by and by, won't you, and help
me find the way?"

Faith, seated at a little writing table at the farther end of the room,
busied in copying into her album, in a clear, neat, but rather stiff
schoolgirl's hand, the oracle of the night before, did not at once
notice that she was addressed.

"Faith, child! don't you hear?"

"Oh, yes, aunt. What is it?"

"I want you to go to a what-d'ye-call-it office with me, to-day."

"An intelligence office," explained her mother. "Aunt Faith wants to
find a girl."

"'_Lucus a non lucendo_,'" quoted Faith, rather wittily, from her little
stock of Latin. "Stupidity offices, _I_ should call them, from the
specimens they send out."

"Hold your tongue, chit! Don't talk Latin to me!" growled Aunt
Henderson.

"What are you writing?" she asked, shortly after, when Mrs. Gartney had
again left her and Faith to each other. "Letters, or Latin?"

Faith colored, and laughed.

"Only a fortune that was told me last night," she replied.

"Oh! 'A little husband,' I suppose, 'no bigger than my thumb; put him in
a pint pot, and there bid him drum.'"

"No," said Faith, half seriously, and half teased out of her
seriousness. "It's nothing of that sort. At least," she added, glancing
over the lines again, "I don't think it means anything like that."

And Faith laid down the book, and went upstairs for a word with her
mother.

Aunt Henderson, who had been brought up in times when all the doings of
young girls were strictly supervised, and who had no high-flown
scruples, because she had no mean motives, deliberately walked over and
fetched the elegant little volume from the table, reseated herself in
her armchair--felt for her glasses, and set them carefully upon her
nose--and, as her grandniece returned, was just finishing her perusal
of the freshly inscribed lines.

"Humph! A good fortune. Only you've got to earn it."

"Yes," said Faith, quite gravely. "And I don't see how. There doesn't
seem to be much that I can do."

"Just take hold of the first thing that comes in your way. If the Lord's
got anything bigger to give you, he'll see to it. There's your mother's
mending basket brimful of stockings."

Faith couldn't help laughing. Presently she grew grave again.

"Aunt Henderson," said she, abruptly, "I wish something would happen to
me. I get tired of living sometimes. Things don't seem worth while."

Aunt Henderson bent her head slightly, and opened her eyes wide over the
tops of her glasses.

"Don't say that again," said she. "Things happen fast enough. Don't you
dare to tempt Providence."

"Providence won't be tempted, nor misunderstand," replied Faith, an
undertone of reverence qualifying her girlish repartee. "He knows just
what I mean."

"She's a queer child," said Aunt Faith to herself, afterwards, thinking
over the brief conversation. "She'll be something or nothing, I always
said. I used to think 'twould be nothing."




CHAPTER IV.

GLORY McWHIRK.

"There's beauty waiting to be born,
  And harmony that makes no sound;
And bear we ever, unawares,
  A glory that hath not been crowned."


Shall I try to give you a glimpse of quite another young life than Faith
Gartney's? One looking also vaguely, wonderingly, for "something to
happen"--that indefinite "something" which lies in everybody's future,
which may never arrive, and yet which any hour may bring?

Very little likelihood there has ever seemed for any great joy to get
into such a life as this has been, that began, or at least has its
earliest memory and association, in the old poorhouse at Stonebury.

A child she was, of five years, when she was taken in there with her
old, crippled grandmother.

Peter McWhirk was picked up dead, from the graveled drive of a
gentleman's place, where he had been trimming the high trees that shaded
it. An unsound limb--a heedless movement--and Peter went straight down,
thirty feet, and out of life. Out of life, where he had a trim,
comfortable young wife--one happy little child, for whom skies were as
blue, and grass as green, and buttercups as golden as for the little
heiress of Elm Hill, who was riding over the lawn in her basket wagon,
when Peter met his death there--the hope, also, of another that was to
come.

Rosa McWhirk and her baby of a day old were buried the week after,
together; and then there was nothing left for Glory and her helpless
grandmother but the poorhouse as a present refuge; and to the one death,
that ends all, and to the other a life of rough and unremitting work to
look to for by and by.

When Glory came into this world where wants begin with the first breath,
and go on thickening around us, and pressing upon us until the last one
is supplied to us--a grave--she wanted, first of all, a name.

"Sure what'll I call the baby?" said the proud young mother to the
ladies from the white corner house, where she had served four faithful
years of her maidenhood, and who came down at once with comforts and
congratulations. "They've sint for the praist, an' I've niver bethought
of a name. I made so certain 'twould be a boy!"

"What a funny bit of a thing it is!" cried the younger of the two
visitors, turning back the bedclothes a little from the tiny, red,
puckered face, with short, sandy-colored hair standing up about the
temples like a fuzz ball.

"I'd call her Glory. There's a halo round her head like the saints in
the pictures."

"Sure, that's jist like yersilf, Miss Mattie!" exclaimed Rosa, with a
faint, merry little laugh. "An' quare enough, I knew a lady once't of
the very name, in the ould country. Miss Gloriana O'Dowd she was; an'
the beauty o' County Kerry. My Lady Kinawley, she came to be. 'Deed, but
I'd like to do it, for the ould times, an' for you thinkin' of it! I'll
ask Peter, anyhow!"

And so Glory got her name; and Mattie Hyde, who gave her that, gave her
many another thing that was no less a giving to the mother also, before
she was two years old. Then Mrs. Hyde and the young lady, having first
let the corner house, went away to Europe to stay for years; and when a
box of tokens from the far, foreign lands came back to Stonebury a while
after, there was a grand shawl for Rosa, and a pretty braided frock for
the baby, and a rosary that Glory keeps to this hour, that had been
blessed by the Pope. That was the last. Mattie and her mother sailed out
upon the Mediterranean one day from the bright coast of France for a far
eastern port, to see the Holy Land. God's Holy Land they did see,
though they never touched those Syrian shores, or climbed the hills
about Jerusalem.

Glory remembered--for the most part dimly, for some special points
distinctly--her child life of three years in Stonebury poorhouse. How
her grandmother and an old countrywoman from the same county "at home"
sat knitting and crooning together in a sunny corner of the common room
in winter, or out under the stoop in summer; how she rolled down the
green bank behind the house; and, when she grew big enough to be trusted
with a knife, was sent out to dig dandelions in the spring, and how an
older girl went with her round the village, and sold them from house to
house. How, at last, her old grandmother died, and was buried; and how a
woman of the village, who had used to buy her dandelions, found a place
for her with a relative of her own, in the ten-mile distant city, who
took Glory to "bring up"--"seeing," as she said, "there was nobody
belonging to her to interfere."

Was there a day, after that, that did not leave its searing impress upon
heart and memory, of the life that was given, in its every young pulse
and breath, to sordid toil for others, and to which it seemed nobody on
earth owed aught of care or service in return?

It was a close little house--one of those houses where they have fried
dinners so often that the smell never gets out in Budd Street--a street
of a single side, wedged in between the back yards of more pretentious
mansions that stood on fair parallel avenues sloping down from a hilltop
to the waterside, that Mrs. Grubbling lived in.

Here Glory McWhirk, from eight years old to nearly fifteen, scoured
knives and brasses, tended doorbell, set tables, washed dishes, and
minded the baby; whom, at her peril, she must "keep pacified"--i. e.,
amused and content, while its mother was otherwise busy. For her, poor
child--baby that she still, almost, was herself--who amused, or
contented her? There are humans with whom amusement and content have
nothing to do. What will you? The world must go on.

Glory curled the baby's hair, and made him "look pretty." Mrs. Grubbling
cut her little handmaid's short to save trouble; so that the very
determined yellow locks which, under more favoring circumstances of
place and fortune, might have been trained into lovely golden curls,
stood up continually in their restless reaching after the fairer destiny
that had been meant for them, in the old fuzz-ball fashion; and Glory
grew more and more to justify her name.

Do you think she didn't know what beauty was--this child who never had a
new or pretty garment, but who wore frocks "fadged up" out of old, faded
breadths of her mistress's dresses, and bonnets with brims cut off and
topknots taken down, and coarse shoes, and stockings cut out of the
legs of those whereof Mrs. Grubbling had worn out the extremities? Do
you think she didn't feel the difference, and that it wasn't this that
made her shuffle along so with her toes in, when she sped along the
streets upon her manifold errands, and met gentle-people's children
laughing and skipping their hoops upon the sidewalks?

Out of all lives, actual and possible, each one of us appropriates
continually into his own. This is a world of hints only, out of which
every soul seizes to itself what it needs.

This girl, uncherished, repressed in every natural longing to be and to
have, took in all the more of what was possible; for God had given her
this glorious insight, this imagination, wherewith we fill up life's
scanty outline, and grasp at all that might be, or that elsewhere, is.
In her, as in us all, it was often--nay, daily--a discontent; yet a
noble discontent, and curbed with a grand, unconscious patience. She
scoured her knives; she shuffled along the streets on hasty errands; she
went up and down the house in her small menial duties; she put on and
off her coarse, repulsive clothing; she uttered herself in her common,
ignorant forms of speech; she showed only as a poor, low, little Irish
girl with red hair and staring, wondering eyes, and awkward movements,
and a frightened fashion of getting into everybody's way; and yet,
behind all this, there was another life that went on in a hidden beauty
that you and I cannot fathom, save only as God gives the like, inwardly,
to ourselves.

When Glory's mistress cut her hair, there were always tears and
rebellion. It was her one, eager, passionate longing, in these childish
days, that these locks of hers should be let to grow. She thought she
could almost bear anything else, if only this stiff, unseemly crop might
lengthen out into waves and ringlets that should toss in the wind like
the carefully kempt tresses of children she met in the streets. She
imagined it would be a complete and utter happiness just once to feel it
falling in its wealth about her shoulders or dropping against her
cheeks; and to be able to look at it with her eyes, and twist her
fingers in it at the ends. And so, when it got to be its longest, and
began to make itself troublesome about her forehead, and to peep below
her shabby bonnet in her neck, she had a brief season of wonderful
enjoyment in it. Then she could "make believe" it had really grown out;
and the comfort she took in "going through the motions"--pretending to
tuck behind her ears what scarcely touched their tips, and tossing her
head continually, to throw back imaginary masses of curls, was truly
indescribable, and such as I could not begin to make you understand.

"Half-witted monkey!" Mrs. Grubbling would ejaculate, contemptuously,
seeing, with what she conceived marvelous penetration, the half of her
little servant's thought, and so pronouncing from her own half wit. Then
the great shears came out, and the instinct of grace and beauty in the
child was pitilessly outraged, and her soul mutilated, as it were, in
every clip of the inexorable shears.

She was always glad--poor Glory--when the springtime came. She took
Bubby and Baby down to the Common, of a May Day, to see the processions
and the paper-crowned queens; and stood there in her stained and
drabbled dress, with the big year-and-a-half-old baby in her arms, and
so quite at the mercy of Master Herbert Clarence, who defiantly skipped
oft down the avenues, and almost out of her sight--she looking after him
in helpless dismay, lest he should get a splash or a tumble, or be
altogether lost; and then what would the mistress say? Standing there
so--the troops of children in their holiday trim passing close beside
her--her young heart turned bitter for a moment, as it sometimes would;
and her one utterance of all that swelled her martyr soul broke forth:

"Laws a me! Sech lots of good times in the world, and I ain't in 'em!"

Yet, that afternoon, when Mrs. Grubbling went out shopping, and left her
to her own devices with the children, how jubilantly she trained the
battered chairs in line, and put herself at the head, with Bubby's
scarlet tippet wreathed about her upstart locks, and made a May Day!

I say, she had the soul and essence of the very life she seemed to miss.

There were shabby children's books about the Grubbling domicile, that
had been the older child's--Cornelia's--and had descended to Master
Herbert, while yet his only pastime in them was to scrawl them full of
pencil marks, and tear them into tatters. These, one by one, Glory
rescued, and hid away, and fed upon, piecemeal, in secret. She could
read, at least--this poor, denied unfortunate. Peter McWhirk had taught
his child her letters in happy, humble Sundays and holidays long ago;
and Mrs. Grubbling had begun by sending her to a primary school for a
while, irregularly, when she could be spared; and when she hadn't just
torn her frock, or worn out her shoes, or it didn't rain, or she hadn't
been sent of an errand and come back too late--which reasons, with a
multitude of others, constantly recurring, reduced the school days in
the year to a number whose smallness Mrs. Grubbling would have
indignantly disputed, had it been calculated and set before her; she
being one of those not uncommon persons who regard a duty continually
evaded as one continually performed, it being necessarily just as much
on their minds; till, at last, Herbert had a winter's illness, and in
summer it wasn't worth while, and the winter after, baby came, so that
of course she couldn't be spared at all; and it seemed little likely now
that she ever again would be. But she kept her spelling book, and read
over and over what she knew, and groped her way slowly into more, till
she promoted herself from that to "Mother Goose"--from "Mother Goose" to
"Fables for the Nursery"--and now, her ever fresh and unfailing feast
was the "Child's Own Book of Fairy Tales," and an odd volume of the
"Parents' Assistant." She picked out, slowly, the gist of these, with a
lame and uncertain interpretation. She lived for weeks with Beauty and
the Beast--with Cinderella--with the good girl who worked for the witch,
and shook her feather bed every morning; till at last, given leave to go
home and see her mother, the gold and silver shower came down about her,
departing at the back door. Perhaps she should get her pay, some time,
and go home and see her mother.

Meanwhile, she identified herself with--lost herself utterly in,--these
imaginary lives. She was, for the time, Cinderella; she was Beauty; she
was above all, the Fair One with Golden Locks; she was Simple Susan
going to be May Queen; she dwelt in the old Castle of Rossmore, with the
Irish Orphans. The little Grubbling house in Budd Street was peopled all
through, in every corner, with her fancies. Don't tell me she had
nothing but her niggardly outside living there.

And the wonder began to come up in her mind, as it did in Faith
Gartney's, whether and when "something might happen" to her.




CHAPTER V.

SOMETHING HAPPENS.

"Athirst! athirst! The sandy soil
  Bears no glad trace of leaf or tree;
No grass-blade sigheth to the heaven
  Its little drop of ecstasy.

"Yet other fields are spreading wide
  Green bosoms to the bounteous sun;
And palms and cedars shall sublime
  Their rapture for thee,--waiting one!"


"Take us down to see the apple woman," said Master Herbert, going out
with Glory and the baby one day when his school didn't keep, and Mrs.
Grubbling had a headache, and wanted to get them all off out of the way.

Bridget Foye sat at her apple stand in the cheery morning sunlight, red
cheeks and russets ranged fair and tempting before her, and a pile of
roasted peanuts, and one of delicate molasses candy, such as nobody but
she knew how to make, at either end of the board.

Bridget Foye was the tidiest, kindliest, merriest apple woman in all
Mishaumok. Everybody whose daily path lay across that southeast corner
of the Common, knew her well, and had a smile, and perhaps a penny for
her; and got a smile and a God-bless-you, and, for the penny, a rosy or
a golden apple, or some of her crisp candy in return.

Glory and the baby, sitting down to rest on one of the benches close by,
as their habit was, had one day made a nearer acquaintance with blithe
Bridget. I think it began with Glory--who held the baby up to see the
passing show of a portion of a menagerie in the street, and heard two
girls, stopping just before her to look, likewise, say they'd go and see
it perform next day--uttering something of her old soliloquy about "good
times," and why she "warn't ever in any of 'em." However it was, Mrs.
Foye, in her buxom cheeriness, was drawn to give some of it forth to the
uncouth-looking, companionless girl, and not only began a chat with her,
after the momentary stir in the street was over, and she had settled
herself upon her stool, and leaning her back against a tree, set
vigorously to work again at knitting a stout blue yarn stocking, but
also treated Bubby and Baby to some bits of her sweet merchandise, and
told them about the bears and the monkeys that had gone by, shut up in
the gay, red-and-yellow-painted wagons.

So it became, after this first opening, Glory's chief pleasure to get
out with the children now and then, of a sunny day, and sit here on the
bench by Bridget Foye, and hear her talk, and tell her, confidentially,
some of her small, incessant troubles. It was one more life to draw
from--a hearty, bright, and wholesome life, besides. She had, at last,
in this great, tumultuous, indifferent city, a friendship and a
resource.

But there was a certain fair spot of delicate honor in Glory's nature
that would not let her bring Bubby and Baby in any apparent hope of what
they might get, gratuitously, into their mouths. She laid it down, a
rule, with Master Herbert, that he was not to go to the apple stand with
her unless he had first put by a penny for a purchase. And so
unflinchingly she adhered to this determination, that sometimes weeks
went by--hard, weary weeks, without a bit of pleasantness for her; weeks
of sore pining for a morsel of heart food--before she was free of her
own conscience to go and take it.

Bridget told stories to Herbert--strange, nonsensical fables, to be
sure--stuff that many an overwise mother, bringing up her children by
hard rule and theory, might have utterly forbidden as harmful trash--yet
that never put an evil into his heart, nor crowded, I dare to say, a
better thought out of his brain. Glory liked the stories as well,
almost, as the child. One moral always ran through them all. Troubles
always, somehow, came to an end; good creatures and children got safe
out of them all, and lived happy ever after; and the fierce, and
cunning, and bad--the wolves, and foxes, and witches--trapped themselves
in their own wickedness, and came to deplorable ends.

"Tell us about the little red hen," said Herbert, paying his money, and
munching his candy.

"An' thin ye'll trundle yer hoop out to the big tree, an' lave Glory an'
me our lane for a minute?"

"Faith, an' I will that," said the boy--aping, ambitiously, the racy
Irish accent.

"Well, thin, there was once't upon a time, away off in the ould country,
livin' all her lane in the woods, in a wee bit iv a house be herself, a
little rid hin. Nice an' quite she was, and nivir did no kind o' harrum
in her life. An' there lived out over the hill, in a din o' the rocks, a
crafty ould felly iv a fox. An' this same ould villain iv a fox, he laid
awake o' nights, and he prowled round shly iy a daytime, thinkin' always
so busy how he'd git the little rid hin, an' carry her home an' bile her
up for his shupper. But the wise little rid hin nivir went intil her bit
iv a house, but she locked the door afther her, an' pit the kay in her
pocket. So the ould rashkill iv a fox, he watched, an' he prowled, an'
he laid awake nights, till he came all to skin an' bone, on' sorra a
ha'porth o' the little rid hin could he git at. But at lasht there came
a shcame intil his wicked ould head, an' he tuk a big bag one mornin',
over his shouldher, and he says till his mother, says he, 'Mother, have
the pot all bilin' agin' I come home, for I'll bring the little rid hin
to-night for our shupper.' An' away he wint, over the hill, an' came
craping shly and soft through the woods to where the little rid hin
lived in her shnug bit iv a house. An' shure, jist at the very minute
that he got along, out comes the little rid hin out iv the door, to pick
up shticks to bile her taykettle. 'Begorra, now, but I'll have yees,'
says the shly ould fox, and in he shlips, unbeknownst, intil the house,
an' hides behind the door. An' in comes the little rid hin, a minute
afther, with her apron full of shticks, an' shuts to the door an' locks
it, an' pits the kay in her pocket. An' thin she turns round--an' there
shtands the baste iv a fox in the corner. Well, thin, what did she do,
but jist dhrop down her shticks, and fly up in a great fright and
flutter to the big bame acrass inside o' the roof, where the fox
couldn't get at her?

"'Ah, ha!' says the ould fox, 'I'll soon bring yees down out o' that!'
An' he began to whirrul round, an' round, an' round, fashter an' fashter
an' fashter, on the floor, after his big, bushy tail, till the little
rid hin got so dizzy wid lookin', that she jist tumbled down off the
bame, and the fox whipped her up and popped her intil his bag, and
shtarted off home in a minute. An' he wint up the wood, an' down the
wood, half the day long, with the little rid hin shut up shmotherin' in
the bag. Sorra a know she knowd where she was, at all, at all. She
thought she was all biled an' ate up, an' finished, shure! But, by an'
by, she renumbered herself, an' pit her hand in her pocket, and tuk out
her little bright schissors, and shnipped a big hole in the bag behind,
an' out she leapt, an' picked up a big shtone, an' popped it intil the
bag, an' rin aff home, an' locked the door.

"An' the fox he tugged away up over the hill, with the big shtone at his
back thumpin' his shouldhers, thinkin' to himself how heavy the little
rid hin was, an' what a fine shupper he'd have. An' whin he came in
sight iv his din in the rocks, and shpied his ould mother a-watchin' for
him at the door, he says, 'Mother! have ye the pot bilin'?' An' the ould
mother says, 'Sure an' it is; an' have ye the little rid hin?' 'Yes,
jist here in me bag. Open the lid o' the pot till I pit her in,' says
he.

"An' the ould mother fox she lifted the lid o' the pot, and the rashkill
untied the bag, and hild it over the pot o' bilin' wather, an' shuk in
the big, heavy shtone. An' the bilin' wather shplashed up all over the
rogue iv a fox, an' his mother, an' shcalded them both to death. An' the
little rid hin lived safe in her house foriver afther."

"Ah!" breathed Bubby, in intense relief, for perhaps the twentieth time.
"Now tell about the girl that went to seek her fortune!"

"Away wid ye!" cried Bridget Foye. "Kape yer promish, an' lave that till
ye come back!"

So Herbert and his hoop trundled off to the big tree.

"An' how are yees now, honey?" says Bridget to Glory, a whole catechism
of questions in the one inquiry. "Have ye come till any good times yit?"

"Oh, Mrs. Foye," says Glory, "I think I'm tied up tight in the bag, an'
I'll never get out, except it's into the hot water!"

"An' havint ye nivir a pair iv schissors in yer pocket?" asks Bridget.

"I don't know," says poor Glory, hopelessly. And just then Master
Herbert comes trundling back, and Bridget tells him the story of the
girl that went to seek her fortune and came to be a queen.

Glory half thinks that, some day or other, she, too, will start off and
seek her fortune.

The next morning, Sunday--never a holiday, and scarcely a holy day to
her--Glory sits at the front window, with the inevitable baby in her
arms.

Mrs. Grubbling is upstairs getting ready for church. After baby has his
forenoon drink, and is got off to sleep--supposing he shall be
complaisant, and go--Glory is to dust up, and set table, and warm the
dinner, and be all ready to bring it up when the elder Grubbling shall
have returned.

Out at the Pembertons' green gate she sees the tidy parlor maid come, in
her smart shawl and new, bright ribbons; holding up her pretty printed
mousseline dress with one hand, as she steps down upon the street, and
so revealing the white hem of a clean starched skirt; while the other
hand is occupied with the little Catholic prayer book and a folded
handkerchief. Actually, gloves on her hands, too. The gate closes with a
cord and pulley after her, and somehow the hem of the fresh,
outspreading crinoline gets caught in it, as it shuts. So she turns half
round, and takes both hands to push it open and release herself. Doing
so, something slips from between the folds of her handkerchief, and
drops upon the ground. A bright half dollar, which was going to pay some
of her little church dues to-day. And she hurries on, never missing it
out of her grasp, and is halfway down the side street before Glory can
set the baby suddenly on the carpet, rush out at the front door,
regardless that Mrs. Grubbling's chamber window overlooks her from
above, pick up the coin, and overtake her.

"I saw you drop it by the gate," is all she says, as she puts it into
Katie Ryan's hand.

Katie stares with surprise, turning round at the touch upon her
shoulder, and beholding the strange figure, and the still stranger
evidence of honesty and good will.

"Indeed, and I'm thoroughly obliged to ye," says she, barely in time,
for the odd figure is already retreating up the street. "It's the
red-headed girl over at Grubbling's," she continues to herself. "Well,
anyhow, she's an honest, kind-hearted crature, and I'll not forget it of
her."

Glory has made another friend.

"Well, Glory McWhirk, this is very pretty doings indeed!" began Mrs.
Grubbling, meeting the little handmaiden at the parlor door. "So this is
the way, is it, when my back is turned for a minute? That poor baby
dumped down on the floor, to crawl up to the hot stove, or do any other
horrid thing he likes, while you go flacketting out, bareheaded, into
the streets, after a topping jade like that? You can't have any
high-flown acquaintances while you live in my house, I tell you now,
once and for all. Are you going to take up that baby or not?" Mrs.
Grubbling had been thus far effectually heading Glory off, by standing
square in the parlor doorway. "Or perhaps, I'd better stay at home and
take care of him myself," she added, in a tone of superlative irony.

Poor Glory, meekly murmuring that it was only to give back some money
the girl had dropped, slid past her mistress submissively, like a sentry
caught off his post and warned of mortal punishment, and shouldered arms
once more; that is, picked up the baby, who, as if taking the cue from
his mother, and made conscious of his grievance, had at this moment
begun to cry.

Glory had a good cry of her own first, and then, "killing two birds with
one stone," pacified herself and the baby "all under one."

After this, Katie Ryan never came out at the green gate, of a Sunday on
the way to church, or of a week day to run down the little back street
of an errand, but she gave a glance up at the Grubblings' windows; and
if she caught sight of Glory's illumined head, nodded her own, with its
pretty, dark-brown locks, quite pleasant and friendly. And between these
chance recognitions of Katie's, and the good apple woman's occasional
sympathy, the world began to brighten a little, even for poor Glory.

Still, good times went on--grand, wonderful good times--all around her.
And she caught distant glimpses, but "wasn't in 'em."

One day, as she hurried home from the grocer's with half-a-dozen eggs
and two lemons, Katie ran out from the gate, and met her halfway down
Budd Street.

"I've been watchin' for ye," said she. "I seen ye go out of an errand,
an' I've been lookin' for ye back. There's to be a grand party at our
house to-morrow night, an' I thought maybe ye'd like to get lave, an'
run over to take a peep at it. Put on yer best frock, and make yer hair
tidy, an' I'll see to yer gettin' a good chance."

Poor Glory colored up, as Mrs. Grabbling might have done if the
President's wife had bidden her. Not so, either. With a glow of feeling,
and an oppression of gratitude, and a humility of delight, that Mrs.
Grubbling, under any circumstances whatever, could have known nothing
about.

"If I only can," she managed to utter, "and, anyhow, I'm sure I'm
thankful to ye a thousand times."

And that night she sat up in her little attic room, after everybody else
was in bed, mending, in a poor fashion, a rent in the faded "best
frock," and sewing a bit of cotton lace in the neck thereof that she had
picked out of the ragbag, and surreptitiously washed and ironed.

Next morning, she went about her homely tasks with an alacrity that Mrs.
Grubbling, knowing nothing of the hope that had been let in upon her
dreariness, attributed wholly to the salutary effect of a "good
scolding" she had administered the day before. The work she got out of
the girl that Thursday forenoon! Never once did Glory leave her
scrubbing, or her dusting, or her stove polishing, to glance from the
windows into the street, though the market boys, and the waiters, and
the confectioners' parcels were going in at the Pembertons' gate, and
the man from the greenhouse, even, drove his cart up, filled with
beautiful plants for the staircase.

She waited, as in our toils we wait for Heaven--trusting to the joy that
was to come.

After dinner, she spoke, with fear and trembling. Her lips turned quite
white with anxiety as she stood before Mrs. Grubbling with the baby in
her arms.

"Please, mum," says Glory, tremulously, "Katie Ryan asked me over for a
little while to-night to look at the party."

Mrs. Grubbling actually felt a jealousy, as if her poor, untutored
handmaid were taking precedence of herself.

"What party?" she snapped.

"At the Pembertons', mum. I thought you knew about it."

"And what if I do? Maybe I'm going, myself."

Glory opened her eyes wide in mingled consternation and surprise.

"I didn't think you was, mum. But if you is----"

"You're willing, I suppose," retorted her mistress, laughing, in a
bitter way. "I'm very much obliged. But I'm going out to-night, anyhow,
whether it's there or not, and you can't be spared. Besides, you needn't
think you're going to begin with going out evenings yet a while. At your
age! A pretty thing! There--go along, and don't bother me."

Glory went along; and only the baby--of mortal listeners--heard the
suffering cry that went up from her poor, pinched, and chilled, and
disappointed heart.

"Oh, baby, baby! it was _too_ good a time! I'd ought to a knowed I
couldn't be in it!"

Only a stone's throw from those brightly lighted windows of the
Pembertons'! Their superfluous radiance pouring out lavishly across the
narrow street, searched even through the dim panes behind which Glory
sat, resting her tired arms, after tucking away their ordinary burden in
his crib, and answering Herbert's wearisome questions, who from his
trundle bed kept asking, ceaselessly:

"What are they doing now? Can't you see, Glory?"

"Hush, hush!" said Glory, breathlessly, as a burst of brilliant melody
floated over to her ear. "They're making music now. Don't you hear?"

"No. How can I, with my head in the pillow? I'm coming there to sit with
you, Glory." And the boy scrambled from his feed to the window.

"No, no! you'll ketch cold. Besides, you'd oughter go to sleep.
Well--only for a little bit of a minute, then," as Herbert persisted,
and climbing upon her lap, flattened his face against the window pane.

Glory gathered up her skirt about his shoulders and held him for a
while, begging him uneasily, over and over, to "be a good boy, and go
back to bed." No; he wouldn't be a good boy, and he wouldn't go back to
bed, till the music paused. Then, by dint of promising that if it began
again she would open the window a "teenty little crack," so that he
might hear it better, she coaxed him to the point of yielding, and
tucked him, chilly, yet half unwilling, in the trundle.

Back again, to look and listen. And, oh, wonderful and unexpected
fortune! A beneficent hand has drawn up the white linen shade at one of
the back parlor windows to slide the sash a little from the top. It was
Katie, whom her young mistress, standing with her partner at that corner
of the room, had called in from the hall to do it.

"No, no," whispered the young lady, hastily, as her companion moved to
render her the service she desired, "let Katie come in. She'll get such
a good look down the room at the dancers." There was no abated
admiration in the young man's eye, as he turned back to her side, and
allowed her kindly intention to be fulfilled.

Did Katie surmise, in her turn, with the freemasonry of her class, how
it was with her humble friend over the way--that she couldn't get let
out for the evening, and that she would be sure to be looking and
listening from her old post opposite? However it was, the linen shade
was not lowered again, and there between the lace and crimson curtains
stood revealed the graceful young figure of Edith Pemberton, in her
floating ball robes, with the wreath of morning-glories in her hair.

"Oh, my sakes and sorrows! Ain't she just like a princess? Ain't it a
splendid time? And I come so near to be in it! But I ain't; and I s'pose
I shan't ever get a chance again. Maybe Katie'd get me over of a common
workday though, some time, to help her a bit or so. Wouldn't I be glad
to?"

"Oh, for gracious, child! Don't ever come here again. You'll catch your
death. You'll have the croup and whooping cought, and everything
to-morrow." This to Herbert, who had of course tumbled out of bed again
at Glory's first rapturous exclamation.

"No, I won't!" cried the boy, rebelliously; "I'll stay as long as I
like. And I'll tell my ma how you was a-wantin' to go away and be the
Pembertons' girl. Won't she lam you when she hears that?"

"You can tell wicked lies if you want to, Master Herbert; but you know I
never said such a word, nor ever thought of it. Of course I couldn't if
I wanted to ever so bad."

"Couldn't live there? I guess not. Think they'd have a girl like you?
What a lookin' you'd be, a-comin' to the front door answerin' the bell!"

Here the doorbell rang suddenly and sharply, and Master Herbert
fancying, as did Glory, that it was his mother come back, scrambled
into his bed again and covered himself up, while the girl ran down to
answer the summons.

It was Katie Ryan, with cakes and sweetmeats.

"I've jist rin in to fetch ye these. Miss Edith gave 'em me, so ye
needn't be feared. I knows ye're sich an honest one. An' it's a tearin'
shame, if ever there was, that ye couldn't come over for a bit of
diversion. Why don't ye quit this?"

"Oh, hush!" whispered Glory, with a gesture up the staircase, where she
had just left the little pitcher with fearfully long ears. "And thank
you kindly, over and over, I'm sure. It's real good o' you to think o'
me so--oh!" And Glory couldn't say anything more for a quick little sob
that came in her throat, and caught the last word up into a spasm.

"Pooh! it's just nothing at all. I'd do something better nor that if I
had the chance; an' I'd adwise ye to get out o' this if ye can. Good-by.
I've set the parlor windy open, an' the shade's up. I knew it would jist
be a conwenience."

Glory ran up the back stairs to the top of the house, and hid away the
sweet things in her own room to "make a party" with next day. And then
she went down and tented over the crib with an old woolen shawl, and set
a high-backed rocking chair to keep the draft from Herbert, and opened
the window "a teenty crack." In five minutes the slight freshening of
the air and the soothing of the music had sent the boy to sleep, and
watchful Glory closed the window and set things in their ordinary
arrangement once more.

Next morning Herbert made hoarse complaint.

"What did you let him do, Glory, to catch such a cold?" asked Mrs.
Grabbling.

"Nothing, mum, only he would get out of bed to hear the music," replied
the girl.

"Well, you opened the window, you know you did, and Katie Ryan came over
and kept the front door open. And you said how you wished you could go
over there and do their chores. I told you I'd tell."

"It's wicked lies, mum," burst out Glory, indignant.

"Do you dare to tell him he lies, right before my face, you
good-for-nothing girl?" shrieked the exasperated mother. "Where do you
expect to go to?"

"I don't expect to go nowheres, mum; and I wouldn't say it was lies if
he didn't tell what wasn't true."

"How should such a thing come into his head if you didn't say it?"

"There's many things comes into his head," answered Glory, stoutly, "and
I think you'd oughter believe me first, when I never told you a lie in
my life, and you did ketch Master Herbert fibbing, jist the other day,
but."

Somehow, Glory had grown strangely bold in her own behalf since she had
come to feel there was a bit of sympathy somewhere for her in the world.

"I know now where he learns it," retorted the mistress, with persistent
and angry injustice.

Glory's face blazed up, and she took an involuntary step to the woman's
side at the warrantless accusation.

"You don't mean that, mum, and you'd oughter take it back," said she,
excited beyond all fear and habit of submission.

Mrs. Grubbling raised her hand passionately, and struck the girl upon
the cheek.

"I mean _that_, then, for your impudence! Don't answer me up again!"

"No, mum," said Glory, in a low, strange tone; quite white now, except
where the vindictive fingers had left their crimson streaks. And she
went off out of the room without another word.

Over the knife board she revolved her wrongs, and sharpened at length
the keen edge of desperate resolution.

"Please, mum," said she, in the old form of address, but with quite a
new manner, that, in the little dependant of less than fifteen, startled
the hard mistress, "I ain't noways bound to you, am I?"

She propounded her question, stopping short in her return toward the
china closet through the sitting room.

"Bound? What do you mean?" parried Mrs. Grubbling, dimly foreshadowing
to herself what it would be if Glory should break loose, and go.

"To stay, mum, and you to keep me, till I'm growed up," answered Glory,
briefly.

"There's no binding about it," replied the mistress. "Of course I
wouldn't be held to anything of that sort. I shan't keep you any longer
than you behave yourself."

"Then, if you please, mum, I think I'll go," said Glory. And she burst
into a passion of tears.

"Humph! Where?" asked Mrs. Grubbling.

"I don't know, yet," said Glory, the sarcasm drying her tears. "I s'pose
I can go to a office."

"And where'll you get your meals and your lodgings till you find a
place?" The cat thought she had her paw on the mouse, now, and could
play with her as securely and cruelly as she pleased.

"If you go away at all," continued Mrs. Grubbling, with what she deemed
a finishing stroke of policy, "you go straight off. I'll have no dancing
back and forth to offices from here."

"Do you mean right off, this minute?" asked Glory, aghast.

"Yes just that. Pack up and go, or else let me hear no more about it."

The next thing in Glory's programme of duty was to lay the table for
dinner. But she went out of the room, and slowly off, upstairs.

Pretty soon she came down again, with her eyes very tearful, and her
shabby shawl and bonnet on.

"I'm going, mum," said she, as one resolved to face calmly whatever
might befall. "I didn't mean it to be sudden, but it are. And I wouldn't
never a gone, if I'd a thought anybody cared for me the leastest bit
that ever was. I wouldn't mind bein' worked and put upon, and not havin'
any good times; but when people hates me, and goes to say I doesn't tell
the truth"--here Glory broke down, and the tears poured over her stained
cheeks again, and she essayed once more to dry them, which reminded her
that her hands again were full.

"It's some goodies--from the party, mum"--she struggled to say between
short breaths and sobs, "that Katie Ryan give me--an' I kept--to make a
party--for the children, with--to-day, mum--when the chores was
done--and I'll leave 'em--for 'em--if you please."

Glory laid her coals of fire upon the table as she spoke. Master Herbert
eyed them, as one utterly unconscious of a scorch.

"I s'pose I might come back and get my bundle," said Glory, standing
still in the hope of one last kindly or relenting word.

"Oh, yes, if you get a place," said her mistress, dryly, affecting to
treat the whole affair as a childish, though unwonted burst of
petulance.

But Glory, not daring, unbidden, even to kiss the baby, went steadily
and sorrowfully out into the street, and drew the door behind her, that
shut with a catch lock, and fastened her out into the wide world.

Not stopping to think, she hurried on, up Budd and down Branch Street,
and across the green common path to the apple stand and Bridget Foye.

"I've done it! I've gone! And I don't know what to do, nor where to go
to!"

"Arrah, poor little rid hin! So, ye've found yer schiasors, have ye, an'
let yersel' loose out o' the bag? Well, it's I that is glad, though I
wouldn't pit ye up till it," says Bridget Foye.

Poor little red hen. She had cut a hole, and jumped out of the bag, to
be sure; but here she was, "all alone by herself" once more, and the
foxes--Want and Cruelty--ravening after her all through the great,
dreary wood!

This day, at least, passed comfortably enough, however, although with an
undertone of sadness--in the sunshine, by Bridget's apple stand,
watching the gay passers-by, and shaping some humble hopes and plans for
the future. For dinner, she shared Mrs. Foye's plain bread and cheese,
and made a dessert of an apple and a handful of peanuts. At night
Bridget took her home and gave her shelter, and the next day she started
her off with a "God bless ye and good luck till ye," in the charge of an
older girl who lodged in the same building, and who was also "out after
a place."




CHAPTER VI.

AUNT HENDERSON'S GIRL HUNT.

"Black spirits and white,
  Red spirits and gray;
Mingle, mingle, mingle,
  You that mingle may."
                    MACBETH.


It was a small, close, dark room--Mrs. Griggs's Intelligence Office--a
little counter and show case dividing off its farther end, making a
sanctum for Mrs. Griggs, who sat here in rheumatic ponderosity,
dependent for whatever involved locomotion on the rather alarming
alacrity of an impish-looking granddaughter who is elbowing her way
through the throng of applicants for places and servants. She paid no
heed to the astonishment of a severe-looking, elderly lady, who, by her
impetuous onset, has been rudely thrust back into the very arms of a
fat, unsavory cook with whom she had a minute before been quite
unwillingly set to confer by the high priestess of the place.

Aunt Henderson grasped Faith's hand as if she felt she had brought her
into a danger, and held her close to her side while she paused a moment
to observe, with the strange fascination of repulsion, the manifestation
of a phase of human life and the working of a vocation so utterly and
astoundingly novel to herself.

"Well, Melindy," said Mrs. Griggs, salutatorily.

"Well, grandma," answered the girl, with a pert air of show off and
consequence, "I found the place, and I found the lady. Ain't I been
quick?"

"Yes. What did she say?"

"Said the girl left last Saturday. Ain't had anybody sence. Wants you to
send her a first-rate one, right off. Has Care'_line_ been here after
me?"

"No. Did you get the money?"

"She never said a word about it. Guess she forgot the month was out."

"Didn't you ask her?"

"Me? No. I did the arrant, and stood and looked at her--jest as
pious--! And when she didn't say nothin', I come away."

"Winny M'Goverin," said Mrs. Griggs, "that place'll suit you. Leastways,
it must, for another month. You'd better go right round there."

"Where is it?" asked the fat cook, indifferently.

"Up in Mount Pleasant Street, Number 53. First-class place, and plenty
of privileges. Margaret McKay," she continued, to another, "you're too
hard to please. Here's one more place"--handing her a card with
address--"and if you don't take that, I won't do nothing more for you,
if you _air_ Scotch and a Protestant! Mary McGinnis, it's no use your
talking to that lady from the country. She can't spare you to come down
but twice or so a year."

"Lord!" ejaculated Mary McGinnis, "I wouldn't live a whole year with no
lady that ever was, let alone the country!"

"Come out, Faith!" said Miss Henderson, in a deep, ineffable tone of
disgust.

"If _that's_ a genteel West End Intelligence Office," cried Aunt Faith,
as she touched the sidewalk, "let's go downtown and try some of the
common ones."

A large hall--where the candidates were ranged on settees under order
and restraint, and the superintendent, or directress, occupied a desk
placed upon a platform near the entrance--was the next scene whereon
Miss Henderson and Faith Gartney entered. Things looked clean and
respectable. System obtained here. Aunt Faith felt encouraged. But she
made no haste to utter her business. Tall, self-possessed, and
dignified, she stood a few paces inside the door, and looked down the
apartment, surveying coolly the faces there, and analyzing, by a shrewd
mental process, their indications.

Her niece had stopped a moment on the landing outside to fasten her boot
lace.

Miss Henderson did not wear hoops. Also, the streets being sloppy, she
had tucked up her plain, gray merino dress over a quilted black alpaca
petticoat. Her boots were splashed, and her black silk bonnet was
covered with a large gray barege veil, tied down over it to protect it
from the dripping roofs. Judging merely by exterior, one would hardly
take her at a glance, indeed, for a "fust-class" lady.

The directress--a busy woman, with only half a glance to spare for
anyone--moved toward her.

"Take a seat, if you please. What kind of a place do you want?"

Aunt Faith turned full face upon her, with a look that was prepared to
be overwhelming.

"I'm looking for a place, ma'am, where I can find a respectable girl."

Her firm, emphatic utterance was heard to the farthest end of the hall.

The girls tittered.

Faith Gartney came in at this moment, and walked up quietly to Miss
Henderson's side. There was visibly a new impression made, and the
tittering ceased.

"I beg pardon, ma'am. I see. But we have so many in, and I didn't fairly
look. General housework?"

"Yes; general and particular--both. Whatever I set her to do."

The directress turned toward the throng of faces whose fire of eyes was
now all concentrated on the unflinching countenance of Miss Henderson.

"Ellen Mahoney!"

A stout, well-looking damsel, with an expression that seemed to say she
answered to her name, but was nevertheless persuaded of the utter
uselessness of the movement, half rose from her seat.

"You needn't call up that girl," said Aunt Faith, decidedly; "I don't
want her."

Ellen Mahoney had giggled among the loudest.

"She knows what she _does_ want!" whispered a decent-appearing young
woman to a girl at her side with an eager face looking out from a friz
of short curly hair, "and that's more than half of 'em do."

"Country, did you say, ma'am? or city?" asked the directress once more
of Miss Henderson.

"I didn't say. It's country, though--twenty miles out."

"What wages?"

"I'll find the girl first, and settle that afterwards."

"Anybody to do general housework in the country, twenty miles out?"

The prevailing expression of the assemblage changed. There was a
settling down into seats, and a resumption of knitting and needlework.

One pair of eyes, however, looked on, even more eagerly than before. One
young girl--she with the short curly hair who hadn't seen the country
for six years and more--caught her breath, convulsively, at the word.

"I wish I dar'st! I've a great mind!" whispered she to her tidy
companion.

While she hesitated, a slatternly young woman, a few seats farther
forward, moved, with a "don't care" sort of look, to answer the summons.

"Oh, dear!" sighed the first. "I'd ought to a done it!"

"I don't think she would take a young girl like you," replied her
friend.

"That's the way it always is!" exclaimed the disappointed voice, in
forgetfulness and excitement uttering itself aloud. "Plenty of good
times going, but they all go right by. I ain't never in any of 'em!"

"Glory McWhirk!" chided the directress, "be quiet! Remember the rules,
or leave the room."

"Call that red-headed girl to me," said Miss Henderson, turning square
round from the dirty figure that was presenting itself before her, and
addressing the desk. "She looks clean and bright," she added, aside, to
Faith, as Glory timidly approached. "And poor. And longing for a chance.
I'll have her."

A girl with a bonnet full of braids and roses, and a look of general
knowingness, started up close at Miss Henderson's side, and interposed.

"Did you say twenty miles, mum? How often could I come to town?"

"You haven't been asked to go _out_ of town, that I know of," replied
Miss Henderson, frigidly, abashing the office _habitue_, who had not
been used to find her catechism cut so summarily short, and moving aside
to speak with Glory.

"What was it I heard you say just now?"

"I didn't mean to speak out so, mum. It was only what I mostly thinks.
That there's always lots of good times in the world, only I ain't never
in 'em."

"And you thought it would be good times, did you, to go off twenty miles
into the country, to live alone with an old woman like me?"

Miss Henderson's tone softened kindly to the rough, uncouth girl, and
encouraged her to confidence.

"Well, you see, mum, I should like to go where things is green and
pleasant. I lived in the country once--ever so long ago--when I was a
little girl."

Miss Henderson could not help a smile that was half amused, and wholly
pitiful, as she looked in the face of this creature of fourteen, so
strange and earnest, with its outline of fuzzy, cropped hair, and heard
her talk of "ever so long ago."

"Are you strong?"

"Yes'm. I ain't never sick."

"And willing to work?"

"Yes'm. Jest as much as I know how."

"And want to learn more?"

"Yes'm. I don't know as I'd know enough hardly, to begin, though."

"Can you wash dishes? And sweep? And set table?"

To each of these queries Glory successively interposed an affirmative
monosyllable, adding, gratuitously, at the close, "And tend baby, too,
real good." Her eyes filled, as she thought of the Grubbling baby with
the love that always grows for that whereto one has sacrificed oneself.

"You won't have any babies to tend. Time enough for that when you've
learned plenty of other things. Who do you belong to?"

"I don't belong to anybody, mum. Father, and mother, and grandmother is
all dead. I've done the chores and tended baby up at Mrs. Grubbling's
ever since. That's in Budd Street. I'm staying now in High Street, with
Mrs. Foye. Number 15."

"I'll come after you to-morrow. Have your things ready to go right off."

"I'm so glad you took her, auntie," said Faith, as they went out. "She
looks as if she hadn't been well treated. Think of her wanting so to go
into the country! I should like to do something for her."

"That's my business," answered Aunt Faith, curtly, but not crossly.
"You'll find somebody to do for, if you look out. If your mother's
willing, though, you might mend up one of your old school dresses for
her. 'Tisn't likely she's got anything to begin with." And so saying,
Aunt Faith turned precipitately into a drygoods store, where she bought
a large plaid woolen shawl, and twelve yards of dark calico. Coming out,
she darted as suddenly, and apparently unpremeditatedly, across the
street into a milliner's shop, and ordered home a brown rough-and-ready
straw bonnet, and four yards of ribbon to match.

"And that you can put on, too," she said to Faith.

That evening, Faith was even unwontedly cheery and busy, taking a burned
half breadth out of a dark cashmere dress, darning it at the armhole,
and pinning the plain ribbon over the brown straw bonnet.

At the same time, Glory went up across the city to Budd Street, with a
mingled heaviness and gladness at her heart, and, after a kindly
farewell interview with Katie Ryan at the Pembertons' green gate, rang,
with a half-guilty feeling at her own independence, at the Grubblings'
door. Bubby opened it.

"Why, ma!" he shouted up the staircase, "it's Glory come back!"

"I've come to get my bundle," said the girl.

Mrs. Grubbling had advanced to the stair head, somewhat briskly, with
the wakeful baby in her arms. Two days' "tending" had greatly mollified
her sentiments toward the offending Glory.

"And she's come to get her bundle," added the young usher, from below.

Mrs. Grubbling retreated into her chamber, and shut herself and the baby
in.

Poor Glory crept upstairs to her little attic.

Coming down again, she set her bundle on the stairs, and knocked.

"What is it?" was the ungracious response.

"Please, mum, mightn't I say good-by to the baby?"

The latch had slipped, and the door was already slightly ajar. Baby
heard the accustomed voice, and struggled in his mother's arms.

"A pretty time to come disturbing him to do it!" grumbled she.
Nevertheless, she set the baby on the floor, who tottled out, and was
seized by Glory, standing there in the dark entry, and pressed close in
her poor, long-wearied, faithful arms.

"Oh, baby, baby! I'm in it now! And I don't know rightly whether it's a
good time or not!"




CHAPTER VII.

CARES; AND WHAT CAME OF THEM.

"To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow;
       .       .       .       .       .
To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares;
To eate thy heart through comfortlesse dispaires."
                                          SPENCER.


Two years and more had passed since the New Year's dance at the
Rushleighs'.

The crisis of '57 and '58 was approaching its culmination. The great
earthquake that for months had been making itself heard afar off by its
portentous rumbling was heaving to the final crash. Already the weaker
houses had fallen and were forgotten.

When a great financial trouble sweeps down upon a people, there are
three general classes who receive and feel it, each in its own peculiar
way.

There are the great capitalists--the enormously rich--who, unless a
tremendous combination of adversities shall utterly ruin here and there
one, grow the richer yet for the calamities of their neighbors. There
are also the very poor, who have nothing to lose but their daily labor
and their daily bread--who may suffer and starve; but who, if by any
little saving of a better time they can manage just to buy bread, shall
be precisely where they were, practically, when the storm shall have
blown over. Between these lies the great middle class--among whom, as on
the middle ground, the world's great battle is continually waging--of
persons who are neither rich nor poor; who have neither secured
fortunes to fall back upon, nor yet the independence of their hands to
turn to, when business and its income fail. This is the class that
suffers most. Most keenly in apprehension, in mortification, in after
privation.

Of this class was the Gartney family.

Mr. Gartney was growing pale and thin. No wonder; with sleepless nights,
and harassed days, and forgotten, or unrelished meals. His wife watched
him and waited for him, and contrived special comforts for him, and
listened to his confidences.

Faith felt that there was a cloud upon the house, and knew that it had
to do with money. So she hid her own little wants as long as she could,
wore her old ribbons, mended last year's discarded gloves, and yearned
vaguely and helplessly to do something--some great thing if she only
could, that might remedy or help.

Once, she thought she would learn Stenography. She had heard somebody
speak one day of the great pay a lady shorthand writer had received at
Washington, for some Congressional reports. Why shouldn't she learn how
to do it, and if the terrible worst should ever come to the worst, make
known her secret resource, and earn enough for all the family?

Something like this--some "high and holy work of love"--she longed to
do. Longed almost--if she were once prepared and certain of herself--for
even misfortune that should justify and make practicable her generous
purpose.

She got an elementary book, and set to work, by herself. She toiled
wearily, every day, for nearly a month; despairing at every step, yet
persevering; for, beside the grand dream for the future, there was a
present fascination in the queer little scrawls and dots.

It cannot be known how long she might have gone on with the attempt, if
her mother had not come to her one day with some parcels of cut-out
cotton cloth.

"Faithie, dear," said she, deprecatingly, "I don't like to put such work
upon you while you go to school; but I ought not to afford to have Miss
McElroy this spring. Can't you make up some of these with me?"

There were articles of clothing for Faith, herself. She felt the present
duty upon her; and how could she rebel? Yet what was to become of the
great scheme?

By and by would come vacation, and in the following spring, at farthest,
she would leave school, and then--she would see. She would write a book,
maybe. Why not? And secretly dispose of it, for a large sum, to some
self-regardless publisher. Should there never be another Fanny Burney?
Not a novel, though, or any grown-up book, at first; but a juvenile, at
least, she could surely venture on. Look at all the Cousin Maries, and
Aunt Fannies, and Sister Alices, whose productions piled the
booksellers' counters during the holiday sales, and found their way,
sooner or later, into all the nurseries, and children's bookcases! And
think of all the stories she had invented to amuse Hendie with! Better
than some of these printed ones, she was quite sure, if only she could
set them down just as she had spoken them under the inspiration of
Hendie's eager eyes and ready glee.

She made two or three beginnings, during the summer holidays, but always
came to some sort of a "sticking place," which couldn't be hobbled over
in print as in verbal relation. All the links must be apparent, and
everything be made to hold well together. She wouldn't have known what
they were, if you had asked her--but the "unities" troubled her. And
then the labor loomed up so large before her! She counted the lines in a
page of a book of the ordinary juvenile size, and the number of letters
in a line, and found out the wonderful compression of which manuscript
is capable. And there must be two hundred pages, at least, to make a
book of tolerable size.

There seemed to be nothing in the world that she could do. She could not
give her time to charity, and go about among the poor. She had nothing
to help them with. Her father gave, already, to ceaseless applications,
more than he could positively spare. So every now and then she
relinquished in discouragement her aspirations, and lived on, from day
to day, as other girls did, getting what pleasure she could; hampered
continually, however, with the old, inevitable tether, of "can't
afford."

"If something only would happen!" If some new circumstance would creep
into her life, and open the way for a more real living!

Do you think girls of seventeen don't have thoughts and longings like
these? I tell you they do; and it isn't that they want to have anybody
else meet with misfortune, or die, that romantic combinations may
thereby result to them; or that they are in haste to enact the everyday
romance--to secure a lover--get married--and set up a life of their own;
it is that the ordinary marked-out bound of civilized young-lady
existence is so utterly inadequate to the fresh, vigorous, expanding
nature, with its noble hopes, and its apprehension of limitless
possibilities.

Something did happen.

Winter came on again. After a twelvemonth of struggle and pain such as
none but a harassed man of business can ever know or imagine, Mr.
Gartney found himself "out of the wood."

He had survived the shock--his last mote was taken up--he had labored
through--and that was all. He was like a man from off a wreck, who has
brought away nothing but his life.

He came home one morning from New York, whither he had been to attend a
meeting of creditors of a failed firm, and went straight to his chamber
with a raging headache.

The next day, the physician's chaise was at the door, and on the
landing, where Mrs. Gartney stood, pale and anxious, gazing into his
face for a word, after the visit to the sick room was over, Dr. Gracie
drew on his gloves, and said to her, with one foot on the stair:
"Symptoms of typhoid. Keep him absolutely quiet."




CHAPTER VIII.

A NICHE IN LIFE, AND A WOMAN TO FILL IT.

"A Traveller between Life and Death."
                             WORDSWORTH.


Miss Sampson was at home this evening. It was not what one would have
pictured to oneself as a scene of home comfort or enjoyment; but Miss
Sampson was at home. In her little room of fourteen feet square, up a
dismal flight of stairs, sitting, in the light of a single lamp, by her
air-tight stove, whereon a cup of tea was keeping warm; that, and the
open newspaper on the little table in the corner, being the only things
in any way cheery about her.

Not even a cat or a canary bird had she for companionship. There was no
cozy arrangement for daily feminine employment; no workbasket, or litter
of spools and tapes; nothing to indicate what might be her daily way of
going on. On the broad ledges of the windows, where any other woman
would have had a plant or two, there was no array of geraniums or
verbenas--not even a seedling orange tree or a monthly rose. But in one
of them lay a plaid shawl and a carpet bag, and in the other that
peculiar and nearly obsolete piece of feminine property, a paper
bandbox, tied about with tape.

Packed up for a journey?

Reader, Miss Sampson was _always_ packed up. She was that much-enduring,
all-foregoing creature, a professional nurse.

There would have been no one to feed a cat, or a canary bird, or to
water a rose bush, if she had had one. Her home was no more to her than
his station at the corner of the street is to the handcart man or the
hackney coachman. It was only the place where she might receive orders;
whence she might go forth to the toilsomeness and gloom of one sick room
after another, returning between each sally and the next to her
cheerless post of waiting--keeping her strength for others, and living
no life of her own.

There was nothing in Miss Sampson's outer woman that would give you, at
first glance, an idea of her real energy and peculiar force of
character. She was a tall and slender figure, with no superfluous weight
of flesh; and her long, thin arms seemed to have grown long and wiry
with lifting, and easing, and winding about the poor wrecks of mortality
that had lost their own vigor, and were fain to beg a portion of hers.
Her face was thin and rigid, too--molded to no mere graces of
expression--but with a strong outline, and a habitual compression about
the mouth that told you, when you had once learned somewhat of its
meaning, of the firm will that would go straight forward to its object,
and do, without parade or delay, whatever there might be to be done.
Decision, determination, judgment, and readiness were all in that
habitual look of a face on which little else had been called out for
years. But you would not so have read it at first sight. You would
almost inevitably have called her a "scrawny, sour-looking old maid."

A creaking step was heard upon the stair, and then a knock of decision
at Miss Sampson's door.

"Come in!"

And as she spoke, Miss Sampson took her cup and saucer in her hand. That
was to be kept waiting no longer for whatever visitor it might chance to
be. She was taking her first sip as Dr. Gracier entered.

"Don't move, Miss Sampson; don't let me interrupt."

"I don't mean to! What sends you here?"

"A new patient."

"Humph! Not one of the last sort, I hope. You know my kind, and 'tain't
any use talking up about any others. Any old woman can make gruel, and
feed a baby with catnip tea. Don't offer me any more such work as that!
If it's work that _is_ work, speak out!"

"It's work that nobody else can do for me. A critical case of typhoid,
and nobody in the house that understands such illness. I've promised to
bring you."

"You knew I was back, then?"

"I knew you would be. I only sent you at the pinch. I warned them you'd
go as soon as things were tolerably comfortable."

"Of course I would. What business should I have where there was nothing
wanted of me but to go to bed at nine o'clock, and sleep till daylight?
That ain't the sort of corner I was cut out to fill."

"Well, drink your tea, and put on your bonnet. There's a carriage at the
door."

"Man? or woman?" asked Miss Sampson.

"A man--Mr. Henderson Gartney, Hickory Street."

"Out of his head?"

"Yes--and getting more so. Family all frightened to death."

"Keep 'em out of my way, then, and let me have him to myself. One crazy
patient is enough, at a time, for any one pair of hands. I'm ready."

In fifteen minutes more, they were in Hickory Street; and the nurse was
speedily installed, or rather installed herself, in her office. Dr.
Gracie hastened away to another patient, promising to call again at
bedtime.

"Now, ma'am," said Miss Sampson to Mrs. Gartney, who, after taking her
first to the bedside of the patient, had withdrawn with her to the
little dressing room adjoining, and given her a _resume_ of the
treatment thus far followed, with the doctor's last directions to
herself--"you just go downstairs to your supper. I know, by your looks,
you ain't had a mouthful to-day. That's no way to help take care of sick
folks."

Mrs. Gartney smiled a little, feebly; and an expression of almost
childlike rest and relief came over her face. She felt herself in strong
hands.

"And you?" she asked. "Shall I send you something here?"

"I've drunk a cup of tea, before I started. If I see my way clear, I'll
run down for a bite after you get through. I don't want any special
providings. I take my nibbles anyhow, as I go along. You needn't mind,
more'n as if I wasn't here. I shall find my way all over the house. Now,
you go."

"Only tell me how he seems to you."

"Well--not so terrible sick. Just barely bad enough to keep me here. I
don't take any easy cases."

The odd, abrupt manner and speech comforted, while they somewhat
astonished Mrs. Gartney.

"Leave the bread and butter and cold chicken on the table," said she,
when the tea things were about to be removed; "and keep the chocolate
hot, downstairs. Faithie--sit here; and if Miss Sampson comes down by
and by, see that she is made comfortable."

It was ten o'clock when Miss Sampson came down, and then it was with Dr.
Gracie.

"Cheer up, little lady!" said the doctor, meeting Faith's anxious,
inquiring glance. "Not so bad, by any means, as we might be. The only
difficulty will be to keep Nurse Sampson here. She won't stay a minute,
if we begin to get better too fast. Yes--I will take a bit of chicken, I
think; and--what have you there that's hot?" as the maid came in with
the chocolate pot, in answer to Faith's ring of the bell. "Ah, yes!
Chocolate! I missed my tea, somehow, to-night." The "somehow" had been
in his kindly quest of the best nurse in Mishaumok.

"Sit down, Miss Sampson. Let me help you to a scrap of cold chicken.
What? Drumstick! Miss Faithie--here is a woman who makes it a principle
to go through the world, choosing drumsticks! She's a study; and I set
you to finding her out."

Last night, as he had told Miss Sampson, the family had been "frightened
to death." He had found Faith sitting on the front stairs, at midnight,
when he came in at a sudden summons. She was pale and shivering, and
caught him nervously by both hands.

"Oh, doctor!"

"And oh, Miss Faithie! This is no place for you. You ought to be in
bed."

"But I can't. Mother is all alone, except Mahala. And I don't dare stay
up there, either. What _shall_ we do?"

For all answer, the doctor had just taken her in his arms, and carried
her down to the sofa in the hall, where he laid her, and covered her
over with his greatcoat. There she stayed, passively, till he came back.
And then he told her kindly and gravely, that if she could be _quite_
quiet, and firm, she might go and lie on the sofa in her mother's
dressing room for the remainder of the night, to be at hand for any
needed service. To-morrow he would see that they were otherwise
provided.

And so, to-night, here was Miss Sampson eating her drumstick.

Faith watched the hard lines of her face as she did so, and wondered
what, and how much Dr. Gracie had meant by "setting her to find her
out."

"I'm afraid you haven't had a vary nice supper," said she, timidly. "Do
you like that best?"

"Somebody must always eat drumsticks," was the concise reply.

And so, presently, without any further advance toward acquaintance, they
went upstairs; and the house, under the new, energetic rule, soon
subsided into quiet for the night.




CHAPTER IX.

LIFE OR DEATH?

"With God the Lord belong the issues from death."--Ps. 68; 18.


The nursery was a corner room, opening both into Faith's and her
mother's. Hendie and Mahala Harris had been removed upstairs, and the
apartment was left at Miss Sampson's disposal. Mrs. Gartney's bed had
been made up in the little dressing room at the head of the front entry,
so that she and the nurse had the sick room between them.

Faith came down the two steps that led from her room into the nursery,
the next night at bedtime, as Miss Sampson entered from her father's
chamber to put on her night wrapper and make ready for her watch.

"How is he, nurse? He will get well, won't he? What does the doctor
say?"

"Nothing," said Miss Sampson, shortly. "He don't know, and he don't
pretend to. And that's just what proves he's good for something. He
ain't one of the sort that comes into a sick room as if the Almighty had
made him a kind of special delegit, and left the whole concern to him.
He knows there's a solemner dealing there than his, whether it's for
life or death."

"But he can't help _thinking_," said Faith, tremblingly. "And I wish I
knew. What do _you_--?" But Faith paused, for she was afraid, after all,
to finish the question, and to hear it answered.

"I don't think. I just keep doing. That's my part. Folks that think too
much of what's a-coming, most likely won't attend to what there is."

Faith was finding out--a little of Miss Sampson, and a good deal of
herself. Had she not thought too much of what might be coming? Had she
not missed, perhaps, some of her own work, when that work was easier
than now? And how presumptuously she had wished for "something to
happen!" Was God punishing her for that?

"You just keep still, and patient--and wait," said Miss Sampson, noting
the wistful look of pain. "That's your work, and after all, maybe it's
the hardest kind. And I can't take it off folks' shoulders," added she
to herself in an under voice; "so I needn't set up for the _very_
toughest jobs, to be sure."

"I'll try," answered Faith, submissively, with quivering lips, "only if
there _should_ be anything that I could do--to sit up, or
anything--you'll let me, won't you?"

"Of course I will," replied the nurse, cheerily. "I shan't be squeamish
about asking when there's anything I really want done."

Faith moved toward the door that opened to her father's room. It was
ajar. She pushed it gently open, and paused. "I may go in, mayn't I,
nurse, just for a good-night look?"

The sick man heard her voice, though he did not catch her words.

"Come in, Faithie," said he, with one of his half gleams of
consciousness, "I'll see you, daughter, as long as I live."

Faith's heart nearly broke at that, and she came, tearfully and
silently, to the bedside, and laid her little, cool hand on her father's
fevered one, and looked down on his face, worn, and suffering, and
flushed--and thought within herself--it was a prayer and vow
unspoken--"Oh, if God will only let him live, I will _find_ something
that I can do for him!"

And then she lifted the linen cloth that was laid over his forehead, and
dipped it afresh in the bowl of ice water beside the bed, and put it
gently back, and just kissed his hair softly, and went out into her own
room.

Three nights--three days--more, the fever raged. And on the fourth night
after, Faith and her mother knew, by the scrupulous care with which the
doctor gave minute directions for the few hours to come, and the
resolute way in which Miss Sampson declared that "whoever else had a
mind to watch, she should sit up till morning this time," that the
critical point was reached; that these dark, silent moments that would
flit by so fast, were to spell, as they passed by, the sentence of life
or death.

Faith would not be put by. Her mother sat on one side of the bed, while
the nurse busied herself noiselessly, or waited, motionless, upon the
other. Down by the fireside, on a low stool, with her head on the
cushion of an easy-chair, leaned the young girl--her heart full, and
every nerve strained with emotion and suspense.

She will never know, precisely, how those hours went on. She can
remember the low breathing from the bed, and the now and then
half-distinct utterance, as the brain wandered still in a dreamy,
feverish maze; and she never will forget the precise color and pattern
of the calico wrapper that Nurse Sampson wore; but she can recollect
nothing else of it all, except that, after a time, longer or shorter,
she glanced up, fearfully, as a strange hush seemed to have come over
the room, and met a look and gesture of the nurse that warned her down
again, for her life.

And then, other hours, or minutes, she knows not which, went by.

And then, a stir--a feeble word--a whisper from Nurse Sampson--a low
"Thank God!" from her mother.

The crisis was passed. Henderson Gartney lived.




CHAPTER X.

ROUGH ENDS.

                 "So others shall
Take patience, labor, to their heart and hand,
From thy hand and thy heart, and thy brave cheer,
And God's grace fructify through thee to all."
                                      MRS. BROWNING.


"M. S. What does that stand for?" said little Hendie, reading the white
letters painted on the black leather bottom of nurse's carpetbag. He got
back, now, often, in the daytime, to his old nursery quarters, where his
father liked to hear his chatter and play, for a short time
together--though he still slept, with Mahala, upstairs. "Does that mean
'Miss Sampson'?"

Faith glanced up from her stocking mending, with a little fun and a
little curiosity in her eyes.

"What does 'M.' stand for?" repeated Hendie.

The nurse was "setting to rights" about the room. She turned round at
the question, from hanging a towel straight over the stand, and looked a
little amazed, as if she had almost forgotten, herself. But it came out,
with a quick opening and shutting of the thin lips, like the snipping of
a pair of scissors--"Mehitable."

Faith had been greatly drawn to this odd, efficient woman. Beside that
her skillful, untiring nursing had humanly, been the means of saving her
father's life, which alone had warmed her with an earnest gratitude that
was restless to prove itself, and that welled up in every glance and
tone she gave Miss Sampson, there were a certain respect and interest
that could not withhold themselves from one who so evidently worked on
with a great motive that dignified her smallest acts. In whom
self-abnegation was the underlying principle of all daily doing.

Miss Sampson had stayed on at the Gartneys', notwithstanding the
doctor's prediction, and her usual habit. And, in truth, her patient did
not "get well _too_ fast." She was needed now as really as ever, though
the immediate danger which had summoned her was past, and the fever had
gone. The months of overstrained effort and anxiety that had culminated
in its violent attack were telling upon him now, in the scarcely less
perilous prostration that followed. And Mrs. Gartney had quite given out
since the excessive tension of nerve and feeling had relaxed. She was
almost ill enough to be regularly nursed herself. She alternated between
her bed in the dressing room and an easy-chair opposite her husband's,
at his fireside. Miss Sampson knew when she was really wanted, whether
the emergency were more or less obvious. She knew the mischief of a
change of hands at such a time. And so she stayed on, though she did
sleep comfortably of a night, and had many an hour of rest in the
daytime, when Faith would come into the nursery and constitute herself
her companion.

Miss Sampson was to her like a book to be read, whereof she turned but a
leaf or so at a time, as she had accidental opportunity, yet whose every
page rendered up a deep, strong--above all, a most sound and healthy
meaning.

She turned over a leaf, one day, in this wise.

"Miss Sampson, how came you, at first, to be a sick nurse?"

The shadow of some old struggle seemed to come over Miss Sampson's face,
as she answered, briefly:

"I wanted to find the very toughest sort of a job to do."

Faith looked up, surprised.

"But I heard you tell my father that you had been nursing more than
twenty years. You must have been quite a young woman when you began. I
wonder--"

"You wonder why I wasn't like most other young women, I suppose. Why I
didn't get married, perhaps, and have folks of my own to take care of?
Well, I didn't; and the Lord gave me a pretty plain indication that He
hadn't laid out that kind of a life for me. So then I just looked around
to find out what better He had for me to do. And I hit on the very work
I wanted. A trade that it took all the old Sampson grit to follow. I
made up my mind, as the doctor says, that _somebody_ in the world had
got to choose drumsticks, and I might as well take hold of one."

"But don't you ever get tired of it all, and long for something to rest
or amuse you?"

"Amuse! I couldn't be amused, child. I've been in too much awful earnest
ever to be much amused again. No, I want to die in the harness. It's
hard work I want. I couldn't have been tied down to a common, easy sort
of life. I want something to fight and grapple with; and I'm thankful
there's been a way opened for me to do good according to my nature. If I
hadn't had sickness and death to battle against, I should have got into
human quarrels, maybe, just for the sake of feeling ferocious."

"And you always take the very worst and hardest cases, Dr. Gracie says."

"What's the use of taking a tough job if you don't face the toughest
part of it? I don't want the comfortable end of the business.
_Somebody's_ got to nurse smallpox, and yellow fever, and
raving-distracted people; and I _know_ the Lord made me fit to do just
that very work. There ain't many that He _does_ make for it, but I'm
one. And if I shirked, there'd be a stitch dropped."

"Yellow fever! where have you nursed that?"

"Do you suppose I didn't go to New Orleans? I've nursed it, and I've
_had_ it, and nursed it again. I've been in the cholera hospitals, too.
I'm seasoned to most everything."

"Do you think everybody ought to take the hardest thing they can find,
to do?"

"Do you think everybody ought to eat drumsticks? We'd have to kill an
unreasonable lot of fowls to let 'em! No. The Lord portions out breasts
and wings, as well as legs. If He puts anything into your plate, take
it."

Dr. Gracie always had a word for the nurse, when he came; and, to do her
justice, it was seldom but she had a word to give him back.

"Well, Miss Sampson," said he gayly, one bright morning, "you're as
fresh as the day. What pulls down other folks seems to set you up. I
declare you're as blooming as--twenty-five."

"You--fib--like--sixty! It's no such thing! And if it was, I'd ought to
be ashamed of it."

"Prodigious! as your namesake, the Dominie, would say. Don't tell me a
woman is ever ashamed of looking young, or handsome!"

"Now, look here, doctor!" said Miss Sampson, "I never was handsome; and
I thank the Lord He's given me enough to do in the world to wear off my
young looks long ago! And any woman ought to be ashamed that gets to be
thirty and upward, to say nothing of forty-five, and keeps her baby face
on! It's a sign she ain't been of much account, anyhow."

"Oh, but there are always differences and exceptions," persisted the
doctor, who liked nothing better than to draw Miss Sampson out. "There
are some faces that take till thirty, at least, to bring out all their
possibilities of good looks, and wear on, then, till fifty. I've seen
'em. And the owners were no drones or do-nothings, either. What do you
say to that?"

"I say there's two ways of growing old. And growing old ain't always
growing ugly. Some folks grow old from the inside, out; and some from
the outside, in. There's old furniture, and there's growing trees!"

"And the trunk that is roughest below may branch out greenest a-top!"
said the doctor.

The talk Faith heard now and then, in her walks from home, or when some
of "the girls" came in and called her down into the parlor--about pretty
looks, and becoming dresses, and who danced with who at the "German"
last night, and what a scrape Loolie Lloyd had got into with mixing up
and misdating her engagements at the class, and the last new roll for
the hair--used to seem rather trivial to her in these days!

Occasionally, when Mr. Gartney had what nurse called a "good" day, he
would begin to ask for some of his books and papers, with a thought
toward business; and then Miss Sampson would display her carpetbag, and
make a show of picking up things to put in it. "For," said she, "when
you get at your business, it'll be high time for me to go about mine."

"But only for half an hour, nurse! I'll give you that much leave of
absence, and then we'll have things back again as they were before."

"I guess you will! And _further_ than they were before. No, Mr. Gartney,
you've got to behave. I _won't_ have them vicious-looking accounts
about, and it don't signify."

"If it don't, why not?" But it ended in the accounts and the carpetbag
disappearing together.

Until one morning, some three weeks from the beginning of Mr. Gartney's
illness, when, after a few days' letting alone the whole subject, he
suddenly appealed to the doctor.

"Doctor," said he, as that gentleman entered, "I must have Braybrook up
here this afternoon. I dropped things just where I stood, you know. It's
time to take an observation."

The doctor looked at his patient gravely.

"Can't you be content with simply picking up things, and putting them
by, for this year? What I ought to tell you to do would be to send
business to the right about, and go off for an entire rest and change,
for three months, at least."

"You don't know what you're talking about, doctor!"

"Perhaps not, on one side of the subject. I feel pretty certain on the
other, however."

Mr. Gartney did not send for Braybrook that afternoon. The next morning,
however, he came, and the tabooed books and papers were got out.

In another day or two, Miss Sampson _did_ pack her carpetbag, and go
back to her air-tight stove and solitary cups of tea. Her occupation in
Hickory Street was gone.




CHAPTER XI.

CROSS CORNERS.

"O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the Actual, and criest
bitterly to the Gods for a kingdom, wherein to rule and create,
know this of a truth, the thing thou seekest is already with thee,
'here or nowhere,' couldst thou only see!"--CARLYLE.


"It is of no use to talk about it," said Mr. Gartney, wearily. "If I
live--as long as I live--I must do business. How else are you to get
along?"

"How shall we get along if you do _not_ live?" asked his wife, in a low,
anxious tone.

"My life's insured," was all Mr. Gartney's answer.

"Father!" cried Faith, distressfully.

Faith had been taken more and more into counsel and confidence with her
parents since the time of the illness that had brought them all so close
together. And more and more helpful she had grown, both in word and
doing, since she had learned to look daily for the daily work set before
her, and to perform it conscientiously, even although it consisted only
of little things. She still remembered with enthusiasm Nurse Sampson and
the "drumsticks," and managed to pick up now and then one for herself.
Meantime she began to see, indistinctly, before her, the vision of a
work that must be done by some one, and the duty of it pressed hourly
closer home to herself. Her father's health had never been fully
reestablished. He had begun to use his strength before and faster than
it came. There was danger--it needed no Dr. Gracie, even, to tell them
so--of grave disease, if this went on. And still, whenever urged, his
answer was the same. "What would become of his family without his
business?"

Faith turned these things over and over in her mind.

"Father," said she, after a while--the conversation having been dropped
at the old conclusion, and nobody appearing to have anything more to
say--"I don't know anything about business; but I wish you'd tell me how
much money you've got!"

Her father laughed; a sad sort of laugh though, that was not so much
amusement as tenderness and pity. Then, as if the whole thing were a
mere joke, yet with a shade upon his face that betrayed there was far
too much truth under the jest, after all, he took out his portemonnaie
and told her to look and see.

"You know I don't mean that, father! How much in the bank, and
everywhere?"

"Precious little in the bank, now, Faithie. Enough to keep house with
for a year, nearly, perhaps. But if I were to take it and go off and
spend it in traveling, you can understand that the housekeeping would
fall short, can't you?"

Faith looked horrified. She was bringing down her vague ideas of money
that came from somewhere, through her father's pocket, as water comes
from Lake Kinsittewink by the turning of a faucet, to the narrow point
of actuality.

"But that isn't all, I know! I've heard you talk about railroad
dividends, and such things."

"Oh! what does the Western Road pay this time?" asked his wife.

"I've had to sell out my stock there."

"And where's the money, father?" asked Faith.

"Gone to pay debts, child," was the answer.

Mrs. Gartney said nothing, but she looked very grave. Her husband
surmised, perhaps, that she would go on to imagine worse than had really
happened, and so added, presently:

"I haven't been obliged to sell _all_ my railroad stocks, wifey. I held
on to some. There's the New York Central all safe; and the Michigan
Central, too. That wouldn't have sold so well, to be sure, just when I
was wanting the money; but things are looking better, now."

"Father," said Faithie, with her most coaxing little smile, "please just
take this bit of paper and pencil, and set down these stocks and things,
will you?"

The little smile worked its way; and half in idleness, half in
acquiescence, Mr. Gartney took the pencil and noted down a short list of
items.

"It's very little, Faith, you see." They ran thus:

     New York Central Railroad             20 shares.
     Michigan Central    "                 15   "
     Kinnicutt Branch    "                 10   "
     Mishaumok Insurance Co.               15   "
     Merchants Bank                        30   "

"And now, father, please put down how much you get a year in dividends."

"Not always the same, little busybody."

Nevertheless he noted down the average sums. And the total was between
six and seven hundred dollars.

"But that isn't all. You've got other things. Why, there's the house at
Cross Corners."

"Yes, but I can't let it, you know."

"What used you to get for it?"

"Two hundred and fifty. For house and land."

"And you own this house, too, father?"

"Yes. This is your mother's."

"How much rent would this bring?"

Mr. Gartney turned around and looked at his daughter. He began to see
there was a meaning in her questions. And as he caught her eye, he read,
or discerned without fully reading, a certain eager kindling there.

"Why, what has come over you, Faithie, to set you catechising so?"

Faith laughed.

"Just answer this, please, and I won't ask a single question more
to-night."

"About the rent? Why, this house ought to bring six hundred, certainly.
And now, if the court will permit, I'll read the news."

About a week after this, in the latter half of one of those spring days
that come with a warm breath to tell that summer is glowing somewhere,
and that her face is northward, Aunt Faith Henderson came out upon the
low, vine-latticed stoop of her house in Kinnicutt.

Up the little footpath from the road--across the bit of greensward that
lay between it and the stoop--came a quick, noiseless step, and there
was a touch, presently, on the old lady's arm.

Faith Gartney stood beside her, in trim straw bonnet and shawl, with a
black leather bag upon her arm.

"Auntie! I've come to make you a tiny little visit! Till day after
to-morrow."

"Faith Gartney! However came you here? And in such a fashion, too,
without a word of warning, like--an angel from Heaven!"

"I came up in the cars, auntie! I felt just like it! Will you keep me?"

"Glory! Glory McWhirk!" Like the good Vicar of Wakefield, Aunt Henderson
liked often to give the whole name; and calling, she disappeared round
the corner of the stoop, without ever a word of more assured welcome.

"Put on the teapot again, and make a slice of toast." The good lady's
voice, going on with further directions, was lost in the intricate
threading of the inner maze of the singular old dwelling, and Faith
followed her as far as the first apartment, where she set down her bag
and removed her bonnet.

It was a quaint, dim room, overbrowed and gloomed by the roofed
projection of the stoop; low-ceiled, high-wainscoted and paneled. All in
oak, of the natural color, deepened and glossed by time and wear. The
heavy beams that supported the floor above were undisguised, and left
the ceiling in panels also, as it were, between. In these highest
places, a man six feet tall could hardly have stood without bending. He
certainly would not, whether he could or no. Even Aunt Faith, with her
five feet, six-and-a-half, dropped a little of her dignity, habitually,
when she entered. But then, as she said, "A hen always bobs her head
when she comes in at a barn door." Between the windows stood an old,
old-fashioned secretary, that filled up from floor to ceiling; and over
the fireplace a mirror of equally antique date tilted forward from the
wall. Opposite the secretary, a plain mahogany table; and eight
high-backed, claw-footed chairs ranged stiffly around the room.

Aunt Henderson was proud of her old ways, her old furniture, and her
house, that was older than all.

Some far back ancestor and early settler had built it--the beginning of
it--before Kinnicutt had even become a town; and--rare exception to the
changes elsewhere--generation after generation of the same name and line
had inhabited it until now. Aunt Faith, exultingly, told each curious
visitor that it had been built precisely two hundred and ten years. Out
in the back kitchen, or lean-to, was hung to a rafter the identical gun
with which the "old settler" had ranged the forest that stretched then
from the very door; and higher up, across a frame contrived for it, was
the "wooden saddle" fabricated for the back of the placid, slow-moving
ox, in the time when horses were as yet rare in the new country, and
used with pillions, to transport I can't definitely say how many of the
family to "meeting."

Between these--the best room and the out-kitchen--the labyrinth of
sitting room, bedrooms, kitchen proper, milk room, and pantry,
partitioned off, or added on, many of them since the primary date of the
main structure, would defy the pencil of modern architect.

In one of these irregularly clustered apartments that opened out on
different aspects, unexpectedly, from their conglomerate center, Faith
sat, some fifteen minutes after her entrance into the house, at a little
round table between two corner windows that looked northwest and
southwest, and together took in the full radiance of the evening sky.

Opposite sat her aunt, taking care of her as regarded tea, toast, and
plain country loaf cake, and watching somewhat curiously, also, her
face.

Faith's face had changed a little since Aunt Henderson had seen her
last. It was not the careless girl's face she had known. There was a
thought in it now. A thought that seemed to go quite out from, and
forget the self from which it came.

Aunt Henderson wondered greatly what sudden whim or inward purpose had
brought her grandniece hither.

When Faith absolutely declined any more tea or cake, Miss Henderson's
tap on the table leaf brought in Glory McWhirk.

A tall, well-grown girl of eighteen was Glory, now--quite another Glory
than had lightened, long ago, the dull little house in Budd Street, and
filled it with her bright, untutored dreams. The luminous tresses had
had their way since then; that is, with certain comfortable bounds
prescribed; and rippled themselves backward from a clear, contented
face, into the net that held them tidily.

Faith looked up, and remembered the poor office girl of three years
since, half clad and hopeless, with a secret amaze at what "Aunt Faith
had made of her."

"You may give me some water, Glory," said Miss Henderson.

Glory brought the pitcher, and poured into the tumbler, and gazed at
Faith's pretty face, and the dark-brown glossy rolls that framed it,
until the water fairly ran over the table.

"There! there! Why, Glory, what are you thinking of?" cried Miss
Henderson.

Glory was thinking her old thoughts--wakened always by all that was
beautiful and _beyond_.

She came suddenly to herself, however, and darted off, with her face as
bright a crimson as her hair was golden; flashing up so, as she did most
easily, into as veritable a Glory as ever was. Never had baby been more
aptly or prophetically named.

Coming back, towel in hand, to stop the freshet she had set flowing, she
dared not give another glance across the table; but went busily and
deftly to work, clearing it of all that should be cleared, that she
might make her shy way off again before she should be betrayed into
other unwonted blundering.

"And now, Faith Gartney, tell me all about it! What sent you here?"

"Nothing. Nobody. I came, aunt. I wanted to see the place, and you."

The rough eyebrows were bent keenly across the table.

"Hum!" breathed Aunt Henderson.

There was small interior sympathy between her ideas and those that
governed the usual course of affairs in Hickory Street. Fond of her
nephew and his family, after her fashion, notwithstanding Faith's old
rebellion, and all other differences, she certainly was; but they went
their way, and she hers. She felt pretty sure theirs would sooner or
later come to a turning; and when that should happen, whether she should
meet them round the corner, or not, would depend. Her path would need to
bend a little, and theirs to make a pretty sharp angle, first.

But here was Faith cutting across lots to come to her! Aunt Henderson
put away her loaf cake in the cupboard, set back her chair against the
wall in its invariable position of disuse, and departed to the milk room
and kitchen for her evening duty and oversight.

Glory's hands were busy in the bread bowl, and her brain kneading its
secret thoughts that no one knew or intermeddled with.

Faith sat at the open window of the little tea room, and watched the
young moon's golden horn go down behind the earth rim among the purple,
like a flamy flower bud floating over, and so lost.

And the three lives gathered in to themselves, separately, whatsoever
the hour brought to each.

At nine o'clock Aunt Faith came in, took down the great leather-bound
Bible from the corner shelf, and laid it on the table. Glory appeared,
and seated herself beside the door.

For a few moments, the three lives met in the One Great Life that
overarches and includes humanity. Miss Henderson read from the sixth
chapter of St. John.

They were fed with the five thousand.




CHAPTER XII.

A RECONNOISSANCE.

"Then said his Lordship, 'Well God mend all!' 'Nay, Donald, we must
help him to mend it,' said the other."--Quoted by CARLYLE.

"Oh, leave these jargons, and go your way straight to God's work in
simplicity and singleness of heart!"--MISS NIGHTINGALE.


"Auntie," said Faith, next morning, when, after some exploring, she had
discovered Miss Henderson in a little room, the very counterpart of the
one she had had her tea in the night before, only that this opened to
the southeast, and hailed the morning sun. "Auntie, will you go over
with me to the Cross Corners house, after breakfast? It's empty, isn't
it?"

"Yes, it's empty. But it's no great show of a house. What do you want to
see it for?"

"Why, it used to be so pretty, there. I'd like just to go into it. Have
you heard of anybody's wanting it yet?"

"No; and I guess nobody's likely to, for one while. Folks don't make
many changes, out here."

"What a bright little breakfast room this is, auntie! And how grand you
are to have a room for every meal!"

"It ain't for the grandeur of it. But I always did like to follow the
sun round. For the most part of the year, at any rate. And this is just
as near the kitchen as the other. Besides, I kind of hate to shut up any
of the rooms, altogether. They were all wanted, once; and now I'm all
alone in 'em."

For Miss Henderson, this was a great opening of the heart. But she
didn't go on to say that the little west room had been her young
brother's, who long ago, when he was just ready for his Master's work in
this world, had been called up higher; and that her evening rest was
sweeter, and her evening reading holier for being holden there; or that
here, in the sunny morning hours, her life seemed almost to roll back
its load of many years, and to set her down beside her mother's knee,
and beneath her mother's gentle tutelage, once more; that on the little
"light stand" in the corner by the fireplace stood the selfsame basket
that had been her mother's then--just where she had kept it, too, when
it was running over with little frocks and stockings that were always
waiting finishing or mending--and now held only the plain gray knitting
work and the bit of sewing that Aunt Faith might have in hand.

A small, square table stood now in the middle of the floor, with a fresh
brown linen breakfast cloth upon it; and Glory, neat and fresh, also,
with her brown spotted calico dress and apron of the same, came in
smiling like a very goddess of peace and plenty, with the steaming
coffeepot in one hand, and the plate of fine, white rolls in the other.
The yellow print of butter and some rounds from a brown loaf were
already on the table. Glory brought in, presently, the last addition to
the meal--six eggs, laid yesterday, the water of their boiling just
dried off, and modestly took her own seat at the lower end of the board.

Aunt Faith, living alone, kept to the kindly old country fashion of
admitting her handmaid to the table with herself. "Why not?" she would
say. "In the first place, why should we keep the table about, half an
hour longer than we need? And I suppose hot cakes and coffee are as much
nicer than cold, for one body as another. Then where's the sense? We
take Bible meat together. Must we be more dainty about 'meat that
perisheth'?" So her argument climbed up from its lower reason to its
climax.

Glory had little of the Irish now about her but her name. And all that
she retained visibly of the Roman faith she had been born to, was her
little rosary of colored shells, strung as beads, that had been blessed
by the Pope.

Miss Henderson had trained and fed her in her own ways, and with such
food as she partook herself, physically and spiritually. Glory sat,
every Sunday, in the corner pew of the village church, by her mistress's
side. And this church-going being nearly all that she had ever had, she
took in the nutriment that was given her, to a soul that recognized it,
and never troubled itself with questions as to one truth differing from
another, or no. Indeed, no single form or theory could have contained
the "credo" of her simple, yet complex, thought. The old Catholic
reverence clung about her still, that had come with her all the way from
her infancy, when her mother and grandmother had taught her the prayers
of their Church; and across the long interval of ignorance and neglect
flung a sort of cathedral light over what she felt was holy now.

Rescued from her dim and servile city life--brought out into the light
and beauty she had mutely longed for--feeling care and kindliness about
her for the long-time harshness and oppression she had borne--she was
like a spirit newly entered into heaven, that needs no priestly
ministration any more. Every breath drew in a life and teaching purer
than human words.

And then the words she _did_ hear were Divine. Miss Henderson did no
preaching--scarcely any lip teaching, however brief. She broke the bread
of life God gave her, as she cut her daily loaf and shared it--letting
each soul, God helping, digest it for itself.

Glory got hold of some old theology, too, that she could but
fragmentarily understand but that mingled itself--as all we gather does
mingle, not uselessly--with her growth. She found old books among Miss
Henderson's stores, that she read and mused on. She trembled at the
warnings, and reposed in the holy comforts of Doddridge's "Rise and
Progress," and Baxter's "Saint's Rest." She traveled to the Holy City,
above all, with Bunyan's Pilgrim. And then, Sunday after Sunday, she
heard the simple Christian preaching of an old and simple Christian man.
Not terrible--but earnest; not mystical--but high; not lax--but liberal;
and this fused and tempered all.

So "things had happened" for Glory. So God had cared for this, His
child. So, according to His own Will--not any human plan or forcing--
she grew.

Aunt Faith washed up the breakfast cups, dusted and "set to rights" in
the rooms where, to the young Faith's eyes, there seemed such order
already as could not be righted, made up a nice little pudding for
dinner, and then, taking down her shawl and silk hood, and putting on
her overshoes, announced herself ready for Cross Corners.

"Though it's all cross corners to me, child, sure enough. I suppose it's
none of my business, but I can't think what you're up to."

"Not up to any great height, yet, auntie. But I'm growing," said Faith,
merrily, and with meaning somewhat beyond the letter.

They went out at the back door, which opened on a little footpath down
the sudden green slope behind, and stretched across the field,
diagonally, to a bar place and stile at the opposite corner. Here the
roads from five different directions met and crossed, which gave the
locality its name.

Opposite the stile at which they came out, across the shady lane that
wound down from the Old Road whereon Miss Henderson's mansion faced, a
gateway in a white paling that ran round and fenced in a grassy door
yard, overhung with pendent branches of elms and stouter canopy of
chestnuts, let them in upon the little "Cross Corners Farm."

"Oh, Aunt Faith! It's just as lovely as ever! I remember that path up
the hill, among the trees, so well! When I was a little bit of a girl,
and nurse and I came out to stay with you. I had my 'fairy house' there.
I'd like to go over this minute, only that we shan't have time. How
shall we get in? Where is the key?"

"It's in my pocket. But it mystifies me, what you want there."

"I want to look out of all the windows, auntie, to begin with."

Aunt Faith's mystification was not lessened.

The front door opened on a small, square hall, with doors to right and
left. The room on the left, spite of the bare floor and fireless
hearth, was warm with the spring sunshine that came pouring in at the
south windows. Beyond this, embracing the corner of the house
rectangularly, projected an equally sunny and cheery kitchen; at the
right of which, communicating with both apartments, was divided off a
tiny tea and breakfast room. So Faith decided, though it had very likely
been a bedroom.

From the entrance hall at the right opened a room larger than either of
the others--so large that the floor above afforded two bedrooms over
it--and having, besides its windows south and east, a door in the
farther corner beyond the chimney, that gave out directly upon the
grassy slope, and looked up the path among the trees that crossed the
ridge.

Faith drew the bolt and opened it, expecting to find a closet or a
passage somewhither. She fairly started back with surprise and delight.
And then seated herself plump upon the threshold, and went into a
midsummer dream.

"Oh, auntie!" she cried, at her waking, presently, "was ever anything so
perfect? To think of being let out so! Right from a regular, proper
parlor, into the woods!"

"Do you mean to go upstairs?" inquired Miss Henderson, with a vague
amaze in her look that seemed to question whether her niece had not
possibly been "let out" from her "regular and proper" wits!

Whereupon Faith scrambled up from her seat upon the sill, and hurried
off to investigate above.

Miss Henderson closed the door, pushed the bolt, and followed quietly
after.

It was a funny little pantomime that Faith enacted then, for the further
bewilderment of the staid old lady.

Darting from one chamber to another, with an inexplicable look of
business and consideration in her face, that contrasted comically with
her quick movements and her general air of glee, she would take her
stand in the middle of each one in turn, and wheeling round to get a
swift panoramic view of outlook and capabilities, would end by a
succession of mysterious and apparently satisfied little nods, as if at
each pause some point of plan or arrangement had settled itself in her
mind.

"Aunt Faith!" cried she, suddenly, as she came out upon the landing when
she had peeped into the last corner, and found Miss Henderson on the
point of making her descent--"what sort of a thing do you think it would
be for us to come here and live?"

Aunt Faith sat down now as suddenly, in her turn, on the stairhead.
Recovering, so, from her momentary and utter astonishment, and taking
in, during that instant of repose, the full drift of the question
propounded, she rose from her involuntarily assumed position, and
continued her way down--answering, without so much as turning her head,
"It would be just the most sensible thing that Henderson Gartney ever
did in his life!"

What made Faithie a bit sober, all at once, when the key was turned, and
they passed on, out under the elms, into the lane again?

Did you ever project a very wise and important scheme, that involves a
little self-sacrifice, which, by a determined looking at the bright side
of the subject, you had managed tolerably to ignore; and then, by the
instant and unhesitating acquiescence of some one to whose judgment you
submitted it, find yourself suddenly wheeled about in your own mind to
the standpoint whence you discerned only the difficulty again?

"There's one thing, Aunt Faith," said she, as they slowly walked up the
field path; "I couldn't go to school any more."

Faith had discontinued her regular attendance since the recommencement
for the year, but had gone in for a few hours on "French and German
days."

"There's another thing," said Aunt Faith. "I don't believe your father
can afford to send you any more. You're eighteen, ain't you?"

"I shall be, this summer."

"Time for you to leave off school. Bring your books and things along
with you. You'll have chance enough to study."

Faith hadn't thought much of herself before. But when she found her aunt
didn't apparently think of her at all, she began to realize keenly all
that she must silently give up.

"But it's a good deal of help, auntie, to study with other people. And
then--we shouldn't have any society out here. I don't mean for the sake
of parties, and going about. But for the improvement of it. I shouldn't
like to be shut out from cultivated people."

"Faith Gartney!" exclaimed Miss Henderson, facing about in the narrow
footway, "don't you go to being fine and transcendental! If there's one
word I despise more than another, in the way folks use it nowadays--it's
'Culture'! As if God didn't know how to make souls grow! You just take
root where He puts you, and go to work, and live! He'll take care of the
cultivating! If He means you to turn out a rose, or an oak tree, you'll
come to it. And pig-weed's pig-weed, no matter where it starts up!"

"Aunt Faith!" replied the child, humbly and earnestly, "I believe that's
true! And I believe I want the country to grow in! But the thing will
be," she added, a little doubtfully, "to persuade father."

"Doesn't he want to come, then? Whose plan is it, pray?" asked Miss
Henderson, stopping short again, just as she had resumed her walk, in a
fresh surprise.

"Nobody's but mine, yet, auntie! I haven't asked him, but I thought I'd
come and look."

Miss Henderson took her by the arm, and looked steadfastly in her dark,
earnest eyes.

"You're something, sure enough!" said she, with a sharp tenderness.

Faith didn't know precisely what she meant, except that she seemed to
mean approval. And at the one word of appreciation, all difficulty and
self-sacrifice vanished out of her sight, and everything brightened to
her thought, again, till her thought brightened out into a smile.

"What a skyful of lovely white clouds!" she said, looking up to the
pure, fleecy folds that were flittering over the blue. "We can't see
that in Mishaumok!"

"She's just heavenly!" said Glory to herself, standing at the back door,
and gazing with a rapturous admiration at Faith's upturned face. "And
the dinner's all ready, and I'm thankful, and more, that the custard's
baked so beautiful!"




CHAPTER XIII.

DEVELOPMENT.

"Sits the wind in that corner?"
                  MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

"For courage mounteth with occasion."
                               KING JOHN.


The lassitude that comes with spring had told upon Mr. Gartney. He had
dyspepsia, too; and now and then came home early from the counting room
with a headache that sent him to his bed. Dr. Gracie dropped in,
friendly-wise, of an evening--said little that was strictly
professional--but held his hand a second longer, perhaps, than he would
have done for a mere greeting, and looked rather scrutinizingly at him
when Mr. Gartney's eyes were turned another way. Frequently he made some
slight suggestion of a journey, or other summer change.

"You must urge it, if you can, Mrs. Gartney," he said, privately, to the
wife. "I don't quite like his looks. Get him away from business, at
_almost any_ sacrifice," he came to add, at last.

"At _every_ sacrifice?" asked Mrs. Gartney, anxious and perplexed.
"Business is nearly all, you know."

"Life is more--reason is more," answered the doctor, gravely.

And the wife went about her daily task with a secret heaviness at her
heart.

"Father," said Faith, one evening, after she had read to him the paper
while he lay resting upon the sofa, "if you had money enough to live on,
how long would it take you to wind up your business?"

"It's pretty nearly wound up now! But what's the use of asking such a
question?"

"Because," said Faith, timidly, "I've got a little plan in my head, if
you'll only listen to it."

"Well, Faithie, I'll listen. What is it?"

And then Faith spoke it all out, at once.

"That you should give up all your business, father, and let this house,
and go to Cross Corners, and live at the farm."

Mr. Gartney started to his elbow. But a sudden pain that leaped in his
temples sent him back again. For a minute or so, he did not speak at
all. Then he said:

"Do you know what you are talking of, daughter?"

"Yes, father; I've been thinking it over a good while--since the night
we wrote down these things."

And she drew from her pocket the memorandum of stocks and dividends.

"You see you have six hundred and fifty dollars a year from these, and
this house would be six hundred more, and mother says she can manage on
that, in the country, if I will help her."

Mr. Gartney shaded his eyes with his hand. Not wholly, perhaps, to
shield them from the light.

"You're a good girl, Faithie," said he, presently; and there was
assuredly a little tremble in his voice.

"And so, you and your mother have talked it over, together?"

"Yes; often, lately. And she said I had better ask you myself, if I
wished it. She is perfectly willing. She thinks it would be good."

"Faithie," said her father, "you make me feel, more than ever, how much
I _ought_ to do for you!"

"You ought to get well and strong, father--that is all!" replied Faith,
with a quiver in her own voice.

Mr. Gartney sighed.

"I'm no more than a mere useless block of wood!"

"We shall just have to set you up, and make an idol of you, then!" cried
Faith, cheerily, with tears on her eyelashes, that she winked off.

There had been a ring at the bell while they were speaking; and now Mrs.
Gartney entered, followed by Dr. Gracie.

"Well, Miss Faith," said the doctor, after the usual greetings, and a
prolonged look at Mr. Gartney's flushed face, "what have you done to
your father?"

"I've been reading the paper," answered Faith, quietly, "and talking a
little."

"Mother!" said Mr. Gartney, catching his wife's hand, as she came round
to find a seat near him, "are you really in the plot, too?"

"I'm glad there is a plot," said the doctor, quickly, glancing round
with a keen inquiry. "It's time!"

"Wait till you hear it," said Mr. Gartney. "Are you in a hurry to lose
your patient?"

"Depends upon _how_!" replied the doctor, touching the truth in a jest.

"This is how. Here's a little jade who has the conceit and audacity to
propose to me to wind up my business (as if she understood the whole
process!), and let my house, and go to my farm at Cross Corners. What do
you think of that?"

"I think it would be the most sensible thing you ever did in your life!"

"Just exactly what Aunt Henderson said!" cried Faith, exultant.

"Aunt Faith, too! The conspiracy thickens! How long has all this been
discussing?" continued Mr. Gartney, fairly roused, and springing,
despite the doctor's request, to a sitting position, throwing off, as he
did so, the afghan Faith had laid over his feet.

"There hasn't been much discussion," said Faith. "Only when I went out
to Kinnicutt I got auntie to show me the house; and I asked her how she
thought it would be if we were to do such a thing, and she said just
what Dr. Gracie has said now. And, father, you _don't_ know how
beautiful it is there!"

"So you really want to go? and it isn't drumsticks?" queried the doctor,
turning round to Faith.

"Some drumsticks are very nice," said Faith.

"Gartney!" said Dr. Gracie, "you'd better mind what this girl of yours
says. She's worth attending to."

The wedge had been entered, and Faith's hand had driven it.

The plan was taken into consideration. Of course, such a change could
not be made without some pondering; but when almost the continual
thought of a family is concentrated upon a single subject, a good deal
of pondering and deciding can be done in three weeks. At the end of that
time an advertisement appeared in the leading Mishaumok papers, offering
the house in Hickory Street to be let; and Mrs. Gartney and Faith were
busy packing boxes to go to Kinnicutt.

Only a passing shade had been flung on the project which seemed to
brighten into sunshine, otherwise, the more they looked at it, when Mrs.
Gartney suddenly said, after a long "talking over," the second evening
after the proposal had been first broached:

"But what will Saidie say?"

Now Saidie--whom before it has been unnecessary to mention--was Faith's
elder sister, traveling at this moment in Europe, with a wealthy elder
sister of Mrs. Gartney.

"I never thought of Saidie," cried Faith.

Saidie was pretty sure not to like Kinnicutt. A young lady, educated at
a fashionable New York school--petted by an aunt who found nobody else
to pet, and who had money enough to have petted a whole asylum of
orphans--who had shone in London and Paris for two seasons past--was not
exceedingly likely to discover all the possible delights that Faith had
done, under the elms and chestnuts at Cross Corners.

But this could make no practical difference.

"She wouldn't like Hickory Street any better," said Faith, "if we
couldn't have parties or new furniture any more. And she's only a
visitor, at the best. Aunt Etherege will be sure to have her in New
York, or traveling about, ten months out of twelve. She can come to us
in June and October. I guess she'll like strawberries and cream,
and--whatever comes at the other season, besides red leaves."

Now this was kind, sisterly consideration of Faith, however little so it
seems, set down. It was very certain that no more acceptable provision
could be made for Saidie Gartney in the family plan, than to leave her
out, except where the strawberries and cream were concerned. In return,
she wrote gay, entertaining letters home to her mother and young sister,
and sent pretty French, or Florentine, or Roman ornaments for them to
wear. Some persons are content to go through life with such exchange of
sympathies as this.

By and by, Faith being in her own room, took out from her letter box the
last missive from abroad. There was something in this which vexed Faith,
and yet stirred her a little, obscurely.

All things are fair in love, war, and--story books! So, though she would
never have shown the words to you or me, we will peep over her shoulder,
and share them, "_en rapport_."

"And Paul Rushleigh, it seems, is as much as ever in Hickory Street!
Well--my little Faithie might make a far worse '_parti_' than that! Tell
papa I think he may be satisfied there!"

Faith would have cut off her little finger, rather than have had her
father dream that such a thing had been put into her head! But
unfortunately it was there, now, and could not be helped. She could
only--sitting there in her chamber window with the blood tingling to the
hair upon her temples, as if from every neighboring window of the
clustering houses about her, eyes could overlook and read what she was
reading now--"wish that Saidie would not write such things as that!"

For all that, it was one pleasant thing Faith would have to lose in
leaving Mishaumok. It was very agreeable to have him dropping in, with
his gay college gossip; and to dance the "German" with the nicest
partner in the Monday class; and to carry the flowers he so often sent
her. Had she done things greater than she knew in shutting her eyes
resolutely to all her city associations and enjoyments, and urging, for
her father's sake, this exodus in the desert?

Only that means were actually wanting to continue on as they were, and
that health must at any rate be first striven for as a condition to the
future enlargement of means, her father and mother, in their thought for
what their child hardly considered for herself, would surely have been
more difficult to persuade. They hoped that a summer's rest might enable
Mr. Gartney to undertake again some sort of lucrative business, after
business should have revived from its present prostration; and that a
year or two, perhaps, of economizing in the country, might make it
possible for them to return, if they chose, to the house in Hickory
Street.

There were leave takings to be gone through--questions to be answered,
and reasons to be given; for Mrs. Gartney, the polite wishes of her
visiting friends that "Mr. Gartney's health might allow them to return
to the city in the winter," with the wonder, unexpressed, whether this
were to be a final breakdown of the family, or not; and for Faith, the
horror and extravagant lamentations of her young _coterie_, at her
coming occultation--or setting, rather, out of their sky.

Paul Rushleigh demanded eagerly if there weren't any sober old minister
out there, with whom he might be rusticated for his next college prank.

Everybody promised to come as far as Kinnicutt "some time" to see them;
the good-bys were all said at last; the city cook had departed, and a
woman had been taken in her place who "had no objections to the country";
and on one of the last bright days of May they skimmed, steam-sped, over
the intervening country between the brick-and-stone-encrusted hills of
Mishaumok and the fair meadow reaches of Kinnicutt; and so disappeared
out of the places that had known them so long, and could yet, alas! do
so exceedingly well without them.

By the first of June nobody in the great city remembered, or remembered
very seriously to regard, the little gap that had been made in its
midst.




CHAPTER XIV.

A DRIVE WITH THE DOCTOR.

"And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays."
                                          LOWELL.

"All lives have their prose translation as well as their ideal
meaning."--CHARLES AUCHESTER.


But Kinnicutt opened wider to receive them than Mishaumok had to let
them go.

If Mr. Gartney's invalidism had to be pleaded to get away with dignity,
it was even more needed to shield with anything of quietness their
entrance into the new sphere they had chosen.

Faith, with her young adaptability, found great fund of entertainment in
the new social developments that unfolded themselves at Cross Corners.

All sorts of quaint vehicles drove up under the elms in the afternoon
visiting hours, day after day--hitched horses, and unladed passengers.
Both doctors and their wives came promptly, of course; the "old doctor"
from the village, and the "young doctor" from "over at Lakeside." Quiet
Mrs. Holland walked in at the twilight, by herself, one day, to explain
that her husband, the minister, was too unwell to visit, and to say her
pleasant, unpretentious words of welcome. Squire Leatherbee's daughters
made themselves fine in lilac silks and green Estella shawls, to offer
acquaintance to the new "city people." Aunt Faith came over, once or
twice a week, at times when "nobody else would be round under foot," and
always with some dainty offering from dairy, garden, or kitchen. At
other hours, Glory was fain to seize all opportunity of errands that
Miss Henderson could not do, and irradiate the kitchen, lingeringly,
until she herself might be more ecstatically irradiated with a glance
and smile from Miss Faith.

There was need enough of Aunt Faith's ministrations during these first,
few, unsettled weeks. The young woman who "had no objections to the
country," objected no more to these pleasant country fashions of
neighborly kindness. She had reason. Aunt Faith's "thirds bread," or
crisp "vanity cakes," or "velvet creams," were no sooner disposed of
than there surely came a starvation interval of sour biscuits, heavy
gingerbread, and tough pie crust, and dinners feebly cooked, with no
attempt at desserts, at all.

This was gloomy. This was the first trial of their country life.
Plainly, this cook was no cook. Mr. Gartney's dyspepsia must be
considered. Kinnicutt air and June sunshine would not do all the
curative work. The healthy appetite they stimulated must be wholesomely
supplied.

Faith took to the kitchen. To Glory's mute and rapturous delight, she
began to come almost daily up the field path, in her pretty round hat
and morning wrapper, to waylay her aunt in the tidy kitchen at the early
hour when her cookery was sure to be going on, to ask questions and
investigate, and "help a little," and then to go home and repeat the
operation as nearly as she could for their somewhat later dinner.

"Miss McGonegal seems to be improving," observed Mr. Gartney,
complacently, one day, as he partook of a simple, but favorite pudding,
nicely flavored and compounded; "or is this a charity of Aunt
Henderson's?"

"No," replied his wife, "it is home manufacture," and she glanced at
Faith without dropping her tone to a period. Faith shook her head, and
the sentence hung in the air, unfinished.

Mrs. Gartney had not been strong for years. Moreover, she had not a
genius for cooking. That is a real gift, as much as a genius for poetry
or painting. Faith was finding out, suddenly, that she had it. But she
was quite willing that her father should rest in the satisfactory belief
that Miss McGonegal, in whom it never, by any possibility, could be
developed, was improving; and that the good things that found their way
to his table had a paid and permanent origin. He was more comfortable
so, she thought. Meanwhile, they would inquire if the region round about
Kinnicutt might be expected to afford a substitute.

Dr. Wasgatt's wife told Mrs. Gartney of a young American woman who was
staying in the "factory village" beyond Lakeside, and who had asked her
husband if he knew of any place where she could "hire out." Dr. Wasgatt
would be very glad to take her or Miss Faith over there, of a morning,
to see if she would answer.

Faith was very glad to go.

Dr. Wasgatt was the "old doctor." A benign man, as old doctors--when
they don't grow contrariwise, and become unspeakably gruff and
crusty--are apt to be. A benign old doctor, a docile old horse, an
old-fashioned two-wheeled chaise that springs to the motion like a bough
at a bird flitting, and an indescribable June morning wherein to drive
four miles and back--well! Faith couldn't help exulting in her heart
that they wanted a cook.

The way was very lovely toward Lakeside, and across to factory village.
It crossed the capricious windings of Wachaug two or three times within
the distance, and then bore round the Pond Road, which kept its old
traditional cognomen, though the new neighborhood that had grown up at
its farther bend had got a modern name, and the beautiful pond itself
had come to be known with a legitimate dignity as Lake Wachaug.

Graceful birches, with a spring, and a joyous, whispered secret in every
glossy leaf, leaned over the road toward the water; and close down to
its ripples grew wild shrubs and flowers, and lush grass, and lady
bracken, while out over the still depths rested green lily pads, like
floating thrones waiting the fair water queens who, a few weeks hence,
should rise to claim them. Back, behind the birches, reached the fringe
of woodland that melted away, presently, in the sunny pastures, and held
in bush and branch hundreds of little mother birds, brooding in a still
rapture, like separate embodied pulses of the Universal Love, over a
coming life and joy.

Life and joy were everywhere. Faith's heart danced and glowed within
her. She had thought, many a time before, that she was getting somewhat
of the joy of the country, when, after dinner and business were over,
she had come out from Mishaumok, in proper fashionable toilet, with her
father and mother, for an afternoon airing in the city environs. But
here, in the old doctor's "one-hoss shay," and with her round straw hat
and chintz wrapper on, she was finding out what a rapturously different
thing it is to go out into the bountiful morning, and identify oneself
therewith.

She had almost forgotten that she had any other errand when they turned
away from the lake, and took a little side road that wound off from it,
and struck the river again, and brought them at last to the Wachaug
Mills and the little factory settlement around them.

"This is Mrs. Pranker's," said the doctor, stopping at the third door in
a block of factory houses, "and it's a sister-in-law of hers who wants
to 'hire out.' I've a patient in the next row, and if you like, I'll
leave you here a few minutes."

Faith's foot was instantly on the chaise step, and she sprang to the
ground with only an acknowledging touch of the good doctor's hand,
upheld to aid her.

A white-haired boy of three, making gravel puddings in a scalloped tin
dish at the door, scrambled up as she approached, upset his pudding, and
sidled up the steps in a scared fashion, with a finger in his mouth, and
his round gray eyes sending apprehensive peeps at her through the linty
locks.

"Well, tow-head!" ejaculated an energetic female voice within, to an
accompaniment of swashing water, and a scrape of a bucket along the
floor; "what's wanting now? Can't you stay put, nohow?"

An unintelligible jargon of baby chatter followed, which seemed,
however, to have conveyed an idea to the mother's mind, for she
appeared immediately in the passage, drying her wet arms upon her apron.

"Mrs. Pranker?" asked Faith.

"That's my name," replied the woman, as who should say, peremptorily,
"what then?"

"I was told--my mother heard--that a sister of yours was looking for a
place."

"She hain't done much about _lookin'_," was the reply, "but she was
sayin' she didn't know but what she'd hire out for a spell, if anybody
wanted her. She's in the keepin' room. You can come in and speak to her,
if you're a mind to. The kitchen floor's wet. I'm jest a-washin' of it.
You little sperrit!" This to the child, who was amusing himself with the
floor cloth which he had fished out of the bucket, and held up,
dripping, letting a stream of dirty water run down the front of his red
calico frock. "If children ain't the biggest torments! Talk about Job!
His wife had to have more patience than he did, I'll be bound! And
patience ain't any use, either! The more you have, the more you're took
advantage of! I declare and testify, it makes me as cross as sin, jest
to think how good-natured I be!" And with this, she snatched the cloth
from the boy's hands, shook first him and then his frock, to get rid, in
so far as a shake might accomplish it, of original depravity and sandy
soapsuds, and carried him, vociferant, to the door, where she set him
down to the consolation of gravel pudding again.

Meanwhile Faith crossed the sloppy kitchen, on tiptoe, toward an open
door, that revealed a room within.

Here a very fat young woman, with a rather pleasant face, was seated,
sewing, in a rocking-chair.

She did not rise, or move, at Faith's entrance, otherwise than to look
up, composedly, and let fall her arms along those of the chair,
retaining the needle in one hand and her work in the other.

"I came to see," said Faith--obliged to say something to explain her
presence, but secretly appalled at the magnitude of the subject she had
to deal with--"if you wanted a place in a family."

"Take a seat," said the young woman.

Faith availed herself of one, and, doubtful what to say next, waited for
indications from the other party.

"Well--I _was_ calc'latin' to hire out this summer, but I ain't very
partic'ler about it, neither."

"Can you cook?"

"Most kinds. I can't do much fancy cookin'. Guess I can make bread--all
sorts--and roast, and bile, and see to common fixin's, though, as well
as the next one!"

"We like plain country cooking," said Faith, thinking of Aunt
Henderson's delicious, though simple, preparations. "And I suppose you
can make new things if you have direction."

"Well--I'm pretty good at workin' out a resate, too. But then, I ain't
anyways partic'ler 'bout hirin' out, as I said afore."

Faith judged rightly that this was a salvo put in for pride. The Yankee
girl would not appear anxious for a servile situation. All the while the
conversation went on, she sat tilting herself gently back and forth in
the rocking-chair, with a lazy touching of her toes to the floor. Her
very _vis inertiae_ would not let her stop.

Faith's only question, now, was with herself--how she should get away
again. She had no idea that this huge, indolent creature would be at all
suitable as their servant. And then, her utter want of manners!

"I'll tell my mother what you say," said she, rising.

"What's your mother's name, and where d'ye live?"

"We live at Kinnicutt Cross Corners. My mother is Mrs. Henderson
Gartney."

"'M!"

Faith turned toward the kitchen.

"Look here!" called the stout young woman after her; "you may jest say
if she wants me she can send for me. I don't mind if I try it a spell."

"I didn't ask _your_ name," remarked Faith.

"Oh! my name's Mis' Battis!"

Faith escaped over the wet floor, sprang past the white-haired child at
the doorstep, and was just in time to be put into the chaise by Dr.
Wasgatt, who drove up as she came out. She did not dare trust her voice
to speak within hearing of the house; but when they had come round the
mills again, into the secluded river road, she startled its quietness
and the doctor's composure, with a laugh that rang out clear and
overflowing like the very soul of fun.

"So that's all you've got out of your visit?"

"Yes, that is all," said Faith. "But it's a great deal!" And she laughed
again--such a merry little waterfall of a laugh.

When she reached home, Mrs. Gartney met her at the door.

"Well, Faithie," she cried, somewhat eagerly, "what have you found?"

Faith's eyes danced with merriment.

"I don't know, mother! A--hippopotamus, I think!"

"Won't she do? What do you mean?"

"Why she's as big! I can't tell you how big! And she sat in a
rocking-chair and rocked all the time--and she says her name is Miss
Battis!"

Mrs. Gartney looked rather perplexed than amused.

"But, Faith!--I can't think how she knew--she must have been,
listening--Norah has been so horribly angry! And she's upstairs packing
her things to go right off. How _can_ we be left without a cook?"

"It seems Miss McGonegal means to demonstrate that we can! Perhaps--the
hippopotamus _might_ be trained to domestic service! She said you could
send if you wanted her."

"I don't see anything else to do. Norah won't even stay till morning.
And there isn't a bit of bread in the house. I can't send this
afternoon, though, for your father has driven over to Sedgely about some
celery and tomato plants, and won't be home till tea time."

"I'll make some cream biscuits like Aunt Faith's. And I'll go out into
the garden and find Luther. If he can't carry us through the
Reformation, somehow, he doesn't deserve his name."

Luther was found--thought Jerry Blanchard wouldn't "value lettin' him
have his old horse and shay for an hour." And he wouldn't "be mor'n that
goin'." He could "fetch her, easy enough, if that was all."

Mis' Battis came.

She entered Mrs. Gartney's presence with nonchalance, and "flumped"
incontinently into the easiest and nearest chair.

Mrs. Gartney began with the common preliminary--the name. Mis' Battis
introduced herself as before.

"But your first name?" proceeded the lady.

"My first name was Parthenia Franker. I'm a relic'."

Mrs. Gartney experienced an internal convulsion, but retained her
outward composure.

"I suppose you would quite as lief be called Parthenia?"

"Ruther," replied the relict, laconically.

And Mrs. Parthenia Battis was forthwith installed--_pro tem_.--in the
Cross Corners kitchen.

"She's got considerable gumption," was the opinion Luther volunteered,
of his own previous knowledge--for Mrs. Battis was an old schoolmate and
neighbor--"but she's powerful slow."




CHAPTER XV.

NEW DUTIES.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."--Ecc. 9:10.

"A servant with this clause
  Makes drudgery divine;--
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
  Makes that and the action fine."
                       GEORGE HERBERT.


Mis' Battis's "gumption" was a relief--conjoined, even, as it was, to a
mighty _inertia_--after the experience of Norah McGonegal's utter
incapacity; and her admission, _pro tempore,_ came to be tacitly looked
upon as a permanent adoption, for want of a better alternative. She
continued to seat herself, unabashed, whenever opportunity offered, in
the presence of the family; and invariably did so, when Mrs. Gartney
either sent for, or came to her, to give orders. She always spoke of Mr.
Gartney as "he," addressed her mistress as Miss Gartney, and ignored all
prefix to the gentle name of Faith. Mrs. Gartney at last remedied the
pronominal difficulty by invariably applying all remarks bearing no
other indication, to that other "he" of the household--Luther. Her own
claim to the matronly title she gave up all hope of establishing; for,
if the "relic'" abbreviated her own wifely distinction, how should she
be expected to dignify other people?

As to Faith, her mother ventured one day, sensitively and timidly, to
speak directly to the point.

"My daughter has always been accustomed to be called _Miss_ Faith," she
said, gently, in reply to an observation of Parthenia's, in which the
ungarnished name had twice been used. "It isn't a _very_ important
matter--still, it would be pleasanter to us, and I dare say you won't
mind trying to remember it?"

"'M! No--I ain't partic'ler. Faith ain't a long name, and 'twon't be
much trouble to put a handle on, if that's what you want. It's English
fashion, ain't it?"

Parthenia's coolness enabled Mrs. Gartney to assert, somewhat more
confidently, her own dignity.

"It is a fashion of respect and courtesy, everywhere, I believe."

"'M!" reejaculated the relict.

Thereafter, Faith was "Miss," with a slight pressure of emphasis upon
the handle.

"Mamma!" cried Hendie, impetuously, one day, as he rushed in from a walk
with his attendant, "I _hate_ Mahala Harris! I wish you'd let me dress
myself, and go to walk alone, and send her off to Jericho!"

"Whereabouts do you suppose Jericho to be?" asked Faith, laughing.

"I don't know. It's where she keeps wishing I was, when she's cross, and
I want anything. I wish she was there!--and I mean to ask papa to send
her!"

"Go and take your hat off, Hendie, and have your hair brushed, and your
hands washed, and then come back in a nice quiet little temper, and
we'll talk about it," said Mrs. Gartney.

"I think," said Faith to her mother, as the boy was heard mounting the
stairs to the nursery, right foot foremost all the way, "that Mahala
doesn't manage Hendie as she ought. She keeps him in a fret. I hear them
in the morning while I am dressing. She seems to talk to him in a
taunting sort of way."

"What can we do?" exclaimed Mrs. Gartney, worriedly. "These changes are
dreadful. We might get some one worse. And then we can't afford to pay
extravagantly. Mahala has been content to take less wages, and I think
she means to be faithful. Perhaps if I make her understand how important
it is, she will try a different manner."

"Only it might be too late to do much good, if Hendie has really got to
dislike her. And--besides--I've been thinking--only, you will say I'm so
full of projects----"

But what the project was, Mrs. Gartney did not hear at once, for just
then Hendie's voice was heard again at the head of the stairs.

"I tell you, mother said I might! I'm going--down--in a nice--little
temper--to ask her--to send you--to Jericho!" Left foot foremost, a drop
between each few syllables, he came stumping, defiantly, down the
stairs, and appeared with all his eager story in his eyes.

"She plagues me, mamma! She tells me to see who'll get dressed first;
and if _she_ does, she says:

  "'The first's the best,
    The second's the same;
  The last's the worst
    Of all the game!'

"And if _I_ get dressed first--all but the buttoning, you know--she says:

  "'The last's the best,
    The second's the same;
  The first's the worst
    Of all the game!'

"And then she keeps telling me 'her little sister never behaved like me.'
I asked her where her little sister was, and she said she'd gone over
Jordan. I'm glad of it! I wish Mahala would go too!"

Mrs. Gartney smiled, and Faith could not help laughing outright.

Hendie burst into a passion of tears.

"Everybody keeps plaguing me! It's too bad!" he cried, with tumultuous
sobs.

Faith checked her laughter instantly. She took the indignant little
fellow on her lap, in despite of some slight, implacable struggle on his
part, and kissed his pouting lips.

"No, indeed, Hendie! We wouldn't plague you for all the world! And you
don't know what I've got for you, just as soon as you're ready for it!"

Hendie took his little knuckles out of his eyes.

"A bunch of great red cherries, as big as your two hands!"

"Where?"

"I'll get them, if you're good. And then you can go out in the front
yard, and eat them, so that you can drop the stones on the grass."

Hendie was soon established on a flat stone under the old chestnut
trees, in a happy oblivion of Mahala's injustice, and her little
sister's perfections.

"I'll tell you, mamma. I've been thinking we need not keep Mahala, if
you don't wish. She has been so used to do nothing but run round after
Hendie, that, really, she isn't much good about the house; and I'll take
Hendie's trundle bed into my room, and there'll be one less chamber to
take care of; and you know we always dust and arrange down here."

"Yes--but the sweeping, Faithie! And the washing! Parthenia never would
get through with it all."

"Well, somebody might come and help wash. And I guess I can sweep."

"But I can't bear to put you to such work, darling! You need your time
for other things."

"I have ever so much time, mother! And, besides, as Aunt Faith says, I
don't believe it makes so very much matter _what_ we do. I was talking
to her, the other day, about doing coarse work, and living a narrow,
common kind of life, and what do you think she said?"

"I can't tell, of course. Something blunt and original."

"We were out in the garden. She pointed to some plants that were coming
up from seeds, that had just two tough, clumsy, coarse leaves. 'What do
you call them?' said auntie. 'Cotyledons, aren't they?' said I. 'I don't
know what they are in botany,' said she; 'but I know the use of 'em.
They'll last a while, and help feed up what's growing inside and
underneath, and by and by they'll drop off, when they're done with, and
you'll see what's been coming of it. Folks can't live the best right
out at first, any more than plants can. I guess we all want some kind
of--cotyledons.'"

Mrs. Gartney's eyes shone with affection, and something that affection
called there, as she looked upon her daughter.

"I guess the cotyledons won't hinder your growing," said she.

And so, in a few days after, Mahala was dismissed, and Faith took upon
herself new duties.

It was a bright, happy face that glanced hither and thither, about the
house, those fair summer mornings; and it wasn't the hands alone that
were busy, as under their dexterous and delicate touch all things
arranged themselves in attractive and graceful order. Thought
straightened and cleared itself, as furniture and books were dusted and
set right; and while the carpet brightened under the broom, something
else brightened and strengthened, also, within.

It is so true, what the author of "Euthanasy" tells us, that exercise of
limb and muscle develops not only themselves, but what is in us as we
work.

"Every stroke of the hammer upon the anvil hardens a little what is at
the time the temper of the smith's mind."

"The toil of the plowman furrows the ground, and so it does his brow
with wrinkles, visibly; and invisibly, but quite as certainly, it
furrows the current of feeling, common with him at his work, into an
almost unchangeable channel."

Faith's life purpose deepened as she did each daily task. She had hold,
already, of the "high and holy work of love" that had been prophesied.

"I am sure of one thing, mother," said she, gayly; "if I don't learn
much that is new, I am bringing old knowledge into play. It's the same
thing, taken hold of at different ends. I've learned to draw straight
lines, and shape pictures; and so there isn't any difficulty in sweeping
a carpet clean, or setting chairs straight. I never shall wonder again
that a woman who never heard of a right angle can't lay a table even."




CHAPTER XVI.

"BLESSED BE YE, POOR."

"And so we yearn, and so we sigh,
  And reach for more than we can see;
And, witless of our folded wings,
  Walk Paradise, unconsciously."


October came, and brought small dividends. The expenses upon the farm
had necessarily been considerable, also, to put things in "good running
order." Mr. Gartney's health, though greatly improved, was not yet so
confidently to be relied on, as to make it advisable for him to think of
any change, as yet, with a view to business. Indeed, there was little
opportunity for business, to tempt him. Everything was flat. Mr. Gartney
must wait. Mrs. Gartney and Faith felt, though they talked of waiting,
that the prospect really before them was that of a careful, obscure
life, upon a very limited income. The house in Mishaumok had stood
vacant all the summer. There was hope, of course, of letting it now, as
the winter season came on, but rents were falling, and people were timid
and discouraged.

October was beautiful at Kinnicutt. And Faith, when she looked out over
the glory of woods and sky, felt rich with the great wealth of the
world, and forgot about economies and privations. She was so glad they
had come here with their altered plans, and had not struggled shabbily
and drearily on in Mishaumok!

It was only when some chance bit of news from the city, or a girlish,
gossipy note from some school friend found its way to Cross Corners,
that she felt, a little keenly, her denials--realized how the world she
had lived in all her life was going on without her.

It was the old plaint that Glory made, in her dark days of
childhood--this feeling of despondency and loss that assailed Faith now
and then--"such lots of good times in the world, and she not in 'em!"

Mrs. Etherege and Saidie were coming home. Gertrude Rushleigh, Saidie's
old intimate, was to be married on the twenty-eighth, and had fixed her
wedding thus for the last of the month, that Miss Gartney might arrive
to keep her promise of long time, by officiating as bridesmaid.

The family eclipse would not overshadow Saidie. She had made her place
in the world now, and with her aunt's aid and countenance, would keep
it. It was quite different with Faith--disappearing, as she had done,
from notice, before ever actually "coming out."

"It was a thousand pities," Aunt Etherege said, when she and Saidie
discussed with Mrs. Gartney, at Cross Corners, the family affairs. "And
things just as they were, too! Why, another year might have settled
matters for her, so that this need never have happened! At any rate, the
child shouldn't be moped up here, all winter!"

Mrs. Etherege had engaged rooms, on her arrival, at the Mishaumok House;
and it seemed to be taken for granted by her, and by Saidie as well,
that this coming home was a mere visit; that Miss Gartney would, of
course, spend the greater part of the winter with her aunt; and that
lady extended also an invitation to Mishaumok for a month--including
the wedding festivities at the Rushleighs'--to Faith.

Faith shook her head. She "knew she couldn't be spared so long."
Secretly, she doubted whether it would be a good plan to go back and get
a peep at things that might send her home discontented and unhappy.

But her mother reasoned otherwise. Faithie must go. "The child mustn't
be moped up." She would get on, somehow, without her. Mothers always
can. So Faith, by a compromise, went for a fortnight. She couldn't quite
resist her newly returned sister.

Besides, a pressing personal invitation had come from Margaret Rushleigh
to Faith herself, with a little private announcement at the end, that
"Paul was refractory, and utterly refused to act as fourth groomsman,
unless Faith Gartney were got to come and stand with him."

Faith tore off the postscript, and might have lit it at her cheeks, but
dropped it, of habit, into the fire; and then the note was at the
disposal of the family.

It was a whirl of wonderful excitement to Faith--that fortnight! So many
people to see, so much to hear, and in the midst of all, the gorgeous
wedding festival!

What wonder if a little dream flitted through her head, as she stood
there, in the marriage group, at Paul Rushleigh's side, and looked about
her on the magnificent fashion, wherein the affection of new relatives
and old friends had made itself tangible; and heard the kindly words of
the elder Mr. Rushleigh to Kate Livingston, who stood with his son
Philip, and whose bridal, it was well known, was to come next? Jewels,
and silver, and gold, are such flashing, concrete evidences of love! And
the courtly condescension of an old and world-honored man to the young
girl whom his son has chosen, is such a winning and distinguishing
thing!

Paul Rushleigh had finished his college course, and was to go abroad
this winter--between the weddings, as he said--for his brother Philip's
was to take place in the coming spring. After that--things were not
quite settled, but something was to be arranged for him meanwhile--he
would have to begin his work in the world; and then--he supposed it
would be time for him to find a helpmate. Marrying was like dying, he
believed; when a family once began to go off there was soon an end of
it!

Blushes were the livery of the evening, and Faith's deeper glow at this
audacious rattle passed unheeded, except, perhaps, as it might be
somewhat willfully interpreted.

There were two or three parties made for the newly married couple in the
week that followed. The week after, Paul Rushleigh, with the bride and
groom, was to sail for Europe. At each of these brilliant entertainments
he constituted himself, as in duty bound, Faith's knight and sworn
attendant; and a superb bouquet for each occasion, the result of the
ransack of successive greenhouses, came punctually, from him, to her
door. For years afterwards--perhaps for all her life--Faith couldn't
smell heliotrope, and geranium, and orange flowers, without floating
back, momentarily, into the dream of those few, enchanted days!

She stayed in Mishaumok a little beyond the limit she had fixed for
herself, to go, with the others, on board the steamer at the time of her
sailing, and see the gay party off. Paul Rushleigh had more significant
words, and another gift of flowers as a farewell.

When she carried these last to her own room, to put them in water, on
her return, something she had not noticed before glittered among their
stems. It was a delicate little ring, of twisted gold, with a
forget-me-not in turquoise and enamel upon the top.

Faith was half pleased, half frightened, and wholly ashamed.

Paul Rushleigh was miles out on the Atlantic. There was no help for it,
she thought. It had been cunningly done.

And so, in the short November days, she went back to Kinnicutt.

The east parlor had to be shut up now, for the winter. The family
gathering place was the sunny little sitting room; and with closed doors
and doubled windows, they began, for the first time, to find that they
were really living in a little bit of a house.

It was very pretty, though, with the rich carpet and the crimson
curtains that had come from Hickory Street, replacing the white muslin
draperies and straw matting of the summer; and the books and vases, and
statuettes and pictures, gathered into so small space, seemed to fill
the room with luxury and beauty.

Faith nestled her little workstand into a nook between the windows.
Hendie's blocks and picture books were stowed in a corner cupboard. Mr.
Gartney's newspapers and pamphlets, as they came, found room in a deep
drawer below; and so, through the wintry drifts and gales, they were
"close hauled" and comfortable.

Faith was happy; yet she thought, now and then, when the whistling wind
broke the stillness of the dark evenings, of light and music elsewhere;
and how, a year ago, there had always been the chance of a visitor or
two to drop in, and while away the hours. Nobody lifted the
old-fashioned knocker, here at Cross Corners.

By day, even, it was scarcely different. Kinnicutt was hibernating. Each
household had drawn into its shell. And the huge drifts, lying defiant
against the fences in the short, ineffectual winter sunlight, held out
little hope of reanimation. Aunt Faith, in her pumpkin hood, and Rob Roy
cloak, and carpet moccasins, came over once in two or three days, and
even occasionally stayed to tea, and helped make up a rubber of whist
for Mr. Gartney's amusement; but, beyond this, they had no social
excitement.

January brought a thaw; and, still further to break the monotony, there
arose a stir and an anxiety in the parish.

Good Mr. Holland, its minister of thirty years, whose health had been
failing for many months, was at last compelled to relinquish the duties
of his pulpit for a time; and a supply was sought with the ultimate
probability of a succession. A new minister came to preach, who was to
fill the pastor's place for the ensuing three months. On his first
Sunday among them, Faith heard a wonderful sermon.

I indicate thus, not the oratory, nor the rhetoric; but the _sermon_, of
which these were the mere vehicle--the word of truth itself--which was
spoken, seemingly, to her very thought.

So also, as certainly, to the long life-thought of one other. Glory
McWhirk sat in Miss Henderson's corner pew, and drank it in, as a soul
athirst.

A man of middle age, one might have said, at first sight--there was,
here and there, a silver gleam in the dark hair and beard; yet a fire
and earnestness of youth in the deep, beautiful eye, and a look in the
face as of life's first flush and glow not lost, but rather merged in
broader light, still climbing to its culmination, belied these tokens,
and made it as if a white frost had fallen in June--rising up before the
crowded village congregation, looked round upon the upturned faces, as
One had looked before who brought the bread of Life to men's eager
asking; and uttered the selfsame simple words.

It was a certain pause and emphasis he made--a slight new rendering of
punctuation--that sent home the force of those words to the people who
heard them, as if it had been for the first time, and fresh from the
lips of the Great Teacher.

       *       *       *       *       *

"'Blessed are the poor: _in spirit_: for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven.'

"Herein Christ spoke, not to a class, only, but to the world! A world of
souls, wrestling with the poverty of life!

"In that whole assemblage--that great concourse--that had thronged from
cities and villages to hear His words upon the mountainside--was there,
think you, _one satisfied nature_?

"Friends--are _ye_ satisfied?

       .       .       .       .       .

"Or, does every life come to know, at first or at last, how something--a
hope, or a possibility, or the fulfillment of a purpose--has got
dropped out of it, or has even never entered, so that an emptiness
yawns, craving, therein, forever?

"How many souls hunger till they are past their appetite! Go on--down
through the years--needy and waiting, and never find or grasp that which
a sure instinct tells them they were made for?

"This, this is the poverty of life! These are the poor, to whom God's
Gospel was preached in Christ! And to these denied and waiting ones the
first words of Christ's preaching--as I read them--were spoken in
blessing.

"Because, elsewhere, he blesses the meek; elsewhere and presently, he
tells us how the lowly in spirit shall inherit the earth; so, when I
open to this, his earliest uttered benediction upon our race, I read it
with an interpretation that includes all humanity:

"'Blessed, in spirit, are the poor. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'

       .       .       .       .       .

"What is this Kingdom of Heaven? 'It is within you.' It is that which
you hold, and live in spiritually; the _real_, of which all earthly,
outward being and having are but the show. It is the region wherein
little children 'do always behold the Face of my Father which is in
Heaven.' It is where we are when we shut our eyes and pray in the words
that Christ taught us.

       .       .       .       .       .

"What matters, then, where your feet stand, or wherewith your hands are
busy? So that it is the spot where God has put you, and the work He has
given you to do? Your real life is within--hid in God with
Christ--ripening, and strengthening, and waiting, as through the long,
geologic ages of night and incompleteness waited the germs of all that
was to unfold into this actual, green, and bounteous earth!

       .       .       .       .       .

"The narrower your daily round, the wider, maybe, the outreach. Isolated
upon a barren mountain peak, you may take in river and lake--forest,
field, and valley. A hundred gardens and harvests lift their bloom and
fullness to your single eye.

"There is a sunlight that contracts the vision; there is a starlight
that enlarges it to take in infinite space.

  "'God sets some souls in shade, alone.
  They have no daylight of their own.
  Only in lives of happier ones
  They see the shine of distant suns.

  "'God knows. Content thee with thy night.
  Thy greater heaven hath grander light,
  To-day is close. The hours are small.
  Thou sit'st afar, and hast them all.

  "'Lose the less joy that doth but blind;
  Reach forth a larger bliss to find.
  To-day is brief: the inclusive spheres
  Rain raptures of a thousand years.'"

Faith could not tell what hymn was sung, or what were the words of the
prayer that followed the sermon. There was a music and an uplifting in
her own soul that made them needless, but for the pause they gave her.

She hardly knew that a notice was read as the people rose before the
benediction, when the minister gave out, as requested, that "the Village
Dorcas Society would meet on Wednesday of the coming week, at Mrs.
Parley Gimp's."

She was made aware that it had fallen upon her ears, though heard
unconsciously, when Serena Gimp caught her by the sleeve in the church
porch.

"Ain't it awful," said she, with a simper and a flutter of importance,
"to have your name called right out so in the pulpit? I declare, if it
hadn't been for seeing the new minister, I wouldn't have come to meeting,
I dreaded it so! Ain't he handsome? He's old, though--thirty-five! He's
broken-hearted, too! Somebody died, or something else, that he was going
to be married to, ever so many years ago; and they say he hasn't hardly
spoken to a lady since. That's so romantic! I don't wonder he preaches
such low-spirited kind of sermons. Only I wish they warn't quite so. I
suppose it's beautiful, and heavenly minded, and all that; but yet I'd
rather hear something a little kind of cheerful. Don't you think so? But
the poetry was elegant--warn't it? I guess it's original, too. They say
he puts things in the _Mishaumok Monthly_. Come Wednesday, won't
you? We shall depend, you know."

To Miss Gimp, the one salient point, amidst the solemnities of the day,
had been that pulpit notice. She had put new strings to her bonnet for
the occasion. Mrs. Gimp, being more immediately and personally affected,
had modestly remained away from church.

Glory McWhirk went straight through the village, home; and out to her
little room in the sunny side of the low, sloping roof. This was her
winter nook. She had a shadier one, looking the other way, for summer.

"I wonder if it's all true!" she cried, silently, in her soul, while she
stood for a minute with bonnet and shawl still on, looking out from her
little window, dreamily, over the dazzle of the snow, even as her
half-blinded thought peered out from its own narrowness into the
infinite splendor of the promise of God--"I wonder if God will ever make
me beautiful! I wonder if I shall ever have a real, great joyfulness,
that isn't a make believe!"

Glory called her fancies so. They followed her still. She lived yet in
an ideal world. The real world--that is, the best good of it--had not
come close enough to her, even in this, her widely amended condition, to
displace the other. Remember--this child of eighteen had missed her
childhood; had known neither father nor mother, sister nor brother.

Don't think her simple, in the pitiful meaning of the word; but she
still enacted, in the midst of her plain, daily life, wonderful dreams
that nobody could have ever suspected; and here, in her solitary
chamber, called up at will creatures of imagination who were to her what
human creatures, alas! had never been. Above all, she had a sister here,
to whom she told all her secrets. This sister's name was Leonora.




CHAPTER XVII.

FROST-WONDERS.

"No hammers fell, no ponderous axes rung;
Like some tall palm, the mystic fabric sprung.
Majestic silence!"
                                            HEBER.


The thaw continued till the snow was nearly gone. Only the great drifts
against the fences, and the white folds in the rifts of distant
hillsides lingered to tell what had been. Then came a day of warm rain,
that washed away the last fragment of earth's cast-off vesture, and
bathed her pure for the new adornment that was to be laid upon her. At
night, the weather cooled, and the rain changed to a fine, slow mist,
congealing as it fell.

Faith stood next morning by a small round table in the sitting-room
window, and leaned lovingly over her jonquils and hyacinths that were
coming into bloom. Then, drawing the curtain cord to let in the first
sunbeam that should slant from the south upon her bulbs, she gave a
little cry of rapturous astonishment. It was a diamond morning!

Away off, up the lane, and over the meadows, every tree and bush was
hung with twinkling gems that the slight wind swayed against each other
with tiny crashes of faint music, and the sun was just touching with a
level splendor.

After that first, quick cry, Faith stood mute with ecstasy.

"Mother!" said she, breathlessly, at last, as Mrs. Gartney entered,
"look there! have you seen it? Just imagine what the woods must be this
morning! How can we think of buckwheats?"

Sounds and odors betrayed that Mis' Battis and breakfast were in the
little room adjoining.

"There is a thought of something akin to them, isn't there, under all
this splendor? Men must live, and grass and grain must grow."

Mr. Gartney said this, as he came up behind wife and daughter, and laid
a hand on a shoulder of each.

"I know one thing, though," said Faith. "I'll eat the buckwheats, as a
vulgar necessity, and then I'll go over the brook and up in the woods
behind the Pasture Rocks. It'll last, won't it?"

"Not many hours, with this spring balm in the air," replied her father.
"You must make haste. By noon, it will be all a drizzle."

"Will it be quite safe for her to go alone?" asked Mrs. Gartney.

"I'll ask Aunt Faith to let me have Glory. She showed me the walk last
summer. It is fair she should see this, now."

So the morning odds and ends were done up quickly at Cross Corners and
at the Old House, and then Faith and Glory set forth together--the
latter in as sublime a rapture as could consist with mortal cohesion.

The common roadside was an enchanted path. The glittering rime
transfigured the very cart ruts into bars of silver; and every coarse
weed was a fretwork of beauty.

"Bells on their toes" they had, this morning, assuredly; each footfall
made a music on the sod.

Over the slippery bridge--out across a stretch of open meadow, and then
along a track that skirted the border of a sparse growth of trees,
projecting itself like a promontory upon the level land--round its
abrupt angle into a sweep of meadow again, on whose farther verge rose
the Pasture Rocks.

Behind these rocks swelled up gently a slope, half pasture, half
woodland--neither open ground nor forest; but, although clear enough for
comfortable walking, studded pretty closely with trees that often
interlaced their branches overhead, and made great, pillared aisles,
among whose shade, in summer, wound delicious little footpaths that all
came out together, midway up, into--what you shall be told of presently.

Here, among and beyond the rocks, were oaks, and pines, and savins--each
needle-like leaf a shimmering lance--each clustering branch a spray of
gems--and the stout, spreading limbs of the oaks delineating themselves
against the sky above in Gothic frost-work.

Suddenly--before they thought it could be so near--they came up and out
into a broader opening. Between two rocks that made, as it were, a
gateway, and around whose bases were grouped sentinel evergreens, they
came into this wider space, floored with flat rock, the surface of a
hidden ledge, carpeted with crisp mosses in the summer, whose every cup
and hollow held a jewel now--and inclosed with lofty oaks and pines,
while, straight beyond, where the woods shut in again far closer than
below, rose a bold crag, over whose brow hung pendent birches that in
their icy robing drooped like glittering wings of cherubim above an
altar.

All around and underneath, this strange magnificence. Overhead, the
everlasting Blue, that roofed it in with sapphire. In front, the rough,
gigantic shrine.

"It is like a cathedral!" said Faith, solemnly and low.

"See!" whispered Glory, catching her companion hastily by the
arm--"there is the minister!"

A little way beyond them, at the right, out from among the clumps of
evergreen where some other of the little wood walks opened, a figure
advanced without perceiving them. It was Roger Armstrong, the new
minister. He held his hat in his hand. He walked, uncovered, as he would
have into a church, into this forest temple, where God's finger had just
been writing on the walls.

When he turned, slowly, his eye fell on the other two who stood there.
It lighted up with a quick joy of sympathy. He came forward. Faith
bowed. Glory stood back, shyly. Neither party seemed astonished at the
meeting. It was so plain _why_ they came, that if they had wondered at
all, it would have been that the whole village should not be pouring out
hither, also.

Mr. Armstrong led them to the center of the rocky space. "This is the
best point," said he. And then was silent. There was no need of words. A
greatness of thought made itself felt from one to the other.

Only, between still pauses, words came that almost spoke themselves.

"'Eye hath not seen, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to
conceive, that which God hath prepared for them that love him.' What a
commentary upon His promise is a glory like this!

"'And they shall all shine like the sun in the kingdom of my Father!'"

Faith stood by the minister's side, and glanced, when he spoke, from the
wonderful beauty before her to a face whose look interpreted it all.
There was something in the very presence of this man that drew others
who approached him into the felt presence of God. Because he stood
therein in the spirit. These are the true apostles whom Christ sends
forth.

Glory could have sobbed with an oppression of reverence, enthusiasm, and
joy.

"It is only a glimpse," said Mr. Armstrong, by and by. "It is going,
already."

A drip--drip--was beginning to be heard.

"You ought to get away from under the trees before the thaw comes fully
on," continued he. "A branch breaks, now and then, and the ice will be
falling constantly. I can show you a more open way than the one you came
by, I think."

And he gave his arm to Faith over the slope that even now was growing
wet and slippery in the sun. Faith touched it with a reverence, and
dropped it again, modestly, when they reached a safer foothold.

Glory kept behind. Mr. Armstrong turned now and then, with a kindly
word, and a thought for her safety. Once he took her hand, and helped
her down a sudden descent in the path, where the water had run over and
made a smooth, dangerous glare.

"I shall call soon to see your father and mother, Miss Gartney," said
he, when they reached the road again beyond the brook, and their ways
home lay in different directions. "This meeting, to-day, has given me
pleasure."

"How?" Faith wondered silently, as she kept on to the Cross Corners. She
had hardly spoken a word. But, then, she might have remembered that the
minister's own words had been few, yet her very speechlessness before
him had come from the deep pleasure that his presence had given to her.
The recognition of souls cares little for words. Faith's soul had been
in her face to-day, as Roger Armstrong had seen it each Sunday, also, in
the sweet, listening look she uplifted before him in the church. He bent
toward this young, pure life, with a joy in its gentle purity; the joy
of an elder over a younger angel in the school of God.

And Glory? she laid up in her own heart a beautiful remembrance of
something she had never known before. Of a near approach to something
great and high, yet gentle and beneficent. Of a kindly, helping touch, a
gracious smile, a glance that spoke straight to the mute aspiration
within her.

The minister had not failed, through all her humbleness and shyness, to
read some syllables of that large, unuttered life of hers that lay
beneath. He whose labor it is to save souls, learns always the insight
that discerns souls.

"I have seen the Winter!" cried Faith, glowing and joyous, as she came
in from her walk.

"It has been a beautiful time!" said Glory to her shadow sister, when
she went to hang away hood and shawl. "It has been a beautiful time--and
I've been really in it--partly!"




CHAPTER XVIII.

OUT IN THE SNOW.

                         "Sydnaein showers
Of sweet discourse, whose powers
Can crown old winter's head with flowers."
                                      CRASHAW.


Winter had not exhausted her repertory, however. She had more wonders to
unfold.

There came a long snowstorm.

"Faithie," said her father, coming in, wrapped up in furs from a visit
to the stable, "put your comfortables on, and we'll go and see the snow.
We'll make tracks, literally, for the hills. There isn't a road fairly
broken between here and Grover's Peak. The snow lies beautifully,
though; and there isn't a breath of wind. It will be a sight to see."

Faith brought, quickly, sontag, jacket, and cloak--hood and veil, and
long, warm snow boots, and in ten minutes was ready, as she averred, for
a sledge ride to Hudson's Bay.

Luther drove the sleigh close to the kitchen door, that Faith might not
have to cross the yard to reach it, and she stepped directly from the
threshold into the warm nest of buffalo robes; while Mis' Battis put a
great stone jug of hot water in beside her feet, asserting that it was
"a real comfortin' thing on a sleigh ride, and that they needn't be
afraid of its leakin', for the cork was druv in as tight as an eye
tooth!"

So, out by the barn, into the road, and away from the village toward the
hills, they went, with the glee of resonant bells and excited
expectation.

A mile, or somewhat more, along the Sedgely turnpike, took them into a
bit of woods that skirted the road on either side, for a considerable
distance. Away in, under the trees, the stillness and the whiteness and
the wonderful multiplication of snow shapes were like enchantment. Each
bush had an attitude and drapery and expression of its own, as if some
weird life had suddenly been spellbound in these depths. Cherubs, and
old women, and tall statue shapes like images of gods, hovered, and
bent, and stood majestic, in a motionless poise. Over all, the bent
boughs made marble and silver arches in shadow and light, and, far down
between, the vistas lengthened endlessly, still crowded with mystic
figures, haunting the long galleries with their awful beauty.

They went on, penetrating a lifeless silence; their horse's feet making
the first prints since early morning in the unbroken smoothness of the
way, and the only sound the gentle tinkle of their own bells, as they
moved pleasantly, but not fleetly, along.

So, up the ascent, where the land lay higher, toward the hills.

"I feel," said Faith, "as if I had been hurried through the Louvre, or
the Vatican, or both, and hadn't half seen anything. Was there ever
anything so strange and beautiful?"

"We shall find more Louvres presently," said her father. "We'll keep the
road round Grover's Peak, and turn off, as we come back, down Garland
Lane."

"That lovely, wild, shady road we took last summer so often, where the
grapevines grow so, all over the trees?"

"Exactly," replied Mr. Gartney. "But you mustn't scream if we thump
about a little, in the drifts up there. It's pretty rough, at the best
of times, and the snow will have filled in the narrow spaces between the
rocks and ridges, like a freshet. Shall you be afraid?"

"Afraid! Oh, no, indeed! It's glorious! I think I should like to go
everywhere!"

"There is a good deal of everywhere in every little distance," said Mr.
Gartney. "People get into cars, and go whizzing across whole States,
often, before they stop to enjoy thoroughly something that is very like
what they might have found within ten miles of home. For my part, I like
microscopic journeying."

"Leaving 'no stone unturned.' So do I," said Faith. "We don't half know
the journey between Kinnicutt and Sedgely yet, I think. And then, too,
they're multiplied, over and over, by all the different seasons, and by
different sorts of weather. Oh, we shan't use them up, in a long while!"

Saidie Gartney had not felt, perhaps, in all her European travel, the
sense of inexhaustible pleasure that Faith had when she said this.

Down under Grover's Peak, with the river on one side, and the
white-robed cedar thickets rising on the other--with the low afternoon
sun glinting across from the frosted roofs of the red mill buildings and
barns and farmhouses to the rocky slope of the Peak.

Then they came round and up again, over a southerly ridge, by beautiful
Garland Lane, that she knew only in its summer look, when the wild grape
festooned itself wantonly from branch to branch, and sometimes, even,
from side to side; and so gave the narrow forest road its name.

Quite into fairyland they had come now, in truth; as if, skirting the
dark peak that shut it off from ordinary espial, they had lighted on a
bypath that led them covertly in. Trailing and climbing vines wore their
draperies lightly; delicate shrubs bowed like veiled shapes in groups
around the bases of tall tree trunks, and slight-stemmed birches
quivered under their canopies of snow. Little birds hopped in and out
under the pure, still shelter, and left their tiny tracks, like magical
hieroglyphs, in the else untrodden paths.

"Lean this way, Faith, and keep steady!" cried Mr. Gartney, as the horse
plunged breast high into a drift, and the sleigh careened toward the
side Faith was on. It was a sharp strain, but they plowed their way
through, and came upon a level again. This by-street was literally
unbroken. No one had traversed it since the beginning of the storm. The
drifts had had it all their own way there, and it involved no little
adventurousness and risk, as Mr. Gartney began to see, to pioneer a
passage through. But the spirit of adventure was upon them both. On all,
I should say; for the strong horse plunged forward, from drift to drift,
as though he delighted in the encounter. Moreover, to turn was
impossible.

Faith laughed, and gave little shrieks, alternately, as they rose
triumphantly from deep, "slumpy" hollows, or pitched headlong into others
again. Thus, struggling, enjoying--just frightened enough, now and then,
to keep up the excitement--they came upon the summit of the ridge. Now
their way lay downward. This began to look really almost perilous. With
careful guiding, however, and skillful balancing--tipping, creaking,
sinking, emerging--they kept on slowly, about half the distance down the
descent.

Suddenly, the horse, as men and brutes, however sagacious, sometimes
will, made a miscalculation of depth or power--lost his sure
balance--sunk to his body in the yielding snow--floundered violently in
an endeavor to regain safe footing--and, snap! crash! was down against
the drift at the left, with a broken shaft under him!

Mr. Gartney sprang to his head.

One runner was up--one down. The sleigh stuck fast at an angle of about
thirty degrees. Faith clung to the upper side.

Here was a situation! What was to be done? Twilight coming on--no help
near--no way of getting anywhere!

"Faith," said Mr. Gartney, "what have you got on your feet?"

"Long, thick snow boots, father. What can I do?"

"Do you dare to come and try to unfasten these buckles? There is no
danger. Major can't stir while I hold him by the head."

Faith jumped out into the snow, and valorously set to work at the
buckles. She managed to undo one, and to slip out the fastening of the
trace, on one side, where it held to the whiffletree. But the horse was
lying so that she could not get at the other.

"I'll come there, father!" she cried, clambering and struggling through
the drift till she came to the horse's head. "Can't I hold him while you
undo the harness?"

"I don't believe you can, Faithie. He isn't down so flat as to be quite
under easy control."

"Not if I sit on his head?" asked Faith.

"That might do," replied her father, laughing. "Only you would get
frightened, maybe, and jump up too soon."

"No, I won't," said Faith, quite determined upon heroism. While she
spoke, she had picked up the whip, which had fallen close by, doubled
back the lash against the handle, and was tying her blue veil to its
tip. Then she sat down on the animal's great cheek, which she had never
fancied to be half so broad before, and gently patted his nose with one
hand, while she upheld her blue flag with the other. Major's big,
panting breaths came up, close beside her face. She kept a quick,
watchful eye upon the road below.

"He's as quiet as can be, father! It must be what Miss Beecher called
the 'chivalry of horses'!"

"It's the chivalry that has to develop under petticoat government!"
retorted Mr. Gartney.

At this moment Faith's blue flag waved vehemently over her head. She had
caught the jingle of bells, and perceived a sleigh, with a man in it,
come out into the crossing at the foot of Garland Lane. The man descried
the signal and the disaster, and the sleigh stopped. Alighting, he led
his horse to the fence, fastened him there, and turning aside into the
steep, narrow, unbroken road, began a vigorous struggle through the
drifts to reach the wreck.

Coming nearer, he discerned and recognized Mr. Gartney, who also, at the
same moment, was aware of him. It was Mr. Armstrong.

"Keep still a minute longer, Faith," said her father, lifting the
remaining shaft against the dasher, and trying to push the sleigh back,
away from the animal. But this, alone, he was unable to accomplish. So
the minister came up, and found Faith still seated on the horse's head.

"Miss Gartney! Let me hold him!" cried he.

"I'm quite comfortable!" laughed Faith. "If you would just help my
father, please!"

The sleigh was drawn back by the combined efforts of the two gentlemen,
and then both came round to Faith.

"Now, Faith, jump!" said her father, placing his hands upon the
creature's temple, close beside her, while Mr. Armstrong caught her arms
to snatch her safely away. Faith sprang, or was lifted as she sprang,
quite to the top of the huge bank of snow under and against which they
had, among them, beaten in and trodden down such a hollow, and the
instant after, Mr. Gartney releasing Major's head, and uttering a sound
of encouragement, the horse raised himself, with a half roll, and a
mighty scramble, first to his knees, and then to his four feet again,
and shook his great skin.

Mr. Gartney examined the harness. The broken shaft proved the extent of
damage done. This, at the moment, however, was irremediable. He knotted
the hanging straps and laid them over the horse's neck. Then he folded a
buffalo skin, and arranged it, as well as he could, above and behind the
saddle, which he secured again by its girth.

"Mr. Armstrong," said he, as he completed this disposal of matters, "you
came along in good time. I am very much obliged to you. If you will do
me the further favor to take my daughter home, I will ride to the
nearest house where I can obtain a sleigh, and some one to send back for
these traps of mine."

"Miss Gartney," said the minister, in answer, "can you sit a horse's
back as well as you did his eyebrow?"

Faith laughed, and reaching her arms to the hands upheld for them, was
borne safely from her snowy pinnacle to the buffalo cushion. Her father
took the horse by the bit, and Mr. Armstrong kept at his side holding
Faith firmly to her seat. In this fashion, grasping the bridle with one
hand, and resting the other on Mr. Armstrong's shoulder, she was
transported to the sleigh at the foot of the hill.

"We were talking about long journeys in small circuits," said Faith,
when she was well tucked in, and they had set off on a level and not
utterly untracked road. "I think I have been to the Alhambra, and to
Rome, and have had a peep into fairyland, and come back, at last, over
the Alps!"

Mr. Armstrong understood her.

"It has been beautiful," said he. "I shall begin to expect always to
encounter you whenever I get among things wild and wonderful!"

"And yet I have lived all my life, till now, in tame streets," said
Faith. "I thought I was getting into tamer places still, when we first
came to the country. But I am finding out Kinnicutt. One can't see the
whole of anything at once."

"We are small creatures, and can only pick up atoms as we go, whether of
things outward or inward. People talk about taking 'comprehensive
views'; and they suppose they do it. There is only One who does."

Faith was silent.

"Did it ever occur to you," said Mr. Armstrong, "how little your thought
can really grasp at once, even of what you already know? How narrow your
mental horizon is?"

"Doesn't it seem strange," said Faith, in a subdued tone, "that the
earth should all have been made for such little lives to be lived in,
each in its corner?"

"If it did not thereby prove these little lives to be but the beginning.
This great Beyond that we get glimpses of, even upon earth, makes it so
sure to us that there must be an Everlasting Life, to match the Infinite
Creation. God puts us, as He did Moses, into a cleft of the rock, that
we may catch a glimmer of His glory as He goes by; and then He tells us
that one day we 'shall know even as also we are known'!"

"And I suppose it ought to make us satisfied to live whatever little
life is given us?" said Faith, gently and wistfully.

Mr. Armstrong turned toward her, and looked earnestly into her eyes.

"Has that thought troubled _you_, too? Never let it do so again, my
child! Believe that however little of tangible present good you may
have, you have the unseen good of heaven, and the promise of all things
to come."

"But we do see lives about us in the world that seem to be and to
accomplish so much!"

"And so we ask why ours should not be like them? Yes; all souls that
aspire, must question that; but the answer comes! I will give you, some
day, if you like, the thought that comforted me at a time when that
question was a struggle."

"I _should_ like!" said Faith, with deeply stirred and grateful
emphasis.

Then they drove on in silence, for a while; and then the minister,
pleasantly and easily, brought on a conversation of everyday matters;
and so they came to Cross Corners, just as Mrs. Gartney was gazing a
little anxiously out of the window, down the road.

Mrs. Gartney urged the minister to come in and join them at the tea
table; but "it was late in the week--he had writing to finish at home
that evening--he would very gladly come another time."

"Mother!" cried Faith, presently, moving out of a dream in which she had
been sitting before the fire, "I wonder whether it has been two hours,
or two weeks, or two years, since we set off from the kitchen door! I
have seen so much, and I have heard so much. I told Mr. Armstrong, after
we met him, that I had been through the Alhambra and the Vatican, and
into fairyland, and over the Alps. And after that, mother," she added,
low, "I think he almost took me into heaven!"




CHAPTER XIX.

A "LEADING."

"The least flower, with a brimming cup, may stand
And share its dewdrop with another near."
                                       MRS. BROWNING.


Glory McWhirk was waiting upstairs, in Faith's pretty, white,
dimity-hung chamber.

These two girls, of such utterly different birth and training, were
drawing daily toward each other across the gulf of social circumstance
that separated them.

Twice a week, now, Glory came over, and found her seat and her books
ready in Miss Faith's pleasant room, and Faith herself waiting to impart
to her, or to put her in the way of gathering, those bits of week-day
knowledge she had ignorantly hungered for so long.

Glory made quick progress. A good, plain foundation had been laid during
the earlier period of her stay with Miss Henderson, by a regular
attendance, half daily, at the district school. Aunt Faith said
"nobody's time belonged to anybody that knew better themselves, until
they could read, and write, and figure, and tell which side of the globe
they lived on." Then, too, the girl's indiscriminate gleaning from such
books as had come in her way, through all these years, assorted itself
gradually, now, about new facts.

Glory's "good times" had, verily, begun at last.

On this day that she sat waiting, Faith had been called down by her
mother to receive some village ladies who had walked over to Cross
Corners to pay a visit. Glory had time for two or three chapters of
"Ivanhoe," and to tell Hendie, who strayed in, and begged for it,
Bridget Foye's old story of the little red hen, while the regular course
of topics was gone through below, of the weather--the new minister--the
last meeting of the Dorcas Society--the everlasting wants and
helplessness of Mrs. Sheffley and her seven children, and whether the
society had better do anything more for them--the trouble in the west
district school, and the question "where the Dorcas bag was to go next
time."

At last, the voices and footsteps retreated, through the entry, the door
closed somewhat promptly as the last "good afternoon" was said, and
Faith sprang up the narrow staircase.

There was a lesson in Geography, and a bit of natural Philosophy to be
done first, and then followed their Bible talk; for this was Saturday.

Before Glory went it had come to be Faith's practice always to read to
her some bit of poetry--a gem from Tennyson or Mrs. Browning, or a stray
poem from a magazine or paper which she had laid by as worthy.

"Glory," said she, to-day, "I'm going to let you share a little treasure
of mine--something Mr. Armstrong gave me."

Glory's eyes deepened and glowed.

"It is thoughts," said Faith. "Thoughts in verse. I shall read it to
you, because I think it will just answer you, as it did me. Don't you
feel, sometimes, like a little brook in a deep wood?"

Glory's gaze never moved from Faith's face. Her poetical instinct seized
the image, and the thought of her life applied it.

"All alone, and singing to myself? Yes, I _did_, Miss Faith. But I think
it is growing lighter and pleasanter every day. I think I am
getting----"

"Stop! stop!" said Faith. "Don't steal the verses before I read them!
You're such a queer child, Glory! One never can tell you anything."

And then Faith gave her pearls; because she knew they would not be
trampled under foot, but taken into a heart and held there; and because
just such a rapt and reverent ecstasy as her own had been when the
minister had given her, in fulfillment of his promise, this thought of
his for the comfort that was in it, looked out from the face that was
uplifted to hers.

  "'Up in the wild, where no one comes to look,
  There lives and sings, a little lonely brook;
  Liveth and singeth in the dreary pines,
  Yet creepeth on to where the daylight shines.

  "'Pure from their heaven, in mountain chalice caught,
  It drinks the rains, as drinks the soul her thought;
  And down dim hollows, where it winds along,
  Bears its life-burden of unlistened song.

  "'I catch the murmur of its undertone
  That sigheth, ceaselessly,--alone! alone!
  And hear, afar, the Rivers gloriously
  Shout on their paths toward the shining sea!

  "'The voiceful Rivers, chanting to the sun;
  And wearing names of honor, every one;
  Outreaching wide, and joining hand with hand
  To pour great gifts along the asking land.

  "'Ah, lonely brook! creep onward through the pines!
  Press through the gloom, to where the daylight shines!
  Sing on among the stones, and secretly
  Feel how the floods are all akin to thee!

  "'Drink the sweet rain the gentle heaven sendeth;
  Hold thine own path, howeverward it tendeth;
  For, somewhere, underneath the eternal sky,
  Thou, too, shalt find the Rivers, by-and-by!'"

Faith's voice trembled with earnestness as she finished. When she looked
up from the paper as she refolded it, tears were running down Glory's
cheeks.

"Why, the little brook has overflowed!" cried Faith, playfully. If she
had not found this to say, she would have cried, herself.

"Miss Faith!" said Glory, "I ain't sure whether I was meant to tell; but
do you know what the minister has asked Miss Henderson? Perhaps she
won't; I'm afraid not; it would be _too_ good a time! but he wants her
to let him come and board with her! Just think what it would be for him
to be in the house with us all the time! Why, Miss Faith, it would be
just as if one of those great Rivers had come rolling along through the
dark woods, right among the little lonely brooks!"

Faith made no answer. She was astonished. Miss Henderson had said
nothing of it. She never did make known her subjects of deliberation
till the deliberations had become conclusions.

"Why, you don't seem glad!"

"I _am_ glad," said Faith, slowly and quietly. She was strangely
conscious at the moment that she said so, glad as she would be if Mr.
Armstrong were really to come so near, and she might see him daily, of a
half jealousy that Glory should be nearer still.

It was quite true that Mr. Armstrong had this wish. Hitherto, he had
been at the house of the elder minister, Mr. Holland. A unanimous
invitation had been given to Mr. Armstrong by the people to remain among
them as their settled pastor. This he had not yet consented to do. But
he had entered upon another engagement of six months, to preach for
them. Now he needed a permanent home, which he could not conveniently
have at Mr. Holland's.

There was great putting of heads together at the "Dorcas," about it.

Mrs. Gimp "would offer; but then--there was Serena, and folks would
talk."

Other families had similar holdbacks--that is the word, for they were
not absolute insuperabilities--wary mothers were waiting until it should
appear positively necessary that _somebody_ should waive objection, and
take the homeless pastor in; and each watched keenly for the critical
moment when it should be just late enough, and not too late, for her to
yield.

Meanwhile, Mr. Armstrong quietly left all this seething, and walked off
out of the village, one day, to Cross Corners, and asked Miss Henderson
if he might have one of her quaint, pleasant, old-fashioned rooms.

Miss Henderson was deliberating.

This very afternoon, she sat in the southwest tea parlor, with her
knitting forgotten in her lap, and her eyes searching the bright western
sky, as if for a gleam that should light her to decision.

"It ain't that I mind the trouble. And it ain't that there isn't house
room. And it ain't that I don't like the minister," soliloquized she.
"It's whether it would be respectable common sense. I ain't going to
take the field with the Gimps and the Leatherbees, nor to have them
think it, either. She's over here almost every blessed day of her life.
I might as well try to keep the sunshine out of the old house, as to
keep her; and I should be about as likely to want to do one as the
other. But just let me take in Mr. Armstrong, and there'd be all the
eyes in the village watching. There couldn't so much as a cat walk in or
out, but they'd know it, somehow. And they'd be sure to say she was
running after the minister."

Miss Henderson's pronouns were not precise in their reference. It isn't
necessary for soliloquy to be exact. She understood herself, and that
sufficed.

"It would be a disgrace to the parish, anyhow," she resumed, "to let
those Gimps and Leatherbees get him into their net; and they'll do it if
Providence or somebody don't interpose. I wish I was sure whether it was
a leading or not!"

By and by she reverted, at last, as she always did, to that question of
its being a "leading," or not; and, taking down the old Bible from the
corner shelf, she laid it with solemnity on the little light stand at
her side, and opened it, as she had known her father do, in the
important crises of his life, for an "indication."

The wooden saddle and the gun were not all that had come down to Aunt
Faith from the primitive days of the Puritan settlers.

The leaves parted at the story of the Good Samaritan. Bible leaves are
apt to part, as the heart opens, in accordance with long habit and holy
use.

That evening, while Glory was washing up the tea things, Aunt Faith put
on cloak and hood, and walked over to Cross Corners.

"No--I won't take off my things," she replied to Mrs. Gartney's advance
of assistance. "I've just come over to tell you what I'm going to do.
I've made up my mind to take the minister to board. And when the washing
and ironing's out of the way, next week, I shall fix up a room for him,
and he'll come."

"That's a capital plan, Aunt Faith!" said her nephew, with a tone of
pleased animation. "Cross Corners will be under obligation to you. Mr.
Armstrong is a man whom I greatly respect and admire."

"So do I," said Miss Henderson. "And if I didn't, when a man is beset
with thieves all the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, it's time for some
kind of a Samaritan to come along."

Next day, Mis' Battis heard the news, and had her word of comment to
offer.

"She's got room enough for him, if that's all; but I wouldn't a believed
she'd have let herself be put about and upset so, if it was for John the
Baptist! I always thought she was setter'n an old hen! But then, she's
gittin' into years, and it's kinder handy, I s'pose, havin' a minister
round the house, sayin' she should be took anyways sudden!"

Village comments it would be needless to attempt to chronicle.

April days began to wear their tearful beauty, and the southwest room at
the old house was given up to Mr. Armstrong.




CHAPTER XX.

PAUL.

"Standing, with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet!"
                        LONGFELLOW.


Glory had not been content with the utmost she could find to do in
making the southwest room as clean, and bright, and fresh, and perfect
in its appointments as her zealous labor and Miss Henderson's nice,
old-fashioned methods and materials afforded possibility for. Twenty
times a day, during the few that intervened between its fitting up and
Mr. Armstrong's occupation of it, she darted in, to settle a festoon of
fringe, or to pick a speck from the carpet, or to move a chair a
hair's-breadth this way or that, or to smooth an invisible crease in the
counterpane, or, above all, to take a pleased survey of everything once
more, and to wonder how the minister would like it.

So well, indeed, he liked it, when he had taken full possession, that he
seemed to divine the favorite room must have been relinquished to him,
and to scruple at keeping it quite solely to himself.

In the pleasant afternoons, when the spring sun got round to his
westerly windows, and away from the southeast apartment, whither Miss
Henderson had betaken herself, her knitting work, and her Bible, and
where now the meals were always spread, he would open his door, and let
the pleasantness stray out across the passage, and into the keeping
room, and would often take a book, and come in, himself, also, with the
sunlight. Then Glory, busy in the kitchen, just beyond, would catch
words of conversation, or of reading, or even be called in to hear the
latter. And she began to think that there were good times, truly, in
this world, and that even she was "in 'em!"

April days, as they lengthened and brightened, brought other things,
also, to pass.

The Rushleigh party had returned from Europe.

Faith had a note from Margaret. The second wedding was close at hand,
and would she not come down?

But her services as bridesmaid were not needed this time; there was
nothing so exceedingly urgent in the invitation--Faith's intimacy was
with the Rushleighs, not the Livingstons--that she could not escape its
acceptance if she desired; and so--there was a great deal to be done in
summer preparation, which Mis' Battis, with her deliberate dignity,
would never accomplish alone; also, there was the forget-me-not ring
lying in her box of ornaments, that gave her a little troubled
perplexity as often as she saw it there; and Faith excused herself in a
graceful little note, and stayed at Cross Corners, helping her mother
fold away the crimson curtains, and get up the white muslin ones, make
up summer sacks for Hendie, and retouch her own simple wardrobe, which
this year could receive little addition.

One day, Aunt Faith had twisted her foot by a slip upon the stairs, and
was kept at home. Glory, of course, was obliged to remain also, as Miss
Henderson was confined, helpless, to her chair or sofa.

Faith Gartney and the minister walked down the pleasant lane, and along
the quiet road to the village church, together.

Faith had fresh, white ribbons, to-day, upon her simple straw bonnet,
and delicate flowers and deep green leaves about her face. She seemed
like an outgrowth of the morning, so purely her sweet look and fair
unsulliedness of attire reflected the significance of the day's own
newness and beauty.

"Do you know," said Mr. Armstrong, presently, after the morning greeting
had passed, and they had walked a few paces, silently, "do you know that
you are one of Glory's saints, Miss Faith?"

Faith's wondering eyes looked out their questioning astonishment from a
deep rosiness that overspread her face.

The minister was not apt to make remarks of at all a personal bearing.
Neither was this allusion to sainthood quite to have been looked for,
from his lips. Faith could scarcely comprehend.

"I found her this morning, as I came out to cross the field, sitting on
the doorstone with her Bible and a rosary of beautiful, small, variously
tinted shells upon her lap. I stopped to speak with her, and asked leave
to look at them. 'They were given to me when I was very little,' she
said. 'A lady sent them from Rome. The Pope blessed them!' 'They are
very beautiful,' I said, 'and a blessing, if that mean a true man's
prayer, can never be worthless. But,' I asked her, 'do you _use_ these,
Glory?' 'Not as she did once,' she said. She had almost forgotten about
that. She knew the larger beads stood for saints, and the smaller ones
between were prayers. 'But,' she went on, 'it isn't for my prayers I
keep them now. I've named some of my saints' beads for the people that
have done me the most good in my life, and been the kindest to me; and
the little ones are thoughts, and things they've taught me. This large
one, with the queer spots, is Miss Henderson; and this lovely
rose-colored one is Miss Faith; and these are Katie Ryan and Bridget
Foye; but you don't know about them.' And then she timidly told me that
the white one next the cross was mine. The child humbled me, Miss Faith!
It is nearly fearful, sometimes, to get a glimpse of what one is to some
trustful human soul, who looks through one toward the Highest!"

Faith had tears in her eyes.

"Glory is such a strange girl," said she. "She seems to have an instinct
for things that other people are educated up to."

"She has seized the spirit of the dead Roman calendar, and put it into
this rosary. Our saints _are_ the spirits through whom God wills to send
us of His own. Whatever becomes to us a channel of His truth and love we
must involuntarily canonize and consecrate. Woe, if by the same channel
ever an offense cometh!"

Perhaps Faith was nearly the only person in church, to-day, who did not
notice that there were strangers in the pew behind the Gimps. When she
came out, she was joined; and not by strangers. Margaret and Paul
Rushleigh came eagerly to her side.

"We came out to Lakeside to stay a day or two with the Morrises; and ran
away from them here, purposely to meet you. And we mean to be very good,
and go to church all day, if you will take us home with you meanwhile."

Faith, between her surprise, her pleasure, her embarrassment, the rush
of old remembrance, and a quick, apprehensive thought of Mis' Battis and
her probable arrangements, made almost an awkward matter of her reply.
But her father and mother came up, welcomed the Rushleighs cordially,
and the five were presently on their way toward Cross Corners, and
Faith had recovered sufficient self-possession to say something beyond
mere words of course.

Paul Rushleigh looked very handsome! And very glad, too, to see shy
Faith, who kept as invisible as might be at Margaret's other side, and
looked there, in her simple spring dress contrasted with Margaret's rich
and fashionable, though also simple and ladylike attire, like a field
daisy beside a garden rose.

Dinner was of no moment. There was only roast chicken, dressed the day
before, and reheated and served with hot vegetables since their coming
in, and a custard pudding, and some pastry cakes that Faith's fingers
had shaped, and coffee; but they drank in balm and swallowed sunshine,
and the essence of all that was to be concrete by and by in fruitful
fields and gardens. And they talked of old times! Three years old,
nearly! And Faith and Margaret laughed, and Mrs. Gartney listened, and
dispensed dinner, or spoke gently now and then, and Paul did his
cleverest with Mr. Gartney, so that the latter gentleman declared
afterwards that "young Rushleigh was a capital fellow; well posted; his
father's million didn't seem to have spoiled him yet."

Altogether, this unexpected visit infused great life at Cross Corners.

Why was it that Faith, when she thought it all over, tried to weigh so
very nicely just the amount of gladness she had felt; and was dimly
conscious of a vague misgiving, deep down, lest her father and mother
might possibly be a little more glad than she was quite ready to have
them? What made her especially rejoice that Saidie and the strawberries
had not come yet?

When Paul Rushleigh took her hand at parting, he glanced down at the
fair little fingers, and then up, inquiringly, at Faith's face. Her eyes
fell, and the color rose, till it became an indignation at itself. She
grew hot, for days afterwards, many a time, as she remembered it. Who
has not blushed at the self-suspicion of blushing?

Who has not blushed at the simple recollection of having blushed before?
On Monday, this happened. Faith went over to the Old House, to inquire
about Aunt Henderson's foot, and to sit with her, if she should wish it,
for an hour. She chose the hour at which she thought Mr. Armstrong
usually walked to the village. Somehow, greatly as she enjoyed all the
minister's kindly words, and each moment of his accidental presence, she
had, of late, almost invariably taken this time for coming over to see
Aunt Faith. A secret womanly instinct, only, it was; waked into no
consciousness, and but ignorantly aware of its own prompting.

To-day, however, Mr. Armstrong had not gone out. Some writing that he
was tempted to do, contrary to his usual Monday habit, had detained him
within. And so, just as Miss Henderson, having given the history of her
slip, and the untoward wrenching of her foot, and its present condition,
to Faith's inquiries, asked her suddenly, "if they hadn't had some city
visitors yesterday, and what sent them flacketting over from Lakeside to
church in the village?" the minister walked in. If he hadn't heard, she
might not have done it; but, with the abrupt question, came, as
abruptly, the hot memory of yesterday; and with those other eyes, beside
the doubled keenness of Aunt Faith's over her spectacles, upon her, it
was so much worse if she should, that of course she couldn't help doing
it! She colored up, and up, till the very roots of her soft hair
tingled, and a quick shame wrapped her as in a flaming garment.

The minister saw, and read. Not quite the obvious inference Faith might
fear--he had a somewhat profounder knowledge of nature than that--but
what persuaded him there was a thought, at least, between the two who
met yesterday, more than of a mere chance greeting; it might not lie so
much with Faith as with the other; yet it had the power--even the
consciousness of its unspoken being, to send the crimson to her face.
What kept the crimson there and deepened it, he knew quite well. He knew
the shame was at having blushed at all.

Nevertheless, Mr. Armstrong remembered that blush, and pondered it,
almost as long as Faith herself. In the little time that he had felt
himself her friend, he had grown to recognize so fully, and to prize so
dearly, her truth, her purity, her high-mindedness, her reverence, that
no new influence could show itself in her life, without touching his
solicitous love. Was this young man worthy of a blush from Faith? Was
there a height in his nature answering to the reach of hers? Was the
quick, impulsive pain that came to him in the thought of how much that
rose hue of forehead and cheek might mean, an intuition of his stronger
and more instructed soul of a danger to the child that she might not
dream? Be it as it might, Roger Armstrong pondered. He would also
watch.




CHAPTER XXI.

PRESSURE.

"To be warped, unconsciously, by the magnetic influence of all
around is the destiny, to a certain extent, of even the greatest
souls."--OAKFIELD.


June came, and Saidie Gartney. Not for flowers, or strawberries, merely;
but for father's and mother's consent that, in a few weeks, when flowers
and strawberries should have fully come, there should be a marriage
feast made for her in the simple home, and she should go forth into the
gay world again, the bride of a wealthy New York banker.

Aunt Etherege and Saidie filled the house. With finery, with bustle,
with important presence.

Miss Gartney's engagement had been sudden; her marriage was to be
speedy. Half a dozen seamstresses, and as many sewing machines, were
busy in New York--hands, feet, and wheels--in making up the delicate
draperies for the _trousseau_; and Madame A---- was frantic with the
heap of elaborate dresses that was thrust upon her hands, and must be
ready for the thirtieth.

Mrs. Gartney and Faith had enough to do, to put the house and themselves
in festival trim. Hendie was spoiled with having no lessons, and more
toys and sugar plums than he knew what to do with. Mr. Selmore's comings
and goings made special ebullitions, weekly, where was only a continuous
lesser effervescence before. Mis' Battis had not been able to subside
into an armchair since the last day of May.

Faith found great favor in the eyes of her brother-in-law elect. He
pronounced her a "_naive, piquante_ little person," and already there
was talk of how pleasant it would be, to have her in Madison Square, and
show her to the world. Faith said nothing to this, but in her heart she
clung to Kinnicutt.

Glory thought Miss Gartney wonderful. Even Mr. Armstrong spoke to Aunt
Faith of the striking beauty of her elder niece.

"I don't know how she _does_ look," Aunt Faith replied, with all her
ancient gruffness. "I see a great show of flounces, and manners, and
hair; but they don't look as if they all grew, natural. I can't make
_her_ out, amongst all that. Now, _Faith's_ just Faith. You see her
prettiness the minute you look at her, as you do a flower's."

"There are not many like Miss Faith," replied Mr. Armstrong. "I never
knew but one other who so wore the fresh, pure beauty of God's giving."

His voice was low and quiet, and his eye looked afar, as he spoke.

Glory went away, and sat down on the doorstone. There was a strange
tumult at her heart. In the midst, a noble joy. About it, a disquietude,
as of one who feels shut out--alone.

"I don't know what ails me. I wonder if I ain't glad! Of course, it's
nothing to me. I ain't in it. But it must be beautiful to be so! And to
have such words said! _She_ don't know what a sight the minister thinks
of her! I know. I knew before. It's beautiful--but I ain't in it. Only,
I think I've got the feeling of it all. And I'm glad it's real,
somewhere. Some way, I seem to have so much _here_, that never grows out
into anything. Maybe I'd be beautiful if it did!"

So talked Glory, interjectionally, with herself.

In the midst of these excited days, there came two letters to Mr.
Gartney.

One was from a gentleman in Michigan, in relation to some land Mr.
Gartney owned there, taken years ago, at a very low valuation, for a
debt. This was likely, from the rapid growth and improvement in the
neighborhood, to become, within a few years, perhaps, a property of some
importance.

The other letter was from his son, James Gartney, in San Francisco. The
young man urged his father to consider whether it might not be a good
idea for him to come out and join him in California.

James Gartney's proposal evidently roused his attention. It was a great
deal to think of, certainly; but it was worth thinking of, too. James
had married in San Francisco, had a pleasant home there, and was
prospering. Many old business friends had gone from Mishaumok, in the
years when the great flood of enterprise set westward across the
continent, and were building up name and influence in the Golden Land.
The idea found a place in his brain, and clung there. Only, there was
Faith! But things might come round so that even this thought need to be
no hindrance to the scheme.

Changes, and plans, and interests, and influences were gathering; all to
bear down upon one young life.

"More news!" said Mr. Gartney, one morning, coming in from his walk to
the village post office, to the pleasant sitting room, or morning room,
as Mrs. Etherege and Saidie called it, where Faith was helping her
sister write a list of the hundreds who were to receive Mr. and Mrs.
Selmore's cards--"At Home, in September, in Madison Square." "Whom do
you think I met in the village, this morning?"

Everybody looked up, and everybody's imagination took a discursive leap
among possibilities, and then everybody, of course, asked "Whom?"

"Old Jacob Rushleigh, himself. He has taken a house at Lakeside, for
the summer. And he has bought the new mills just over the river. That is
to give young Paul something to do, I imagine. Kinnicutt has begun to
grow; and when places or people once take a start, there's no knowing
what they may come to. Here's something for you, Faithie, that I dare
say tells all about it."

And he tossed over her shoulder, upon the table, a letter, bearing her
name, in Margaret Rushleigh's chirography, upon the cover.

Faith's head was bent over the list she was writing; but the vexatious
color, feeling itself shielded in her face, crept round till it made her
ear tips rosy. Saidie put out her forefinger, with a hardly perceptible
motion, at the telltale sign, and nodded at Aunt Etherege behind her
sister's back.

Aunt Etherege looked bland and sagacious.

Upstairs, a little after, these sentences were spoken in Saidie's room.

"Of course it will be," said the younger to the elder lady. "It's been
going on ever since they were children. Faith hasn't a right to say no,
now. And what else brought him up here after houses and mills?"

"I don't see that the houses and mills were necessary to the object.
Rather cumbersome and costly machinery, I should think, to bring to bear
upon such a simple purpose."

"Oh, the business plan is something that has come up accidentally, no
doubt. Running after one thing, people very often stumble upon another.
But it will all play in together, you'll see. Only, I'm afraid I shan't
have the glory of introducing Faithie in New York!"

"It would be as good a thing as possible. And I can perceive that your
father and mother count upon it, also. In their situation what a great
relief it would be! Of course, Henderson never could do so mad a thing
as take the child up by the roots, again, and transplant her to San
Francisco! And I see plainly he has got that in his own head."

A door across the passage at this moment shut, softly, but securely.

Behind it, in her low chair by her sewing table sat the young sister
whose fate had been so lightly decreed.

Was it all just so, as Saidie had said? Had she no longer a right to say
no? Only themselves know how easily, how almost inevitably, young
judgments and consciences are drawn on in the track beaten down for them
by others. Many and many a life decision has been made, through this
_taking for granted_ that bears with its mute, but magnetic power, upon
the shyness and irresolution that can scarcely face and interpret its
own wish or will.

It was very true, that, as Saidie Gartney had said, "this had been
going on for years." For years, Faith had found great pleasantness in
the companionship and evident preference of Paul Rushleigh. There had
been nobody to compare with him in her young set in Mishaumok. She knew
he liked her. She had been proud of it. The girlish fancy, that may be
forgotten in after years, or may, fostered by circumstance, endure and
grow into a calm and happy wifehood, had been given to him. And what
troubled her now? Was it that always, when the decisive moment
approaches, there is a little revulsion of timid feminine feeling, even
amidst the truest joy? Or was it that a new wine had been given into
Faith's life, which would not be held in the old bottles? Was she
uncertain--inconstant; or had she spiritually outgrown her old
attachment? Or, was she bewildered, now, out of the discernment of what
was still her heart's desire and need?

Paul was kind, and true, and manly. She recognized all this in him as
surely as ever. If he had turned from, and forgotten her, she would have
felt a pang. What was this, then, that she felt, as he came near, and
nearer?

And then, her father! Had he really begun to count on this? Do men know
how their young daughters feel when the first suggestion comes that they
are not regarded as born for perpetual daughterhood in the father's
house? Would she even encumber his plans, if she clung still to her
maidenly life?

By all these subtleties does the destiny of woman close in upon her.

Margaret Rushleigh's letter was full of delight, and eagerness, and
anticipation. She and Paul had been so charmed with Kinnicutt and
Lakeside; and there had happened to be a furnished house to let for the
season close by the Morrises, and they had persuaded papa to take it.
They were tired of the seashore, and Conway was getting crowded to
death. They wanted a real summer in the country. And then this had
turned up about the mills! Perhaps, now, her father would build, and
they should come up every year. Perhaps Paul would stay altogether, and
superintend. Perhaps--anything! It was all a delightful chaos of
possibilities; with this thing certain, that she and Faith would be
together for the next four months in the glorious summer shine and
bloom.

Miss Gartney's wedding was simple. The stateliness and show were all
reserved for Madison Square.

Mr. Armstrong pronounced the solemn words, in the shaded summer parlor,
with the door open into the sweeter and stiller shade without.

Faith stood by her sister's side, in fair, white robes, and Mr. Robert
Selmore was groomsman to his brother. A few especial friends from
Mishaumok and Lakeside were present to witness the ceremony.

And then there was a kissing--a hand-shaking--a well-wishing--a going
out to the simple but elegantly arranged collation--a disappearance of
the bride to put on traveling array--a carriage at the door--smiles,
tears, and good-bys--Mr., and Mrs., and Mr. Robert Selmore were off to
meet the Western train--and all was over.

Mrs. Etherege remained a few days longer at Cross Corners. As Mis'
Battis judiciously remarked, "after a weddin' or a funeral, there ought
to be somebody to stay a while and cheer up the mourners."

This visit, that had been so full of happenings, was to have a strange
occurrence still to mark it, before all fell again into the usual order.

Aunt Etherege was to go on Thursday. On Wednesday, the three ladies sat
together in the cool, open parlor, where Mr. Armstrong, walking over
from the Old House, had joined them. He had the July number of the
_Mishaumok_ in his hand, and a finger between the fresh-cut leaves at a
poem he would read them.

Just as he had finished the last stanza, amidst a hush of the room that
paid tribute to the beauty of the lines and his perfect rendering of
them, wheels came round from the high road into the lane.

"It is Mr. Gartney come back from Sedgely," said Aunt Etherege, looking
from her window, between the blinds. "Whom on earth has he picked up to
bring with him?"

A thin, angular figure of a woman, destitute of crinoline, wearing big
boots, and a bonnet that ignored the fashion, and carrying in her hand a
black enameled leather bag, was alighting as she spoke, at the gate.

"Mother!" said Faith, leaning forward, and glancing out, also, "it looks
like--it is--Nurse Sampson!"

And she put her work hastily from her lap, and rose to go out at the
side door, to meet and welcome her.

To do this, she had to pass by Mr. Armstrong. How came that rigid look,
that deadly paleness, to his face? What spasm of pain made him clutch
the pamphlet he held with fingers that grew white about the nails?

Faith stopped, startled.

"Mr. Armstrong! Are you not well?" said she. At the same instant of her
pausing, Miss Sampson entered from the hall, behind her. Mr. Armstrong's
eye, lifted toward Faith in an attempt to reply, caught a glimpse of the
sharp, pronounced outlines of the nurse's face. Before Faith could
comprehend, or turn, or cry out, the paleness blanched ghastlier over
his features, and the strong man fell back, fainting.

With quick, professional instinct, Miss Sampson sprang forward,
seizing, as she did so, an ice-water pitcher from the table.

"There, take this!" said she to Faith, "and sprinkle him with it, while
I loosen his neckcloth! Gracious goodness!" she exclaimed, in an altered
tone, as she came nearer to him for this purpose, "do it, some of the
rest of you, and let me get out of his way! It was me!"

And she vanished out of the room.




CHAPTER XXII.

ROGER ARMSTRONG'S STORY.

"Even by means of our sorrows, we belong to the Eternal Plan."
                                                         HUMBOLDT.


"Go in there," said Nurse Sampson to Mr. Gartney, calling him in from
the porch, "and lay that man flat on the floor!"

Which Mr. Gartney did, wondering, vaguely, in the instant required for
his transit to the apartment, whether bandit or lunatic might await his
offices.

All happened in a moment; and in that moment, the minister's fugitive
senses began to return.

"Lie quiet, a minute. Faith, get a glass of wine, or a little brandy."

Faith quickly brought both; and Mr. Armstrong, whom her father now
assisted to the armchair again, took the wine from her hand, with a
smile that thanked her, and depreciated himself.

"I am not ill," he said. "It is all over now. It was the sudden shock. I
did not think I could have been so weak."

Mrs. Gartney had gone to find some hartshorn. Mrs. Etherege, seeing that
the need for it was passing, went out to tell her sister so, and to ask
the strange woman who had originated all the commotion, what it could
possibly mean. Mr. Gartney, at the same instant, caught a glimpse of his
horse, which he had left unfastened at the gate, giving indications of
restlessness, and hastened out to tie him.

Faith and Mr. Armstrong were left alone.

"Did I frighten you, my child?" he asked, gently. "It was a strange
thing to happen! I thought that woman was in her grave. I thought she
died, when--I will tell you all about it some day, soon, Miss Faith. It
was the sad, terrible page of my life."

Faith's eyes were lustrous with sympathy. Under all other thought was a
beating joy--not looked at yet--that he could speak to her so! That he
could snatch this chance moment to tell her, only, of his sacred sorrow!

She moved a half step nearer, and laid her hand, softly, on the chair
arm beside him. She did not touch so much as a fold of his sleeve; but
it seemed, somehow, like a pitying caress.

"I am sorry!" said she. And then the others came in.

Mr. Gartney walked round with his friend to the old house.

Miss Sampson began to recount what she knew of the story. Faith escaped
to her own room at the first sentence. She would rather have it as Mr.
Armstrong's confidence.

Next morning, Faith was dusting, and arranging flowers in the east
parlor, and had just set the "hillside door," as they called it, open,
when Mr. Armstrong passed the window and appeared thereat.

"I came to ask, Miss Faith, if you would walk up over the Ridge. It is a
lovely morning, and I am selfish enough to wish to have you to myself
for a little of it. By and by, I would like to come back, and see Miss
Sampson."

Faith understood. He meant to tell her this that had been heavy upon his
heart through all these years. She would go. Directly, when she had
brought her hat, and spoken with her mother.

Mrs. Etherege and Mrs. Gartney were sitting together in the guest
chamber, above. At noon, after an early dinner, Mrs. Etherege was to
leave.

Mr. Armstrong stood upon the doorstone below, looking outward, waiting.
If he had been inside the room, he would not have heard. The ladies,
sitting by the window, just over his head, were quite unaware and
thoughtless of his possible position.

He caught Faith's clear, sweet accent first, as she announced her
purpose to her mother, adding:

"I shall be back, auntie, long before dinner."

Then she crossed the hall into her own room, made her slight preparation
for the walk, and went down by the kitchen staircase, to give Parthenia
some last word about the early dinner.

"I think," said Mrs. Etherege, in the keenness of her worldly wisdom,
"that this minister of yours might as well have a hint of how matters
stand. It seems to me he is growing to monopolize Faith, rather."

"Oh," replied Mrs. Gartney, "there is nothing of that! You know what
nurse told us, last evening. It isn't quite likely that a man would
faint away at the memory of one woman, if his thoughts were turned, the
least, in that way, upon another. No, indeed! She is his Sunday scholar,
and he treats her always as a very dear young friend. But that is all."

"Maybe. But is it quite safe for her? He is a young man yet,
notwithstanding those few gray hairs."

"Oh, Faith has tacitly belonged to Paul Rushleigh these three years!"

Mr. Armstrong heard it all. He turned the next moment, and met his "dear
young friend" with the same gentle smile and manner that he always wore
toward her, and they walked up the Ridge path, among the trees,
together.

A bowlder of rock, scooped into smooth hollows that made pleasant seats,
was the goal, usually, of the Ridge walk. Here Faith paused, and Mr.
Armstrong made her sit down and rest.

Standing there before her, he began his story.

"One summer--years ago," he said, "I went to the city of New Orleans. I
went to bring thence, with me, a dear friend--her who was to have been
my wife."

The deep voice trembled, and paused. Faith could not look up, her breath
came quickly, and the tears were all but ready.

"She had been there, through the winter and spring, with her father,
who, save myself, was the only near friend she had in all the world.

"The business which took him there detained him until later in the
season than Northerners are accustomed to feel safe in staying. And
still, important affairs hindered his departure.

"He wrote to me, that, for himself, he must risk a residence there for
some weeks yet; but that his daughter must be placed in safety. There
was every indication of a sickly summer. She knew nothing of his
writing, and he feared would hardly consent to leave him. But, if I
came, she would yield to me. Our marriage might take place there, and I
could bring her home. Without her, he said, he could more quickly
dispatch what remained for him to do; and I must persuade her of this,
and that it was for the safety of all that she should so fulfill the
promise which was to have been at this time redeemed, had their earlier
return been possible.

"In the New Orleans papers that came by the same mail, were paragraphs
of deadly significance. The very cautiousness with which they were
worded weighted them the more.

"Miss Faith! my friend! in that city of pestilence, was my life! Night
and day I journeyed, till I reached the place. I found the address which
had been sent me--there were only strangers there! Mr. Waldo had been,
but the very day before, seized with the fatal disease, and removed to a
fever hospital. Miriam had gone with him--into plague and death!

"Was I wrong, child? Could I have helped it? I followed. Ah! God lets
strange woes into this world of His! I cannot tell you, if I would, what
I saw there! Pestilence--death--corruption!

"In the midst of all, among the gentle sisters of charity, I found a New
England woman--a nurse--her whom I met yesterday. She came to me on my
inquiry for Mr. Waldo. He was dead. Miriam had already sickened--was
past hope. I could not see her. It was against the rule. She would not
know me.

"I only remember that I refused to be sent away. I think my brain reeled
with the weariness of sleepless nights and horror of the shock.

"I cannot dwell upon the story. It was ended quickly. When I struggled
back, painfully, to life, from the disease that struck me down, there
were strange faces round me, and none could even tell me of her last
hours. The nurse--Miss Sampson--had been smitten--was dying.

"They sent me to a hospital for convalescents. Weeks after, I came out,
feeble and hopeless, into my lonely life!

"Since then, God, who had taken from me the object I had set for myself,
has filled its room with His own work. And, doing it, He has not denied
me to find many a chastened joy.

"Dear young friend!" said he, with a tender, lingering emphasis--it was
all he could say then--all they had left him to say, if he would--"I
have told you this, because you have come nearer into my sympathies than
any in all these years that have been my years of strangerhood and
sorrow! You have made me think, in your fresh, maidenly life, and your
soul earnestness, of Miriam!

"When your way broadens out into busy sunshine, and mine lies otherwise,
do not forget me!"

A solemn baptism of mingled grief and joy seemed to touch the soul of
Faith. One hand covered her face, that was bowed down, weeping. The
other lay in her companion's, who had taken it as he uttered these last
words. So it rested a moment, and then its fellow came to it, and,
between the two, held Roger Armstrong's reverently, while the fair,
tearful face lifted itself to his.

"I do thank you so!" And that was all.

Faith was his "dear, young friend!" How the words in which her mother
limited his thoughts of her to commonplace, widened, when she spoke them
to herself, into a great beatitude! She never thought of more--scarcely
whether more could be. This great, noble, purified, God-loving soul that
stood between her and heaven, like the mountain peak, bathing its head
in clouds, and drawing lightnings down, leaned over her, and blessed her
thus!

She never suspected her own heart, even when the remembrance of Paul
came up and took a tenderness from the thought how he, too, might love,
and learn from, this her friend. She turned back with a new gentleness
to all other love, as one does from a prayer!




CHAPTER XXIII.

QUESTION AND ANSWER.

"Unless you can swear, 'For life, for death!'
Oh, fear to call it loving!"
                                   MRS. BROWNING.


Faith sent Nurse Sampson in to talk with Mr. Armstrong. Then he learned
all that he had longed to know, but had never known before; that which
took him to his lost bride's deathbed, and awoke out of the silent years
for him a moment refused to him in its passing.

Miss Sampson came from her hour's interview, with an unbending of the
hard lines of her face, and a softness, even, in her eyes, that told of
tears.

"If ever there was an angel that went walking about in black broadcloth,
that man is the one," said she.

And that was all she would say.

"I'm staying," she explained, in answer to their inquiries, "with a
half-sister of mine at Sedgely. Mrs. Crabe, the blacksmith's wife. You
see, I'd got run down, and had to take a rest. Resting is as much a part
of work as doing, when it's necessary. I had a chance to go to Europe
with an invaleed lady; but I allers hate such halfway contrivances. I
either want to work with all my might, or be lazy with all my might. And
so I've come here to do nothing, as hard as ever I can."

"I know well enough," she said again, afterwards, "that something's
being cut out for me, tougher'n anything I've had yet. I never had an
hour's extra rest in my life, but I found out, precious soon, what it
had been sent for. I'm going to stay on all summer, as the doctor told
me to; but I'm getting strong, already; and I shall be just like a tiger
before the year's out. And then it'll come, whatever it is. You'll see."

Miss Sampson stayed until the next day after, and then Mr. Gartney drove
her back to Sedgely.

In those days it came to pass that Glory found she had a "follower."

Luther Goodell, who "did round" at Cross Corners, got so into the way of
straying up the field path, in his nooning hours, and after chores were
done at night, that Miss Henderson at last, in her plain, outright
fashion, took the subject up, and questioned Glory.

"If it means anything, and you mean it shall mean anything, well and
good. I shall put up with it; though what anybody wants with men folks
cluttering round, is more than I can understand. But, if you don't want
him, he shan't come. So tell me the truth, child. Yes, or no. Have you
any notion of him for a husband?"

Glory blushed her brightest at these words; but there was no falling of
the eye, or faltering of the voice, as she spoke with answering
straightforwardness and simplicity.

"No ma'am. I don't think I shall ever have a husband."

"No ma'am's enough. The rest you don't know anything about. Most likely
you will."

"I shouldn't want anybody, ma'am, that would be likely to want me."

And Glory walked out into the milk room with the pans she had been
scalding.

It was true. This woman-child would go all through life as she had
begun; discerning always, and reaching spiritually after, that which was
beyond; which in that "kingdom of heaven" was hers already; but which to
earthly having and holding should never come.

God puts such souls, oftener than we think, into such life. These are
His vestals.

Miss Henderson's foot had not grown perfectly strong. She, herself,
said, coolly, that she never expected it to. More than that, she
supposed, now she had begun, she should keep on going to pieces.

"An old life," she said, "is just like old cloth when it begins to tear.
It'll soon go into the ragbag, and then to the mill that grinds all up,
and brings us out new and white again!"

"Glory McWhirk," said she, on another day after, "if you could do just
the thing you would like best to do, what would it be?"

"To-day, ma'am? or any time?" asked Glory, puzzled as to how much her
mistress's question included.

"Ever. If you had a home to live in, say, and money to spend?"

Glory had to wait a moment before she could so grasp such an
extraordinary hypothesis as to reply.

"Well?" said Miss Henderson, with slight impatience.

"If I had--I should like best to find some little children, without any
fathers or mothers, as I was, and dress them up, as you did me, and curl
their hair, and make a real good time for them, every day!"

"You would! Well, that's all. I was curious to know what you'd say. I
guess those beans in the oven want more hot water."

The Rushleighs had come to Lakeside. Every day, nearly, saw Paul, or
Margaret, or both, at Cross Corners.

Faith was often, also, at Lakeside.

Old Mr. Rushleigh treated her with a benignant fatherliness, and looked
upon her with an evident fondness and pride that threw heavy weight in
the scale of his son's chances. And Madam Rushleigh, as she began to be
called, since Mrs. Philip had entered the family, petted her in the old,
graceful, gracious fashion; and Margaret loved her, simply, and from her
heart.

With Paul himself, it had not been as in the days of bouquets, and
"Germans," and bridal association in Mishaumok. They were all living and
enjoying together a beautiful idyl. Nothing seemed special--nothing was
embarrassing.

Faith thought, in these days, that she was very happy.

Mr. Armstrong relinquished her, almost imperceptibly, to her younger
friends. In the pleasant twilights, though, when her day's pleasures and
occupations were ended, he would often come over, as of old, and sit
with them in the summer parlor, or under the elms.

Or Faith would go up the beautiful Ridge walk with him; and he would
have a thought for her that was higher than any she could reach, by
herself, or with the help of any other human soul.

And the minister? How did his world look to him? Perhaps, as if clouds
that had parted, sending a sunbeam across from the west upon the dark
sorrow of the morning, had shut again, inexorably, leaving him still to
tread the nightward path under the old, leaden sky.

A day came, that set him thinking of all this--of the years that were
past, of those that might be to come.

Mr. Armstrong was not quite so old as he had been represented. A man
cannot go through plague and anguish, as he had, and "keep," as Nurse
Sampson had said, long ago, of women, "the baby face on." There were
lines about brow and mouth, and gleams in the hair, that seldom come so
early.

This day he completed one-and-thirty years.

The same day, last month, had been Faith's birthday. She was nineteen.

Roger Armstrong thought of the two together.

He thought of these twelve years that lay between them. Of the love--the
loss--the stern and bitter struggle--the divine amends and holy hope
that they had brought to him; and then of the innocent girl life she had
been living in them; then, how the two paths had met so, in these last
few, beautiful months.

Whither, and how far apart, trended they now?

He could not see. He waited--leaving the end with God.

A few weeks went by, in this careless, holiday fashion, with Faith and
her friends; and then came the hour when she must face the truth for
herself and for another, and speak the word of destiny for both.

She had made a promise for a drive round the Pond Road. Margaret and
her brother were to come for her, and to return to Cross Corners for
tea.

At the hour fixed, she sat, waiting, under the elms, hat and mantle on,
and whiling the moments of delay with a new book Mr. Armstrong had lent
her.

Presently, the Rushleighs' light, open, single-seated wagon drove up.

Paul had come alone.

Margaret had a headache, but thought that after sundown she might feel
better, and begged that Faith would reverse the plan agreed upon, and
let Paul bring her home to tea with them.

Paul took for granted that Faith would keep to her engagement with
himself. It was difficult to refuse. She was ready, waiting. It would be
absurd to draw back, sensitively, now, she thought. Besides, it would be
very pleasant; and why should she be afraid? Yet she wished, very
regretfully, that Margaret were there.

She shrank from _tete-a-tetes_--from anything that might help to
precipitate a moment she felt herself not quite ready for.

She supposed she did care for Paul Rushleigh as most girls cared for
lovers; that she had given him reason to expect she should; she felt,
instinctively, whither all this pleased acquiescence of father and
mother, and this warm welcome and encouragement at Lakeside, tended; and
she had a dim prescience of what must, some time, come of it: but that
was all in the far-off by and by. She would not look at it yet.

She was afraid, now, as she let Paul help her into the wagon, and take
his place at her side.

She had been frightened by a word of her mother's, when she had gone to
her, before leaving, to tell how the plan had been altered, and ask if
she had better do as was wished of her.

Mrs. Gartney had assented with a smile, and a "Certainly, if you like
it, Faith; indeed, I don't see how you can very well help it; only----"

"Only what, mother?" asked Faith, a little fearfully.

"Nothing, dear," answered her mother, turning to her with a little
caress. But she had a look in her eyes that mothers wear when they begin
to see their last woman's sacrifice demand itself at their hands.

"Go, darling. Paul is waiting."

It was like giving her away.

So they drove down, through byways, among the lanes, toward the Wachaug
Road.

Summer was in her perfect flush and fullness of splendor. The smell of
new-mown hay was in the air.

As they came upon the river, they saw the workmen busy in and about the
new mills. Mr. Rushleigh's buggy stood by the fence; and he was there,
among his mechanics, with his straw hat and seersucker coat on,
inspecting and giving orders.

"What a capital old fellow the governor is!" said Paul, in the fashion
young men use, nowadays, to utter their affections.

"Do you know he means to set me up in these mills he is making such a
hobby of, and give me half the profits?"

Faith had not known. She thought him very good.

"Yes; he would do anything, I believe, for me--or anybody I cared for."

Faith was silent; and the strange fear came up in heart and throat.

"I like Kinnicutt, thoroughly."

"Yes," said Faith. "It is very beautiful here."

"Not only that. I like the people. I like their simple fashions. One
gets at human life and human nature here. I don't think I was ever, at
heart, a city boy. I don't like living at arm's length from everybody.
People come close together, in the country. And--Faith! what a minister
you've got here! What a sermon that was he preached last Sunday! I've
never been what you might call one of the serious sort; but such a
sermon as that must do anybody good."

Faith felt a warmth toward Paul as he said this, which was more a
drawing of the heart than he had gained from her by all the rest.

"My father says he will keep him here, if money can do it. He never goes
to church at Lakeside, now. It needs just such a man among mill villages
like these, he says. My father thinks a great deal of his workpeople. He
says nobody ought to bring families together, and build up a
neighborhood, as a manufacturer does, and not look out for more than the
money. I think he'll expect a great deal of me, if he leaves me here, at
the head of it all. More than I can ever do, by myself."

"Mr. Armstrong will be the very best help to you," said Faith. "I think
he means to stay. I'm sure Kinnicutt would seem nothing without him,
now."

"Faith! Will you help me to make a home here?"

She could not speak. A great shock had fallen upon her whole nature, as
if a thunderbolt she had had presentiment of, burst from a clear blue
sky.

They drove on for minutes, without another word.

"Faith! You don't answer me. Must I take silence as I please? It can't
be that you don't care for me!"

"No, no!" cried Faith, desperately, like one struggling for voice
through a nightmare. "I do care. But--Paul! I don't know! I can't tell.
Let me wait, please. Let me think."

"As long as you like, darling," said he, gently and tenderly. "You know
all I can tell you. You know I have cared for you all my life. And I'll
wait now till you tell me I may speak again. Till you put on that little
ring of mine, Faith!"

There was a little loving reproach in these last words.

"Please take me home, now, Paul!"

They were close upon the return path around the Lake. A look of
disappointed pain passed over Paul Rushleigh's features. This was hardly
the happy reception, however shy, he had hoped and looked for. Still he
hoped, however. He could not think she did not care for him. She, who
had been the spring of his own thoughts and purposes for years. But,
obedient to her wish, he touched his horse with the lash, and urged him
homeward.

Paul helped her from the wagon at the little white gate at Cross
Corners, and then they both remembered that she was to have gone to
Lakeside to tea.

"What shall I tell Margaret?" he asked.

"Oh, don't tell her anything! I mean--tell her, I couldn't come
to-night. And, Paul--forgive me! I do want so to do what is right!"

"Isn't it right to let me try and make you happy all your life?"

A light had broken upon her--confusedly, it is true--yet that began to
show her to herself more plainly than any glimpse she had had before, as
Paul's words, simple, yet burning with his strong sure love, came to
her, with their claim to honest answer.

She saw what it was he brought her; she felt it was less she had to give
him back. There was something in the world she might go missing all the
way through life, if she took this lot that lay before her now. Would he
not miss a something in her, also? Yet, must she needs insist on the
greatest, the rarest, that God ever sends? Why should she, more than
others? Would she wrong him more, to give him what she could, or to
refuse him all?

"I ought--if I do--" she said, tremulously, "to care as you do!"

"You never can, Faith!" cried the young man, impetuously. "I care as a
man cares! Let me love you! care a little for me, and let it grow to
more!"

Men, till something is accorded, are willing to take so little! And then
the little must become so entire!

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Mis' Battis, as Faith came in. "Who'd a
thought o' seein' you home to tea! I s'pose you ain't had none?"

"Yes--no. That is, I don't want any. Where is my mother?"

"She and your pa's gone down to Dr. Wasgatt's. I knew 'twould be
contrary to the thirty-nine articles that they should get away from
there without their suppers, and so I let the fire right down, and
blacked the stove."

"Never mind," said Faith, abstractedly. "I don't feel hungry." And she
went away, upstairs.

"'M!" said Mis 'Battis, significantly, to herself, running a released
knitting needle through her hair, "don't tell me! I've been through the
mill!"

Half an hour after, she came up to Faith's door.

"The minister's downstairs," said she. "Hope to goodness, he's had _his_
supper!"

"Oh, if I dared!" thought Faith; and her heart throbbed tumultuously.
"Why can't there be somebody to tell me what I ought to do?"

If she had dared, how she could have leaned upon this friend! How she
could have trusted her conscience and her fate to his decision!

"Does anything trouble you to-night, Miss Faith?" asked Mr. Armstrong,
watching her sad, abstracted look in one of the silent pauses that broke
their attempts at conversation. "Are you ill, or tired?"

"Oh, no!" answered Faith, quickly, from the surface, as one often does
when thoughts lie deep. "I am quite well. Only--I am sometimes puzzled."

"About what is? Or about what ought to be?"

"About doing. So much depends. I get so tired--feeling how responsible
everything makes me. I wish I were a little child again! Or that
somebody would just take me and tell me where to go, and where to stay,
and what to do, and what not. From minute to minute, as the things come
up."

Roger Armstrong, with his great, chastened soul, yearned over the child
as she spoke; so gladly he would have taken her, at that moment, to his
heart, and bid her lean on him for all that man might give of help--of
love--of leading!

If she had told him, in that moment, all her doubt, as for the instant
of his pause she caught her breath with swelling impulse to do!

"'And they shall all be led of God';" said the minister. "It is only to
be willing to take His way rather than one's own. All this that seems to
depend painfully upon oneself, depends, then, upon Him. The act is
human--the consequences become divine."

Faith was silenced then. There was no appeal to human help from that.
Her impulse throbbed itself away into a lonely passiveness again.

There was a distance between these two that neither dared to pass.

A word was spoken between mother and daughter as they parted for the
night.

"Mother! I have such a thing to think of--to decide!"

It was whispered low, and with cheek hidden on her mother's neck, as the
good-night kiss was taken.

"Decide for your own happiness, Faithie. We have seen and understood for
a long time. If it is to be as we think, nothing could give us a greater
joy for you."

Ah! how much had father and mother seen and understood?

The daughter went her way, to wage her own battle in secret; to balance
and fix her decision between her own heart and God. So we find ourselves
left, at the last, in all the great crises of our life.

Late that night, while Mr. and Mrs. Gartney were felicitating each
other, cheerily, upon the great good that had fallen to the lot of their
cherished child, that child sat by her open window, looking out into the
summer night; the tossing elm boughs whispering weird syllables in her
ears, and the stars looking down upon her soul struggle, so silently,
from so far!

"Mr. Rushleigh's here!" shouted Hendie, precipitating himself, next
morning, into the breakfast room, where, at a rather later hour than
usual, Mrs. Gartney and Faith were washing and wiping the silver and
china, and Mr. Gartney still lingered in his seat, finishing somebody's
long speech, reported in the evening paper of yesterday.

"Mr. Rushleigh's here, on his long-tailed black horse! And he says he'll
give me a ride, but not yet. He wants to see papa. Make haste, papa."

Faith dropped her towel, and as Mr. Gartney rose to go out and meet his
visitor, just whispered, hurriedly, to her mother:

"I'll come down again. I'll see him before he goes." And escaped up the
kitchen staircase to her own room.

Paul Rushleigh came, he told Mr. Gartney, because, although Faith had
not authorized him to appeal to her father to ratify any consent of
hers, he thought it right to let him know what he had already said to
his daughter. He did not wish to hurry Faith. He only wished to stand
openly with Mr. Gartney in the matter, and would wait, then, till she
should be quite ready to give him her own answer.

He explained the prospect his father offered him, and the likelihood of
his making a permanent home at Kinnicutt.

"That is," he added, "if I am to be so happy as to have a home,
anywhere, of my own."

Mr. Gartney was delighted with the young man's unaffected warmth of
heart and noble candor.

"I could not wish better for my daughter, Mr. Rushleigh," he replied.
"And she is a daughter whom I may fairly wish the best for, too."

Mr. Gartney rose. "I will send Faith," said he.

"I do not _ask_ for her," answered Paul, a flush of feeling showing in
his cheek. "I did not come, expecting it--my errand was one I owed to
yourself--but Faith knows quite well how glad I shall be if she chooses
to see me."

As Mr. Gartney crossed the hall from parlor to sitting room, a light
step came over the front staircase.

Faith passed her father, with a downcast look, as he motioned with his
hand toward the room where Paul stood, waiting. The bright color spread
to her temples as she glided in.

She held, but did not wear, the little turquoise ring.

Paul saw it, as he came forward, eagerly.

A thrill of hope, or dread--he scarce knew which--quivered suddenly at
his heart. Was he to take it back, or place it on her finger as a
pledge?

"I have been thinking, Paul," said she, tremulously, and with eyes that
fell again away from his, after the first glance and greeting, "almost
ever since. And I do not think I ought to keep you waiting to know the
little I can tell you. I do not think I understand myself. I cannot
tell, certainly, how I ought--how I do feel. I have liked you very much.
And it was very pleasant to me before all this. I know you deserve to be
made very happy. And if it depends on me, I do not dare to say I will
not try to do it. If you think, yourself, that this is enough--that I
shall do the truest thing so--I will try."

And the timid little fingers laid the ring into his hand, to do with as
he would.

What else could Paul have done?

With the strong arm that should henceforth uphold and guard her, he drew
her close; and with the other hand slipped the simply jeweled round upon
her finger. For all word of answer, he lifted it, so encircled, to his
lips.

Faith shrank and trembled.

Hendie's voice sounded, jubilant, along the upper floor, toward the
staircase.

"I will go, now, if you wish. Perhaps I ought," said Paul. "And yet, I
would so gladly stay. May I come again, by and by?"

Faith uttered a half-audible assent, and as Hendie's step came nearer
down the stairs, and passed the door, straight out upon the grassplot,
toward the gate, and the long-tailed black horse that stood there, she
escaped again to her own chamber.

Hendie had his ride. Meanwhile, his sister, down upon her knees at her
bedside, struggled with the mystery and doubt of her own heart. Why
could she not feel happier? Would it never be otherwise? Was this all
life had for her, in its holiest gift, henceforth? But, come what might,
she would have God, always!

So, without words, only with tears, she prayed, and at last, grew calm.




CHAPTER XXIV.

CONFLICT.

"O Life, O Beyond,
_Art_ thou fair!--_art_ thou sweet?"
                          MRS. BROWNING.


There followed days that almost won Faith back into her outward life of
pleasantness.

Margaret came over with Madam Rushleigh, and felicitated herself and
friend, impetuously. Paul's mother thanked her for making her son happy.
Old Mr. Rushleigh kissed her forehead with a blessing. And Mr. and Mrs.
Gartney looked upon their daughter as with new eyes of love. Hendie rode
the black horse every day, and declared that "everything was just as
jolly as it could be!"

Paul drove her out, and walked with her, and talked of his plans, and
all they would do and have together.

And she let herself be brightened by all this outward cheer and promise,
and this looking forward to a happiness and use that were to come. But
still she shrank and trembled at every loverlike caress, and still she
said, fearfully, every now and then:

"Paul--I don't feel as you do. What if I don't love you as I ought?"

And Paul called her his little oversensitive, conscientious Faithie, and
persuaded himself and her that he had no fear--that he was quite
satisfied.

When Mr. Armstrong came to see her, gravely and tenderly wishing her
joy, and looked searchingly into her face for the pure content that
should be there, she bent her head into her hands, and wept.

She was very weak, you say? She ought to have known her own mind better?
Perhaps. I speak of her as she was. There are mistakes like these in
life; there are hearts that suffer thus, unconscious of their ail.

The minister waited while the momentary burst of emotion subsided, and
something of Faith's wonted manner returned.

"It is very foolish of me," she said, "and you must think me very
strange. But, somehow, tears come easily when one has been feeling a
great deal. And such kind words from you touch me."

"My words and thoughts will always be kind for you, my child. And I know
very well that tears may mean sweeter and deeper things than smiles. I
will not try you with much talking now. You have my affectionate wishes
and my prayers. If there is ever any help that I can give, to you who
have so much loving help about you, count on me as an earnest friend,
always."

The hour was past when Faith, if she could ever, could have asked of him
the help she did most sorely need.

And so, with a gentle hand clasp, he went away.

Mr. Gartney began to be restless about Michigan. He wanted to go and see
this wild estate of his. He would have liked to take his wife, now that
haying would soon be over, and he could spare the time from his farm,
and make it a pleasant summer journey for them both. But he could
neither leave Faith, nor take her, well, it seemed. Hendie might go.
Fathers always think their boys ready for the world when once they are
fairly out of the nursery.

One day, Paul came to Cross Corners with news.

Mr. Rushleigh had affairs to be arranged and looked to, in New
York--matters connected with the mills, which had, within a few weeks,
begun to run; he had been there, once, about them; he could do all quite
well, now, by letter, and an authorized messenger; he could not just now
very well leave Kinnicutt. Besides, he wanted Paul to see and know his
business friends, and to put himself in the way of valuable business
information. Would Faith spare him for a week or two--he bade his son to
ask.

Madam Rushleigh would accompany Paul; and before his return he would go
with his mother to Saratoga, where her daughter Gertrude and Mrs. Philip
Rushleigh were, and where he was to leave her for the remainder of their
stay.

Margaret liked Kinnicutt better than any watering-place; and she and her
father had made a little plan of their own, which, if Faith would go
back with him, they would explain to her.

So Faith went over to Lakeside to tea, and heard the plan.

"We are going to make our first claim upon you, Faith," said the elder
Mr. Rushleigh, as he led his daughter-in-law elect out on the broad
piazza under the Italian awnings, when the slight summer evening repast
was ended. "We want to borrow you, while madam and the yonker are gone.
Your father tells me he wishes to make a Western journey. Now, why not
send him off at this very time? I think your mother intends accompanying
him?"

"It had been talked of," Faith said; "and perhaps her father would be
very glad to go when he could leave her in such good keeping. She would
tell him what Mr. Rushleigh had been so kind as to propose."

It was a suggestion of real rest to Faith--this free companionship with
Margaret again, in the old, girlish fashion--and the very thoughtful
look, that was almost sad, which had become habitual to her face, of
late, brightened into the old, careless pleasure, as she spoke.

Old Mr. Rushleigh saw something in this that began to seem to him more
than mere maidenly shyness.

By and by, Margaret called her brother to sing with her.

"Come, Faithie," said Paul, drawing her gently by the hand. "I can't
sing unless you go, too."

Faith went; more, it seemed, of his will, than her own.

"How does that appear to you?" said Mr. Rushleigh to his wife. "Is it
all right? Does the child care for Paul?"

"Care!" exclaimed the mother, almost surprised into too audible speech.
"How can she help caring? And hasn't it grown up from childhood with
them? What put such a question into your head? I should as soon think of
doubting whether I cared for you."

It was easier for the father to doubt, jealously, for his son, than for
the mother to conceive the possibility of indifference in the woman her
boy had chosen.

"Besides," added Mrs. Rushleigh, "why, else, should she have accepted
him? I _know_ Faith Gartney is not mercenary, or worldly ambitious."

"I am quite sure of that, as well," answered her husband. "It is no
doubt of her motive or her worth--I can't say it is really a doubt of
anything; but, Gertrude, she must not marry the boy unless her whole
heart is in it! A sharp stroke is better than a lifelong pain."

"I'm sure I can't tell what has come over you! She can't ever have
thought of anybody else! And she seems quite one of ourselves."

"Yes; that's just the uncertainty," replied Mr. Rushleigh. "Whether it
isn't as much Margaret, and you and I, as Paul. Whether she fully knows
what she is about. She can't marry the family, you know. We shall die,
and go off, and Heaven knows what; Paul must be the whole world to her,
or nothing. I hope he hasn't hurried her--or let her hurry herself."

"Hurry! She has had years to make up her mind in!"

Mrs. Rushleigh, woman as she was, would not understand.

"We shall go, in three days," said Paul, when he stood in the moonlight
with Faith at the little white gate under the elms, after driving her
home; "and I must have you all the time to myself, until then!"

Faith wondered if it were right that she shouldn't quite care to be "had
all the time to himself until then"? Whether such demonstrativeness and
exclusiveness of affection was ever a little irksome to others as to
her?

Faith thought and questioned, often, what other girls might feel in
positions like her own, and tried to judge herself by them; it
absolutely never occurred to her to think how it might have been if
another than Paul had stood in this relation toward herself.

The young man did not quite have his own way, however. His father went
down to Mishaumok on one of the three days, and left him in charge at
the mills; and there were people to see, and arrangements to make; but
some part of each day he did manage to devote to Faith, and they had
walking and driving together, and every night Paul stayed to tea at
Cross Corners.

On the last evening, they sat together, by the hillside door, in the
summer parlor.

"Faithie," said Paul, a little suddenly, "there is something you must do
for me--do you know?"

"What is it?" asked Faith, quite calmly.

"You must wear this, now, and keep the forget-me-not for a guard."

He held her hand, that wore the ring, in one of his, and there was a
flash of diamonds as he brought the other toward it.

Then Faith gave a quick, strange cry.

"I can't! I can't! Oh, Paul! don't ask me!" And her hand was drawn from
the clasp of his, and her face was hidden in both her own.

Paul drew back--hurt, silent.

"If I could only wait!" she murmured. "I don't dare, yet!"

She could wear the forget-me-not, as she wore the memory of all their
long young friendship, it belonged to the past; but this definite pledge
for the future--these diamonds!

"Do you not quite belong to me, even yet?" asked Paul, with a
resentment, yet a loving and patient one, in his voice.

"I told you," said Faith, "that I would try--to be to you as you wish;
but Paul! if I couldn't be so, truly?--I don't know why I feel so
uncertain. Perhaps it is because you care for me too much. Your thought
for me is so great, that mine, when I look at it, never seems worthy."

Paul was a man. He could not sue, too cringingly, even for Faith
Gartney's love.

"And I told you, Faith, that I was satisfied to be allowed to love you.
That you should love me a little, and let it grow to more. But if it is
not love at all--if I frighten you, and repel you--I have no wish to
make you unhappy. I must let you go. And yet--oh, Faith!" he cried--the
sternness all gone, and only the wild love sweeping through his heart,
and driving wild words before it--"it can't be that it is no love, after
all! It would be too cruel!"

At those words, "I must let you go," spoken apparently with calmness, as
if it could be done, Faith felt a bound of freedom in her soul. If he
would let her go, and care for her in the old way, only as a friend! But
the strong passionate accents came after; and the old battle of doubt
and pity and remorse surged up again, and the cloud of their strife
dimmed all perception, save that she was very, very wretched.

She sobbed, silently.

"Don't let us say good-by, so," said Paul. "Don't let us quarrel. We
will let all wait, as you wish, till I come home again."

So he still clung to her, and held her, half bound.

"And your father, Paul? And Margaret? How can I let them receive me as
they do--how can I go to them as I have promised, in all this
indecision?"

"They want you, Faith, for your own sake. There is no need for you to
disappoint them. It is better to say nothing more until we do know. I
ask it of you--do not refuse me this--to let all rest just here; to make
no difference until I come back. You will let me write, Faith?"

"Why, yes, Paul," she said, wonderingly.

It was so hard for her to comprehend that it could not be with him, any
longer, as it had been; that his written or his spoken word could not
be, for a time, at least, mere friendly any more.

And so she gave him, unwittingly, this hope to go with.

"I think you _do_ care for me, Faith, if you only knew it!" said he,
half sadly and very wistfully, as they parted.

"I do care, very much," Faith answered, simply and earnestly. "I never
can help caring. It is only that I am afraid I care so differently from
you!"

She was nearer loving him at that moment, than she had ever been.

Who shall attempt to bring into accord the seeming contradictions of a
woman's heart?




CHAPTER XXV.

A GAME AT CHESS.

"Life's burdens fall, its discords cease,
I lapse into the glad release
Of nature's own exceeding peace."
                                    WHITTIER.


"I don't see," said Aunt Faith, "why the child can't come to me,
Henderson, while you and Elizabeth are away. I don't believe in putting
yourself under obligations to people till you're sure they're going to
be something to you. Things don't always turn out according to the
Almanac."

"She goes just as she always has gone to the Rushleighs," replied Mr.
Gartney. "Paul is to be away. It is a visit to Margaret. Still, I shall
be absent at least a fortnight, and it might be well that she should
divide her time, and come to Cross Corners for a few days, if it is only
to see the house opened and ready. Luther can have a bed here, if Mis'
Battis should be afraid."

Mis' Battis was to improve the fortnight's interval for a visit to
Factory Village.

"Well, fix it your own way," said Miss Henderson. "I'm ready for her,
any time. Only, if she's going to peak and pine as she has done ever
since this grand match was settled for her, Glory and I'll have our
hands full, nursing her, by then you get back!"

"Faith is quite well," said Mrs. Gartney. "It is natural for a girl to
be somewhat thoughtful when she decides for herself such an important
relation."

"Symptoms differ, in different cases. _I_ should say she was taking it
pretty hard," said the old lady.

Mr. and Mrs. Gartney left home on Monday.

Faith and Mis' Battis remained in the house a few hours after, setting
all things in that dreary "to rights" before leaving, which is almost,
in its chillness and silence, like burial array. Glory came over to
help; and when all was done--blinds shut, windows and doors fastened,
fire out, ashes removed--stove blackened--Luther drove Mis' Battis and
her box over to Mrs. Pranker's, and Glory took Faith's little bag for
her to the Old House.

This night she was to stay with her aunt. She wanted just this little
pause and quiet before going to the Rushleighs'.

"Tell Aunt Faith I'm coming," said she, as she let herself and Glory out
at the front door, and then, locking it, put the key in her pocket.
"I'll just walk up over the Ridge first, for a little coolness and
quiet, after this busy day."

There was the peace of a rested body and soul upon her face when she
came down again a half hour after, and crossed the lane, and entered,
through the stile, upon the field path to the Old House. Heart and will
had been laid asleep--earthly plan and purpose had been put aside in all
their incompleteness and uncertainty--and only God and Nature had been
permitted to come near.

Mr. Armstrong walked down and met her midway in the field.

"How beautiful mere simpleness and quiet are," said Faith. "The cool
look of trees and grass, and the stillness of this evening time, are
better even than flowers, and bright sunlight, and singing of birds!"

"'He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the
still waters: He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for His name's sake.'"

They did not disturb the stillness by more words. They came up
together, in the hush and shadow, to the pleasant doorstone, that
offered its broad invitation to their entering feet, and where Aunt
Faith at this moment stood, watching and awaiting them.

"Go into the blue bedroom, and lay off your things, child," she said,
giving Faith a kiss of welcome, "and then come back and we'll have our
tea."

Faith disappeared through passages and rooms beyond.

Aunt Henderson turned quickly to the minister.

"You're her spiritual adviser, ain't you?" she asked, abruptly.

"I ought to be," answered Mr. Armstrong.

"Why don't you advise her, then?"

"Spiritually, I do and will, in so far as so pure a spirit can need a
help from me. But--I think I know what you mean, Miss Henderson--spirit
and heart are two. I am a man; and she is--what you know."

Miss Henderson's keen eyes fixed themselves, for a minute, piercingly
and unflinchingly, on the minister's face. Then she turned, without a
word, and went into the house to see the tea brought in. She knew, now,
all there was to tell.

Faith's face interpreted itself to Mr. Armstrong. He saw that she
needed, that she would have, rest. Rest, this night, from all that of
late had given her weariness and trouble. So, he did not even talk to
her in the way they mostly talked together; he would not rouse, ever so
distantly, thought, that might, by so many subtle links, bear round upon
her hidden pain. But he brought, after tea, a tiny chessboard, and set
the delicate carved men upon it, and asked her if she knew the game.

"A little," she said. "What everybody always owns to knowing--the
moves."

"Suppose we play."

It was a very pleasant novelty--sitting down with this grave, earnest
friend to a game of skill--and seeing him bring to it all the resource
of power and thought that he bent, at other times, on more important
work.

"Not that, Miss Faith! You don't mean that! You put your queen in
danger."

"My queen is always a great trouble to me," said Faith, smiling, as she
retracted the half-made move. "I think I do better when I give her up in
exchange."

"Excuse me, Miss Faith; but that always seems to me a cowardly sort of
game. It is like giving up a great power in life because one is too weak
to claim and hold it."

"Only I make you lose yours, too."

"Yes, there is a double loss and inefficiency. Does that make a better
game, or one pleasanter to play?"

"There are two people, in there, talking riddles; and they don't even
know it," said Miss Henderson to her handmaid, in the kitchen close by.

Perhaps Mr. Armstrong, as he spoke, did discern a possible deeper
significance in his own words; did misgive himself that he might rouse
thoughts so; at any rate, he made rapid, skillful movements on the
board, that brought the game into new complications, and taxed all
Faith's attention to avert their dangers to herself.

For half an hour, there was no more talking.

Then Faith's queen was put in helpless peril.

"I must give her up," said she. "She is all but gone."

A few moves more, and all Faith's hope depended on one little pawn, that
might be pushed to queen and save her game.

"How one does want the queen power at the last!" said she. "And how much
easier it is to lose it, than to get it back!"

"It is like the one great, leading possibility, that life, in some sort,
offers each of us," said Mr. Armstrong. "Once lost--once missed--we may
struggle on without it--we may push little chances forward to partial
amends; but the game is changed; its soul is gone."

As he spoke he made the move that led to obvious checkmate.

Glory came in to the cupboard, now, and began putting up the tea things
she had brought from washing.

Mr. Armstrong had done just what, at first, he had meant not to do. Had
he bethought himself better, and did he seize the opening to give vague
warning where he might not speak more plainly? Or, had his habit, as a
man of thought, discerning quick meaning in all things, betrayed him
into the instant's forgetfulness?

However it might be, Glory caught glimpse of two strange, pained faces
over the little board and its mystic pieces.

One, pale--downcast--with expression showing a sudden pang; the other,
suffering also, yet tender, self-forgetful, loving--looking on.

"I don't know whichever is worst," she said afterwards, without apparent
suggestion of word or circumstance, to her mistress; "to see the
beautiful times that there are in the world, and not be in 'em--or to
see people that might be in 'em, and ain't!"

They were all out on the front stoop, later. They sat in the cool,
summer dusk, and looked out between the arched lattices where the vines
climbed up, seeing the stars rise, far away, eastwardly, in the blue;
and Mr. Armstrong, talking with Faith, managed to win her back into the
calm he had, for an instant, broken; and to keep her from pursuing the
thought that by and by would surely come back, and which she would
surely want all possible gain of strength to grapple with.

Faith met his intention bravely, seconding it with her own. These
hours, to the last, should still be restful. She would not think,
to-night, of those words that had startled her so--of all they suggested
or might mean--of life's great possibility lost to him, away back in the
sorrowful past, as she also, perhaps was missing it--relinquishing
it--now.

She knew not that his thought had been utterly self-forgetful. She
believed that he had told her, indirectly, of himself, when he had
spoken those dreary syllables--"the game is changed. Its soul is gone!"




CHAPTER XXVI.

LAKESIDE.

"Look! are the southern curtains drawn?
Fetch me a fan, and so begone!
       .       .       .       .       .
Rain me sweet odors on the air,
And wheel me up my Indian chair;
And spread some book not overwise
Flat out before my sleepy eyes."
                               O. W. HOLMES.


The Rushleighs' breakfast room at Lakeside was very lovely in a summer's
morning.

Looking off, northwestwardly, across the head of the Pond, the long
windows, opening down to the piazza, let in all the light and joy of the
early day, and that indescribable freshness born from the union of woods
and water.

Faith had come down long before the others, this fair Wednesday morning.

Mr. Rushleigh found her, when he entered, sitting by a window--a book
upon her lap, to be sure--but her eyes away off over the lake, and a
look in them that told of thoughts horizoned yet more distantly.

Last night, he had brought home Paul's first letter.

When he gave it to her, at tea time, with a gay and kindly word, the
color that deepened vividly upon her face, and the quiet way in which
she laid it down beside her plate, were nothing strange, perhaps;
but--was he wrong? the eyes that drooped so quickly as the blushes rose,
and then lifted themselves again so timidly to him as he next addressed
her, were surely brimmed with feeling that was not quite, or wholly
glad.

And now, this wistful, silent, musing, far-off look!

"Good morning, Faithie!"

"Good morning." And the glance came back--the reverie was
broken--Faith's spirit informed her visible presence again, and bade
him true and gentle welcome. "You haven't your morning paper yet? I'll
bring it. Thomas left it in the library, I think. He came back from the
early train, half an hour ago."

"Can't you women tell what's the matter with each other?" said Mr.
Rushleigh to his daughter, who entered by the other door, as Faith went
out into the hall. "What ails Faith, Margaret?"

"Nothing of consequence, I think. She is tired with all that has been
going on, lately. And then she's the shyest little thing!"

"It's a sort of shyness that don't look so happy as it might, it seems
to me. And what has become of Paul's diamonds, I wonder? I went with him
to choose some, last week. I thought I should see them next upon her
finger."

Margaret opened her eyes widely. Of course, this was the first she had
heard of the diamonds. Where could they be, indeed? Was anything wrong?
They had not surely quarreled!

Faith came in with the paper. Thomas brought up breakfast. And
presently, these three, with all their thoughts of and for each other,
that reached into the long years to come, and had their roots in all
that had gone by, were gathered at the table, seemingly with no further
anxiety than to know whether one or another would have toast or
muffins--eggs or raspberries.

Do we not--and most strangely and incomprehensively--live two lives?

"I must write to my mother, to-day," said Margaret, when her father had
driven away to the mills, and they had brought in a few fresh flowers
from the terrace for the vases, and had had a little morning music,
which Margaret always craved, "as an overture," she said, "to the day."

"I must write to my mother; and you, I suppose, will be busy with
answering Paul?"

A little consciousness kept her from looking straight in Faith's face,
as she spoke. Had she done so, she might have seen that a paleness came
over it, and that the lips trembled.

"I don't know," was the answer. "Perhaps not, to-day."

"Not to-day? Won't he be watching every mail? I don't know much about
it, to be sure; but I fancied lovers were such uneasy, exacting
creatures!"

"Paul is very patient," said Faith--not lightly, as Margaret had spoken,
but as one self-reproached, almost, for abusing patience--"and they go
to-morrow to Lake George. He won't look for a letter until he gets to
Saratoga."

She had calculated her time as if it were the minutes of a reprieve.

When Paul Rushleigh, with his mother, reached Saratoga, he found two
letters there, for him. One kind, simple, but reticent, from Faith--a
mere answer to that which she could answer, of his own. The other was
from his father.

"There seems," he wrote to his son, toward the close, "to be a little
cloud upon Faith, somehow. Perhaps it is one you would not wish away. It
may brighten up and roll off, at your return. You, possibly, understand
it better than I. Yet I feel, in my strong anxiety for your true good,
impelled to warn you against letting her deceive herself and you, by
giving you less than, for her own happiness and yours, she ought to be
able to give. Do not marry the child, Paul, if there can be a doubt of
her entire affection for you. You had better go through life alone, than
with a wife's half love. If you have reason to imagine that she feels
bound by anything in the past to what the present cannot heartily
ratify--release her. I counsel you to this, not more in justice to her,
than for the saving of your own peace. She writes you to-day. It may be
that the antidote comes with the hurt. I may be quite mistaken. But I
hurt you, my son, only to save a sorer pain. Faith is true. If she says
she loves you, believe her, and take her, though all the world should
doubt. But if she is fearful--if she hesitates--be fearful, and hesitate
yourself, lest your marriage be no true marriage before Heaven!"

Paul Rushleigh thanked his father, briefly, for his admonition, in
reply. He wrote, also, to Faith--affectionately, but with something, at
last, of her own reserve. He should not probably write again. In a week,
or less, he would be home.

And behind, and beyond all this, that could be put on paper, was the
hope of a life--the sharp doubt of days--waiting the final word!

In a week, he would be home! A week! It might bring much!

Wednesday had come round again.

Dinner was nearly ended at Lakeside. Cool jellies, and creams, and
fruits, were on the table for dessert. Steaming dishes of meats and
vegetables had been gladly sent away, but slightly partaken. The day was
sultry. Even now, at five in the afternoon, the heat was hardly
mitigated from that of midday.

They lingered over their dessert, and spoke, rather languidly, of what
might be done after.

"For me," said Mr. Rushleigh, "I must go down to the mills again, before
night. If either, or both of you, like a drive, I shall be glad to have
you with me."

"Those hot mills!" exclaimed Margaret. "What an excursion to propose!"

"I could find you a very cool corner, even in those hot mills," replied
her father. "My little sanctum, upstairs, that overlooks the river, and
gets its breezes, is the freshest place I have been in, to-day. Will you
go, Faith?"

"Oh, yes! she'll go! I see it in her eyes!" said Margaret. "She is
getting to be as much absorbed in all those frantic looms and
things--that set me into a fever just to think of, whizzing and humming
all day long in this horrible heat--as you are! I believe she expects to
help Paul overseer the factory, one of these days, she is so fierce to
peer into and understand everything about it. Or else, she means
mischief! You had a funny look in your face, Faithie, the other day,
when you stood there by the great rope that hoists the water gate, and
Mr. Blasland was explaining it to us!"

"I was thinking, I remember," said Faith, "what a strange thing it was
to have one's hand on the very motive power of it all. To see those
great looms, and wheels, and cylinders, and spindles, we had been
looking at, and hear nothing but their deafening roar all about us, and
to think that even I, standing there with my hand upon the rope, might
hush it all, and stop the mainspring of it in a minute!"

Ah, Faithie! Did you think, as you said this, how your little hand lay,
otherwise, also, on the mainspring and motive of it all? One of the
three, at least, thought of it, as you spoke.

"Well--your heart's in the spindles, I see!" rejoined Margaret. "So,
don't mind me. I haven't a bit of a plan for your entertainment, here. I
shouldn't, probably, speak to you, if you stayed. It's too hot for
anything but a book, and a fan, and a sofa by an open window!"

Faith laughed; but, before she could reply, a chaise rolled up to the
open front door, and the step and voice of Dr. Wasgatt were heard, as he
inquired for Miss Gartney.

Faith left her seat, with a word of excuse, and met him in the hall.

"I had a patient up this way," said he, "and came round to bring you a
message from Miss Henderson. Nothing to be frightened at, in the least;
only that she isn't quite so well as ordinary, these last hot days, and
thought perhaps you might as lief come over. She said she was expecting
you for a visit there, before your folks get back. No, thank you"--as
Faith motioned to conduct him to the drawing-room--"can't come in. Sorry
I couldn't offer to take you down; but I've got more visits to make, and
they lie round the other way."

"Is Aunt Faith ill?"

"Well--no. Not so but that she'll be spry again in a day or two;
especially if the weather changes. That ankle of hers is troublesome,
and she had something of an ill turn last night, and called me over this
morning. She seems to have taken a sort of fancy that she'd like to have
you there."

"I'll come."

And Faith went back, quickly, as Dr. Wasgatt departed, to make his
errand known, and to ask if Mr. Rushleigh would mind driving her round
to Cross Corners, after going to his mills.

"Wait till to-morrow, Faithie," said Margaret, in the tone of one whom
it fatigues to think of an exertion, even for another. "You'll want your
box with you, you know; and there isn't time for anything to-night."

"I think I ought to go now," answered Faith. "Aunt Henderson never
complains for a slight ailment, and she might be ill again, to-night. I
can take all I shall need before to-morrow in my little morocco bag. I
won't keep you waiting a minute," she added, turning to Mr. Rushleigh.

"I can wait twenty, if you wish," he answered kindly.

But in less than ten, they were driving down toward the river.

Margaret Rushleigh had betaken herself to her own cool chamber, where
the delicate straw matting, and pale green, leaf-patterned chintz of
sofa, chairs, and hangings, gave a feeling of the last degree of summer
lightness and daintiness, and the gentle air breathed in from the
southwest, sifted, on the way, of its sunny heat, by the green draperies
of vine and branch it wandered through.

Lying there, on the cool, springy cushions of her couch--turning the
fresh-cut leaves of the August _Mishaumok_--she forgot the wheels and
the spindles--the hot mills, and the ceaseless whir.

Just at that moment of her utter comfort and content, a young factory
girl dropped, fainting, in the dizzy heat, before her loom.




CHAPTER XXVII.

AT THE MILLS.

"For all day the wheels are droning, turning,--
Their wind comes in our faces,--
Till our hearts turn,--our head with pulses burning,--
And the walls turn in their places."
                                            MRS. BROWNING.


Faith sat silent by Mr. Rushleigh's side, drinking in, also, with a cool
content, the river air that blew upon their faces as they drove along.

"Faithie!" said Paul's father, a little suddenly, at last--"do you know
how true a thing you said a little while ago?"

"How, sir?" asked Faith, not perceiving what he meant.

"When you spoke of having your hand on the mainspring of all this?"

And he raised his right arm, motioning with the slender whip he held,
along the line of factory buildings that lay before them.

A deep, blazing blush burned, at his words, over Faith's cheek and brow.
She sat and suffered it under his eye--uttering not a syllable.

"I knew you did _not_ know. You did not think of it so. Yet it is true,
none the less. Faith! Are you happy? Are you satisfied?"

Still a silence, and tears gathering in the eyes.

"I do not wish to distress you, my dear. It is only a little word I
should like to hear you speak. I must, so far as I can, see that my
children are happy, Faith."

"I suppose," said Faith, tremulously, struggling to speech--"one cannot
expect to be utterly happy in this world."

"One does expect it, forgetting all else, at the moment when is given
what seems to one life's first, great good--the earthly good that comes
but once. I remember my own youth, Faithie. Pure, present content is
seldom overwise."

"Only," said Faith, still tremblingly, "that the responsibility comes
with the good. That feeling of having one's hand upon the mainspring is
a fearful one."

"I am not given," said Mr. Rushleigh, "to quoting Bible at all times;
but you make a line of it come up to me. 'There is no fear in love.
Perfect love casteth out fear.'"

"Be sure of yourself, dear child. Be sure you are content and happy; and
tell me so, if you can; or, tell me otherwise, if you must, without a
reserve or misgiving," he said again, as they drove down the mill
entrance; and their conversation, for the time, came, necessarily, to an
end.

Coming into the mill yard, they were aware of a little commotion about
one of the side doors.

The mill girl who had fainted sat here, surrounded by two or three of
her companions, slowly recovering.

"It is Mary Grover, sir, from up at the Peak," said one of them, in
reply to Mr. Rushleigh's question. "She hasn't been well for some days,
but she's kept on at her work, and the heat, to-day, was too much for
her. She'd ought to be got home, if there was any way. She can't ever
walk."

"I'll take her, myself," said the mill owner, promptly. "Keep her quiet
here a minute or two, while I go in and speak to Blasland."

But first he turned to Faith again. "What shall I do with you, my
child?"

"Dear Mr. Rushleigh," said she, with all her gratitude for his just
spoken kindness to herself and her appreciation of his ready sympathy
for the poor workgirl, in her voice--"don't think of me! It's lovely out
there over the footbridge, and in the fields; and that way, the
distance is nearly nothing to Aunt Faith's. I should like the
walk--really."

"Thank you," said Mr. Rushleigh. "I believe you would. Then I'll take
Mary Grover up to the Peak."

And he shook her hand, and left her standing there, and went up into the
mill.

Two of the girls who had come out with Mary Grover, followed him and
returned to their work. One, sitting with her in the doorway, on one of
the upper steps, and supporting her yet dizzy head upon her shoulder,
remained.

Faith asked if she could do anything, and was answered, no, with thanks.

She turned away, then, and walked over the planking above the race way,
toward the river, where a pretty little footbridge crossed it here, from
the end of the mill building.

Against this end, projected, on this side, a square, tower-like
appendage to the main structure, around which one must pass to reach the
footbridge. A door at the base opened upon a staircase leading up. This
was the entrance to Mr. Rushleigh's "sanctum," above, which
communicated, also, with the second story of the mill.

Here Faith paused. She caught, from around the corner, a sound of the
angry voices of men.

"I tell you, I'll stay here till I see the boss!"

"I tell you, the boss won't see you. He's done with you."

"Let him _be_ done with me, then; and not go spoiling my chance with
other people! I'll see it out with him, somehow, yet."

"Better not threaten. He won't go out of his way to meddle with you;
only it's no use your sending anybody here after a character. He's one
of the sort that speaks the truth and shames the devil."

"I'll let him know he ain't boss of the whole country round! D----d if I
don't!"

Faith turned away from hearing more of this, and from facing the
speakers; and took refuge up the open staircase.

Above--in the quiet little countingroom, shut off by double doors at the
right from the great loom chamber of the mill, and opening at the front
by a wide window upon the river that ran tumbling and flashing below,
spanned by the graceful little bridge that reached the green slope of
the field beyond--it was so cool and pleasant--so still with continuous
and softened sound--that Faith sat down upon the comfortable sofa there,
to rest, to think, to be alone, a little.

She had Paul's letter in her pocket; she had his father's words fresh
upon ear and heart. A strange peace came over her, as she placed herself
here; as if, somehow, a way was soon to be opened and made clear to her.
As if she should come to know herself, and to be brave to act as God
should show her how.

She heard, presently, Mr. Rushleigh's voice in the mill yard, and then
the staircase door closed and locked below. Thinking that he should be
here no more, to-night, he had shut and fastened it.

It was no matter. She would go through the mill, by and by, and look at
the looms; and so out, and over the river, then, to Aunt Faith's.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

LOCKED IN.

"How idle it is to call certain things godsends! as if there were
anything else in the world."--HARE.


It is accounted a part of the machinery of invention when, in a story,
several coincident circumstances, that apart, would have had no
noticeable result, bear down together, with a nice and sure calculation
upon some catastrophe or _denouement_ that develops itself therefrom.

Last night, a man--an employee in Mr. Rushleigh's factory--had been kept
awake by one of his children, taken suddenly ill. A slight matter--but
it has to do with our story.

Last night, also, Faith--Paul's second letter just received--had lain
sleepless for hours, fighting the old battle over, darkly, of doubt,
pity, half-love, and indecision. She had felt, or had thought she
felt--thus, or so--in the days that were past. Why could she not be sure
of her feeling now?

The new wine in the old bottles--the new cloth in the old
garment--these, in Faith's life, were at variance. What satisfied once,
satisfied no longer. Was she to blame? What ought she to do? There was a
seething--a rending. Poor heart, that was likely to be burst and
torn--wonderingly, helplessly--in the half-comprehended struggle!

So it happened, that, tired with all this, sore with its daily pressure
and recurrence, this moment of strange peace came over her, and soothed
her into rest.

She laid herself back, there, on the broad, soft, old-fashioned sofa,
and with the river breeze upon her brow, and the song of its waters in
her ears, and the deadened hum of the factory rumbling on--she fell
asleep.

How long it had been, she could not tell; she knew not whether it were
evening, or midnight, or near the morning; but she felt cold and
cramped; everything save the busy river was still, and the daylight was
all gone, and stars out bright in the deep, moonless sky, when she
awoke.

Awoke, bewilderedly, and came slowly to the comprehension that she was
here alone. That it was night--that nobody could know it--that she was
locked up here, in the great dreary mill.

She raised herself upon the sofa, and sat in a terrified amaze. She took
out her watch, and tried to see, by the starlight, the time. The slender
black hands upon its golden face were invisible. It ticked--it was
going. She knew, by that, it could not be far beyond midnight, at the
most. She was chilly, in her white dress, from the night air. She went
to the open window, and looked out from it, before she drew it down.
Away, over the fields, and up and down the river, all was dark,
solitary.

Nobody knew it--she was here alone.

She shut the window, softly, afraid of the sounds herself might make.
She opened the double doors from the countingroom, and stood on the
outer threshold, and looked into the mill. The heavy looms were still.
They stood like great, dead creatures, smitten in the midst of busy
motion. There was an awfulness in being here, the only breathing, moving
thing--in darkness--where so lately had been the deafening hum of
rolling wheels, and clanking shafts, and flying shuttles, and busy,
moving human figures. It was as if the world itself were stopped, and
she forgotten on its mighty, silent course.

Should she find her way to the great bell, ring it, and make an alarm?
She thought of this; and then she reasoned with herself that she was
hardly so badly off, as to justify her, quite, in doing that. It would
rouse the village, it would bring Mr. Rushleigh down, perhaps--it would
cause a terrible alarm. And all that she might be spared a few hours
longer of loneliness and discomfort. She was safe. It would soon be
morning.

The mill would be opened early. She would go back to the sofa, and try
to sleep again. Nobody could be anxious about her. The Rushleighs
supposed her to be at Cross Corners. Her aunt would think her detained
at Lakeside. It was really no great matter. She would be brave, and
quiet.

So she shut the double doors again, and found a coat of Paul's, or Mr.
Rushleigh's, in the closet of the countingroom, and lay down upon the
sofa, covering herself with that.

For an hour or more, her heart throbbed, her nerves were excited, she
could not sleep. But at last she grew calmer, her thought wandered from
her actual situation--became indistinct--and slumber held her again,
dreamily.

There was another sleeper, also, in the mill whom Faith knew nothing of.

Michael Garvin, the night watchman--the same whose child had been ill
the night before--when Faith came out into the loom chamber, had left it
but a few minutes, going his silent round within the building, and
recording his faithfulness by the half-hour pin upon the watch clock.
Six times he had done this, already. It was half past ten.

He had gone up, now, by the stairs from the weaving room, into the third
story. These stairs ascended at the front, from within the chamber.

Michael Garvin went on nearly to the end of the room above--stopped, and
looked out at a window. All still, all safe apparently.

He was very tired. What harm in lying down somewhere in a corner, for
five minutes? He need not shut his eyes. He rolled his coat up for a
pillow, and threw it against the wall beneath the window. The next
instant he had stretched his stalwart limbs along the floor, and before
ten minutes of his seventh half hour were spent--long before Faith, who
thought herself all alone in the great building, had lost consciousness
of her strange position--he was fast asleep.

Fast asleep, here, in the third story!

So, since the days of the disciples, men have grown heavy and forgotten
their trust. So they have slumbered upon decks, at sea. So sentinels
have lain down at picket posts, though they knew the purchase of that
hour of rest might be the leaden death!

Faith Gartney dreamed, uneasily.

She thought herself wandering, at night, through the deserted streets of
a great city. She seemed to have come from somewhere afar off, and to
have no place to go to.

Up and down, through avenues sometimes half familiar, sometimes wholly
unknown, she went wearily, without aim, or end, or hope. "Tired! tired!
tired!" she seemed to say to herself. "Nowhere to rest--nobody to take
care of me!"

Then--city, streets, and houses disappeared; the scenery of her dream
rolled away, and opened out, and she was standing on a high, bare cliff,
away up in wintry air; threatening rocky avalanches overhanging
her--chill winds piercing her--and no pathway visible downward. Still
crying out in loneliness and fear. Still with none to comfort or to
help.

Standing on the sheer edge of the precipice--behind her, suddenly, a
crater opened. A hissing breath came up, and the chill air quivered and
scorched about her. Her feet were upon a volcano! A lake of boiling,
molten stone heaved--huge, brazen, bubbling--spreading wider and wider,
like a great earth ulcer, eating in its own brink continually. Up in the
air over her, reared a vast, sulphurous canopy of smoke. The narrowing
ridge beneath her feet burned--trembled. She hovered between two
destructions.

Instantly--in that throbbing, agonizing moment of her dream, just after
which one wakes--she felt a presence--she heard a call--she thought two
arms were stretched out toward her--there seemed a safety and a rest
near by; she was borne by an unseen impulse, along the dizzy ridge that
her feet scarce touched, toward it; she was taken--folded, held; smoke,
fire, the threatening danger of the cliff, were nothing, suddenly, any
more. Whether they menaced still, she thought not; a voice she knew and
trusted was in her ear; a grasp of loving strength sustained her; she
was utterly secure.

So vividly she felt the presence--so warm and sure seemed that love and
strength about her--that waking out of such pause of peace, before her
senses recognized anything that was real without, she stretched her
hands, as if to find it at her side, and her lips breathed a name--the
name of Roger Armstrong.

Then she started to her feet. The kind, protecting presence faded back
into her dream.

The horrible smoke, the scorching smell, were true.

A glare smote sky and trees and water, as she saw them from the window.

There was fire near her!

Could it be among the buildings of the mill?

The long, main structure ran several feet beyond the square projection
within which she stood. Upon the other side, close to the front, quite
away, of course, from all observation hence, joined, at right angles,
another building, communicating and forming one with the first. Here
were the carding rooms. Then beyond, detached, were houses for storage
and other purposes connected with the business.

Was it from one of these the glare and smoke and suffocating burning
smell were pouring?

Or, lay the danger nearer--within these close, contiguous walls?

Vainly she threw up the one window, and leaned forth.

She could not tell.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this moment, Roger Armstrong, also, woke from out a dream.

In this strange, second life of ours, that replaces the life of day, do
we not meet interiorly? Do not thoughts and knowledges cross, from
spirit to spirit, over the abyss, that lip, and eye, and ear, in waking
moments, neither send nor receive? That even mind itself is scarcely
conscious of? Is not the great deep of being, wherein we rest, electric
with a sympathetic life--and do not warnings and promises and cheer
pulse in upon us, mysteriously, in these passive hours of the flesh,
when soul only is awake and keen?

Do not two thoughts, two consciousnesses, call and answer to each other,
mutely, in twin dreams of night?

Roger Armstrong came in, late, that evening, from a visit to a distant
sick parishioner. Then he sat, writing, for an hour or two longer.

By and by, he threw down his pen--pushed back his armchair before his
window--stretched his feet, wearily, into the deep, old-fashioned window
seat--leaned his head back, and let the cool breeze stir his hair.

So it soothed him into sleep.

He dreamed of Faith. He dreamed he saw her stand, afar off, in some
solitary place, and beckon, as it were, visibly, from a wide, invisible
distance. He dreamed he struggled to obey her summons. He battled with
the strange inertia of sleep. He strove--he gasped--he broke the spell
and hastened on. He plunged--he climbed--he stood in a great din that
bewildered and threatened; there was a lurid light that glowed intense
about him as he went; in the midst of all--beyond--she beckoned still.

"Faith! Faith! What danger is about you, child?"

These words broke forth from him aloud, as he started to his feet, and
stretched his hands, impulsively, out before him, toward the open
window.

His eyes flashed wide upon that crimson glare that flooded sky and field
and river.

There was fire at the mills!

Not a sound, yet, from the sleeping village.

       *       *       *       *       *

The heavy, close-fitting double doors between the countingroom and the
great mill chamber were shut. Only by opening these and venturing forth,
could Faith gain certain knowledge of her situation.

Once more she pulled them open and passed through.

A blinding smoke rushed thick about her, and made her gasp for breath.
Up through the belt holes in the floor, toward the farther end of the
long room, sprang little tongues of flame that leaped higher and higher,
even while she strove for sight, that single, horrified, suffocating
instant, and gleamed, mockingly, upon the burnished shafts of silent
looms.

In at the windows on the left, came the vengeful shine of those other
windows, at right angles, in the adjacent building. The carding rooms,
and the whole front of the mill, below, were all in flames!

In frantic affright, in choking agony, Faith dashed herself back through
the heavy doors, that swung on springs, and closed tightly once more
after her.

Here, at the open window, she took breath. Must she wait here, helpless,
for the fiery death?

Down below her, the narrow brink--the rushing river. No foothold--no
chance for a descent. Behind her, only those two doors, barring out
flame and smoke!

And the little footbridge, lying in the light across the water, and the
green fields stretching away, cool and safe beyond. A little
farther--her home!

"Fire!"

She cried the fearful word out upon the night, uselessly. There was no
one near. The village slumbered on, away there to the left. The strong,
deep shout of a man might reach it, but no tone of hers. There were no
completed or occupied dwelling houses, as yet, about the new mills. Mr.
Rushleigh was putting up some blocks; but, for the present, there was
nothing nearer than the village proper of Kinnicutt on the one hand, and
as far, or farther, on the other the houses at Lakeside.

The flames themselves, alone, could signal her danger, and summon help.
How long would it be first?

Thoughts of father, mother, and little brother--thoughts of the kind
friends at Lakeside, parted from but a few hours before--thoughts of the
young lover to whom the answer he waited for should be given, perhaps,
so awfully; through all, lighting, as it were, suddenly and searchingly,
the deep places of her own soul, the thought--the feeling, rather, of
that presence in her dream; of him who had led her, taught her, lifted
her so, to high things; brought her nearer, by his ministry, to God! Of
all human influence or love, his was nearest and strongest, spiritually,
to her, now!

All at once, across these surging, crowding, agonizing feelings, rushed
an inspiration for the present moment.

The water gate! The force pump!

The apparatus for working these lay at this end of the building. She had
been shown the method of its operation; they had explained to her its
purpose. It was perfectly simple. Only the drawing of a rope over a
pulley--the turning of a faucet. She could do it, if she could only
reach the spot.

Instantly and strangely, the cloud of terror seemed to roll away. Her
faculties cleared. Her mind was all alert and quickened. She thought of
things she had heard of years before, and long forgotten. That a wet
cloth about the face would defend from smoke. That down low, close to
the floor, was always a current of fresher air.

She turned a faucet that supplied a basin in the countingroom, held her
handkerchief to it, and saturated it with water. Then she tied it across
her forehead, letting it hang before her face like a veil. She caught a
fold of it between her teeth.

And so, opening the doors between whose cracks the pent-up smoke was
curling, she passed through, crouching down, and crawled along the end
of the chamber, toward the great rope in the opposite corner.

The fire was creeping thitherward, also, to meet her. Along from the
front, down the chamber on the opposite side, the quick flames sprang
and flashed, momently higher, catching already, here and there, from
point to point, where an oiled belt or an unfinished web of cloth
attracted their hungry tongues.

As yet, they were like separate skirmishers, sent out in advance; their
mighty force not yet gathered and rolled together in such terrible sheet
and volume as raged beneath.

She reached the corner where hung the rope.

Close by, was the faucet in the main pipe fed by the force pump.
Underneath it, lay a coil of hose, attached and ready.

She turned the faucet, and laid hold of the long rope. A few pulls, and
she heard the dashing of the water far below. The wheel was turning.

The pipes filled. She lifted the end of the coiled hose, and directed it
toward the forward part of the chamber, where flames were wreathing,
climbing, flashing. An impetuous column of water rushed, eager, hissing,
upon blazing wood and heated iron.

Still keeping the hose in her grasp, she crawled back again, half
stifled, yet a new hope of life aroused within her, to the double doors.
Before these, with the little countingroom behind her, as her last
refuge, she took her stand.

How long could she fight off death? Till help came?

All this had been done and thought quickly. There had been less time
than she would have believed, since she first woke to the knowledge of
this, her horrible peril.

The flames were already repulsed. The mill was being flooded. Down the
belt holes the water poured upon the fiercer blaze below, that swept
across the forward and central part of the great spinning room, from
side to side.

At this moment, a cry, close at hand.

"Fire!"

A man was swaying by a rope, down from a third-story window.

"Fire!" came again, instantly, from without, upon another side.

It was a voice hoarse, excited, strained. A tone Faith had never heard
before; yet she knew, by a mysterious intuition, from whom it came. She
dropped the hose, still pouring out its torrent, to the floor, and
sprang back, through the doors, to the countingroom window. The voice
came from the riverside.

A man was dashing down the green slope, upon the footbridge.

Faith stretched her arms out, as a child might, wakened in pain and
terror. A cry, in which were uttered the fear, the horror, that were now
first fully felt, as a possible safety appeared, and the joy, that
itself came like a sudden pang, escaped her, piercingly, thrillingly.

Roger Armstrong looked upward as he sprang upon the bridge.

He caught the cry. He saw Faith stand there, in her white dress, that
had been wet and blackened in her battling with the fire.

A great soul glance of courage and resolve flashed from his eyes. He
reached his uplifted arms toward her, answering hers. He uttered not a
word.

"Round! round!" cried Faith. "The door upon the other side!"

Roger Armstrong, leaping to the spot, and Michael Garvin, escaped by the
long rope that hung vibrating from his grasp, down the brick wall of the
building, met at the staircase door.

"Help me drive that in!" cried the minister.

And the two men threw their stalwart shoulders against the barrier,
forcing lock and hinges.

Up the stairs rushed Roger Armstrong.

Answering the crash of the falling door, came another and more fearful
crash within.

Gnawed by the fire, the timbers and supports beneath the forward portion
of the second floor had given way, and the heavy looms that stood there
had gone plunging down. A horrible volume of smoke and steam poured
upward, with the flames, from out the chasm, and rushed, resistlessly,
everywhere.

Roger Armstrong dashed into the little countingroom. Faith lay there, on
the floor. At that fearful crash, that rush of suffocating smoke, she
had fallen, senseless. He seized her, frantically, in his arms to bear
her down.

"Faith! Faith!" he cried, when she neither spoke nor moved. "My darling!
Are you hurt? Are you killed? Oh, my God! must there be another?"

Faith did not hear these words, uttered with all the passionate agony of
a man who would hold the woman he loves to his heart, and defy for her
even death.

She came to herself in the open air. She felt herself in his arms. She
only heard him say, tenderly and anxiously, in something of his old
tone, as her consciousness returned, and he saw it:

"My dear child!"

But she knew then all that had been a mystery to her in herself before.

She knew that she loved Roger Armstrong. That it was not a love of
gratitude and reverence, only; but that her very soul was rendered up to
him, involuntarily, as a woman renders herself but once. That she would
rather have died there, in that flame and smoke, held in his
arms--gathered to his heart--than have lived whatever life of ease and
pleasantness--aye, even of use--with any other! She knew that her
thought, in those terrible moments before he came, had been--not
father's or mother's, only; not her young lover, Paul's; but, deepest
and mostly, his!




CHAPTER XXIX.

HOME.

"The joy that knows there _is_ a joy--
  That scents its breath, and cries, 'tis there!
And, patient in its pure repose,
  Receiveth so the holier share."


Faith's thought and courage saved the mill from utter destruction.

For one fearful moment, when that forward portion of the loom floor fell
through, and flame, and vapor, and smoke rioted together in a wild
alliance of fury, all seemed lost. But the great water wheel was plying
on; the river fought the fire; the rushing, exhaustless streams were
pouring out and down, everywhere; and the crowd that in a few moments
after the first alarm, and Faith's rescue, gathered at the spot, found
its work half done.

A little later, there were only sullen smoke, defeated, smoldering
fires, blackened timbers, the burned carding rooms, and the ruin at the
front, to tell the awful story of the night.

Mr. Armstrong had carried Faith into one of the unfinished factory
houses. Here he was obliged to leave her for a few moments, after making
such a rude couch for her as was possible, with a pile of clean
shavings, and his own coat, which he insisted, against all her
remonstrances, upon spreading above them.

"The first horse and vehicle which comes, Miss Faith, I shall impress
for your service," he said; "and to do that I must leave you. I have
made that frightened watchman promise to say nothing, at present, of
your being here; so I trust the crowd may not annoy you. I shall not be
gone long, nor far away."

The first horse and vehicle which came was the one that had brought her
there in the afternoon but just past, yet that seemed, strangely, to
have been so long ago.

Mr. Rushleigh found her lying here, quiet, amidst the growing
tumult--exhausted, patient, waiting.

"My little Faithie!" he cried, coming up to her with hands outstretched,
and a quiver of strong feeling in his voice. "To think that you should
have been in this horrible danger, and we all lying in our beds, asleep!
I do not quite understand it all. You must tell me, by and by. Armstrong
has told me what you have _done_. You have saved me half my property
here--do you know it, child? Can I ever thank you for your courage?"

"Oh, Mr. Rushleigh!" cried Faith, rising as he came to her, and holding
her hands to his, "don't thank me! and don't wait here! They'll want
you--and, oh! my kind friend! there will be nothing to thank me for,
when I have told you what I must. I have been very near to death, and I
have seen life so clearly! I know now what I did not know
yesterday--what I could not answer you then!"

"Let it be as it may, I am sure it will be right and true, and I shall
honor you, Faith! And we must bear what is, for it has come of the will
of God, and not by any fault of yours. Now, let me take you home."

"May I do that in your stead, Mr. Rushleigh?" asked Roger Armstrong, who
entered at this moment, with garments he had brought from somewhere to
wrap Faith.

"I must go home," said Faith. "To Aunt Henderson's."

"You shall do as you like," answered Mr. Rushleigh. "But it belongs to
us to care for you, I think."

"You do--you have cared for me already," said Faith, earnestly.

And Mr. Rushleigh helped to wrap her up, and kissed her forehead
tenderly, and Roger Armstrong lifted her into the chaise, and seated
himself by her, and drove her away from out the smoke and noise and
curious crowd that had begun to find out she was there, and that she had
been shut up in the mill, and had saved herself and stopped the fire;
and would have made her as uncomfortable as crowds always do heroes or
heroines--had it not been for the friend beside her, whose foresight and
precaution had warded it all off.

And the mill owner went back among the villagers and firemen, to direct
their efforts for his property.

Glory McWhirk had been up and watching the great fire, since Roger
Armstrong first went out.

She had seen it from the window of Miss Henderson's room, where she was
to sleep to-night; and had first carefully lowered the blinds lest the
light should waken her mistress, who, after suffering much pain, had at
length, by the help of an anodyne, fallen asleep; and then she had come
round softly to the southwest room, to call the minister.

The door stood open, and she saw him sitting in his chair, asleep. Just
as she crossed the threshold to come toward him, he started, and spoke
those words out of his restless dream:

"Faith! Faith! What danger is about you, child?"

They were instinct with his love. They were eager with his visionary
fear. It only needed a human heart to interpret them.

Glory drew back as he sprang to his feet, and noiselessly disappeared.
She would not have him know that she had heard this cry with which he
waked.

"He dreamed about her! and he called her Faith. How beautiful it is to
be cared for so!"

Glory--while we have so long been following Faith--had no less been
living on her own, peculiar, inward life, that reached to, that
apprehended, that seized ideally--that was denied, so much!

As Glory had seen, in the old years, children happier than herself,
wearing beautiful garments, and "hair that was let to grow," she saw
those about her now whom life infolded with a grace and loveliness she
might not look for; about whom fair affections, "let to grow," clustered
radiant, and enshrined them in their light.

She saw always something that was beyond; something she might not
attain; yet, expectant of nothing, but blindly true to the highest
within her, she lost no glimpse of the greater, through lowering herself
to the less.

Her soul of womanhood asserted itself; longing, ignorantly, for a soul
love. "To be cared for, so!"

But she would rather recognize it afar--rather have her joy in knowing
the joy that might be--than shut herself from knowledge in the content
of a common, sordid lot.

She did not think this deliberately, however; it was not reason, but
instinct. She renounced unconsciously. She bore denial, and never knew
she was denied.

Of course, the thought of daring to covet what she saw, had never
crossed her, in her humbleness. It was quite away from her. It was
something with which she had nothing to do. "But it must be beautiful to
be like Miss Faith." And she thanked God, mutely, that she had this
beautiful life near her, and could look on it every day.

She could not marry Luther Goodell.

           "A vague unrest
  And a nameless longing filled her breast";

But, unlike the maiden of the ballad, she could not smother it down, to
break forth, by and by, defying the "burden of life," in sweet bright
vision, grown to a keen torture then.

Faith had read to her this story of Maud, one day.

"I shouldn't have done so," she had said, when it was ended. "I'd rather
have kept that one minute under the apple trees to live on all the rest
of my days!"

She could not marry Luther Goodell.

Would it have been better that she should? That she should have gone
down from her dreams into a plain man's life, and made a plain man
happy? Some women, of far higher mental culture and social place, have
done this, and, seemingly, done well. Only God and their own hearts know
if the seeming be true.

Glory waited. "Everybody needn't marry," she said.

This night, with those words of Mr. Armstrong's in her ears, revealing
to her so much, she stood before that window of his and watched the
fire.

Doors were open behind her, leading through to Miss Henderson's chamber.
She would hear her mistress if she stirred.

If she had known what she did not know--that Faith Gartney stood at this
moment in that burning mill, looking forth despairingly on those bright
waters and green fields that lay between it and this home of hers--that
were so near her, she might discern each shining pebble and the separate
grass blades in the scarlet light, yet so infinitely far, so gone from
her forever--had she known all this, without knowing the help and hope
that were coming--she would yet have said "How beautiful it would be to
be like Miss Faith!"

She watched the fire till it began to deaden, and the glow paled out
into the starlight.

By and by, up from the direction of the river road, she saw a chaise
approaching. It was stopped at the corner, by the bar place. Two figures
descended from it, and entered upon the field path through the stile.

One--yes--it was surely the minister! The other--a woman. Who?

Miss Faith!

Glory met them upon the doorstone.

Faith held her finger up.

"I was afraid of disturbing my aunt," said she.

"Take care of her, Glory," said her companion. "She has been in
frightful danger."

"At the fire! And you----"

"I was there in time, thank God!" spoke Roger Armstrong, from his soul.

The two girls passed through to the blue bedroom, softly.

Mr. Armstrong went back to the mills again, with horse and chaise.

Glory shut the bedroom door.

"Why, you are all wet, and draggled, and smoked!" said she, taking off
Faith's outer, borrowed garments. "What _has_ happened to you--and how
came you there, Miss Faith?"

"I fell asleep in the countingroom, last evening, and got locked in. I
was coming home. I can't tell you now, Glory. I don't dare to think it
all over, yet. And we mustn't let Aunt Faith know that I am here."

These sentences they spoke in whispers.

Glory asked no more; but brought warm water, and bathed and rubbed
Faith's feet, and helped her to undress, and put her night clothes on,
and covered her in bed with blankets, and then went away softly to the
kitchen, whence she brought back, presently, a cup of hot tea, and a
biscuit.

"Take these, please," she said.

"I don't think I can, Glory. I don't want anything."

"But he told me to take care of you, Miss Faith!"

That, also, had a power with Faith. Because he had said that, she drank
the tea, and then lay back--so tired!

       *       *       *       *       *

"I waited up till you came, sir, because I thought you would like to
know," said Glory, meeting Mr. Armstrong once more upon the doorstone,
as he returned a second time from the fire. "She's gone to sleep, and is
resting beautiful!"

"You are a good girl, Glory, and I thank you," said the minister; and he
put his hand forth, and grasped hers as he spoke. "Now go to bed, and
rest, yourself."

It was reward enough.

From the plenitude that waits on one life, falls a crumb that stays the
craving of another.




CHAPTER XXX.

AUNT HENDERSON'S MYSTERY.

"Oh, the little birds sang east, and the little birds sang west,
And I said in underbreath,--All our life is mixed with death,
           And who knoweth which is best?

"Oh, the little birds sang east, and the little birds sang west,
And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness,--
           Round our restlessness, His rest."
                                                           MRS. BROWNING.

"So the dreams depart,
  So the fading phantoms flee,
  And the sharp reality
Now must act its part."
                         WESTWOOD.


It was a little after noon of the next day, when Mr. Rushleigh came to
Cross Corners.

Faith was lying back, quite pale, and silent--feeling very weak after
the terror, excitement, and fatigue she had gone through--in the large
easy-chair which had been brought for her into the southeast room. Miss
Henderson had been removed from her bed to the sofa here, and the two
were keeping each other quiet company. Neither could bear the strain of
nerve to dwell long or particularly on the events of the night. The
story had been told, as simply as it might be; and the rest and the
thankfulness were all they could think of now. So there were deep
thoughts and few words between them. On Faith's part, a patient waiting
for a trial yet before her.

"It's Mr. Rushleigh, come over to see Miss Faith. Shall I bring him in?"
asked Glory, at the door.

"Will you mind it, aunt?" asked Faith.

"I? No," said Miss Henderson. "Will you mind my being here? That's the
question. I'd take myself off, without asking, if I could, you know."

"Dear Aunt Faith! There is something I have to say to Mr. Rushleigh
which will be very hard to say, but no more so because you will be by to
hear it. It is better so. I shall only have to say it once. I am glad
you should be with me."

"Brave little Faithie!" said Mr. Rushleigh, coming in with hands
outstretched. "Not ill, I hope?"

"Only tired," Faith answered. "And a little weak, and foolish," as the
tears would come, in answer to his cordial words.

"I am sorry. Miss Henderson, that I could not have persuaded this little
girl to go home with me last night--this morning, rather. But she would
come to you."

"She did just right," Aunt Faith replied. "It's the proper place for her
to come to. Not but that we thank you all the same. You're very kind."

"Kinder than I have deserved," whispered Faith, as he took his seat
beside her.

Mr. Rushleigh would not let her lead him that way yet. He ignored the
little whisper, and by a gentle question or two drew from her that which
he had come, especially, to learn and speak of to-day--the story of the
fire, and her own knowledge of, and share in it, as she alone could tell
it.

Now, for the first time, as she recalled it to explain her motive for
entering the mill at all, the rough conversation she had overheard
between the two men upon the river bank, suggested to Faith, as the
mention of it was upon her lips, a possible clew to the origin of the
mischief. She paused, suddenly, and a look of dismayed hesitation came
over her face.

"I ought to tell you all, I suppose," she continued. "But pray, sir, do
not conclude anything hastily. The two things may have had nothing to do
with each other."

And then, reluctantly, she repeated the angry threat that had come to
her ears.

Pausing, timidly, to look up in her listener's face, to judge of its
expression, a smile there surprised her.

"See how truth is always best," said Mr. Rushleigh. "If you had kept
back your knowledge of this, you would have sealed up a painful doubt
for your own tormenting. That man, James Regan, came to me this morning.
There is good in the fellow, after all. He told me, just as you have,
and as Hardy did, the words he spoke in passion. He was afraid, he said,
they might be brought up against him. And so he came to 'own up,' and
account for his time; and to beg me to believe that he never had any
definite thought of harm. I told him I did believe it; and then the poor
fellow, rough as he is, turned pale, and burst into tears. Last night
gave him a lesson, I think, that will go far to take the hardness out of
him. Blasland says, 'he worked like five men and a horse,' at the fire."

Faith's face glowed as she listened, at the nobleness of these two; of
the generous, Christian gentleman--of the coarse workman, who wore his
nature, like his garb--the worse part of an everyday.

Fire and loss are not all calamity, when such as this comes of them.

Her own recital was soon finished.

Mr. Rushleigh listened, giving his whole sympathy to the danger she had
faced, his fresh and fervent acknowledgment and admiring praise to the
prompt daring she had shown, as if these things, and naught else, had
been in either mind.

At these thanks--at this praise--Faith shrank.

"Oh, Mr. Rushleigh!" she interrupted, with a low, pained, humbled
entreaty--"don't speak so! Only forgive me--if you can!"

Her hands lifted themselves with a slight, imploring gesture toward him.
He laid his own upon them, gently, soothingly.

"I will not have you trouble or reproach yourself, Faith," he answered,
meeting her meaning, frankly, now. "There are things beyond our control.
All we can do is to be simply true. There is something, I know, which
you think lies between us to be spoken of. Do not speak at all, if it be
hard for you. I will tell the boy that it was a mistake--that it cannot
be."

But the father's lip was a little unsteady, to his own feeling, as he
said the words.

"Oh, Mr. Rushleigh!" cried Faith. "If everything could only be put back
as it was, in the old days before all this!"

"But that is what we can't do. Nothing goes back precisely to what it
was before."

"No," said Aunt Faith, from her sofa. "And never did, since the days of
Humpty Dumpty. You might be glad to, but you can't do it. Things must
just be made the best of, as they are. And they're never just alike, two
minutes together. They're altering, and working, and going on, all the
time. And that's a comfort, too, when you come to think of it."

"There is always comfort, somehow, when there has been no willful wrong.
And there has been none here, I am sure."

Faith, with the half smile yet upon her face, called there by her aunt's
quaint speaking, bent her head, and burst into tears.

"I came to reassure and to thank you, Faith--not to let you distress
yourself so," said Mr. Rushleigh. "Margaret sent all kind messages; but
I would not bring her. I thought it would be too much for you, so soon.
Another day, she will come. We shall always claim old friendship, my
child, and remember our new debt; though the old days themselves cannot
quite be brought back again as they were. There may be better days,
though, even, by and by."

"Let Margaret know, before she comes, please," whispered Faith. "I don't
think I could tell her."

"You shall not have a moment of trial that I can spare you. But--Paul
will be content with nothing, as a final word, that does not come from
you."

"I will see him when he comes. I wish it. Oh, sir! I am so sorry."

"And so am I, Faith. We must all be sorry. But we are _only_ sorry. And
that is all that need be said."

The conversation, after this, could not be prolonged. Mr. Rushleigh took
his leave, kindly, as he had made his greeting.

"Oh, Aunt Faith! What a terrible thing I have done!"

"What a terrible thing you came near doing, you mean, child! Be thankful
to the Lord--He's delivered you from it! And look well to the rest of
your life, after all this. Out of fire and misery you must have been
saved for something!"

Then Aunt Faith called Glory, and told her to bring an egg, beat up in
milk--"to a good froth, mind; and sugared and nut-megged, and a
teaspoonful of brandy in it."

This she made Faith swallow, and then bade her put her feet up on the
sofa, and lean back, and shut her eyes, and not speak another word till
she'd had a nap.

All which, strangely enough, Faith--wearied, troubled, yet
relieved--obeyed.

For the next two days, what with waiting on the invalids--for Faith was
far from well--and with answering the incessant calls at the door of
curious people flocking to inquire, Glory McWhirk was kept busy and
tired. But not with a thankless duty, as in the days gone by, that she
remembered; it was heart work now, and brought heart love as its reward.
It was one of her "real good times."

Mr. Armstrong talked and read with them, and gave hand help and ministry
also, just when it could be given most effectually.

It was a beautiful lull of peace between the conflict that was past, and
the final pang that was to come. Faith accepted it with a thankfulness.
Such joy as this was all life had for her, henceforth. There was no
restlessness, no selfishness in the love that had so suddenly asserted
itself, and borne down all her doubts. She thought not of it, as love,
any more. She never dreamed of being other to Mr. Armstrong than she
was. Only, that other life had become impossible to her. Here, if she
might not elsewhere, she had gone back to the things that were. She
could be quite content and happy, so. It was enough to rest in such a
friendship. If only she had once seen Paul, and if he could but bear it!

And Roger Armstrong, of intent, was just what he had always been--the
kind and earnest friend--the ready helper--no more. He knew Faith
Gartney had a trouble to bear; he had read her perplexity--her
indecision; he had feared, unselfishly, for the mistake she was making.
Miss Henderson had told him, now, in few, plain words, how things were
ending; he strove, in all pleasant and thoughtful ways, to soothe and
beguile her from her harassment. He dreamed not how the light had come
to her that had revealed to her the insufficiency of that other love. He
laid his own love back, from his own sight.

So, calmly, and with what peace they might, these hours went on.

"I want to see that Sampson woman," said Aunt Faith, suddenly, to her
niece, on the third afternoon of their being together. "Do you think she
would come over here if I should send for her?"

Faith flashed a surprised look of inquiry to Miss Henderson's face.

"Why, aunt?" she asked.

"Never mind why, child. I can't tell you now. Of course it's something,
or I shouldn't want her. Something I should like to know, and that I
suppose she could tell me. Do you think she'd come?"

"Why, yes, auntie. I don't doubt it. I might write her a note."

"I wish you would. Mr. Armstrong says he'll drive over. And I'd like to
have you do it right off. Now, don't ask me another word about it, till
she's been here."

Faith wrote the note, and Mr. Armstrong went away.

Miss Henderson seemed to grow tired, to-day, after her dinner, and at
four o'clock she said to Glory, abruptly:

"I'll go to bed. Help me into the other room."

Faith offered to go too, and assist her. But her aunt said, no, she
should do quite well with Glory. "And if the Sampson woman comes, send
her in to me."

Faith was astonished, and a little frightened.

What could it be that Miss Henderson wanted with the nurse? Was it
professionally that she wished to see her? She knew the peculiar whim,
or principle, Miss Sampson always acted on, of never taking cases of
common illness. She could not have sent for her in the hope of keeping
her merely to wait upon her wants as an invalid, and relieve Glory? Was
her aunt aware of symptoms in herself, foretokening other or more
serious illness?

Faith could only wonder, and wait.

Glory came back, presently, into the southeast room, to say to Faith
that her aunt was comfortable, and thought she should get a nap. But
that whenever the nurse came, she was to be shown in to her.

The next half hour, that happened which drove even this thought utterly
from Faith's mind.

Paul Rushleigh came.

Faith lay, a little wearily, upon the couch her aunt had quitted; and
was thinking, at the very moment--with that sudden, breathless
anticipation that sweeps over one, now and then, of a thing awaited
apprehensively--of whether this Saturday night would not probably bring
him home--when she caught the sound of a horse's feet that stopped
before the house, and then a man's step upon the stoop.

It was his. The moment had come.

She sprang to her feet. For an instant she would have fled--anywhither.
Then she grew strangely calm and strong. She must meet him quietly. She
must tell him plainly. Tell him, if need be, all she knew herself. He
had a right to all.

Paul came in, looking grave; and greeted her with a gentle reserve.

A moment, they stood there as they had met, she with face pale, sad,
that dared not lift itself; he, not trusting himself to the utterance of
a word.

But he had come there, not to reproach, or to bewail; not even to plead.
To hear--to bear with firmness--what she had to tell him. And there was,
in truth, a new strength and nobleness in look and tone, when,
presently, he spoke.

If he had had his way--if all had gone prosperously with him--he would
have been, still--recipient of his father's bounty, and accepted of his
childish love--scarcely more than a mere, happy boy. This pain, this
struggle, this first rebuff of life, crowned him, a man.

Faith might have loved him, now, if she had so seen him, first.

Yet the hour would come when he should know that it had been better as
it was. That so he should grow to that which, otherwise, he had never
been.

"Faith! My father has told me. That it must be all over. That it was a
mistake. I have come to hear it from you."

Then he laid in her hand his father's letter.

"This came with yours," he said. "After this, I expected all the rest."

Faith took the open sheet, mechanically. With half-blinded eyes, she
glanced over the few earnest, fatherly, generous lines. When she came to
the last, she spoke, low.

"Yes. That is it. He saw it. It would have been no true marriage, Paul,
before Heaven!"

"Then why did I love you, Faith?" cried the young man, impetuously.

"I don't know," she said, meditatively, as if she really were to answer
that. "Perhaps you will come to love again, differently, yet, Paul; and
then you may know why this has been."

"I know," said Paul, sadly, "that you have been outgrowing me, Faith. I
have felt that. I know I've been nothing but a careless, merry fellow,
living an outside sort of life; and I suppose it was only in this
outside companionship you liked me. But there might be something more in
me, yet; and you might have brought it out, maybe. You _were_ bringing
it out. You, and the responsibilities my father put upon me. But it's
too late, now. It can't be helped."

"Not too late, Paul, for that noble part of you to grow. It was that I
came so near really loving at the last. But--Paul! a woman don't want to
lead her husband. She wants to be led. I have thought," she added,
timidly, "so much of that verse in the Epistle--'the head of the woman
is the man, and the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is
God.'"

"You came _near_ loving me!" cried Paul, catching at this sentence,
only, out of all that should, by and by, nevertheless, come out in
letters of light upon his thought and memory. "Oh, Faith! you may, yet!
It isn't all quite over?"

Then Faith Gartney knew she must say it all. All--though the hot crimson
flushed up painfully, and the breath came quick, and she trembled from
head to foot, there, where she stood. But the truth, mighty, and holy in
its might, came up from heart to lip, and the crimson paled, and the
breath grew calm, and she stood firm with her pure resolve, even in her
maidenly shame, before him.

There are instants, when all thought of the moment itself, and the look
and the word of it, are overborne and lost.

"No, Paul. I will tell you truly. With my little, childish heart, I
loved you. With the love of a dear friend, I hold you still, and shall
hold you, always. But, Paul!--no one else knows it, and I never knew it
till I stood face to face with death--with my _soul_ I have come to love
another!"

Deep and low these last words were--given up from the very innermost,
and spoken with bowed head and streaming eyes.

Paul Rushleigh took her hand. A manly reverence in him recognized the
pure courage that unveiled her woman's heart, and showed him all.

"Faith!" he said, "you have never deceived me. You are always noble.
Forgive me that I have made you struggle to love me!"

With these words, he went.

Faith flung herself upon the sofa, and hid her face in its cushion,
hearing, through her sobs, the tread of his horse as he passed down the
road.

This chapter of her life story was closed.




CHAPTER XXXI.

NURSE SAMPSON'S WAY OF LOOKING AT IT.

"I can believe, it shall you grieve,
  And somewhat you distrain;
But afterward, your paines hard,
  Within a day or twain,
Shall soon aslake; and ye shall take
  Comfort to you again."
                 OLD ENGLISH BALLAD.


Glory looked in, once, at the southeast room, and saw Faith lying, still
with hidden face; and went away softly, shutting the door behind her as
she went.

When Mr. Armstrong and Miss Sampson came, she met them at the front
entrance, and led the nurse directly to her mistress, as she had been
told.

Mr. Armstrong betook himself to his own room. Perhaps the hollow Paul
Rushleigh's horse had pawed at the gatepost, and the closed door of the
keeping room, revealed something to his discernment that kept him from
seeking Faith just then.

There was a half hour of quiet in the old house. A quiet that ever
brooded very much.

Then Nurse Sampson came out, with a look on her face that made Faith
gaze upon her with an awed feeling of expectation. She feared, suddenly,
to ask a question.

It was not a long-drawn look of sympathy. It was not surprised, nor
shocked, nor excited. It was a look of business. As if she knew of work
before her to do. As if Nurse Sampson were in her own proper element,
once more.

Faith knew that something--she could not guess what--something terrible,
she feared--had happened, or was going to happen, to her aunt.

It was in the softening twilight that Miss Henderson sent for her to
come in.

Aunt Faith leaned against her pillows, looking bright and comfortable,
even cheerful; but there was a strange gentleness in look and word and
touch, as she greeted the young girl who came to her bedside with a face
that wore at once its own subduedness of fresh-past grief, and a
wondering, loving apprehension of something to be disclosed concerning
the kind friend who lay there, invested so with such new grace of
tenderness.

Was there a twilight, other than that of day, softening, also, around
her?

"Little Faith!" said Aunt Henderson. Her very voice had taken an
unwonted tone.

"Auntie! It is surely something very grave! Will you not tell me?"

"Yes, child. I mean to tell you. It may be grave. Most things are, if we
had the wisdom to see it. But it isn't very dreadful. It's what I've had
warning enough of, and had mostly made up my mind to. But I wasn't quite
sure. Now, I am. I suppose I've got to bear some pain, and go through a
risk that will be greater, at my years, than it would have been if I'd
been younger. And I may die. That's all."

The words, of old habit, were abrupt. The eye and voice were tender with
unspoken love.

Faith turned to Miss Sampson, who sat by.

"And then, again, she mayn't," said the nurse. "I shall stay and see her
through. There'll have to be an operation. At least, I think so. We'll
have the doctor over, to-morrow. And now, if there's one thing more
important than another, it's to keep her cheerful. So, if you've got
anything bright and lively to say, speak out! If not, _keep_ out! She'll
do well enough, I dare say."

Poor Faith! And, without this new trouble, there was so much that she,
herself, was needing comfort for!

"You're a wise woman, Nurse Sampson. But you don't know everything,"
said Aunt Faith. "The best thing to take people out of their own
worries, is to go to work and find out how other folks' worries are
getting on. He's been here, hasn't he, child?"

It was not so hard for Aunt Faith, who had borne secretly, so long, the
suspicion of what was coming, and had lived on, calmly, nevertheless, in
her daily round, to turn thus from the announcement of her own state and
possible danger, to thought and inquiry for the affairs of another, as
it was for that other, newly apprised, and but half apprised, even, of
what threatened, to leave the subject there, and answer. But she saw
that Miss Henderson spoke only truth in declaring it was the best way to
take her out of her worries; she read Nurse Sampson's look, and saw that
she, at any rate, was quite resolved her patient should not be let to
dwell longer on any painful or apprehensive thought, and she put off all
her own anxious questionings, till she should see the nurse alone, and
said, in a low tone--yes, Paul Rushleigh had been there.

"And you've told him the truth, like a woman, and he's heard it like a
man?"

"I've told him it must be given up. Oh, it was hard, auntie!"

"You needn't worry. You've done just the rightest thing you could do."

"But it seems so selfish. As if my happiness were of so much more
consequence than his. I've made him so miserable, I'm afraid!"

"Miss Sampson!" cried Aunt Faith, with all her old oddity and
suddenness, "just tell this girl, if you know, what kind of a
commandment a woman breaks, if she can't make up her mind to marry the
first man that asks her! 'Tain't in _my_ Decalogue!"

"I can't tell what commandment she won't be likely to break, if she
isn't pretty sure of her own mind before she _does_ marry!" said Miss
Sampson, energetically. "Talk of making a man miserable! Supposing you
do for a little while? 'Twon't last long. Right's right, and settles
itself. Wrong never does. And there isn't a greater wrong than to marry
the wrong man. To him as well as to you. And it won't end there--that's
the worst of it. There's more concerned than just yourself and him;
though you mayn't know how, or who. It's an awful thing to tangle up and
disarrange the plans of Providence. And more of it's done, I verily
believe, in this matter of marrying, than any other way. It's like
mismatching anything else--gloves or stockings--and wearing the wrong
ones together. They don't fit; and more'n that, it spoils another pair.
I believe, as true as I live, if the angels ever do cry over this
miserable world, it's when they see the souls they have paired off, all
right, out of heaven, getting mixed up and mismated as they do down
here! Why, it's fairly enough to account for all the sin and misery
there is in the world! If it wasn't for Adam and Eve and Cain, I should
think it did!"

"But it's very hard," said Faith, smiling, despite all her saddening
thoughts, at the characteristic harangue, "always to know wrong from
right. People may make mistakes, if they mean ever so well."

"Yes, awful mistakes! There's that poor, unfortunate woman in the Bible.
I never thought the Lord meant any reflection by what he said--on her.
She'd had six husbands. And he knew she hadn't got what she bargained
for, after all. Most likely she never had, in the whole six. And if
things had got into such a snarl as that eighteen hundred years ago, how
many people, do you think, by this time, are right enough in themselves
to be right for anybody? I've thought it all over, many a time. I've had
reasons of my own, and I've seen plenty of reasons as I've gone about
the world. And my conclusion is, that matrimony's come to be more of a
discipline, nowadays, than anything else!"

It was strange cheer; and it came at a strange moment; with the very
birth of a new anxiety. But so our moments and their influences are
mingled. Faith was roused, strengthened, confirmed in her own thought of
right, beguiled out of herself, by the words of these two odd,
plain-dealing women, as she would not have been if a score of
half-comprehending friends had soothed her indirectly with inanities,
and delicate half-handling of that which Aunt Faith and Nurse Sampson
went straight to the heart of, and brought out, uncompromisingly, into
the light. So much we can endure from a true earnestness and simplicity,
rough and homely though it be, which would be impertinent and
intolerable if it came but with surface sympathy.

She had a word that night from Robert Armstrong, when he came, late in
the evening, from a conversation with Aunt Faith, and found her at the
open door upon the stoop. It was only a hand grasp, and a fervent "God
bless you, child! You have been brave and true!" and he passed on. But a
balm and a quiet fell deep into her heart, and a tone, that was a joy,
lingered in her ear, and comforted her as no other earthly comfort
could. But this was not all earthly; it lifted her toward heaven. It
bore her toward the eternal solace there.

Aunt Faith would have no scenes. She told the others, in turn, very much
as she had told Faith, that a suffering and an uncertainty lay before
her; and then, by her next word and gesture, demanded that the life
about her should go right on, taking as slightly as might be its
coloring from this that brooded over her. Nobody had a chance to make a
wail. There was something for each to do.

Miss Henderson, by Nurse Sampson's advice, remained mostly in her bed.
In fact, she had kept back the announcement of this ailment of hers,
just so long as she could resist its obvious encroachment. The twisted
ankle had been, for long, a convenient explanation of more than its own
actual disability.

But it was not a sick room--one felt that--this little limited bound in
which her life was now visibly encircled. All the cheer of the house was
brought into it. If people were sorry and fearful, it was elsewhere.
Neither Aunt Faith nor the nurse would let anybody into "their
hospital," as Miss Sampson said, "unless they came with a bright look
for a pass." Every evening, the great Bible was opened there, and Mr.
Armstrong read with them, and uttered for them words that lifted each
heart, with its secret need and thankfulness, to heaven. All together,
trustfully, and tranquilly, they waited.

Dr. Wasgatt had been called in. Quite surprised he was, at this new
development. He "had thought there was something a little peculiar in
her symptoms." But he was one of those AEsculapian worthies who, having
lived a scientifically uneventful life, plodding quietly along in his
profession among people who had mostly been ill after very ordinary
fashions, and who required only the administering of stereotyped
remedies, according to the old stereotyped order and rule, had quite
forgotten to think of the possibility of any unusual complications. If
anybody were taken ill of a colic, and sent for him and told him so, for
a colic he prescribed, according to outward indications. The subtle
signs that to a keener or more practiced discernment, might have
betokened more, he never thought of looking for. What then? All cannot
be geniuses; most men just learn a trade. It is only a Columbus who, by
the drift along the shore of the fact or continent he stands on,
predicates another, far over, out of sight.

Surgeons were to come out from Mishaumok to consult. Mr. and Mrs.
Gartney would be home, now, in a day or two, and Aunt Faith preferred to
wait till then. Mis' Battis opened the Cross Corners house, and Faith
went over, daily, to direct the ordering of things there.

"Faith!" said Miss Henderson, on the Wednesday evening when they were to
look confidently for the return of their travelers next day, "come here,
child! I have something to say to you."

Faith was sitting alone, there, with her aunt, in the twilight.

"There's one thing on my mind, that I ought to speak of, as things have
turned out. When I thought, a few weeks ago, that you were provided for,
as far as outside havings go, I made a will, one day. Look in that
right-hand upper bureau drawer, and you'll find a key, with a brown
ribbon to it. That'll unlock a black box on the middle shelf of the
closet. Open it, and take out the paper that lies on the top, and bring
it to me."

Faith did all this, silently.

"Yes, this is it," said Miss Henderson, putting on her glasses, which
were lying on the counterpane, and unfolding the single sheet, written
out in her own round, upright, old-fashioned hand. "It's an old woman's
whim; but if you don't like it, it shan't stand. Nobody knows of it, and
nobody'll be disappointed. I had a longing to leave some kind of a happy
life behind me, if I could, in the Old House. It's only an earthly
clinging and hankering, maybe; but I'd somehow like to feel sure, being
the last of the line, that there'd be time for my bones to crumble away
comfortably into dust, before the old timbers should come down. I meant,
once, you should have had it all; but it seemed as if you wasn't going
to _need_ it, and as if there was going to be other kind of work cut out
for you to do. And I'm persuaded there is yet, somewhere. So I've done
this; and I want you to know it beforehand, in case anything goes
wrong--no, not that, but unexpectedly--with me."

She reached out the paper, and Faith took it from her hand. It was not
long in reading.

A light shone out of Faith's eyes, through the tears that sprang to
them, as she finished it, and gave it back.

"Aunt Faith!" she said, earnestly. "It is beautiful! I am so glad! But,
auntie! You'll get well, I know, and begin it yourself!"

"No," said Miss Henderson, quietly. "I may get over this, and I don't
say I shouldn't be glad to. But I'm an old tree, and the ax is lying,
ground, somewhere, that's to cut me down before very long. Old folks
can't change their ways, and begin new plans and doings. I'm only
thankful that the Lord has sent me a thought that lightens all the dread
I've had for years about leaving the old place; and that I can go,
thinking maybe there'll be His work doing in it as long as it stands."

"I don't know," she resumed, after a pause, "how your father's affairs
are now. The likelihood is, if he has any health, that he'll go into
some kind of a venture again before very long. But I shall have a talk
with him, and if he isn't satisfied I'll alter it so as to do something
more for you."

"Something more!" said Faith. "But you have done a great deal, as it is!
I didn't say so, because I was thinking so much of the other."

"It won't make an heiress of you," said Aunt Faith. "But it'll be better
than nothing, if other means fall short. And I don't feel, somehow, as
if you need be a burden on my mind. There's a kind of a certainty borne
in on me, otherwise. I can't help thinking that what I've done has been
a leading. And if it has, it's right. Now, put this back, and tell Miss
Sampson she may bring my gruel."




CHAPTER XXXII.

GLORY McWHIRK'S INSPIRATION.

"No bird am I to sing in June,
And dare not ask an equal boon.
Good nests and berries red are Nature's
To give away to better creatures,--
And yet my days go on, go on."
                         MRS. BROWNING.


Mr. and Mrs. Gartney arrived on Thursday.

Two weeks and three days they had been absent; and in that time how the
busy sprites of change and circumstance had been at work! As if the
scattered straws of events, that, stretched out in slender windrows,
might have reached across a field of years, had been raked together, and
rolled over--crowded close, and heaped, portentous, into these eighteen
days!

Letters had told them something; of the burned mill, and Faith's fearful
danger and escape; of Aunt Henderson's continued illness, and its
present serious aspect; and with this last intelligence, which met them
in New York but two days since, Mrs. Gartney found her daughter's
agitated note of pained avowal, that she "had come, through all this, to
know herself better, and to feel sure that this marriage ought not to
be"; that, in short, all was at length over between her and Paul
Rushleigh.

It was a meeting full of thought--where much waited for speech that
letters could neither have conveyed nor satisfied--when Faith and her
father and mother exchanged the kiss of love and welcome, once more, in
the little home at Cross Corners.

It was well that Mis' Battis had made waffles, and spread a tempting
summer tea with these and her nice, white bread, and fruits and creams;
and wished, with such faint impatience as her huge calm was capable of,
that "they would jest set right down, while things was good and hot";
and that Hendie was full of his wonderful adventures by boat and train,
and through the wilds; so that these first hours were gotten over, and
all a little used to the old feeling of being together again, before
there was opportunity for touching upon deeper subjects.

It came at length--the long evening talk, after Hendie was in bed, and
Mr. Gartney had been over to the old house, and seen his aunt, and had
come back, to find wife and daughter sitting in the dim light beside the
open door, drawn close in love and confidence, and so glad and thankful
to have each other back once more!

First--Aunt Faith; and what was to be done--what might be hoped--what
must be feared--for her. Then, the terrible story of the fire; and all
about it, that could only be got at by the hundred bits of question and
answer, and the turning over and over, and repetition, whereby we do the
best--the feeble best--we can, to satisfy great askings and deep
sympathies that never can be anyhow made palpable in words.

And, last of all--just with the good-night kiss--Faith and her mother
had had it all before, in the first minutes they were left alone
together--Mr. Gartney said to his daughter:

"You are quite certain, now, Faith?"

"Quite certain, father"; Faith answered, low, with downcast eyes, as she
stood before him.

Her father laid his hand upon her head.

"You are a good girl; and I don't blame you; yet I thought you would
have been safe and happy, so."

"I am safe and happy here at home," said Faith.

"Home is in no hurry to spare you, my child."

And Faith felt taken back to daughterhood once more.

Margaret Rushleigh had been to see her, before this. It was a painful
visit, with the mingling of old love and new restraint; and the effort,
on either side, to show that things, except in the one particular, were
still unchanged.

Faith felt how true it was that "nothing could go back, precisely, to
what it was before."

There was another visit, a day or two after the reassembling of the
family at Cross Corners. This was to say farewell. New plans had been
made. It would take some time to restore the mills to working order, and
Mr. Rushleigh had not quite resolved whether to sell them out as they
were, or to retain the property. Mrs. Rushleigh wished Margaret to join
her at Newport, whither the Saratoga party was to go within the coming
week. Then there was talk of another trip to Europe. Margaret had never
been abroad. It was very likely they would all go out in October.

Paul's name was never mentioned.

Faith realized, painfully, how her little hand had been upon the motive
power of much that was all ended, now.

Two eminent medical men had been summoned from Mishaumok, and had held
consultation with Dr. Wasgatt upon Miss Henderson's case. It had been
decided to postpone the surgical operation for two or three weeks.
Meanwhile, she was simply to be kept comfortable and cheerful,
strengthened with fresh air, and nourishing food, and some slight
tonics.

Faith was at the old house, constantly. Her aunt craved her presence,
and drew her more and more to herself. The strong love, kept down by a
stiff, unbending manner, so, for years--resisting almost its own
growth--would no longer be denied or concealed. Faith Gartney had
nestled herself into the very core of this true, upright heart,
unpersuadable by anything but clear judgment and inflexible conscience.

"I had a beautiful dream last night, Miss Faith," said Glory, one
morning, when Faith came over and found the busy handmaiden with her
churn upon the doorstone, "about Miss Henderson. I thought she was all
well, and strong, and she looked so young, and bright, and pleasant! And
she told me to make a May Day. And we had it out here in the field. And
everybody had a crown; and everybody was queen. And the little children
danced round the old apple tree, and climbed up, and rode horseback in
the branches. And Miss Henderson was out there, dressed in white, and
looking on. It don't seem so--just to say it; but I couldn't tell you
how beautiful it was!"

"Dreams are strange things," said Faith, thoughtfully. "It seems as if
they were sent to us, sometimes--as if we really had a sort of life in
them."

"Don't they?" cried Glory, eagerly. "Why, Miss Faith, I've dreamed on,
and on, sometimes, a whole story out! And, after all, we're asleep
almost as much as we're awake. Why isn't it just as real?"

"I had a dream that night of the fire, Glory. I never shall forget it. I
went to sleep there, on the sofa. And it seemed as if I were on the top
of a high, steep cliff, with no way to get down. And all at once, there
was fire behind me--a burning mountain! And it came nearer, and nearer,
till it scorched my very feet; and there was no way down. And then--it
was so strange!--I knew Mr. Armstrong was coming. And two hands took
me--just as his did, afterwards--and I felt so safe! And then I woke,
and it all happened. When he came, I felt as if I had called him."

The dasher of the churn was still, and Glory stood, breathless, in a
white excitement, gazing into Faith's eyes.

"And so you did, Miss Faith! Somehow--through the dreamland--you
certainly did!"

Faith went in to her aunt, and Glory churned and pondered.

Were these two to go on, dreaming, and calling to each other "through
the dreamland," and never, in the daylight, and their waking hours,
speak out?

This thought, in vague shape, turned itself, restlessly, in Glory's
brain.

Other brains revolved a like thought, also.

"Somebody talked about a 'ripe pear,' once. I wonder if that one isn't
ever going to fall!"

Nurse Sampson wondered thus, as she settled Miss Henderson in her
armchair before the window, and they saw Roger Armstrong and Faith
Gartney walk up the field together in the sunset light.

"I suppose it wouldn't take much of a jog to do it. But, maybe, it's as
well to leave it to the Lord's sunshine. He'll ripen it, if He sees
fit."

"It's a pretty picture, anyhow. There's the new moon exactly over their
right shoulders, if they'd only turn their heads to look at it. I don't
think much of signs; but, somehow, I always _do_ like to have that one
come right!"

"Well, it's there, whether they've found it out, or not," replied Aunt
Faith.

Glory sat on the flat doorstone. She had the invariable afternoon
knitting work in her hand; but hand and work had fallen to her lap, and
her eyes were away upon the glittering, faint crescent of the moon, that
pierced the golden mist of sunset. Close by, the evening star had filled
his chalice of silver splendor.

"The star and the moon only see each other. I can see both. It is
better."

She had come to the feeling of Roger Armstrong's sermon. To receive
consciously, as she had through her whole, life intuitively and
unwittingly, all beauty of all being about her into the secret beauty of
her own. She could be glad with the gladness of the whole world.

The two came up, and Glory rose, and stood aside.

"You have had thoughts, to-night, Glory," said the minister. "Where have
they been?"

"Away, there," answered Glory, pointing to the western sky.

They turned, and followed her gesture; and from up there, at their
right, beyond, came down the traditional promise of the beautiful young
moon.

Glory had shown it them.

"And I've been thinking, besides," said Glory, "about that dream of
yours, Miss Faith. I've thought of it all day. Please tell it to Mr.
Armstrong?"

And Glory disappeared down the long passage to the kitchen, and left
them standing there, together. She went straight to the tin baker before
the fire, and lifted the cover, to see if her biscuits were ready for
tea. Then she seated herself upon a little bench that stood against the
chimney-side, and leaned her head against the bricks, and looked down
into the glowing coals.

"It was put into my head to do it!" she said, breathlessly, to herself.
"I hope it wasn't ridiculous!"

So she sat, and gazed on, into the coals. _They_ were out there in the
sunset, with the new moon and the bright star above them in the saffron
depths.

They stood alone, except for each other, in this still, radiant beauty
of all things.

Miss Henderson's window was around a projection of the rambling,
irregular structure, which made the angle wherein the pleasant old
doorstone lay.

"May I have your dream, Miss Faith?"

She need not be afraid to tell a simple dream. Any more, at this moment,
than when she told it to Glory, that morning, on that very spot. Why did
she feel, that if she should speak a syllable of it now, the truth that
lay behind it would look out, resistless, through its veil? That she
could not so keep down its spirit-meaning, that it should not flash,
electric, from her soul to his?

"It was only--that night," she said, tremulously. "It seemed very
strange. Before the fire, I had the dream. It was a dream of fire and
danger--danger that I could not escape from. And I held out my
hands--and I found you there--and you saved me. Oh, Mr. Armstrong! As you
_did_ save me, afterwards!"

Roger Armstrong turned, and faced her. His deep, earnest eyes, lit with
a new, strange radiance, smote upon hers, and held them spellbound with
their glance.

"I, too, dreamed that night," said he, "of an unknown peril to you. You
beckoned me. I sprang from out that dream, and rushed into the
night--until I found you!"

Their two souls met, in that brief recital, and knew that they had met
before. That, through the dreamland, there had been that call and
answer.

Faith neither spoke, nor stirred, nor trembled. This supreme moment of
her life held her unmoved in its own mightiness.

Roger Armstrong held out both his hands.

"Faith! In the sight of God, I believe you belong to me!"

At that solemn word, of force beyond all claim of a mere mortal love,
Faith stretched her hands in answer, and laid them into his, and bowed
her head above them.

"In the sight of God, I belong to you!"

So she gave herself. So she was taken. As God's gift, to the heart that
had been earthly desolate so long.

There was no dread, no shrinking, in that moment. A perfect love cast
out all fear.

And the new moon and the evening star shone down together in an absolute
peace.




CHAPTER XXXIII.

LAST HOURS.

"In this dim world of clouding cares
  We rarely know, till 'wildered eyes
  See white wings lessening up the skies,
The angels with us unawares.
       .       .       .       .       .
"Strange glory streams through life's wild rents,
  And through the open door of death
  We see the heaven that beckoneth
To the beloved going hence."
                                   GERALD MASSEY.


"Read me the twenty-third Psalm," said Miss Henderson.

It was the evening before the day fixed upon by her physicians for the
surgical operation she had decided to submit to.

Faith was in her place by the bedside, her hand resting in that of her
aunt. Mr. Armstrong sat near--an open Bible before him. Miss Sampson had
gone down the field for a "snatch of air."

Clear upon the stillness fell the sacred words of cheer. There was a
strong, sure gladness in the tone that uttered them, that told they were
born anew, in the breathing, from a heart that had proved the goodness
and mercy of the Lord.

In a solemn gladness, also, two other hearts received them, and said,
silently, Amen!

"Now the fourteenth of St. John."

"'In my father's house are many mansions.' 'I will dwell in the house of
the Lord, forever.' Yes. It holds us all. Under one roof. One
family--whatever happens! Now, put away the book, and come here; you
two!"

It was done; and Roger Armstrong and Faith Gartney stood up, side by
side, before her.

"I haven't said so before, because I wouldn't set people troubling
beforehand. But in my own mind, I'm pretty sure of what's coming. And if
I hadn't felt so all along, I should now. When the Lord gives us our
last earthly wish, and the kind of peace comes over that seems as if it
couldn't be disturbed by anything, any more, we may know, by the hush of
it, that the day is done. I'm going to bid you good night, Faith, and
send you home. Say your prayers, and thank God, for yourself and for me.
Whatever you hear of me, to-morrow, take it for good news; for it _will_
be good. Roger Armstrong! Take care of the child! Child! love your
husband; and trust in him; for you may!"

Close, close--bent Faith above her aunt, and gave and took that solemn
good-night kiss.

"'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the
communion of the Holy Ghost, be with us all. Amen!'"

With the word of benediction, Roger Armstrong turned from the bedside,
and led Faith away.

And the deeper shadows of night fell, and infolded the Old House, and
the hours wore on, and all was still. Stillest, calmest of all, in the
soul of her who had dwelt there for nearly threescore years and ten, and
who knew, none the less, that it would be surely home to her wheresoever
her place might be given her next, in that wide and beautiful "House of
the Lord!"

It was a strange day that succeeded; when they sat, waiting so, through
those morning hours, keeping such Sabbath as heart and life do keep, and
are keeping, somewhere, always, in whatever busy workday of the world,
when great issues come to solemnize the time.

Almost as still at the Old House as at Cross Corners. No hurry. No
bustle. Glory quietly doing her needful duties, and obeying all
direction of the nurse. Mr. Armstrong in his own room, in readiness
always, for any act or errand that might be required of him. Henderson
Gartney alone in that ancient parlor at the front. The three physicians
and Miss Sampson shut with Aunt Faith into her room. A faint, breathless
odor of ether creeping everywhere, even out into the summer air.

It was eleven o'clock, when a word was spoken to Roger Armstrong, and he
took his hat and walked across the field. Faith, with pale, asking face,
met him at the door.

"Well--thus far," was the message; and a kiss fell upon the uplifted
forehead, and a look of boundless love and sympathy into the fair,
anxious eyes. "All has been done; and she is comfortable. There may
still be danger; but the worst is past."

Then a brazen veil fell from before the face of day. The sunshine
looked golden again, and the song of birds rang out, unmuffled. The
strange, Sabbath stillness might be broken. They could speak common
words, once more.

Faith and her mother sat there, in the hillside parlor, talking
thankfully, and happily, with Roger Armstrong. So a half hour passed by.
Mr. Gartney would come, with further tidings, when he had been able to
speak with the physicians.

The shadows of shrub and tree crept and shortened to the lines of noon,
and still, no word. They began to wonder, why.

Mr. Armstrong would go back. He might be wanted, somehow. They should
hear again, immediately, unless he were detained.

He was not detained. They watched him up the field, and into the angle
of the doorway. He was hidden there a moment, but not more. Then they
saw him turn, as one lingering and reluctant, and retrace his steps
toward them.

"Faith! Stay here, darling! Let me meet him first," said Mrs. Gartney.

Faith shrank back, fearful of she knew not what, into the room they had
just quitted.

A sudden, panic dread and terror seized her. She felt her hearing
sharpened, strained, involuntarily. She should catch that first word,
however it might be spoken. She dared not hear it, yet. Out at the
hillside door, into the shade of the deep evergreens, she passed, with a
quick impulse.

Thither Roger Armstrong followed, presently, and found her. With the
keen instinct of a loving sympathy, he knew she fled from speech. So he
put his arm about her, silently, tenderly; and led her on, and up, under
the close, cool shade, the way their steps had come to know so well.

"Take it for good news, darling. For it is good," he said, at last, when
he had placed her in the rocky seat, where she had listened to so many
treasured words--to that old, holy confidence--of his.

And there he comforted her.

       *       *       *       *       *

A sudden sinking--a prostration beyond what they had looked for, had
surprised her attendants; and, almost with their notice of the change,
the last, pale, gray shadow had swept up over the calm, patient face,
and good Aunt Faith had passed away.

Away--for a little. Not out of God's house. Not lost out of His
household.

       *       *       *       *       *

This was her will.

     "I, Faith Henderson, spinster, in sound mind, and of my own will,
     direct these things.

     "That to my dear grandniece, Faith Henderson Gartney, be given from
     me, as my bequest, that portion of my worldly property now
     invested in two stores in D---- Street, in the city of Mishaumok.
     That this property and interest be hers, for her own use and
     disposal, with my love.

     "Also, that my plate, and my box of best house linen, which stands
     beside the press in the northwest chamber, be given to her, Faith
     Henderson Gartney; and that my nephew, Henderson Gartney, shall,
     according to his own pleasure and judgment, appropriate and dispose
     of any books, or articles of old family value and interest. But
     that beds, bedding, and all heavy household furniture, with a
     proper number of chairs and other movables, be retained in the
     house, for its necessary and suitable furnishing.

     "And then, that all this residue of personal effects, and my real
     estate in the Old Homestead at Kinnicutt Cross Corners, and my
     shares in the Kinnicutt Bank, be placed in the hands of my nephew,
     Henderson Gartney, to be held in trust during the natural life of
     my worthy and beloved handmaiden, Gloriana McWhirk; for her to
     occupy said house, and use said furniture, and the income of said
     property, so long as she can find at least four orphan children to
     maintain therewith, and 'make a good time for, every day.'

     "Provided, that in case the said Gloriana McWhirk shall marry, or
     shall no longer so employ this property, or in case that she shall
     die, said property is to revert to my above-named grandniece, Faith
     Henderson Gartney, for her and her heirs, to their use and behoof
     forever.

     "And if there be any failure of a legal binding in this paper that
     I write, I charge it upon my nephew, Henderson Gartney, on his
     conscience, as I believe him to be a true and honest man, to see
     that these my effects are so disposed of, according to my plain
     will and intention.

                                                "(Signed) FAITH HENDERSON.

     "(Witnessed)
       ROGER ARMSTRONG,
       HIRAM WASGATT,
       LUTHER GOODELL."





CHAPTER XXXIV.

MRS. PARLEY GIMP.

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
        Gang aft agley."
                                    BURNS.


Kinnicott had got an enormous deal to talk about. The excitement of the
great fire, and the curiosity and astonishment concerning Miss Gartney's
share in the events of that memorable night had hardly passed into the
quietude of things discussed to death and laid away, unwillingly, in
their graves, when all this that had happened at Cross Corners poured
itself, in a flood of wonder, upon the little community.

Not all, quite, at once, however. Faith's engagement was not, at first,
spoken of publicly. There was no need, in this moment of their common
sorrow, to give their names to the little world about them, for such
handling as it might please. Yet the little world found plenty to say,
and a great many plans to make for them, none the less.

Miss Henderson's so long unsuspected, and apparently brief illness, her
sudden death, and the very singular will whose provisions had somehow
leaked out, as matters of the sort always do, made a stir and ferment in
the place, and everybody felt bound to arrive at some satisfactory
conclusion which should account for all, and to get a clear idea of what
everybody immediately concerned would do, or ought, in the
circumstances, to do next, before they--the first everybodies--could eat
and sleep, and go comfortably about their own business again, in the
ordinary way.

They should think Mr. Gartney would dispute the will. It couldn't be a
very hard matter, most likely, to set it aside. All that farm, and the
Old Homestead, and her money in the bank, going to that Glory McWhirk!
Why, it was just ridiculous. The old lady must have been losing her
faculties. One thing was certain, anyway. The minister was out of a
boarding place again. So that question came up, in all its intricate
bearings, once more.

This time Mrs. Gimp struck, while, as she thought, the iron was hot.

Mr. Parley Gimp met Mr. Armstrong, one morning, in the village street,
and waylaid him to say that "his good lady thought she could make room
for him in their family, if it was so that he should be looking out for
a place to stay at."

Mr. Armstrong thanked him; but, for the present, he was to remain at
Cross Corners.

"At the Old House?"

"No, sir. At Mr. Gartney's."

The iron was cold, after all.

Mrs. Parley Gimp called, one day, a week or two later, when the minister
was out. A visit of sympathetic scrutiny.

"Yes, it was a great loss, certainly. But then, at her age, you know,
ma'am! We must all expect these things. It was awfully sudden, to be
sure. Must have been a terrible shock. Was her mind quite clear at the
last, ma'am?"

"Perfectly. Clear, and calm, and happy, through it all."

"That's very pleasant to think of now, I'm sure. But I hear she's made a
very extraordinary arrangement about the property. You can't tell,
though, to be sure, about all you hear, nowadays."

"No, Mrs. Gimp. That is very true," said Mrs. Gartney.

"Everybody always expected that it would all come to you. At least, to
your daughter. She seemed to make so much of her."

"My daughter is quite satisfied, and we for her."

"Well, I must say!--and so Mr. Armstrong is to board here, now? A little
out of the way of most of the parish, isn't it? I never could see,
exactly, what put it into his head to come so far. Not but what he makes
out to do his duty as a pastor, pretty prompt, too. I don't hear any
complaints. He's rather off and on about settling, though. I guess he's
a man that keeps his intentions pretty close to himself--and all his
affairs, for that matter. Of course he's a perfect right to. But I will
say I like to know all about folks from the beginning. It aggravates me
to have to begin in the middle. I tell Serena, it's just like reading a
book when the first volume's lost. I don't suppose I'm _much_ more
curious than other people; but I _should_ like to know just how old he
is, for one thing; and who his father and mother were; and where he came
from in the first place, and what he lives on, for 'tain't our salary, I
know that; he's given away more'n half of it a'ready--right here in the
village. I've said to my husband, forty times, if I've said it once, 'I
declare, I've a great mind to ask him myself, straight out, just to see
what he'll say.'"

"And why not?" asked a voice, pleasantly, behind her.

Mr. Armstrong had come in, unheard by the lady in her own rush of words,
and had approached too near, as this suddenly ceased, to be able to
escape again unnoticed.

Mis' Battis told Luther Goodell afterwards, that she "jest looked in
from the next room, at that, and if ever a woman felt cheap--all
over--and as if she hadn't a right to her own toes and fingers, and as
if every thread and stitch on her turned mean, all at once--it was Mrs.
Gimp, that minit!"

"Has Faith returned?" Mr. Armstrong asked, of Mrs. Gartney, after a
little pause in which Mrs. Gimp showed no disposition to develop into
deed her forty-times declared "great mind."

"I think not. She said she would remain an hour or two with Glory, and
help her to arrange those matters she came in, this morning, to ask us
about."

"I will walk over."

And the minister took his hat again, and with a bow to the two ladies,
passed out, and across the lane.

"Faith!" ejaculated the village matron, her courage and her mind to
meddle returning. "Well, that's intimate!"

It might as well be done now, as at any time. Mr. Armstrong, himself,
had heedlessly precipitated the occasion. It had only been, among them,
a question of how and when. There was nothing to conceal.

"Yes," replied Mrs. Gartney, quietly. "They will be married by and by."

"Did she go out the door, ma'am? Or has she melted down into the carpet?
'Cause, I _have_ heerd of people sinkin' right through the floor," said
Mis' Battis, who "jest looked in" a second time, as the bewildered
visitor receded.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pleasant autumn months, mellowing and brightening all things, seemed
also to soften and gild their memories of the life that had ended,
ripely and beautifully, among them.

Glory, after the first overwhelm of astonishment at what had befallen
her--made fully to understand that which she had a right, and was in
duty bound to do--entered upon the preparations for her work with the
same unaffected readiness with which she would have done the bidding of
her living mistress. It was so evident that her true humbleness was
untouched by all. "It's beautiful!" and the tears and smiles would come
together as she said it. "But then, Miss Faith--Mr. Armstrong! I never
can do any of it unless you help me!"

Faith and Mr. Armstrong did help with heart and hand, and every word of
counsel that she needed.

"I must buy some cotton and calico, and make some little clothes and
tyers. Hadn't I better? When they come, I'll have them to take care of."

And with the loving anticipation of a mother, she made up, and laid
away, Faith helping her in all, her store of small apparel for little
ones that were to come.

She had gone down, one day, to Mishaumok, and found out Bridget Foye, at
the old number in High Street. And to her she had intrusted the care of
looking up the children--to be not less than five, and not more than
eight or nine years of age--who should be taken to live with her at
"Miss Henderson's home," and "have a good time every day."

"I must get them here before Christmas," said Glory to her friends. "We
must hang their stockings all up by the great kitchen chimney, and put
sugarplums and picture books in!"

She was going back eagerly into her child life--rather into the life her
childhood wist of, but missed--and would live it all over, now, with
these little ones, taken already, before even they were seen or found,
out of their strangerhood into her great, kindly heart!

A plain, capable, motherly woman had been obtained, by Mr. Armstrong's
efforts and inquiry, who would live with Glory as companion and
assistant. There was the dairy work to be carried on, still. This, and
the hay crops, made the principal income of the Old Farm. A few fields
were rented for cultivation.

"Just think," cried Glory when the future management of these matters
was talked of, "what it will be to see the little things let out
a-rolling in the new hay!"

Her thoughts passed so entirely over herself, as holder and arbiter of
means, to the good--the daily little joy--that was to come, thereby, to
others!

When all was counted and calculated, they told her that she might safely
venture to receive, in the end, six children. But that, for the present,
four would perhaps be as many as it would be wise for her to undertake.

"You know best," she said, "and I shall do whatever you say. But I don't
feel afraid--any more, that is, for taking six than four. I shall just
do for them all the time, whether or no."

"And what if they are bad and troublesome, Glory?"

"Oh, they won't be," she replied. "I shall love them so!"




CHAPTER XXXV.

INDIAN SUMMER.

"'Tis as if the benignant Heaven
Had a new revelation given,
  And written it out with gems;
  For the golden tops of the elms
And the burnished bronze of the ash
And the scarlet lights that flash
From the sumach's points of flame,
  Like blazonings on a scroll
Spell forth an illumined Name
  For the reading of the soul!"


It is of no use to dispute about the Indian summer. I never found two
people who could agree as to the time when it ought to be here, or upon
a month and day when it should be decidedly too late to look for it. It
keeps coming. After the equinoctial, which begins to be talked about
with the first rains of September, and isn't done with till the sun has
measured half a dozen degrees of south declination, all the pleasant
weather is Indian summer--away on to Christmastide. For my part, I think
we get it now and then, little by little, as "the kingdom" comes. That
every soft, warm, mellow, hazy, golden day, like each fair, fragrant
life, is a part and outcrop of it; though weeks of gale and frost, or
ages of cruel worldliness and miserable sin may lie between.

It was an Indian summer day, then; and it was in October.

Faith and Mr. Armstrong walked over the brook, and round by Pasture
Rocks, to the "little chapel," as Faith had called it, since the time,
last winter, when she and Glory had met the minister there, in the
still, wonderful, pure beauty that enshrined it on that "diamond
morning."

The elms that stood then, in their icy sheen, about the meadows, like
great cataracts of light, were soft with amber drapery, now; translucent
in each leaf with the detained sunshine of the summer; and along the
borders of the wood walk, scarlet flames of sumach sprang out, vivid,
from among the lingering green; and birches trembled with their golden
plumes; and bronzed ash boughs, and deep crimsons and maroons and
chocolate browns and carbuncle red that crowned the oaks with richer and
intenser hues, made up a wealth and massiveness of beauty wherein eye
and thought reveled and were sated.

Over and about all, the glorious October light, and the dreamy warmth
that was like a palpable love.

They stood on the crisp moss carpet of the "halfway rock"--the altar
crag behind them, with its cherubim that waved illumined wings of
tenderer radiance now--and gazed over the broad outspread of marvelous
color; and thought of the summer that had come and gone since they had
stood there, last, together, and of the beauty that had breathed alike
on earth and into life, for them.

"Faith, darling! Tell me your thought," said Roger Armstrong.

"This was my thought," Faith answered, slowly. "That first sermon you
preached to us--that gave me such a hope, then--that comes up to me so,
almost as a warning, now! The poor--that were to have the kingdom! And
then, those other words--'how hardly shall they who have riches enter
in!' And I am _so_ rich! It frightens me."

"Entire happiness does make one tremble. Only, if we feel God in it, and
stand but the more ready for His work, we may be safe."

"His work--yes," Faith answered. "But now he only gives me rest. It
seems as if, somehow, I were not worthy of a hard life. As if all things
had been made too easy for me. And I had thought, so, of some great and
difficult thing to do."

Then Faith told him of the oracle that, years ago, had first wakened her
to the thought of what life might be; of the "high and holy work" that
she had dreamed of, and of her struggles to fulfill it, feebly, in the
only ways that as yet had opened for her.

"And now--just to receive all--love, and help, and care--and to rest,
and to be so wholly happy!"

"Believe, darling, that we are led, through all. That the oil of joy is
but as an anointing for a nobler work. It is only so I dare to think of
it. We shall have plenty to do, Faithie! And, perhaps, to bear. It will
all be set before us, in good time."

"But nothing can be _hard_ to do, any more. That is what makes me almost
feel unworthy. Look at Nurse Sampson. Look at Glory. They have only
their work, and the love of God to help them in it. And I--! Oh, I am
not poor any longer. The words don't seem to be for me."

"Let us take them with their double edge of truth, then. Holding
ourselves always poor, in sight of the infinite spiritual riches of the
kingdom. Blessed are the poor, who can feel, even in the keenest earthly
joy, how there is a fullness of life laid up in Him who gives it, of
whose depth the best gladness here is but a glimpse and foretaste! We
will not be selfishly or unworthily content, God helping us, my little
one!"

"It is so hard _not_ to be content!" whispered Faith, as the strong,
manly arm held her, in its shelter, close beside the noble, earnest
heart.

"I think," said Roger Armstrong, afterwards, as they walked down over
the fragrant pathway of fallen pine leaves, "that I have never known an
instance of one more evidently called, commissioned, and prepared for a
good work in the world, than Glory. Her whole life has been her
education for it. It is not without a purpose, when a soul like hers is
left to struggle up through such externals of circumstance. We can love
and help her in it, Faith; and do something, in our way, for her, as she
will do, in hers, for others."

"Oh, yes!" assented Faith, impulsively. "I have wished--" but there she
stopped.

"Am I to hear no more?" asked Mr. Armstrong, presently. "Have I not a
right to insist upon the wish?"

"I forgot what I was coming to," said Faith, blushing deeply. "I spoke
of it, one day, to mother. And she said it was a thing I couldn't decide
for myself, now. That some one else would be concerned, as well as I."

"And some one else will be sure to wish as you do. Only there may be a
wisdom in waiting. Faithie--I have never told you yet--will you be
frightened if I tell you now--that I am not a poor man, as the world
counts poverty? My friend, of whom you know, in those terrible days of
the commencing pestilence, having only his daughter and myself to care
for, made his will; in provision against whatever might befall them
there. By that will--through the fearful sorrow that made it
effective--I came into possession of a large property. Your little
inheritance, Faithie, goes into your own little purse for private
expenditures or charities. But for the present, as it seems to me, Glory
has ample means for all that it is well for her to undertake. By and by,
as she gains in years and in experience, you will have it in your power
to enlarge her field of good. 'Miss Henderson's Home' may grow into a
wider benefit than even she, herself, foresaw."

Faith was not frightened. These were not the riches that could make her
tremble with a dread lest earth should too fully satisfy. This was only
a promise of new power to work with; a guarantee that God was not
leaving her merely to care for and to rest in a good that must needs be
all her own.

"We shall find plenty to do, Faithie!" Mr. Armstrong repeated; and he
held her hand in his with a strong pressure that told how the thought of
that work to come, and her sweet and entire association in it, leaped
along his pulses with a living joy.

Faith caught it; and all fear was gone. She could not shrink from the
great blessedness that was laid upon her, any more than Nature could
refuse to wear her coronation robes, that trailed their radiance in this
path they trod.

Life held them in a divine harmony.

The October sun, that mantled them with warmth and glory; the Indian
summer, that transfigured earth about them; all tints--all
redolence--all broad beatitude of globe and sky--were none too much to
breathe out and make palpable the glad and holy auspice of the hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Gartney had gradually relinquished his half-formed thought of San
Francisco. Already the unsettled and threatening condition of affairs in
the country had begun to make men feel that the time was not one for new
schemes or adventurous changes. Somehow, the great wheels, mercantile
and political, had slipped out of their old grooves, and went laboring,
as it were, roughly and at random, with fierce clattering and jolting,
quite off the ordinary track; so that none could say whether they should
finally regain it, and roll smoothly forward, as in the prosperous and
peaceful days of the past, or should bear suddenly and irretrievably
down to some horrible, unknown crash and ruin.

Henderson Gartney, however, was too restless a man to wait, with entire
passiveness, the possible turn and issue of things.

Quite strong, again, in health--so great a part of his burden and
anxiety lifted from him in the marriages, actual and prospective, of his
two daughters--and his means augmented by the sale of a portion of his
Western property which he had effected during his summer visit
thereto--it was little to be looked for that he should consent to
vegetate, idly and quietly, through a second winter at Cross Corners.

The first feeling of some men, apparently, when they have succeeded in
shuffling off a load of difficulty, is a sensation of the delightful
ease with which they can immediately shoulder another. As when one has
just cleared a desk or drawer of rubbish, there is such a tempting
opportunity made for beginning to stow away and accumulate again. Well!
the principle is an eternal one. Nature does abhor a vacuum.

The greater portion of the ensuing months, therefore, Mr. Gartney spent
in New York; whither his wife and children accompanied him, also, for a
stay of a few weeks; during which, Faith and her mother accomplished the
inevitable shopping that a coming wedding necessitates; and set in train
of preparation certain matters beyond the range of Kinnicutt capacity
and resource.

Mr. Armstrong, too, was obliged to be absent from his parish for a
little time. Affairs of his own required some personal attention. He
chose these weeks while the others, also, were away.

It was decided that the marriage should take place in the coming spring;
and that then the house at Cross Corners should become the home of Mr.
Armstrong and Faith; and that Mr. Gartney should remove, permanently, to
New York, where he had already engaged in some incidental and
preliminary business transactions. His purpose was to fix himself there,
as a shipping and commission merchant, concerning himself, for a large
proportion, with California trade.

The house in Mishaumok had been rented for a term of five years. One
change prepares the way for another. Things never go back precisely to
what they were before.

Mr. Armstrong, after serious thought, had come to this conclusion of
accepting the invitation of the Old Parish at Kinnicutt to remain with
it as its pastor, because the place itself had become endeared to him
for its associations; because, also, it was Faith's home, which she had
learned to love and cling to; because she, too, had a work here, in
assisting Glory to fulfill the terms of her aunt's bequest; and because,
country parish though it was, and a limited sphere, as it might seem,
for his means and talents, he saw the way here, not only to accomplish
much direct good in the way of his profession, but as well for a wider
exercise of power through the channel of authorship; for which a more
onerous pastoral charge would not have left him the needful quiet or
leisure.

So, with these comings and goings, these happy plans, and helpings and
onlookings, the late autumn weeks merged in winter, and days slipped
almost imperceptibly by, and Christmas came.

Three little orphan girls had been welcomed into "Miss Henderson's
Home." And only one of them had hair that would curl. But Glory gave the
other two an extra kiss each, every morning.




CHAPTER XXXVI.

CHRISTMASTIDE.

"Through suffering and through sorrow thou hast past,
To show us what a woman true may be;
They have not taken sympathy from thee,
Nor made thee any other than thou wast;
       .       .       .       .       .
"Nor hath thy knowledge of adversity
Robbed thee of any faith in happiness,
But rather cleared thine inner eye to see
How many simple ways there are to bless."
                                               LOWELL.

"And if any painter drew her,
He would paint her unaware,
With a halo round the hair."
                        MRS. BROWNING.


There were dark portents abroad. Rumors, and threats, and
prognostications of fear and strife teemed in the columns of each day's
sheet of news, and pulsed wildly along the electric nerves of the land;
and men looked out, as into a coming tempest, that blackened all the
southerly sky with wrath; and only that the horror was too great to be
believed in, they could not have eaten and drunken, and bought and sold,
and planted and builded, as they did, after the age-old manner of man,
in these days before the flood that was to come.

Civil war, like a vulture of hell, was swooping down from the foul
fastness of iniquity that had hatched her in its high places, and that
reared itself, audaciously, in the very face of Heaven.

And a voice, as of a mighty angel, sounded "Woe! woe! woe! to the
inhabiters of earth!"

And still men but half heard and comprehended; and still they slept and
rose, and wrought on, each in his own work, and planned for the morrow,
and for the days that were to be.

And in the midst of all, came the blessed Christmastide! Yes! even into
this world that has rolled its seething burden of sin and pain and shame
and conflict along the listening depths through waiting cycles of God's
eternity, was Christ once born!

And little children, of whom is the kingdom, in their simple faith and
holy unconsciousness, were looking for the Christmas good, and wondering
only what the coming joy should be.

The shops and streets of Mishaumok were filled with busy throngs. People
forgot, for a day, the fissure that had just opened, away there in the
far Southland, and the fierce flames that shot up, threatening, from the
abyss. What mattered the mass meetings, and the shouts, and the guns,
along those shores of the Mexican Gulf? To-night would be Christmas Eve;
and there were thousands of little stockings waiting to be hung by happy
firesides, and they must all be filled for the morrow.

So the shops and streets were crowded, and people with arms full of
holiday parcels jostled each other at every corner.

There are odd encounters in this world tumble that we live in. In the
early afternoon, at one of the bright show cases, filled within and
heaped without with toys, two women met--as strangers are always
meeting, with involuntary touch and glance--borne together in a
crowd--atoms impinging for an instant, never to approach again, perhaps,
in all the coming combinations of time.

These two women, though, had met before.

One, sharp, eager--with a stylish-shabby air of dress about her, and the
look of pretense that shopmen know, as she handled and asked prices,
where she had no actual thought of buying--holding by the hand a child
of six, who dragged and teased, and got an occasional word that crushed
him into momentary silence, but who, tired with the sights and the
Christmas shopping, had nothing for it but to begin to drag and tease
again; another, with bright, happy, earnest eyes and flushing cheeks,
and hair rolled back in a golden wealth beneath her plain straw bonnet;
bonnet, and dress, and all, of simple black; these two came face to
face.

The shabby woman with a sharp look recognized nothing. Glory McWhirk
knew Mrs. Grubbling, and the child of six that had been the Grubbling
baby.

All at once, she had him in her arms; and as if not a moment had gone by
since she held him so in the little, dark, upper entry in Budd Street,
where he had toddled to her in his nightgown, for her grieved farewell,
was hugging and kissing him, with the old, forgetting and forgiving
love.

Mrs. Grubbling looked on in petrified amaze. Glory had transferred a
fragrant white paper parcel from her pocket to the child's hands, and
had thrust upon that a gay tin horse from the counter, before it
occurred to her that the mother might, possibly, neither remember nor
approve.

"I beg your pardon, ma'am, for the liberty; and it's very likely you
don't know me. I'm Glory McWhirk, that used to live with you, and mind
the baby."

"I'm sure I'm glad to see you, Glory," said Mrs. Grubbling
patronizingly; "and I hope you've been doing well since you went away
from me." As if she had been doing so especially well before, that there
might easily be a doubt as to whether going farther had not been faring
worse. I have no question that Mrs. Grubbling fancied, at the moment,
that the foundation of all the simple content and quiet prosperity that
evidenced themselves at present in the person of her former handmaid,
had been laid in Budd Street.

"And where are you living now?" proceeded she, as Glory resigned the boy
to his mint stick, and was saying good-by.

"Out in Kinnicutt, ma'am; at Miss Henderson's, where I have been ever
since."

She never thought of triumphing. She never dreamed of what it would be
to electrify her former mistress with the announcement that she whom she
had since served had died, and left her, Glory McWhirk, the life use of
more than half her estate. That she dwelt now, as proprietress, where
she had been a servant. Her humbleness and her faithfulness were so
entire that she never thought of herself as occupying, in the eyes of
others, such position. She was Miss Henderson's handmaiden, still; doing
her behest, simply, as if she had but left her there in keeping, while
she went a journey.

So she bade good-by, and courtesied to Mrs. Grubbling and gathered up
her little parcels, and went out. Fortunately, Mrs. Grubbling was half
stunned, as it was. It is impossible to tell what might have resulted,
had she then and there been made cognizant of more. Not to the shorn
lamb, alone, always, are sharp winds beneficently tempered. There is a
mercy, also, to the miserable wolf.

Glory had one trouble, to-day, that hindered her pure, free and utter
enjoyment of what she had to do.

All day she had seen, here and there along the street, little forlorn
and ragged ones, straying about aimlessly, as if by any chance, a scrap
of Christmas cheer might even fall to them, if only they kept out in the
midst of it. There was a distant wonder in their faces, as they met the
buyers among the shops, and glanced at the fair, fresh burdens they
carried; and around the confectioners' windows they would cluster,
sometimes, two or three together, and _look_; as if one sense could take
in what was denied so to another. She knew so well what the feeling of
it was! To see the good times going on, and not be in 'em! She longed so
to gather them all to herself, and take them home, and make a Christmas
for them!

She could only drop the pennies that came to her in change loose into
her pocket, and give them, one by one, along the wayside. And she more
than once offered a bright quarter (it was in the days when quarters yet
were, reader!), when she might have counted out the sum in lesser bits,
that so the pocket should be kept supplied the longer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Down by the ---- Railway Station, the streets were dim, and dirty, and
cheerless. Inside, the passengers gathered about the stove, where the
red coals gleamed cheerful in the already gathering dusk of the winter
afternoon. A New York train was going out; and all sorts of people--from
the well-to-do, portly gentleman of business, with his good coat
buttoned comfortably to his chin, his tickets bought, his wallet lined
with bank notes for his journey, and secretly stowed beyond the reach
(if there be such a thing) of pickpockets, and the _Mishaumok Journal_,
Evening Edition, damp from the press, unfolded in his fingers, to the
care-for-naught, dare-devil little newsboy who had sold it to him, and
who now saunters off, varying his monotonous cry with:

"_Jour-nal_, gentlemen! Eve-nin' 'dition! Georgy out!"

("What's that?" exclaims an inconsiderate.)

"Georgy out! (Little brother o' mine. Seen him anywhere?) Eve-nin'
'dition! _Jour-nal_, gentleman!" and the shivering little candy girl,
threading her way with a silent imploringness among the throng--were
bustling up and down, in waiting rooms, and on the platforms, till one
would think, assuredly, that the center of all the world's activity, at
this moment, lay here; and that everybody _not_ going in this particular
express train to New York, must be utterly devoid of any aim or object
in life, whatever.

So we do, always, carry our center about with us. A little while ago all
the world was buying dolls and tin horses. Horizons shift and ring
themselves about us, and we, ourselves, stand always in the middle.

By and by, however, the last call was heard.

"Passengers for New York! Train ready! All aboard!"

And with the ringing of the bell, and the mighty gasping of the
impatient engine, and a scuffle and scurry of a minute, in which
carpetbags and babies were gathered up and shouldered indiscriminately,
the rooms and the platforms were suddenly cleared of all but a few
stragglers, and half a dozen women with Christmas bundles, who sat
waiting for trains to way stations.

Two little pinched faces, purple with the bitter cold, looked in at the
door.

"It's good and warm in there. Less' go!"

And the older drew the younger into the room, toward the glowing stove.

They looked as if they had been wandering about in the dreary streets
till the chill had touched their very bones. The larger of the two, a
boy--torn hopelessly as to his trousers, dilapidated to the last degree
as to his fragment of a hat--knees and elbows making their way out into
the world with the faintest shadow of opposition--had, perhaps from
this, a certain look of pushing knowingness that set itself, by the
obscure and inevitable law of compensation, over against the gigantic
antagonism of things he found himself born into; and you knew, as you
looked at him, that he would, somehow, sooner or later, make his small
dint against the great dead wall of society that loomed itself in his
way; whether society or he should get the worst of it, might happen as
it would.

The younger was a little girl. A flower thrown down in the dirt. A jewel
encrusted with mean earth. Little feet in enormous coarse shoes, cracked
and trodden down; bare arms trying to hide themselves under a bit of old
woolen shawl; hair tangled beneath a squalid hood; out from amidst all,
a face of beauty that peeped, like an unconscious draft of God's own
signing, upon humanity. Was there none to acknowledge it?

An official came through the waiting room.

The boy showed a slink in his eyes, like one used to shoving and rebuff,
and to getting off, round corners. The girl stood, innocent and
unheeding.

"There! out with you! No vagrums here!"

Of course, they couldn't have all Queer Street in their waiting rooms,
these railway people; and the man's words were rougher than his voice.
But these were two children, who wanted cherishing!

The slink in the boy's eye worked down, and became a sneak and a
shuffle, toward the door. The girl was following.

"Stop!" called a woman's voice, sharp and authoritative. "Don't you stir
a single step, either of you, till you get warm! If there isn't any
other way to fix it, I'll buy you both a ticket somewhere and then
you'll be passengers."

It was a tall, thin, hoopless woman, with a carpetbag, a plaid shawl,
and an umbrella; and a bonnet that, since other bonnets had begun to
poke, looked like a chaise top flattened back at the first spring. In a
word, Mehitable Sampson.

Something twitched at the corners of the man's mouth as he glanced round
at this sudden and singular champion. Something may have twitched under
his comfortable waistcoat, also. At any rate, he passed on; and the
children--the brief battledore over in which they had been the
shuttlecocks--crept back, compliant with the second order, much amazed,
toward the stove.

Miss Sampson began to interrogate.

"Why don't you take your little sister home?"

"This one ain't my sister." Children always set people right before they
answer queries.

"Well--whoever she is, then. Why don't you both go home?"

"'Cause it's cold there, too. And we was sent to find sticks."

"If she isn't your sister, who does she belong to?"

"She don't belong to nobody. She lived upstairs, and her mother died,
and she came down to us. But she's goin' to be took away. Mother's got
five of us, now. She's goin' to the poorhouse. She's a regular little
brick, though; ain't yer, Jo?"

The pretty, childish lips that had begun to grow red and lifelike again,
parted, and showed little rows of milk teeth, like white shells. The
blue eyes and the baby smile went up, confidingly, to the young
ragamuffin's face. There had been kindness here. The boy had taken to
Jo, it seemed; and was benevolently evincing it, in the best way he
could, by teaching her good-natured slang.

"Yes; I'm a little brick," she lisped.

Miss Sampson's keen eyes went from one to the other, resting last and
long on Jo.

"I shouldn't wonder," she said, deliberately, "if you was Number Four!"

"Whereabouts do you live?" suddenly, to the boy.

"Three doors round the corner. 'Tain't number four, though. It's
ninety-three."

"What's your name?"

"Tim Rafferty."

"Tim Rafferty! Did anybody ever trust you with a carpetbag?"

"I've carried 'em up. But then they mostly goes along, and looks sharp."

"Well, now I'm going to leave you here, with this one. If anybody speaks
to you, say you was left in charge. Don't stir till I come back.
And--look here! if you see a young woman come in, with bright, wavy
hair, and a black gown and bonnet, and if she comes and speaks to you,
as most likely she will, tell her I said I shouldn't wonder if this was
Number Four!"

And Nurse Sampson went out into the street.

When she came back, the children sat there, still; and Glory McWhirk was
with them.

"I don't know as I'd any business to meddle; and I haven't made any
promises; but I've found out that you can do as you choose about it, and
welcome. And I couldn't help thinking you might like to have this one
for Number Four."

Glory had already nestled the poor, tattered child close to her, and
given her a cake to eat from the refreshment counter.

Tim Rafferty delivered up the carpetbag, in proud integrity. To be sure,
there were half a dozen people in the room who had witnessed its
intrustment to his hands; but I think he would have waited there, all
the same, had the coast been clear.

Miss Sampson gave him ten cents, and recounted to Glory what she had
learned at number ninety-three.

"She's a strange child, left on their hands; and they're as poor as
death. They were going to give her in charge to the authorities. The
woman said she couldn't feed her another day. That's about the whole of
it. If Tim don't bring her back, they'll know where she is, and be
thankful."

"Do you want to go home with me, and hang up your stocking, and have a
Christmas?"

"My golly!" ejaculated Tim, staring.

The little one smiled shyly, and was mute. She didn't know what
Christmas was. She had been cold, and she was warm, and her mouth and
hands were filled with sweet cake. And there were pleasant words in her
ears. That was all she knew. As much as we shall comprehend at first,
perhaps, when the angels take us up out of the earth cold, and give us
the first morsel of heavenly good to stay our cravings.

This was how it ended. Tim had a paper bag of apples and cakes, with
some sugar pigs and pussy cats put in at the top, and a pair of warm
stockings out of Glory's bag, to carry home, for himself; and he was to
say that the lady who came to see his mother had taken Jo away into the
country. To Miss Henderson's, at Kinnicutt. Glory wrote these names upon
a paper. Tim was to be a good boy, and some day they would come and see
him again.

Then Nurse Sampson's plaid shawl was wrapped about little Jo, and pinned
close over her rags to keep out the cold of Christmas Eve; and the bell
rang presently; and she was taken out into the bright, warm car, and
tucked up in a corner, where she slept all the hour that they were
steaming over the road.

And so these three went out to Kinnicutt to keep Christmas at the Old
House.

So Glory carried home the Christ gift that had come to her.

Tim went back, alone, to number ninety-three. He had his bag of good
things, and his warm stockings, and his wonderful story to tell. And
there was more supper and breakfast for five than there would have been
for six. Nevertheless, somehow, he missed the "little brick."

Out at Cross Corners, Miss Henderson's Home was all aglow. The long
kitchen, which, by the outgrowth of the house for generations, had come
to be a central room, was flooded with the clear blaze of a great pine
knot, that crackled in the chimney; and open doors showed neat adjoining
rooms, in and out which the gleams and shadows played, making a
suggestive pantomime of hide and seek. It was a grand old place for
Christmas games! And three little bright-faced girls sat round the knee
of a tidy, cheery old woman, who told them, in a quaint Irish brogue,
the story of the "little rid hin," that was caught by the fox, and got
away, again, safe, to her own little house in the woods, where she
"lived happy iver afther, an' got a fine little brood of chickens to
live wid her; an' pit 'em all intill warrum stockings and shoes, an'
round-o-caliker gowns."

And they carped at no discrepancies or improbabilities; but seized all
eagerly, and fused it in their quick imaginations to one beautiful
meaning; which, whether it were of chicken comfort, overbrooded with
warm love, or of a clothed, contented childhood, in safe shelter,
mattered not a bit.

Into this warm, blithe scene came Glory, just as the fable was ended for
the fourth time, bringing the last little chick, flushed and rosy from a
bath; born into beauty, like Venus from the sea; her fair hair, combed
and glossy, hanging about her neck in curls; and wrapped, not in a
"round-o-caliker," but in a scarlet-flannel nightgown, comfortable and
gay. Then they had bowls of bread and milk, and gingerbread, and ate
their suppers by the fire. And then Glory told them the old story of
Santa Claus; and how, if they hung their stockings by the chimney, there
was no knowing what they mightn't find in them to-morrow.

"Only," she said, "whatever it is, and whoever He sends it by, it all
comes from the good Lord, first of all."

And then, the two white beds in the two bedrooms close by held four
little happy bodies, whose souls were given into God's keeping till his
Christmas dawn should come, in the old, holy rhyme, said after Glory.

By and by, Faith and Mr. Armstrong and Miss Sampson came over from the
Corner House, with parcels from. Kriss Kringle.

And now there was a gladsome time for all; but chiefly, for Glory.

What unpacking and refolding in separate papers! Every sugar pig, and
dog, and pussy cat must be in a distinct wrapping, that so the children
might be a long time finding out all that Santa Claus had brought them.
What stuffing, and tying, and pinning, inside, and outside, and over the
little red woolen legs that hung, expectant, above the big, open
chimney! How Glory laughed, and sorted, and tied and made errands for
string and pins, and seized the opportunity for brushing away great
tears of love, and joy, and thankfulness, that would keep coming into
her eyes! And then, when all was done, and she and Faith came back from
a little flitting into the bedrooms, and a hovering look over the wee,
peaceful, sleeping faces there, and they all stood, for a minute,
surveying the goodly fullness of small delights stored up and waiting
for the morrow--how she turned suddenly, and stretched her hands out
toward the kind friends who had helped and sympathized in all, and said,
with a quick overflow of feeling, that could find only the old words
wherein to utter herself:

"Such a time as this! Such a beautiful time! And to think that I should
be in it!"

Miss Henderson's will was fulfilled.

A happy, young life had gathered again about the ancient hearthstone
that had seen two hundred years of human change.

The Old House, wherefrom the last of a long line had passed on into the
Everlasting Mansions, had become God's heritage.

Nurse Sampson spent her Christmas with the Gartneys.

They must have her again, they told her, at parting, for the wedding;
which would be in May.

"I may be a thousand miles off, by that time. But I shall think of you,
all the same, wherever I am. My work is coming. I feel it. There's a
smell of blood and death in the air; and all the strong hearts and
hands'll be wanted. You'll see it."

And with that, she was gone.




CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE WEDDING JOURNEY.

                               "The tree
Sucks kindlier nurture from a soil enriched
By its own fallen leaves; and man is made,
In heart and spirit, from deciduous hopes
And things that seem to perish."

"A stream always among woods or in the sunshine is pleasant to all
and happy in itself. Another, forced through rocks, and choked with
sand, under ground, cold, dark, comes up able to heal the
world."--FROM "SEED GRAIN."


"Shall we plan a wedding journey, Faith?"

It was one evening in April that Mr. Armstrong said this. The day for
the marriage had been fixed for the first week in May.

Faith had something of the bird nature about her. Always, at this moment
of the year, a restlessness, akin to that which prompts the flitting of
winged things that track the sunshine and the creeping greenness that
goes up the latitudes, had used to seize her, inwardly. Something that
came with the swelling of tender buds, and the springing of bright
blades, and the first music born from winter silence, had prompted her
with the whisper: "Abroad! abroad! Out into the beautiful earth!"

It had been one of her unsatisfied longings. She had thought, what a joy
it would be if she could have said, frankly, "Father, mother! let us
have a pleasant journey in the lovely weather!"

And now, that one stood at her side, who would have taken her in his
tender guardianship whithersoever she might choose--now that there was
no need for hesitancy in her wish--this child, who had never been beyond
the Hudson, who had thought longingly of Catskill, and Trenton, and
Niagara, and had seen them only in her dreams--felt, inexplicably, a
contrary impulse, that said within her, "Not yet!" Somehow, she did not
care, at this great and beautiful hour of her life, to wander away into
strange places. Its holy happiness belonged to home.

"Not now. Unless you wish it. Not on purpose. Take me with you, some
time, when, perhaps, you would have gone alone. Let it _happen_."

"We will just begin our quiet life, then, darling, shall we? The life
that is to be our real blessedness, and that has no need to give itself
a holiday, as yet. And let the workdays and the holidays be portioned as
God pleases?"

"It will be better--happier," Faith answered, timidly. "Besides, with
all this fearful tramping to war through the whole land, how can one
feel like pleasure journeying? And then"--there was another little
reason that peeped out last--"they would have been so sure to make a
fuss about us in New York!"

The adjuncts of life had been much to her in those restless days when a
dark doubt lay over its deep reality. She had found a passing cheer and
relief in them, then. Now, she was so sure, so quietly content! It was a
joy too sacred to be intermeddled with.

So a family group, only, gathered in the hillside parlor, on the fair
May morning wherein good, venerable Mr. Holland said the words that made
Faith Gartney and Roger Armstrong one.

It was all still, and bright, and simple. Glory, standing modestly by
the door, said within herself, "it was like a little piece of heaven."

And afterwards--not the bride and groom--but father, mother, and little
brother, said good-by, and went away upon their journey, and left them
there. In the quaint, pleasant home, that was theirs now, under the
budding elms, with the smile of the May promise pouring in.

And Glory made a May Day at the Old House, by and by. And the little
children climbed in the apple branches, and perched there, singing, like
the birds.

And was there not a white-robed presence with them, somehow, watching
all?

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearly three months had gone. The hay was down. The distillation of
sweet clover was in all the air. The little ones at the Old House were
out, in the lengthening shadows of the July afternoon, rolling and
reveling in the perfumed, elastic heaps.

Faith Armstrong stood with Glory, in the porch angle, looking on.

Calm and beautiful. Only the joy of birds and children making sound and
stir across the summer stillness.

Away over the broad face of the earth, out from such peace as this,
might there, if one could look--unroll some vision of horrible contrast?
Were blood, and wrath, and groans, and thunderous roar of guns down
there under that far, fair horizon, stooping in golden beauty to the
cool, green hills?

Faith walked down the field path, presently, to meet her husband, coming
up. He held in his hand an open paper, that he had brought, just now
from the village.

There was news.

Rout, horror, confusion, death, dismay.

The field of Manassas had been fought. The Union armies were falling
back, in disorder, upon Washington.

Breathlessly, with pale faces, and with hands that grasped each other in
a deep excitement that could not come to speech, they read those
columns, together.

Down there, on those Virginian plains, was this.

And they were here, in quiet safety, among the clover blooms, and the
new-cut hay. Elsewhere, men were mown.

"Roger!" said Faith, when, by and by, they had grown calmer over the
fearful tidings, and had had Bible words of peace and cheer for the
fevered and bloody rumors of men--"mightn't we take our wedding journey,
now?"

All the bright, early summer, in those first months of their life
together, they had been finding work to do. Work they had hardly dreamed
of when Faith had feared she might be left to a mere, unworthy, selfish
rest and happiness.

The old New England spirit had roused itself, mightily, in the little
country town. People had forgotten their own needs, and the provision
they were wont to make, at this time, each household for itself. Money
and material, and quick, willing hands were found, and a good work went
on; and kindling zeal, and noble sympathies, and hearty prayers wove
themselves in, with toil of thread and needle, to homely fabrics, and
embalmed, with every finger touch, all whereon they labored.

They had remembered the old struggle wherein their country had been
born. They were glad and proud to bear their burden in this grander one
wherein she was to be born anew, to higher life.

Roger Armstrong and his wife had been the spring and soul and center of
all.

And now Faith said: "Roger! mayn't we take our wedding journey?"

Not for a bridal holiday--not for gay change and pleasure--but for a
holy purpose, went they out from home.

Down among the wounded, and war-smitten. Bearing comfort of gifts, and
helpful words, and prayers. Doing whatsoever they found to do, now;
seeking and learning what they might best do, hereafter. Truly, God left
them not without a work. A noble ministry lay ready for them, at this
very threshold of their wedded life.

In the hospital at Georgetown, they found Nurse Sampson.

"I told you so," she said. "I knew it was coming. And the first gun
brought me down here to be ready. I've been out to Western Virginia; and
I came back here when we got the news of this. I shall follow round,
wherever the clouds roll."

In Washington, still another meeting awaited them.

Paul Rushleigh, in a Captain's uniform, came, one day, to the table of
their hotel.

The first gun had brought him, also, where he could be ready. He had
sailed for home, with his father, upon the reception, abroad, of the
tidings of the fall of Sumter.

"Your country will want you, now, my son," had been the words of the
brave and loyal gentleman. And, like another Abraham, he had set his
face toward the mount of sacrifice.

There was a new light in the young man's eye. A soul awakened there. A
purpose, better than any plan or hope of a mere happy living in the
earth.

He met his old friends frankly, generously; and, seemingly, without a
pang. They were all one now, in the sublime labor that, in their several
spheres, lay out before them.

"You were right, Faith," he said, as he stood with them, and spoke
briefly of the past, before they parted. "I shall be more of a man, than
if I'd had my first wish. This war is going to make a nation of men. I'm
free, now, to give my heart and hand to my country, as long as she needs
me. And by and by, perhaps, if I live, some woman may love me with the
sort of love you have for your husband. I feel now, how surely I should
have come to be dissatisfied with less. God bless you both!"

"God bless you, Paul!"

THE END.



     *     *     *     *     *     *



BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

MRS. ADELINE DUTTON (Train) WHITNEY, American novelist and poet, was
born in Boston, September 15, 1824, and was married to Seth D. Whitney,
of Milton, Mass., in 1843. Writing little for publication in early life,
she produced, in 1863, _Faith Gartney's Girlhood_, which brought her
great popularity both at home and in England, where the novel gained
especially favorable commendation. Although planned purely as a girl's
book, the story of _Faith_ grew into her womanhood, and after the lapse
of almost half a century continues to be a prime favorite. It is a
purely told story of New England life, especially with dramatic
incidents and an excellent bit of romance.

_The Gayworthys: a Story of Threads and Thrums_ (1865), continued Mrs.
Whitney's popularity and received flattering notices from the London
_Reader_, _Athenaeum_, _Pall Mall Gazette_, and _Spectator_. Mrs. Whitney
was a contributor to the _Atlantic Monthly_, _Our Young Folks_, _Old and
New_ and various other periodicals.

Among her other published works are: _Footsteps on the Seas_ (1857),
poems; _Mother Goose for Grown Folks_ (1860); _Boys at Chequasset_
(1862); _A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life_ (1866); _Patience
Strong's Outings_ (1868); _Hitherto: a Story of Yesterday_ (1869); _We
Girls_ (1870); _Real Folks_ (1871); _Zerub Throop's Experiment_ (1871);
_Pansies_, verse (1872); _The Other Girls_ (1873); _Sights and Insights_
(1876); _Odd or Even_ (1880); _Bonnyborough_ (1885); _Holy-Tides_, verse
(1886); _Homespun Yarns_ (1887); _Bird Talk_, verse (1887); _Daffodils_,
verse (1887); _Friendly Letters to Girl Friends_ (1897); _Biddy's
Episodes_ (1904).

Breadth of view on social conditions, a deeply religious spirit, and a
charming facility both in descriptive and romantic passages, give this
novelist her sustained popularity.

Mrs. Whitney died in Boston on March 21st, 1906.



     *     *     *     *     *     *



Transcriber's Notes

   1. Some punctuation has been changed to conform to contemporary
      standards.

   2. The author's biography has been moved to the end of the text
      from the reverse of the title page.

   3. A Table of Contents was not present in the original edition.

   4. The "certain pause and emphasis" differentiated by the author
      is marked with spaced mid-dots in Chapter XVI, as in the
      original text.



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