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Title: The Gilded Age A tale of today
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Gilded Age, Complete
by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

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Title: The Gilded Age, Complete

Author: Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

Release Date: August 19, 2006 [EBook #3178]

Language: English

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Produced by David Widger





THE GILDED AGE

A Tale of Today

by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

1873



PREFACE.

This book was not written for private circulation among friends; it was
not written to cheer and instruct a diseased relative of the author's;
it was not thrown off during intervals of wearing labor to amuse an idle
hour.  It was not written for any of these reasons, and therefore it is
submitted without the usual apologies.

It will be seen that it deals with an entirely ideal state of society;
and the chief embarrassment of the writers in this realm of the
imagination has been the want of illustrative examples.  In a State where
there is no fever of speculation, no inflamed desire for sudden wealth,
where the poor are all simple-minded and contented, and the rich are all
honest and generous, where society is in a condition of primitive purity
and politics is the occupation of only the capable and the patriotic,
there are necessarily no materials for such a history as we have
constructed out of an ideal commonwealth.

No apology is needed for following the learned custom of placing
attractive scraps of literature at the heads of our chapters.  It has
been truly observed by Wagner that such headings, with their vague
suggestions of the matter which is to follow them, pleasantly inflame the
reader's interest without wholly satisfying his curiosity, and we will
hope that it may be found to be so in the present case.

Our quotations are set in a vast number of tongues; this is done for the
reason that very few foreign nations among whom the book will circulate
can read in any language but their own; whereas we do not write for a
particular class or sect or nation, but to take in the whole world.

We do not object to criticism; and we do not expect that the critic will
read the book before writing a notice of it: We do not even expect the
reviewer of the book will say that he has not read it.  No, we have no
anticipations of anything unusual in this age of criticism.  But if the
Jupiter, Who passes his opinion on the novel, ever happens to peruse it
in some weary moment of his subsequent life, we hope that he will not be
the victim of a remorse bitter but too late.

One word more.  This is--what it pretends to be a joint production, in
the conception of the story, the exposition of the characters, and in its
literal composition.  There is scarcely a chapter that does not bear the
marks of the two writers of the book.   S. L. C.
                                        C. D. W.



[Etext Editor's Note: The following chapters were written by Mark Twain:
1-11, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32-34, 36, 37, 42, 43, 45, 51-53, 57, 59-62;
and portions of 35, 49, and 56.  See Twain's letter to Dr. John Brown
Feb. 28, 1874   D.W.]



CHAPTER I.

June 18--.  Squire Hawkins sat upon the pyramid of large blocks, called
the "stile," in front of his house, contemplating the morning.

The locality was Obedstown, East Tennessee.  You would not know that
Obedstown stood on the top of a mountain, for there was nothing about the
landscape to indicate it--but it did: a mountain that stretched abroad
over whole counties, and rose very gradually.  The district was called
the "Knobs of East Tennessee," and had a reputation like Nazareth, as far
as turning out any good thing was concerned.

The Squire's house was a double log cabin, in a state of decay; two or
three gaunt hounds lay asleep about the threshold, and lifted their heads
sadly whenever Mrs. Hawkins or the children stepped in and out over their
bodies.  Rubbish was scattered about the grassless yard; a bench stood
near the door with a tin wash basin on it and a pail of water and a
gourd; a cat had begun to drink from the pail, but the exertion was
overtaxing her energies, and she had stopped to rest.  There was an
ash-hopper by the fence, and an iron pot, for soft-soap-boiling, near it.

This dwelling constituted one-fifteenth of Obedstown; the other fourteen
houses were scattered about among the tall pine trees and among the
corn-fields in such a way that a man might stand in the midst of the city
and not know but that he was in the country if he only depended on his
eyes for information.

"Squire" Hawkins got his title from being postmaster of Obedstown--not
that the title properly belonged to the office, but because in those
regions the chief citizens always must have titles of some sort, and so
the usual courtesy had been extended to Hawkins.  The mail was monthly,
and sometimes amounted to as much as three or four letters at a single
delivery.  Even a rush like this did not fill up the postmaster's whole
month, though, and therefore he "kept store" in the intervals.

The Squire was contemplating the morning.  It was balmy and tranquil,
the vagrant breezes were laden with the odor of flowers, the murmur of
bees was in the air, there was everywhere that suggestion of repose that
summer woodlands bring to the senses, and the vague, pleasurable
melancholy that such a time and such surroundings inspire.

Presently the United States mail arrived, on horseback.  There was but
one letter, and it was for the postmaster.  The long-legged youth who
carried the mail tarried an hour to talk, for there was no hurry; and in
a little while the male population of the village had assembled to help.
As a general thing, they were dressed in homespun "jeans," blue or
yellow--here were no other varieties of it; all wore one suspender and
sometimes two--yarn ones knitted at home,--some wore vests, but few wore
coats.  Such coats and vests as did appear, however, were rather
picturesque than otherwise, for they were made of tolerably fanciful
patterns of calico--a fashion which prevails thereto this day among those
of the community who have tastes above the common level and are able to
afford style.  Every individual arrived with his hands in his pockets;
a hand came out occasionally for a purpose, but it always went back again
after service; and if it was the head that was served, just the cant that
the dilapidated straw hat got by being uplifted and rooted under, was
retained until the next call altered the inclination; many' hats were
present, but none were erect and no two were canted just alike.  We are
speaking impartially of men, youths and boys.  And we are also speaking
of these three estates when we say that every individual was either
chewing natural leaf tobacco prepared on his own premises, or smoking the
same in a corn-cob pipe.  Few of the men wore whiskers; none wore
moustaches; some had a thick jungle of hair under the chin and hiding the
throat--the only pattern recognized there as being the correct thing in
whiskers; but no part of any individual's face had seen a razor for a
week.

These neighbors stood a few moments looking at the mail carrier
reflectively while he talked; but fatigue soon began to show itself,
and one after another they climbed up and occupied the top rail of the
fence, hump-shouldered and grave, like a company of buzzards assembled
for supper and listening for the death-rattle.  Old Damrell said:

"Tha hain't no news 'bout the jedge, hit ain't likely?"

"Cain't tell for sartin; some thinks he's gwyne to be 'long toreckly,
and some thinks 'e hain't.  Russ Mosely he tote ole Hanks he mought git
to Obeds tomorrer or nex' day he reckoned."

"Well, I wisht I knowed.  I got a 'prime sow and pigs in the cote-house,
and I hain't got no place for to put 'em.  If the jedge is a gwyne to
hold cote, I got to roust 'em out, I reckon.  But tomorrer'll do, I
'spect."

The speaker bunched his thick lips together like the stem-end of a tomato
and shot a bumble-bee dead that had lit on a weed seven feet away.
One after another the several chewers expressed a charge of tobacco juice
and delivered it at the deceased with steady, aim and faultless accuracy.

"What's a stirrin', down 'bout the Forks?" continued Old Damrell.

"Well, I dunno, skasely.  Ole, Drake Higgins he's ben down to Shelby las'
week.  Tuck his crap down; couldn't git shet o' the most uv it; hit
wasn't no time for to sell, he say, so he 'fotch it back agin, 'lowin' to
wait tell fall.  Talks 'bout goin' to Mozouri--lots uv 'ems talkin'
that-away down thar, Ole Higgins say.  Cain't make a livin' here no mo',
sich times as these.  Si Higgins he's ben over to Kaintuck n' married a
high-toned gal thar, outen the fust families, an' he's come back to the
Forks with jist a hell's-mint o' whoop-jamboree notions, folks says.
He's tuck an' fixed up the ole house like they does in Kaintuck, he say,
an' tha's ben folks come cler from Turpentine for to see it.  He's tuck
an gawmed it all over on the inside with plarsterin'."

"What's plasterin'?"

"I dono.  Hit's what he calls it.  'Ole Mam Higgins, she tole me.
She say she wasn't gwyne to hang out in no sich a dern hole like a hog.
Says it's mud, or some sich kind o' nastiness that sticks on n' covers up
everything.  Plarsterin', Si calls it."

This marvel was discussed at considerable length; and almost with
animation.  But presently there was a dog-fight over in the neighborhood
of the blacksmith shop, and the visitors slid off their perch like so
many turtles and strode to the battle-field with an interest bordering on
eagerness.  The Squire remained, and read his letter.  Then he sighed,
and sat long in meditation.  At intervals he said:

"Missouri.  Missouri.  Well, well, well, everything is so uncertain."

At last he said:

"I believe I'll do it.--A man will just rot, here.  My house my yard,
everything around me, in fact, shows' that I am becoming one of these
cattle--and I used to be thrifty in other times."

He was not more than thirty-five, but he had a worn look that made him
seem older.  He left the stile, entered that part of his house which was
the store, traded a quart of thick molasses for a coonskin and a cake of
beeswax, to an old dame in linsey-woolsey, put his letter away, an went
into the kitchen.  His wife was there, constructing some dried apple
pies; a slovenly urchin of ten was dreaming over a rude weather-vane of
his own contriving; his small sister, close upon four years of age, was
sopping corn-bread in some gravy left in the bottom of a frying-pan and
trying hard not to sop over a finger-mark that divided the pan through
the middle--for the other side belonged to the brother, whose musings
made him forget his stomach for the moment; a negro woman was busy
cooking, at a vast fire-place.  Shiftlessness and poverty reigned in the
place.

"Nancy, I've made up my mind.  The world is done with me, and perhaps I
ought to be done with it.  But no matter--I can wait.  I am going to
Missouri.  I won't stay in this dead country and decay with it.  I've had
it on my mind sometime.  I'm going to sell out here for whatever I can
get, and buy a wagon and team and put you and the children in it and
start."

"Anywhere that suits you, suits me, Si.  And the children can't be any
worse off in Missouri than, they are here, I reckon."

Motioning his wife to a private conference in their own room, Hawkins
said: "No, they'll be better off.  I've looked out for them, Nancy," and
his face lighted.  "Do you see these papers?  Well, they are evidence
that I have taken up Seventy-five Thousand Acres of Land in this county
--think what an enormous fortune it will be some day!  Why, Nancy, enormous
don't express it--the word's too tame!  I tell your Nancy----"

"For goodness sake, Si----"

"Wait, Nancy, wait--let me finish--I've been secretly bailing and fuming
with this grand inspiration for weeks, and I must talk or I'll burst!
I haven't whispered to a soul--not a word--have had my countenance under
lock and key, for fear it might drop something that would tell even these
animals here how to discern the gold mine that's glaring under their
noses.  Now all that is necessary to hold this land and keep it in the
family is to pay the trifling taxes on it yearly--five or ten dollars
--the whole tract would not sell for over a third of a cent an acre now,
but some day people wild be glad to get it for twenty dollars, fifty
dollars, a hundred dollars an acre!  What should you say to" [here he
dropped his voice to a whisper and looked anxiously around to see that
there were no eavesdroppers,] "a thousand dollars an acre!

"Well you may open your eyes and stare!  But it's so.  You and I may not
see the day, but they'll see it.  Mind I tell you; they'll see it.
Nancy, you've heard of steamboats, and maybe you believed in them--of
course you did.  You've heard these cattle here scoff at them and call
them lies and humbugs,--but they're not lies and humbugs, they're a
reality and they're going to be a more wonderful thing some day than they
are now.  They're going to make a revolution in this world's affairs that
will make men dizzy to contemplate.  I've been watching--I've been
watching while some people slept, and I know what's coming.

"Even you and I will see the day that steamboats will come up that little
Turkey river to within twenty miles of this land of ours--and in high
water they'll come right to it!  And this is not all, Nancy--it isn't
even half!  There's a bigger wonder--the railroad!  These worms here have
never even heard of it--and when they do they'll not believe in it.
But it's another fact.  Coaches that fly over the ground twenty miles an
hour--heavens and earth, think of that, Nancy!  Twenty miles an hour.
It makes a main's brain whirl.  Some day, when you and I are in our
graves, there'll be a railroad stretching hundreds of miles--all the way
down from the cities of the Northern States to New Orleans--and its got
to run within thirty miles of this land--may be even touch a corner of
it.  Well; do you know, they've quit burning wood in some places in the
Eastern States?  And what do you suppose they burn?  Coal!" [He bent over
and whispered again:] "There's world--worlds of it on this land!  You
know that black stuff that crops out of the bank of the branch?--well,
that's it.  You've taken it for rocks; so has every body here; and
they've built little dams and such things with it.  One man was going to
build a chimney out of it.  Nancy I expect I turned as white as a sheet!
Why, it might have caught fire and told everything.  I showed him it was
too crumbly.  Then he was going to build it of copper ore--splendid
yellow forty-per-cent. ore!  There's fortunes upon fortunes of copper ore
on our land!  It scared me to death, the idea of this fool starting a
smelting furnace in his house without knowing it, and getting his dull
eyes opened.  And then he was going to build it of iron ore!  There's
mountains of iron ore here, Nancy--whole mountains of it.  I wouldn't
take any chances.  I just stuck by him--I haunted him--I never let him
alone till he built it of mud and sticks like all the rest of the
chimneys in this dismal country.  Pine forests, wheat land, corn land,
iron, copper, coal-wait till the railroads come, and the steamboats!
We'll never see the day, Nancy--never in the world---never, never, never,
child.  We've got to drag along, drag along, and eat crusts in toil and
poverty, all hopeless and forlorn--but they'll ride in coaches, Nancy!
They'll live like the princes of the earth; they'll be courted and
worshiped; their names will be known from ocean to ocean!  Ah,
well-a-day!  Will they ever come back here, on the railroad and the
steamboat, and say, 'This one little spot shall not be touched--this
hovel shall be sacred--for here our father and our mother suffered for
us, thought for us, laid the foundations of our future as solid as the
hills!'"

"You are a great, good, noble soul, Si Hawkins, and I am an honored woman
to be the wife of such a man"--and the tears stood in her eyes when she
said it.  "We will go to Missouri.  You are out of your place, here,
among these groping dumb creatures.  We will find a higher place, where
you can walk with your own kind, and be understood when you speak--not
stared at as if you were talking some foreign tongue.  I would go
anywhere, anywhere in the wide world with you I would rather my body
would starve and die than your mind should hunger and wither away in this
lonely land."

"Spoken like yourself, my child!  But we'll not starve, Nancy.  Far from
it.  I have a letter from Beriah Sellers--just came this day.  A letter
that--I'll read you a line from it!"

He flew out of the room.  A shadow blurred the sunlight in Nancy's face
--there was uneasiness in it, and disappointment.  A procession of
disturbing thoughts began to troop through her mind.  Saying nothing
aloud, she sat with her hands in her lap; now and then she clasped them,
then unclasped them, then tapped the ends of the fingers together;
sighed, nodded, smiled--occasionally paused, shook her head.  This
pantomime was the elocutionary expression of an unspoken soliloquy which
had something of this shape:

"I was afraid of it--was afraid of it.  Trying to make our fortune in
Virginia, Beriah Sellers nearly ruined us and we had to settle in
Kentucky and start over again.  Trying to make our fortune in Kentucky he
crippled us again and we had to move here.  Trying to make our fortune
here, he brought us clear down to the ground, nearly.  He's an honest
soul, and means the very best in the world, but I'm afraid, I'm afraid
he's too flighty.  He has splendid ideas, and he'll divide his chances
with his friends with a free hand, the good generous soul, but something
does seem to always interfere and spoil everything.  I never did think he
was right well balanced.  But I don't blame my husband, for I do think
that when that man gets his head full of a new notion, he can out-talk a
machine.  He'll make anybody believe in that notion that'll listen to him
ten minutes--why I do believe he would make a deaf and dumb man believe
in it and get beside himself, if you only set him where he could see his
eyes tally and watch his hands explain.  What a head he has got!  When he
got up that idea there in Virginia of buying up whole loads of negroes in
Delaware and Virginia and Tennessee, very quiet, having papers drawn to
have them delivered at a place in Alabama and take them and pay for them,
away yonder at a certain time, and then in the meantime get a law made
stopping everybody from selling negroes to the south after a certain day
--it was somehow that way--mercy how the man would have made money!
Negroes would have gone up to four prices.  But after he'd spent money
and worked hard, and traveled hard, and had heaps of negroes all
contracted for, and everything going along just right, he couldn't get
the laws passed and down the whole thing tumbled.  And there in Kentucky,
when he raked up that old numskull that had been inventing away at a
perpetual motion machine for twenty-two years, and Beriah Sellers saw at
a glance where just one more little cog-wheel would settle the business,
why I could see it as plain as day when he came in wild at midnight and
hammered us out of bed and told the whole thing in a whisper with the
doors bolted and the candle in an empty barrel.  Oceans of money in it
--anybody could see that.  But it did cost a deal to buy the old numskull
out--and then when they put the new cog wheel in they'd overlooked
something somewhere and it wasn't any use--the troublesome thing wouldn't
go.  That notion he got up here did look as handy as anything in the
world; and how him and Si did sit up nights working at it with the
curtains down and me watching to see if any neighbors were about.  The
man did honestly believe there was a fortune in that black gummy oil that
stews out of the bank Si says is coal; and he refined it himself till it
was like water, nearly, and it did burn, there's no two ways about that;
and I reckon he'd have been all right in Cincinnati with his lamp that he
got made, that time he got a house full of rich speculators to see him
exhibit only in the middle of his speech it let go and almost blew the
heads off the whole crowd.  I haven't got over grieving for the money
that cost yet.  I am sorry enough Beriah Sellers is in Missouri, now, but
I was glad when he went.  I wonder what his letter says.  But of course
it's cheerful; he's never down-hearted--never had any trouble in his
life--didn't know it if he had.  It's always sunrise with that man, and
fine and blazing, at that--never gets noon; though--leaves off and rises
again.  Nobody can help liking the creature, he means so well--but I do
dread to come across him again; he's bound to set us all crazy, of
coarse.  Well, there goes old widow Hopkins--it always takes her a week
to buy a spool of thread and trade a hank of yarn.  Maybe Si can come
with the letter, now."

And he did:

"Widow Hopkins kept me--I haven't any patience with such tedious people.
Now listen, Nancy--just listen at this:

     "'Come right along to Missouri!  Don't wait and worry about a good
     price but sell out for whatever you can get, and come along, or you
     might be too late.  Throw away your traps, if necessary, and come
     empty-handed.  You'll never regret it.  It's the grandest country
     --the loveliest land--the purest atmosphere--I can't describe it; no
     pen can do it justice.  And it's filling up, every day--people
     coming from everywhere.  I've got the biggest scheme on earth--and
     I'll take you in; I'll take in every friend I've got that's ever
     stood by me, for there's enough for all, and to spare.  Mum's the
     word--don't whisper--keep yourself to yourself.  You'll see!  Come!
     --rush!--hurry!--don't wait for anything!'

"It's the same old boy, Nancy, jest the same old boy--ain't he?"

"Yes, I think there's a little of the old sound about his voice yet.
I suppose you--you'll still go, Si?"

"Go!  Well, I should think so, Nancy.  It's all a chance, of course, and,
chances haven't been kind to us, I'll admit--but whatever comes, old
wife, they're provided for.  Thank God for that!"

"Amen," came low and earnestly.

And with an activity and a suddenness that bewildered Obedstown and
almost took its breath away, the Hawkinses hurried through with their
arrangements in four short months and flitted out into the great
mysterious blank that lay beyond the Knobs of Tennessee.




CHAPTER II.

Toward the close of the third day's journey the wayfarers were just
beginning to think of camping, when they came upon a log cabin in the
woods.  Hawkins drew rein and entered the yard.  A boy about ten years
old was sitting in the cabin door with his face bowed in his hands.
Hawkins approached, expecting his footfall to attract attention, but it
did not.  He halted a moment, and then said:

"Come, come, little chap, you mustn't be going to sleep before sundown"

With a tired expression the small face came up out of the hands,--a face
down which tears were flowing.

"Ah, I'm sorry I spoke so, my boy.  Tell me--is anything the matter?"

The boy signified with a scarcely perceptible gesture that the trouble
was in the house, and made room for Hawkins to pass.  Then he put his
face in his hands again and rocked himself about as one suffering a grief
that is too deep to find help in moan or groan or outcry.  Hawkins
stepped within.  It was a poverty stricken place.  Six or eight
middle-aged country people of both sexes were grouped about an object in
the middle of the room; they were noiselessly busy and they talked in
whispers when they spoke.  Hawkins uncovered and approached.  A coffin
stood upon two backless chairs.  These neighbors had just finished
disposing the body of a woman in it--a woman with a careworn, gentle face
that had more the look of sleep about it than of death.  An old lady
motioned, toward the door and said to Hawkins in a whisper:

"His mother, po' thing.  Died of the fever, last night.  Tha warn't no
sich thing as saving of her.  But it's better for her--better for her.
Husband and the other two children died in the spring, and she hain't
ever hilt up her head sence.  She jest went around broken-hearted like,
and never took no intrust in anything but Clay--that's the boy thar.
She jest worshiped Clay--and Clay he worshiped her.  They didn't 'pear to
live at all, only when they was together, looking at each other, loving
one another.  She's ben sick three weeks; and if you believe me that
child has worked, and kep' the run of the med'cin, and the times of
giving it, and sot up nights and nussed her, and tried to keep up her
sperits, the same as a grown-up person.  And last night when she kep' a
sinking and sinking, and turned away her head and didn't know him no mo',
it was fitten to make a body's heart break to see him climb onto the bed
and lay his cheek agin hern and call her so pitiful and she not answer.
But bymeby she roused up, like, and looked around wild, and then she see
him, and she made a great cry and snatched him to her breast and hilt him
close and kissed him over and over agin; but it took the last po'
strength she had, and so her eyelids begin to close down, and her arms
sort o' drooped away and then we see she was gone, po' creetur.  And
Clay, he--Oh, the po' motherless thing--I cain't talk abort it--I cain't
bear to talk about it."

Clay had disappeared from the door; but he came in, now, and the
neighbors reverently fell apart and made way for him.  He leaned upon the
open coffin and let his tears course silently.  Then he put out his small
hand and smoothed the hair and stroked the dead face lovingly.  After a
bit he brought his other hand up from behind him and laid three or four
fresh wild flowers upon the breast, bent over and kissed the unresponsive
lips time and time again, and then turned away and went out of the house
without looking at any of the company.  The old lady said to Hawkins:

"She always loved that kind o' flowers.  He fetched 'em for her every
morning, and she always kissed him.  They was from away north somers--she
kep' school when she fust come.  Goodness knows what's to become o' that
po' boy.  No father, no mother, no kin folks of no kind.  Nobody to go
to, nobody that k'yers for him--and all of us is so put to it for to get
along and families so large."

Hawkins understood.  All, eyes were turned inquiringly upon him.  He
said:

"Friends, I am not very well provided for, myself, but still I would not
turn my back on a homeless orphan.  If he will go with me I will give him
a home, and loving regard--I will do for him as I would have another do
for a child of my own in misfortune."

One after another the people stepped forward and wrung the stranger's
hand with cordial good will, and their eyes looked all that their hands
could not express or their lips speak.

"Said like a true man," said one.

"You was a stranger to me a minute ago, but you ain't now," said another.

"It's bread cast upon the waters--it'll return after many days," said the
old lady whom we have heard speak before.

"You got to camp in my house as long as you hang out here," said one.
"If tha hain't room for you and yourn my tribe'll turn out and camp in
the hay loft."

A few minutes afterward, while the preparations for the funeral were
being concluded, Mr. Hawkins arrived at his wagon leading his little waif
by the hand, and told his wife all that had happened, and asked her if he
had done right in giving to her and to himself this new care?  She said:

"If you've done wrong, Si Hawkins, it's a wrong that will shine brighter
at the judgment day than the rights that many' a man has done before you.
And there isn't any compliment you can pay me equal to doing a thing like
this and finishing it up, just taking it for granted that I'll be willing
to it.  Willing?  Come to me; you poor motherless boy, and let me take
your grief and help you carry it."

When the child awoke in the morning, it was as if from a troubled dream.
But slowly the confusion in his mind took form, and he remembered his
great loss; the beloved form in the coffin; his talk with a generous
stranger who offered him a home; the funeral, where the stranger's wife
held him by the hand at the grave, and cried with him and comforted him;
and he remembered how this, new mother tucked him in his bed in the
neighboring farm house, and coaxed him to talk about his troubles, and
then heard him say his prayers and kissed him good night, and left him
with the soreness in his heart almost healed and his bruised spirit at
rest.

And now the new mother came again, and helped him to dress, and combed
his hair, and drew his mind away by degrees from the dismal yesterday,
by telling him about the wonderful journey he was going to take and the
strange things he was going to see.  And after breakfast they two went
alone to the grave, and his heart went out to his new friend and his
untaught eloquence poured the praises of his buried idol into her ears
without let or hindrance.  Together they planted roses by the headboard
and strewed wild flowers upon the grave; and then together they went
away, hand in hand, and left the dead to the long sleep that heals all
heart-aches and ends all sorrows.




CHAPTER III.

Whatever the lagging dragging journey may have been to the rest of the
emigrants, it was a wonder and delight to the children, a world of
enchantment; and they believed it to be peopled with the mysterious
dwarfs and giants and goblins that figured in the tales the negro slaves
were in the habit of telling them nightly by the shuddering light of the
kitchen fire.

At the end of nearly a week of travel, the party went into camp near a
shabby village which was caving, house by house, into the hungry
Mississippi.  The river astonished the children beyond measure.  Its
mile-breadth of water seemed an ocean to them, in the shadowy twilight,
and the vague riband of trees on the further shore, the verge of a
continent which surely none but they had ever seen before.

"Uncle Dan'l" (colored,) aged 40; his wife, "aunt Jinny," aged 30, "Young
Miss" Emily Hawkins, "Young Mars" Washington Hawkins and "Young Mars"
Clay, the new member of the family, ranged themselves on a log, after
supper, and contemplated the marvelous river and discussed it.  The moon
rose and sailed aloft through a maze of shredded cloud-wreaths; the
sombre river just perceptibly brightened under the veiled light; a deep
silence pervaded the air and was emphasized, at intervals, rather than
broken, by the hooting of an owl, the baying of a dog, or the muffled
crash of a raving bank in the distance.

The little company assembled on the log were all children (at least in
simplicity and broad and comprehensive ignorance,) and the remarks they
made about the river were in keeping with the character; and so awed were
they by the grandeur and the solemnity of the scene before then, and by
their belief that the air was filled with invisible spirits and that the
faint zephyrs were caused by their passing wings, that all their talk
took to itself a tinge of the supernatural, and their voices were subdued
to a low and reverent tone.  Suddenly Uncle Dan'l exclaimed:

"Chil'en, dah's sum fin a comin!"

All crowded close together and every heart beat faster.

Uncle Dan'l pointed down the river with his bony finger.

A deep coughing sound troubled the stillness, way toward a wooded cape
that jetted into the stream a mile distant.  All in an instant a fierce
eye of fire shot out froth behind the cape and sent a long brilliant
pathway quivering athwart the dusky water.  The coughing grew louder and
louder, the glaring eye grew larger and still larger, glared wilder and
still wilder.  A huge shape developed itself out of the gloom, and from
its tall duplicate horns dense volumes of smoke, starred and spangled
with sparks, poured out and went tumbling away into the farther darkness.
Nearer and nearer the thing came, till its long sides began to glow with
spots of light which mirrored themselves in the river and attended the
monster like a torchlight procession.

"What is it!  Oh, what is it, Uncle Dan'l!"

With deep solemnity the answer came:

"It's de Almighty!  Git down on yo' knees!"

It was not necessary to say it twice.  They were all kneeling, in a
moment.  And then while the mysterious coughing rose stronger and
stronger and the threatening glare reached farther and wider, the negro's
voice lifted up its supplications:

"O Lord', we's ben mighty wicked, an' we knows dat we 'zerve to go to de
bad place, but good Lord, deah Lord, we ain't ready yit, we ain't ready
--let dese po' chilen hab one mo' chance, jes' one mo' chance.  Take de ole
niggah if you's, got to hab somebody.--Good Lord, good deah Lord, we
don't know whah you's a gwyne to, we don't know who you's got yo' eye on,
but we knows by de way you's a comin', we knows by de way you's a tiltin'
along in yo' charyot o' fiah dat some po' sinner's a gwyne to ketch it.
But good Lord, dose chilen don't b'long heah, dey's f'm Obedstown whah
dey don't know nuffin, an' you knows, yo' own sef, dat dey ain't
'sponsible.  An' deah Lord, good Lord, it ain't like yo' mercy, it ain't
like yo' pity, it ain't like yo' long-sufferin' lovin' kindness for to
take dis kind o' 'vantage o' sick little chil'en as dose is when dey's so
many ornery grown folks chuck full o' cussedness dat wants roastin' down
dah.  Oh, Lord, spah de little chil'en, don't tar de little chil'en away
f'm dey frens, jes' let 'em off jes' dis once, and take it out'n de ole
niggah.  HEAH I IS, LORD, HEAH I IS!  De ole niggah's ready, Lord,
de ole----"

The flaming and churning steamer was right abreast the party, and not
twenty steps away.  The awful thunder of a mud-valve suddenly burst
forth, drowning the prayer, and as suddenly Uncle Dan'l snatched a child
under each arm and scoured into the woods with the rest of the pack at
his heels.  And then, ashamed of himself, he halted in the deep darkness
and shouted, (but rather feebly:)

"Heah I is, Lord, heah I is!"

There was a moment of throbbing suspense, and then, to the surprise and
the comfort of the party, it was plain that the august presence had gone
by, for its dreadful noises were receding.  Uncle Dan'l headed a cautious
reconnaissance in the direction of the log.  Sure enough "the Lord" was
just turning a point a short distance up the river, and while they looked
the lights winked out and the coughing diminished by degrees and
presently ceased altogether.

"H'wsh!  Well now dey's some folks says dey ain't no 'ficiency in prah.
Dis Chile would like to know whah we'd a ben now if it warn't fo' dat
prah?  Dat's it.  Dat's it!"

"Uncle Dan'l, do you reckon it was the prayer that saved us?" said Clay.

"Does I reckon?  Don't I know it!  Whah was yo' eyes?  Warn't de Lord
jes' a cumin' chow!  chow!  CHOW!  an' a goin' on turrible--an' do de
Lord carry on dat way 'dout dey's sumfin don't suit him?  An' warn't he a
lookin' right at dis gang heah, an' warn't he jes' a reachin' for 'em?
An' d'you spec' he gwyne to let 'em off 'dout somebody ast him to do it?
No indeedy!"

"Do you reckon he saw, us, Uncle Dan'l?

"De law sakes, Chile, didn't I see him a lookin' at us?".

"Did you feel scared, Uncle Dan'l?"

"No sah!  When a man is 'gaged in prah, he ain't fraid o' nuffin--dey
can't nuffin tetch him."

"Well what did you run for?"

"Well, I--I--mars Clay, when a man is under de influence ob de sperit,
he do-no, what he's 'bout--no sah; dat man do-no what he's 'bout.  You
mout take an' tah de head off'n dat man an' he wouldn't scasely fine it
out.  Date's de Hebrew chil'en dat went frough de fiah; dey was burnt
considable--ob coase dey was; but dey didn't know nuffin 'bout it--heal
right up agin; if dey'd ben gals dey'd missed dey long haah, (hair,)
maybe, but dey wouldn't felt de burn."

"I don't know but what they were girls.  I think they were."

"Now mars Clay, you knows bettern dat.  Sometimes a body can't tell
whedder you's a sayin' what you means or whedder you's a sayin' what you
don't mean, 'case you says 'em bofe de same way."

"But how should I know whether they were boys or girls?"

"Goodness sakes, mars Clay, don't de Good Book say?  'Sides, don't it
call 'em de HE-brew chil'en?  If dey was gals wouldn't dey be de SHE-brew
chil'en?  Some people dat kin read don't 'pear to take no notice when dey
do read."

"Well, Uncle Dan'l, I think that-----My!  here comes another one up the
river!  There can't be two!"

"We gone dis time--we done gone dis time, sho'!  Dey ain't two, mars
Clay--days de same one.  De Lord kin 'pear eberywhah in a second.
Goodness, how do fiah and de smoke do belch up!  Dat mean business,
honey.  He comin' now like he fo'got sumfin.  Come 'long, chil'en, time
you's gwyne to roos'.  Go 'long wid you--ole Uncle Daniel gwyne out in de
woods to rastle in prah--de ole nigger gwyne to do what he kin to sabe
you agin."

He did go to the woods and pray; but he went so far that he doubted,
himself, if the Lord heard him when He went by.




CHAPTER IV.

--Seventhly, Before his Voyage, He should make his peace with God,
satisfie his Creditors if he be in debt; Pray earnestly to God to prosper
him in his Voyage, and to keep him from danger, and, if he be 'sui juris'
he should make his last will, and wisely order all his affairs, since
many that go far abroad, return not home.  (This good and Christian
Counsel is given by Martinus Zeilerus in his Apodemical Canons before his
Itinerary of Spain and Portugal.)


Early in the morning Squire Hawkins took passage in a small steamboat,
with his family and his two slaves, and presently the bell rang, the
stage-plank; was hauled in, and the vessel proceeded up the river.
The children and the slaves were not much more at ease after finding out
that this monster was a creature of human contrivance than they were the
night before when they thought it the Lord of heaven and earth.  They
started, in fright, every time the gauge-cocks sent out an angry hiss,
and they quaked from head to foot when the mud-valves thundered.  The
shivering of the boat under the beating of the wheels was sheer misery to
them.

But of course familiarity with these things soon took away their terrors,
and then the voyage at once became a glorious adventure, a royal progress
through the very heart and home of romance, a realization of their
rosiest wonder-dreams.  They sat by the hour in the shade of the pilot
house on the hurricane deck and looked out over the curving expanses of
the river sparkling in the sunlight.  Sometimes the boat fought the
mid-stream current, with a verdant world on either hand, and remote from
both; sometimes she closed in under a point, where the dead water and the
helping eddies were, and shaved the bank so closely that the decks were
swept by the jungle of over-hanging willows and littered with a spoil of
leaves; departing from these "points" she regularly crossed the river
every five miles, avoiding the "bight" of the great binds and thus
escaping the strong current; sometimes she went out and skirted a high
"bluff" sand-bar in the middle of the stream, and occasionally followed
it up a little too far and touched upon the shoal water at its head--and
then the intelligent craft refused to run herself aground, but "smelt"
the bar, and straightway the foamy streak that streamed away from her
bows vanished, a great foamless wave rolled forward and passed her under
way, and in this instant she leaned far over on her side, shied from the
bar and fled square away from the danger like a frightened thing--and the
pilot was lucky if he managed to "straighten her up" before she drove her
nose into the opposite bank; sometimes she approached a solid wall of
tall trees as if she meant to break through it, but all of a sudden a
little crack would open just enough to admit her, and away she would go
plowing through the "chute" with just barely room enough between the
island on one side and the main land on the other; in this sluggish water
she seemed to go like a racehorse; now and then small log cabins appeared
in little clearings, with the never-failing frowsy women and girls in
soiled and faded linsey-woolsey leaning in the doors or against woodpiles
and rail fences, gazing sleepily at the passing show; sometimes she found
shoal water, going out at the head of those "chutes" or crossing the
river, and then a deck-hand stood on the bow and hove the lead, while the
boat slowed down and moved cautiously; sometimes she stopped a moment at
a landing and took on some freight or a passenger while a crowd of
slouchy white men and negroes stood on the bank and looked sleepily on
with their hands in their pantaloons pockets,--of course--for they never
took them out except to stretch, and when they did this they squirmed
about and reached their fists up into the air and lifted themselves on
tip-toe in an ecstasy of enjoyment.

When the sun went down it turned all the broad river to a national banner
laid in gleaming bars of gold and purple and crimson; and in time these
glories faded out in the twilight and left the fairy archipelagoes
reflecting their fringing foliage in the steely mirror of the stream.

At night the boat forged on through the deep solitudes of the river,
hardly ever discovering a light to testify to a human presence--mile
after mile and league after league the vast bends were guarded by
unbroken walls of forest that had never been disturbed by the voice or
the foot-fall of man or felt the edge of his sacrilegious axe.

An hour after supper the moon came up, and Clay and Washington ascended
to the hurricane deck to revel again in their new realm of enchantment.
They ran races up and down the deck; climbed about the bell; made friends
with the passenger-dogs chained under the lifeboat; tried to make friends
with a passenger-bear fastened to the verge-staff but were not
encouraged; "skinned the cat" on the hog-chains; in a word, exhausted the
amusement-possibilities of the deck.  Then they looked wistfully up at
the pilot house, and finally, little by little, Clay ventured up there,
followed diffidently by Washington.  The pilot turned presently to "get
his stern-marks," saw the lads and invited them in.  Now their happiness
was complete.  This cosy little house, built entirely of glass and
commanding a marvelous prospect in every direction was a magician's
throne to them and their enjoyment of the place was simply boundless.

They sat them down on a high bench and looked miles ahead and saw the
wooded capes fold back and reveal the bends beyond; and they looked miles
to the rear and saw the silvery highway diminish its breadth by degrees
and close itself together in the distance.  Presently the pilot said:

"By George, yonder comes the Amaranth!"

A spark appeared, close to the water, several miles down the river.  The
pilot took his glass and looked at it steadily for a moment, and said,
chiefly to himself:

"It can't be the Blue Wing.  She couldn't pick us up this way.  It's the
Amaranth, sure!"

He bent over a speaking tube and said:

"Who's on watch down there?"

A hollow, unhuman voice rumbled up through the tube in answer:

"I am.  Second engineer."

"Good!  You want to stir your stumps, now, Harry--the Amaranth's just
turned the point--and she's just a--humping herself, too!"

The pilot took hold of a rope that stretched out forward, jerked it
twice, and two mellow strokes of the big bell responded.  A voice out on
the deck shouted:

"Stand by, down there, with that labboard lead!"

"No, I don't want the lead," said the pilot, "I want you.  Roust out the
old man--tell him the Amaranth's coming.  And go and call Jim--tell him."

"Aye-aye, sir!"

The "old man" was the captain--he is always called so, on steamboats and
ships; "Jim" was the other pilot.  Within two minutes both of these men
were flying up the pilothouse stairway, three steps at a jump.  Jim was
in his shirt sleeves,--with his coat and vest on his arm.  He said:

"I was just turning in.  Where's the glass"

He took it and looked:

"Don't appear to be any night-hawk on the jack-staff--it's the Amaranth,
dead sure!"

The captain took a good long look, and only said:

"Damnation!"

George Davis, the pilot on watch, shouted to the night-watchman on deck:

"How's she loaded?"

"Two inches by the head, sir."

"'T ain't enough!"

The captain shouted, now:

"Call the mate.  Tell him to call all hands and get a lot of that sugar
forrard--put her ten inches by the head.  Lively, now!"

"Aye-aye, sir."

A riot of shouting and trampling floated up from below, presently, and
the uneasy steering of the boat soon showed that she was getting "down by
the head."

The three men in the pilot house began to talk in short, sharp sentences,
low and earnestly.  As their excitement rose, their voices went down.
As fast as one of them put down the spy-glass another took it up--but
always with a studied air of calmness.  Each time the verdict was:

"She's a gaining!"

The captain spoke through the tube:

"What steam are You carrying?"

"A hundred and forty-two, sir!  But she's getting hotter and hotter all
the time."

The boat was straining and groaning and quivering like a monster in pain.
Both pilots were at work now, one on each side of the wheel, with their
coats and vests off, their bosoms and collars wide open and the
perspiration flowing down heir faces.  They were holding the boat so
close to the shore that the willows swept the guards almost from stem to
stern.

"Stand by!" whispered George.

"All ready!" said Jim, under his breath.

"Let her come!"

The boat sprang away, from the bank like a deer, and darted in a long
diagonal toward the other shore.  She closed in again and thrashed her
fierce way along the willows as before.  The captain put down the glass:

"Lord how she walks up on us!  I do hate to be beat!"

"Jim," said George, looking straight ahead, watching the slightest yawing
of the boat and promptly meeting it with the wheel, "how'll it do to try
Murderer's Chute?"

"Well, it's--it's taking chances.  How was the cottonwood stump on the
false point below Boardman's Island this morning?"

"Water just touching the roots."

"Well it's pretty close work.  That gives six feet scant in the head of
Murderer's Chute.  We can just barely rub through if we hit it exactly
right.  But it's worth trying.  She don't dare tackle it!"--meaning the
Amaranth.

In another instant the Boreas plunged into what seemed a crooked creek,
and the Amaranth's approaching lights were shut out in a moment.  Not a
whisper was uttered, now, but the three men stared ahead into the shadows
and two of them spun the wheel back and forth with anxious watchfulness
while the steamer tore along.  The chute seemed to come to an end every
fifty yards, but always opened out in time.  Now the head of it was at
hand.  George tapped the big bell three times, two leadsmen sprang to
their posts, and in a moment their weird cries rose on the night air and
were caught up and repeated by two men on the upper deck:

"No-o bottom!"

"De-e-p four!"

"Half three!"

"Quarter three!"

"Mark under wa-a-ter three!"

"Half twain!"

"Quarter twain!-----"

Davis pulled a couple of ropes--there was a jingling of small bells far
below, the boat's speed slackened, and the pent steam began to whistle
and the gauge-cocks to scream:

"By the mark twain!"

"Quar--ter--her--er--less twain!"

"Eight and a half!"

"Eight feet!"

"Seven-ana-half!"

Another jingling of little bells and the wheels ceased turning
altogether.  The whistling of the steam was something frightful now--it
almost drowned all other noises.

"Stand by to meet her!"

George had the wheel hard down and was standing on a spoke.

"All ready!"

The boat hesitated seemed to hold her breath, as did the captain and
pilots--and then she began to fall away to starboard and every eye
lighted:

"Now then!--meet her!  meet her!  Snatch her!"

The wheel flew to port so fast that the spokes blended into a spider-web
--the swing of the boat subsided--she steadied herself----

"Seven feet!"

"Sev--six and a half!"

"Six feet!  Six f----"

Bang!  She hit the bottom!  George shouted through the tube:

"Spread her wide open!  Whale it at her!"

Pow-wow-chow!  The escape-pipes belched snowy pillars of steam aloft, the
boat ground and surged and trembled--and slid over into----

"M-a-r-k twain!"

"Quarter-her----"

"Tap!  tap!  tap!" (to signify "Lay in the leads")

And away she went, flying up the willow shore, with the whole silver sea
of the Mississippi stretching abroad on every hand.

No Amaranth in sight!

"Ha-ha, boys, we took a couple of tricks that time!" said the captain.

And just at that moment a red glare appeared in the head of the chute and
the Amaranth came springing after them!

"Well, I swear!"

"Jim, what is the meaning of that?"

"I'll tell you what's the meaning of it.  That hail we had at Napoleon
was Wash Hastings, wanting to come to Cairo--and we didn't stop.  He's in
that pilot house, now, showing those mud turtles how to hunt for easy
water."

"That's it!  I thought it wasn't any slouch that was running that middle
bar in Hog-eye Bend.  If it's Wash Hastings--well, what he don't know
about the river ain't worth knowing--a regular gold-leaf, kid-glove,
diamond breastpin pilot Wash Hastings is.  We won't take any tricks off
of him, old man!"

"I wish I'd a stopped for him, that's all."

The Amaranth was within three hundred yards of the Boreas, and still
gaining.  The "old man" spoke through the tube:

"What is she-carrying now?"

"A hundred and sixty-five, sir!"

"How's your wood?"

"Pine all out-cypress half gone-eating up cotton-wood like pie!"

"Break into that rosin on the main deck-pile it in, the boat can pay for
it!"

Soon the boat was plunging and quivering and screaming more madly than
ever.  But the Amaranth's head was almost abreast the Boreas's stern:

"How's your steam, now, Harry?"

"Hundred and eighty-two, sir!"

"Break up the casks of bacon in the forrard hold!  Pile it in!  Levy on
that turpentine in the fantail-drench every stick of wood with it!"

The boat was a moving earthquake by this time:

"How is she now?"

"A hundred and ninety-six and still a-swelling!--water, below the middle
gauge-cocks!--carrying every pound she can stand!--nigger roosting on the
safety-valve!"

"Good!  How's your draft?"

"Bully!  Every time a nigger heaves a stick of wood into the furnace he
goes out the chimney, with it!"

The Amaranth drew steadily up till her jack-staff breasted the Boreas's
wheel-house--climbed along inch by inch till her chimneys breasted it
--crept along, further and further, till the boats were wheel to wheel
--and then they, closed up with a heavy jolt and locked together tight
and fast in the middle of the big river under the flooding moonlight!  A
roar and a hurrah went up from the crowded decks of both steamers--all
hands rushed to the guards to look and shout and gesticulate--the weight
careened the vessels over toward each other--officers flew hither and
thither cursing and storming, trying to drive the people amidships--both
captains were leaning over their railings shaking their fists, swearing
and threatening--black volumes of smoke rolled up and canopied the
scene,--delivering a rain of sparks upon the vessels--two pistol shots
rang out, and both captains dodged unhurt and the packed masses of
passengers surged back and fell apart while the shrieks of women and
children soared above the intolerable din----

And then there was a booming roar, a thundering crash, and the riddled
Amaranth dropped loose from her hold and drifted helplessly away!

Instantly the fire-doors of the Boreas were thrown open and the men began
dashing buckets of water into the furnaces--for it would have been death
and destruction to stop the engines with such a head of steam on.

As soon as possible the Boreas dropped down to the floating wreck and
took off the dead, the wounded and the unhurt--at least all that could be
got at, for the whole forward half of the boat was a shapeless ruin, with
the great chimneys lying crossed on top of it, and underneath were a
dozen victims imprisoned alive and wailing for help.  While men with axes
worked with might and main to free these poor fellows, the Boreas's boats
went about, picking up stragglers from the river.

And now a new horror presented itself.  The wreck took fire from the
dismantled furnaces!  Never did men work with a heartier will than did
those stalwart braves with the axes.  But it was of no use.  The fire ate
its way steadily, despising the bucket brigade that fought it.  It
scorched the clothes, it singed the hair of the axemen--it drove them
back, foot by foot-inch by inch--they wavered, struck a final blow in the
teeth of the enemy, and surrendered.  And as they fell back they heard
prisoned voices saying:

"Don't leave us!  Don't desert us!  Don't, don't do it!"

And one poor fellow said:

"I am Henry Worley, striker of the Amaranth!  My mother lives in St.
Louis.  Tell her a lie for a poor devil's sake, please.  Say I was killed
in an instant and never knew what hurt me--though God knows I've neither
scratch nor bruise this moment!  It's hard to burn up in a coop like this
with the whole wide world so near.  Good-bye boys--we've all got to come
to it at last, anyway!"

The Boreas stood away out of danger, and the ruined steamer went drifting
down the stream an island of wreathing and climbing flame that vomited
clouds of smoke from time to time, and glared more fiercely and sent its
luminous tongues higher and higher after each emission.  A shriek at
intervals told of a captive that had met his doom.  The wreck lodged upon
a sandbar, and when the Boreas turned the next point on her upward
journey it was still burning with scarcely abated fury.

When the boys came down into the main saloon of the Boreas, they saw a
pitiful sight and heard a world of pitiful sounds.  Eleven poor creatures
lay dead and forty more lay moaning, or pleading or screaming, while a
score of Good Samaritans moved among them doing what they could to
relieve their sufferings; bathing their chinless faces and bodies with
linseed oil and lime water and covering the places with bulging masses of
raw cotton that gave to every face and form a dreadful and unhuman
aspect.

A little wee French midshipman of fourteen lay fearfully injured, but
never uttered a sound till a physician of Memphis was about to dress his
hurts.  Then he said:

"Can I get well?  You need not be afraid to tell me."

"No--I--I am afraid you can not."

"Then do not waste your time with me--help those that can get well."

"But----"

"Help those that can get well!  It is, not for me to be a girl.  I carry
the blood of eleven generations of soldiers in my veins!"

The physician--himself a man who had seen service in the navy in his
time--touched his hat to this little hero, and passed on.

The head engineer of the Amaranth, a grand specimen of physical manhood,
struggled to his feet a ghastly spectacle and strode toward his brother,
the second engineer, who was unhurt.  He said:

"You were on watch.  You were boss.  You would not listen to me when I
begged you to reduce your steam.  Take that!--take it to my wife and tell
her it comes from me by the hand of my murderer!  Take it--and take my
curse with it to blister your heart a hundred years--and may you live so
long!"

And he tore a ring from his finger, stripping flesh and skin with it,
threw it down and fell dead!

But these things must not be dwelt upon.  The Boreas landed her dreadful
cargo at the next large town and delivered it over to a multitude of
eager hands and warm southern hearts--a cargo amounting by this time to
39 wounded persons and 22 dead bodies.  And with these she delivered a
list of 96 missing persons that had drowned or otherwise perished at the
scene of the disaster.

A jury of inquest was impaneled, and after due deliberation and inquiry
they returned the inevitable American verdict which has been so familiar
to our ears all the days of our lives--"NOBODY TO BLAME."

**[The incidents of the explosion are not invented.  They happened just
as they are told.--The Authors.]




CHAPTER V.

Il veut faire secher de la neige au four et la vendre pour du sel blanc.


When the Boreas backed away from the land to continue her voyage up the
river, the Hawkinses were richer by twenty-four hours of experience in
the contemplation of human suffering and in learning through honest hard
work how to relieve it.  And they were richer in another way also.
In the early turmoil an hour after the explosion, a little black-eyed
girl of five years, frightened and crying bitterly, was struggling
through the throng in the Boreas' saloon calling her mother and father,
but no one answered.  Something in the face of Mr. Hawkins attracted her
and she came and looked up at him; was satisfied, and took refuge with
him.  He petted her, listened to her troubles, and said he would find her
friends for her.  Then he put her in a state-room with his children and
told them to be kind to her (the adults of his party were all busy with
the wounded) and straightway began his search.

It was fruitless.  But all day he and his wife made inquiries, and hoped
against hope.  All that they could learn was that the child and her
parents came on board at New Orleans, where they had just arrived in a
vessel from Cuba; that they looked like people from the Atlantic States;
that the family name was Van Brunt and the child's name Laura.  This was
all.  The parents had not been seen since the explosion.  The child's
manners were those of a little lady, and her clothes were daintier and
finer than any Mrs. Hawkins had ever seen before.

As the hours dragged on the child lost heart, and cried so piteously for
her mother that it seemed to the Hawkinses that the moanings and the
wailings of the mutilated men and women in the saloon did not so strain
at their heart-strings as the sufferings of this little desolate
creature.  They tried hard to comfort her; and in trying, learned to love
her; they could not help it, seeing how she clung, to them and put her
arms about their necks and found-no solace but in their kind eyes and
comforting words: There was a question in both their hearts--a question
that rose up and asserted itself with more and more pertinacity as the
hours wore on--but both hesitated to give it voice--both kept silence
--and--waited.  But a time came at last when the matter would bear delay
no longer.  The boat had landed, and the dead and the wounded were being
conveyed to the shore.  The tired child was asleep in the arms of Mrs.
Hawkins.  Mr. Hawkins came into their presence and stood without
speaking.  His eyes met his wife's; then both looked at the child--and as
they looked it stirred in its sleep and nestled closer; an expression of
contentment and peace settled upon its face that touched the
mother-heart; and when the eyes of husband and wife met again, the
question was asked and answered.

When the Boreas had journeyed some four hundred miles from the time the
Hawkinses joined her, a long rank of steamboats was sighted, packed side
by side at a wharf like sardines, in a box, and above and beyond them
rose the domes and steeples and general architectural confusion of a
city--a city with an imposing umbrella of black smoke spread over it.
This was St. Louis.  The children of the Hawkins family were playing
about the hurricane deck, and the father and mother were sitting in the
lee of the pilot house essaying to keep order and not greatly grieved
that they were not succeeding.

"They're worth all the trouble they are, Nancy."

"Yes, and more, Si."

"I believe you!  You wouldn't sell one of them at a good round figure?"

"Not for all the money in the bank, Si."

"My own sentiments every time.  It is true we are not rich--but still you
are not sorry---you haven't any misgivings about the additions?"

"No.  God will provide"

"Amen.  And so you wouldn't even part with Clay? Or Laura!"

"Not for anything in the world.  I love them just the same as I love my
own: They pet me and spoil me even more than the others do, I think.
I reckon we'll get along, Si."

"Oh yes, it will all come out right, old mother.  I wouldn't be afraid to
adopt a thousand children if I wanted to, for there's that Tennessee
Land, you know--enough to make an army of them rich.  A whole army,
Nancy!  You and I will never see the day, but these little chaps will.
Indeed they will.  One of these days it will be the rich Miss Emily
Hawkins--and the wealthy Miss Laura Van Brunt Hawkins--and the Hon.
George Washington Hawkins, millionaire--and Gov. Henry Clay Hawkins,
millionaire!  That is the way the world will word it!  Don't let's ever
fret about the children, Nancy--never in the world.  They're all right.
Nancy, there's oceans and oceans of money in that land--mark my words!"

The children had stopped playing, for the moment, and drawn near to
listen.  Hawkins said:

"Washington, my boy, what will you do when you get to be one of the
richest men in the world?"

"I don't know, father.  Sometimes I think I'll have a balloon and go up
in the air; and sometimes I think I'll have ever so many books; and
sometimes I think I'll have ever so many weathercocks and water-wheels;
or have a machine like that one you and Colonel Sellers bought; and
sometimes I think I'll have--well, somehow I don't know--somehow I ain't
certain; maybe I'll get a steamboat first."

"The same old chap!--always just a little bit divided about things.--And
what will you do when you get to be one of the richest men in the world,
Clay?"

"I don't know, sir.  My mother--my other mother that's gone away--she
always told me to work along and not be much expecting to get rich, and
then I wouldn't be disappointed if I didn't get rich.  And so I reckon
it's better for me to wait till I get rich, and then by that time maybe
I'll know what I'll want--but I don't now, sir."

"Careful old head!--Governor Henry Clay Hawkins!--that's what you'll be,
Clay, one of these days.  Wise old head! weighty old head!  Go on, now,
and play--all of you.  It's a prime lot, Nancy; as the Obedstown folk say
about their hogs."

A smaller steamboat received the Hawkinses and their fortunes, and bore
them a hundred and thirty miles still higher up the Mississippi, and
landed them at a little tumble-down village on the Missouri shore in the
twilight of a mellow October day.

The next morning they harnessed up their team and for two days they
wended slowly into the interior through almost roadless and uninhabited
forest solitudes.  And when for the last time they pitched their tents,
metaphorically speaking, it was at the goal of their hopes, their new
home.

By the muddy roadside stood a new log cabin, one story high--the store;
clustered in the neighborhood were ten or twelve more cabins, some new,
some old.

In the sad light of the departing day the place looked homeless enough.
Two or three coatless young men sat in front of the store on a dry-goods
box, and whittled it with their knives, kicked it with their vast boots,
and shot tobacco-juice at various marks.  Several ragged negroes leaned
comfortably against the posts of the awning and contemplated the arrival
of the wayfarers with lazy curiosity.  All these people presently managed
to drag themselves to the vicinity of the Hawkins' wagon, and there they
took up permanent positions, hands in pockets and resting on one leg; and
thus anchored they proceeded to look and enjoy.  Vagrant dogs came
wagging around and making inquiries of Hawkins's dog, which were not
satisfactory and they made war on him in concert.  This would have
interested the citizens but it was too many on one to amount to anything
as a fight, and so they commanded the peace and the foreign dog coiled
his tail and took sanctuary under the wagon.  Slatternly negro girls and
women slouched along with pails deftly balanced on their heads, and
joined the group and stared.  Little half dressed white boys, and little
negro boys with nothing whatever on but tow-linen shirts with a fine
southern exposure, came from various directions and stood with their
hands locked together behind them and aided in the inspection.  The rest
of the population were laying down their employments and getting ready to
come, when a man burst through the assemblage and seized the new-comers
by the hands in a frenzy of welcome, and exclaimed--indeed almost
shouted:

"Well who could have believed it!  Now is it you sure enough--turn
around! hold up your heads! I want to look at you good!  Well, well,
well, it does seem most too good to be true, I declare!  Lord, I'm so
glad to see you!  Does a body's whole soul good to look at you!  Shake
hands again!  Keep on shaking hands!  Goodness gracious alive.  What will
my wife say?--Oh yes indeed, it's so!--married only last week--lovely,
perfectly lovely creature, the noblest woman that ever--you'll like her,
Nancy!  Like her?  Lord bless me you'll love her--you'll dote on her
--you'll be twins!  Well, well, well, let me look at you again!  Same old
--why bless my life it was only jest this very morning that my wife says,
'Colonel'--she will call me Colonel spite of everything I can do--she
says 'Colonel, something tells me somebody's coming!'  and sure enough
here you are, the last people on earth a body could have expected.
Why she'll think she's a prophetess--and hanged if I don't think so too
--and you know there ain't any, country but what a prophet's an honor to,
as the proverb says.  Lord bless me and here's the children, too!
Washington, Emily, don't you know me?  Come, give us a kiss.  Won't I fix
you, though!--ponies, cows, dogs, everything you can think of that'll
delight a child's heart-and--Why how's this?  Little strangers?  Well
you won't be any strangers here, I can tell you.  Bless your souls we'll
make you think you never was at home before--'deed and 'deed we will,
I can tell you!  Come, now, bundle right along with me.  You can't
glorify any hearth stone but mine in this camp, you know--can't eat
anybody's bread but mine--can't do anything but just make yourselves
perfectly at home and comfortable, and spread yourselves out and rest!
You hear me!  Here--Jim, Tom, Pete, Jake, fly around!  Take that team to
my place--put the wagon in my lot--put the horses under the shed, and get
out hay and oats and fill them up!  Ain't any hay and oats?  Well get
some--have it charged to me--come, spin around, now!  Now, Hawkins, the
procession's ready; mark time, by the left flank, forward-march!"

And the Colonel took the lead, with Laura astride his neck, and the
newly-inspired and very grateful immigrants picked up their tired limbs
with quite a spring in them and dropped into his wake.

Presently they were ranged about an old-time fire-place whose blazing
logs sent out rather an unnecessary amount of heat, but that was no
matter-supper was needed, and to have it, it had to be cooked.  This
apartment was the family bedroom, parlor, library and kitchen, all in
one.  The matronly little wife of the Colonel moved hither and thither
and in and out with her pots and pans in her hands', happiness in her
heart and a world of admiration of her husband in her eyes.  And when at
last she had spread the cloth and loaded it with hot corn bread, fried
chickens, bacon, buttermilk, coffee, and all manner of country luxuries,
Col. Sellers modified his harangue and for a moment throttled it down to
the orthodox pitch for a blessing, and then instantly burst forth again
as from a parenthesis and clattered on with might and main till every
stomach in the party was laden with all it could carry.  And when the
new-comers ascended the ladder to their comfortable feather beds on the
second floor--to wit the garret--Mrs. Hawkins was obliged to say:

"Hang the fellow, I do believe he has gone wilder than ever, but still a
body can't help liking him if they would--and what is more, they don't
ever want to try when they see his eyes and hear him talk."

Within a week or two the Hawkinses were comfortably domiciled in a new
log house, and were beginning to feel at home.  The children were put to
school; at least it was what passed for a school in those days: a place
where tender young humanity devoted itself for eight or ten hours a day
to learning incomprehensible rubbish by heart out of books and reciting
it by rote, like parrots; so that a finished education consisted simply
of a permanent headache and the ability to read without stopping to spell
the words or take breath.  Hawkins bought out the village store for a
song and proceeded to reap the profits, which amounted to but little more
than another song.

The wonderful speculation hinted at by Col. Sellers in his letter turned
out to be the raising of mules for the Southern market; and really it
promised very well.  The young stock cost but a trifle, the rearing but
another trifle, and so Hawkins was easily persuaded to embark his slender
means in the enterprise and turn over the keep and care of the animals to
Sellers and Uncle Dan'l.

All went well: Business prospered little by little.  Hawkins even built a
new house, made it two full stories high and put a lightning rod on it.
People came two or three miles to look at it.  But they knew that the rod
attracted the lightning, and so they gave the place a wide berth in a
storm, for they were familiar with marksmanship and doubted if the
lightning could hit that small stick at a distance of a mile and a half
oftener than once in a hundred and fifty times.  Hawkins fitted out his
house with "store" furniture from St. Louis, and the fame of its
magnificence went abroad in the land.  Even the parlor carpet was from
St. Louis--though the other rooms were clothed in the "rag" carpeting of
the country.  Hawkins put up the first "paling" fence that had ever
adorned the village; and he did not stop there, but whitewashed it.
His oil-cloth window-curtains had noble pictures on them of castles such
as had never been seen anywhere in the world but on window-curtains.
Hawkins enjoyed the admiration these prodigies compelled, but he always
smiled to think how poor and, cheap they were, compared to what the
Hawkins mansion would display in a future day after the Tennessee Land
should have borne its minted fruit.  Even Washington observed, once, that
when the Tennessee Land was sold he would have a "store" carpet in his
and Clay's room like the one in the parlor.  This pleased Hawkins, but it
troubled his wife.  It did not seem wise, to her, to put one's entire
earthly trust in the Tennessee Land and never think of doing any work.

Hawkins took a weekly Philadelphia newspaper and a semi-weekly St. Louis
journal--almost the only papers that came to the village, though Godey's
Lady's Book found a good market there and was regarded as the perfection
of polite literature by some of the ablest critics in the place.  Perhaps
it is only fair to explain that we are writing of a by gone age--some
twenty or thirty years ago.  In the two newspapers referred to lay the
secret of Hawkins's growing prosperity.  They kept him informed of the
condition of the crops south and east, and thus he knew which articles
were likely to be in demand and which articles were likely to be
unsalable, weeks and even months in advance of the simple folk about him.
As the months went by he came to be regarded as a wonderfully lucky man.
It did not occur to the citizens that brains were at the bottom of his
luck.

His title of "Squire" came into vogue again, but only for a season; for,
as his wealth and popularity augmented, that title, by imperceptible
stages, grew up into "Judge;" indeed' it bade fair to swell into
"General" bye and bye.  All strangers of consequence who visited the
village gravitated to the Hawkins Mansion and became guests of the
"Judge."

Hawkins had learned to like the people of his section very much.  They
were uncouth and not cultivated, and not particularly industrious; but
they were honest and straightforward, and their virtuous ways commanded
respect.  Their patriotism was strong, their pride in the flag was of the
old fashioned pattern, their love of country amounted to idolatry.
Whoever dragged the national honor in the dirt won their deathless
hatred.  They still cursed Benedict Arnold as if he were a personal
friend who had broken faith--but a week gone by.




CHAPTER VI.

We skip ten years and this history finds certain changes to record.

Judge Hawkins and Col. Sellers have made and lost two or three moderate
fortunes in the meantime and are now pinched by poverty.  Sellers has two
pairs of twins and four extras.  In Hawkins's family are six children of
his own and two adopted ones.  From time to time, as fortune smiled, the
elder children got the benefit of it, spending the lucky seasons at
excellent schools in St. Louis and the unlucky ones at home in the
chafing discomfort of straightened circumstances.

Neither the Hawkins children nor the world that knew them ever supposed
that one of the girls was of alien blood and parentage: Such difference
as existed between Laura and Emily is not uncommon in a family.  The
girls had grown up as sisters, and they were both too young at the time
of the fearful accident on the Mississippi to know that it was that which
had thrown their lives together.

And yet any one who had known the secret of Laura's birth and had seen
her during these passing years, say at the happy age of twelve or
thirteen, would have fancied that he knew the reason why she was more
winsome than her school companion.

Philosophers dispute whether it is the promise of what she will be in
the careless school-girl, that makes her attractive, the undeveloped
maidenhood, or the mere natural, careless sweetness of childhood.
If Laura at twelve was beginning to be a beauty, the thought of it had
never entered her head.  No, indeed.  Her mind wad filled with more
important thoughts.  To her simple school-girl dress she was beginning to
add those mysterious little adornments of ribbon-knots and ear-rings,
which were the subject of earnest consultations with her grown friends.

When she tripped down the street on a summer's day with her dainty hands
propped into the ribbon-broidered pockets of her apron, and elbows
consequently more or less akimbo with her wide Leghorn hat flapping down
and hiding her face one moment and blowing straight up against her fore
head the next and making its revealment of fresh young beauty; with all
her pretty girlish airs and graces in full play, and that sweet ignorance
of care and that atmosphere of innocence and purity all about her that
belong to her gracious time of life, indeed she was a vision to warm the
coldest heart and bless and cheer the saddest.

Willful, generous, forgiving, imperious, affectionate, improvident,
bewitching, in short--was Laura at this period.  Could she have remained
there, this history would not need to be written.  But Laura had grown to
be almost a woman in these few years, to the end of which we have now
come--years which had seen Judge Hawkins pass through so many trials.

When the judge's first bankruptcy came upon him, a homely human angel
intruded upon him with an offer of $1,500 for the Tennessee Land.  Mrs.
Hawkins said take it.  It was a grievous temptation, but the judge
withstood it.  He said the land was for the children--he could not rob
them of their future millions for so paltry a sum.  When the second
blight fell upon him, another angel appeared and offered $3,000 for the
land.  He was in such deep distress that he allowed his wife to persuade
him to let the papers be drawn; but when his children came into his
presence in their poor apparel, he felt like a traitor and refused to
sign.

But now he was down again, and deeper in the mire than ever.  He paced
the floor all day, he scarcely slept at night.  He blushed even to
acknowledge it to himself, but treason was in his mind--he was
meditating, at last, the sale of the land.  Mrs. Hawkins stepped into the
room.  He had not spoken a word, but he felt as guilty as if she had
caught him in some shameful act.  She said:

"Si, I do not know what we are going to do.  The children are not fit to
be seen, their clothes are in such a state.  But there's something more
serious still.--There is scarcely a bite in the house to eat."

"Why, Nancy, go to Johnson----."

"Johnson indeed!  You took that man's part when he hadn't a friend in the
world, and you built him up and made him rich.  And here's the result of
it: He lives in our fine house, and we live in his miserable log cabin.
He has hinted to our children that he would rather they wouldn't come
about his yard to play with his children,--which I can bear, and bear
easy enough, for they're not a sort we want to associate with much--but
what I can't bear with any quietness at all, is his telling Franky our
bill was running pretty high this morning when I sent him for some meal
--and that was all he said, too--didn't give him the meal--turned off and
went to talking with the Hargrave girls about some stuff they wanted to
cheapen."

"Nancy, this is astounding!"

"And so it is, I warrant you.  I've kept still, Si, as long as ever I
could.  Things have been getting worse and worse, and worse and worse,
every single day; I don't go out of the house, I feel so down; but you
had trouble enough, and I wouldn't say a word--and I wouldn't say a word
now, only things have got so bad that I don't know what to do, nor where
to turn."  And she gave way and put her face in her hands and cried.

"Poor child, don't grieve so.  I never thought that of Johnson.  I am
clear at my wit's end.  I don't know what in the world to do.  Now if
somebody would come along and offer $3,000--Uh, if somebody only would
come along and offer $3,000 for that Tennessee Land."

"You'd sell it, S!" said Mrs. Hawkins excitedly.

"Try me!"

Mrs. Hawkins was out of the room in a moment.  Within a minute she was
back again with a business-looking stranger, whom she seated, and then
she took her leave again.  Hawkins said to himself, "How can a man ever
lose faith?  When the blackest hour comes, Providence always comes with
it--ah, this is the very timeliest help that ever poor harried devil had;
if this blessed man offers but a thousand I'll embrace him like a
brother!"

The stranger said:

"I am aware that you own 75,000 acres, of land in East Tennessee, and
without sacrificing your time, I will come to the point at once.  I am
agent of an iron manufacturing company, and they empower me to offer you
ten thousand dollars for that land."

Hawkins's heart bounded within him.  His whole frame was racked and
wrenched with fettered hurrahs.  His first impulse was to shout "Done!
and God bless the iron company, too!"

But a something flitted through his mind, and his opened lips uttered
nothing.  The enthusiasm faded away from his eyes, and the look of a man
who is thinking took its place.  Presently, in a hesitating, undecided
way, he said:

"Well, I--it don't seem quite enough.  That--that is a very valuable
property--very valuable.  It's brim full of iron-ore, sir--brim full of
it!  And copper, coal,--everything--everything you can think of!  Now,
I'll tell you what I'll do.  I'll reserve everything except the iron,
and I'll sell them the iron property for $15,000 cash, I to go in with
them and own an undivided interest of one-half the concern--or the stock,
as you may say.  I'm out of business, and I'd just as soon help run the
thing as not.  Now how does that strike you?"

"Well, I am only an agent of these people, who are friends of mine, and
I am not even paid for my services.  To tell you the truth, I have tried
to persuade them not to go into the thing; and I have come square out
with their offer, without throwing out any feelers--and I did it in the
hope that you would refuse.  A man pretty much always refuses another
man's first offer, no matter what it is.  But I have performed my duty,
and will take pleasure in telling them what you say."

He was about to rise.  Hawkins said,

"Wait a bit."

Hawkins thought again.  And the substance of his thought was: "This
is a deep man; this is a very deep man; I don't like his candor; your
ostentatiously candid business man's a deep fox--always a deep fox;
this man's that iron company himself--that's what he is; he wants that
property, too; I am not so blind but I can see that; he don't want the
company to go into this thing--O, that's very good; yes, that's very
good indeed--stuff! he'll be back here tomorrow, sure, and take my offer;
take it?  I'll risk anything he is suffering to take it now; here--I must
mind what I'm about.  What has started this sudden excitement about iron?
I wonder what is in the wind? just as sure as I'm alive this moment,
there's something tremendous stirring in iron speculation" [here Hawkins
got up and began to pace the floor with excited eyes and with gesturing
hands]--"something enormous going on in iron, without the shadow of a
doubt, and here I sit mousing in the dark and never knowing anything
about it; great heaven, what an escape I've made! this underhanded
mercenary creature might have taken me up--and ruined me! but I have
escaped, and I warrant me I'll not put my foot into--"

He stopped and turned toward the stranger; saying:

"I have made you a proposition, you have not accepted it, and I desire
that you will consider that I have made none.  At the same time my
conscience will not allow me to--.  Please alter the figures I named to
thirty thousand dollars, if you will, and let the proposition go to the
company--I will stick to it if it breaks my heart!"  The stranger looked
amused, and there was a pretty well defined touch of surprise in his
expression, too, but Hawkins never noticed it.  Indeed he scarcely
noticed anything or knew what he was about.  The man left; Hawkins flung
himself into a chair; thought a few moments, then glanced around, looked
frightened, sprang to the door----

"Too late--too late!  He's gone!  Fool that I am! always a fool!  Thirty
thousand--ass that I am!  Oh, why didn't I say fifty thousand!"

He plunged his hands into his hair and leaned his elbows on his knees,
and fell to rocking himself back and forth in anguish.  Mrs. Hawkins
sprang in, beaming:

"Well, Si?"

"Oh, con-found the con-founded--con-found it, Nancy.  I've gone and done
it, now!"

"Done what Si for mercy's sake!"

"Done everything!  Ruined everything!"

"Tell me, tell me, tell me!  Don't keep a body in such suspense.  Didn't
he buy, after all?  Didn't he make an offer?"

"Offer?  He offered $10,000 for our land, and----"

"Thank the good providence from the very bottom of my heart of hearts!
What sort of ruin do you call that, Si!"

"Nancy, do you suppose I listened to such a preposterous proposition?
No!  Thank fortune I'm not a simpleton!  I saw through the pretty scheme
in a second.  It's a vast iron speculation!--millions upon millions in
it!  But fool as I am I told him he could have half the iron property for
thirty thousand--and if I only had him back here he couldn't touch it for
a cent less than a quarter of a million!"

Mrs. Hawkins looked up white and despairing:

"You threw away this chance, you let this man go, and we in this awful
trouble?  You don't mean it, you can't mean it!"

"Throw it away?  Catch me at it!  Why woman, do you suppose that man
don't know what he is about?  Bless you, he'll be back fast enough
to-morrow."

"Never, never, never.  He never will comeback.  I don't know what is to
become of us.  I don't know what in the world is to become of us."

A shade of uneasiness came into Hawkins's face.  He said:

"Why, Nancy, you--you can't believe what you are saying."

"Believe it, indeed?  I know it, Si.  And I know that we haven't a cent
in the world, and we've sent ten thousand dollars a-begging."

"Nancy, you frighten me.  Now could that man--is it possible that I
--hanged if I don't believe I have missed a chance!  Don't grieve, Nancy,
don't grieve.  I'll go right after him.  I'll take--I'll take--what a
fool I am!--I'll take anything he'll give!"

The next instant he left the house on a run.  But the man was no longer
in the town.  Nobody knew where he belonged or whither he had gone.
Hawkins came slowly back, watching wistfully but hopelessly for the
stranger, and lowering his price steadily with his sinking heart.  And
when his foot finally pressed his own threshold, the value he held the
entire Tennessee property at was five hundred dollars--two hundred down
and the rest in three equal annual payments, without interest.

There was a sad gathering at the Hawkins fireside the next night.  All
the children were present but Clay.  Mr. Hawkins said:

"Washington, we seem to be hopelessly fallen, hopelessly involved.  I am
ready to give up.  I do not know where to turn--I never have been down so
low before, I never have seen things so dismal.  There are many mouths to
feed; Clay is at work; we must lose you, also, for a little while, my
boy.  But it will not be long--the Tennessee land----"

He stopped, and was conscious of a blush.  There was silence for a
moment, and then Washington--now a lank, dreamy-eyed stripling between
twenty-two and twenty-three years of age--said:

"If Col. Sellers would come for me, I would go and stay with him a while,
till the Tennessee land is sold.  He has often wanted me to come, ever
since he moved to Hawkeye."

"I'm afraid he can't well come for you, Washington.  From what I can
hear--not from him of course, but from others--he is not far from as bad
off as we are--and his family is as large, too.  He might find something
for you to do, maybe, but you'd better try to get to him yourself,
Washington--it's only thirty miles."

"But how can I, father?  There's no stage or anything."

"And if there were, stages require money.  A stage goes from Swansea,
five miles from here.  But it would be cheaper to walk."

"Father, they must know you there, and no doubt they would credit you in
a moment, for a little stage ride like that.  Couldn't you write and ask
them?"

"Couldn't you, Washington--seeing it's you that wants the ride?  And what
do you think you'll do, Washington, when you get to Hawkeye?  Finish your
invention for making window-glass opaque?"

"No, sir, I have given that up.  I almost knew I could do it, but it was
so tedious and troublesome I quit it."

"I was afraid of it, my boy.  Then I suppose you'll finish your plan of
coloring hen's eggs by feeding a peculiar diet to the hen?"

"No, sir.  I believe I have found out the stuff that will do it, but it
kills the hen; so I have dropped that for the present, though I can take
it up again some day when I learn how to manage the mixture better."

"Well, what have you got on hand--anything?"

"Yes, sir, three or four things.  I think they are all good and can all
be done, but they are tiresome, and besides they require money.  But as
soon as the land is sold----"

"Emily, were you about to say something?" said Hawkins.

"Yes, sir.  If you are willing, I will go to St. Louis.  That will make
another mouth less to feed.  Mrs. Buckner has always wanted me to come."

"But the money, child?"

"Why I think she would send it, if you would write her--and I know she
would wait for her pay till----"

"Come, Laura, let's hear from you, my girl."

Emily and Laura were about the same age--between seventeen and eighteen.
Emily was fair and pretty, girlish and diffident--blue eyes and light
hair.  Laura had a proud bearing, and a somewhat mature look; she had
fine, clean-cut features, her complexion was pure white and contrasted
vividly with her black hair and eyes; she was not what one calls pretty
--she was beautiful.  She said:

"I will go to St. Louis, too, sir.  I will find a way to get there.
I will make a way.  And I will find a way to help myself along, and do
what I can to help the rest, too."

She spoke it like a princess.  Mrs. Hawkins smiled proudly and kissed
her, saying in a tone of fond reproof:

"So one of my girls is going to turn out and work for her living!  It's
like your pluck and spirit, child, but we will hope that we haven't got
quite down to that, yet."

The girl's eyes beamed affection under her mother's caress.  Then she
straightened up, folded her white hands in her lap and became a splendid
ice-berg.  Clay's dog put up his brown nose for a little attention, and
got it.  He retired under the table with an apologetic yelp, which did
not affect the iceberg.

Judge Hawkins had written and asked Clay to return home and consult with
him upon family affairs.  He arrived the evening after this conversation,
and the whole household gave him a rapturous welcome.  He brought sadly
needed help with him, consisting of the savings of a year and a half of
work--nearly two hundred dollars in money.

It was a ray of sunshine which (to this easy household) was the earnest
of a clearing sky.

Bright and early in the morning the family were astir, and all were busy
preparing Washington for his journey--at least all but Washington
himself, who sat apart, steeped in a reverie.  When the time for his
departure came, it was easy to see how fondly all loved him and how hard
it was to let him go, notwithstanding they had often seen him go before,
in his St. Louis schooling days.  In the most matter-of-course way they
had borne the burden of getting him ready for his trip, never seeming to
think of his helping in the matter; in the same matter-of-course way Clay
had hired a horse and cart; and now that the good-byes were ended he
bundled Washington's baggage in and drove away with the exile.

At Swansea Clay paid his stage fare, stowed him away in the vehicle, and
saw him off.  Then he returned home and reported progress, like a
committee of the whole.

Clay remained at home several days.  He held many consultations with his
mother upon the financial condition of the family, and talked once with
his father upon the same subject, but only once.  He found a change in
that quarter which was distressing; years of fluctuating fortune had done
their work; each reverse had weakened the father's spirit and impaired
his energies; his last misfortune seemed to have left hope and ambition
dead within him; he had no projects, formed no plans--evidently he was a
vanquished man.  He looked worn and tired.  He inquired into Clay's
affairs and prospects, and when he found that Clay was doing pretty well
and was likely to do still better, it was plain that he resigned himself
with easy facility to look to the son for a support; and he said, "Keep
yourself informed of poor Washington's condition and movements, and help
him along all you can, Clay."

The younger children, also, seemed relieved of all fears and distresses,
and very ready and willing to look to Clay for a livelihood.  Within
three days a general tranquility and satisfaction reigned in the
household.  Clay's hundred and eighty or ninety, dollars had worked a
wonder.  The family were as contented, now, and as free from care as they
could have been with a fortune.  It was well that Mrs. Hawkins held the
purse otherwise the treasure would have lasted but a very little while.

It took but a trifle to pay Hawkins's outstanding obligations, for he had
always had a horror of debt.

When Clay bade his home good-bye and set out to return to the field of
his labors, he was conscious that henceforth he was to have his father's
family on his hands as pensioners; but he did not allow himself to chafe
at the thought, for he reasoned that his father had dealt by him with a
free hand and a loving one all his life, and now that hard fortune had
broken his spirit it ought to be a pleasure, not a pain, to work for him.
The younger children were born and educated dependents.  They had never
been taught to do anything for themselves, and it did not seem to occur
to them to make an attempt now.

The girls would not have been permitted to work for a living under any
circumstances whatever.  It was a southern family, and of good blood;
and for any person except Laura, either within or without the household
to have suggested such an idea would have brought upon the suggester the
suspicion of being a lunatic.




CHAPTER VII.

          Via, Pecunia! when she's run and gone
          And fled, and dead, then will I fetch her again
          With aqua vita, out of an old hogshead!
          While there are lees of wine, or dregs of beer,
          I'll never want her!  Coin her out of cobwebs,
          Dust, but I'll have her! raise wool upon egg-shells,
          Sir, and make grass grow out of marrow-bones,
          To make her come!
                                        B. Jonson.

Bearing Washington Hawkins and his fortunes, the stage-coach tore out of
Swansea at a fearful gait, with horn tooting gaily and half the town
admiring from doors and windows.  But it did not tear any more after it
got to the outskirts; it dragged along stupidly enough, then--till it
came in sight of the next hamlet; and then the bugle tooted gaily again
and again the vehicle went tearing by the horses.  This sort of conduct
marked every entry to a station and every exit from it; and so in those
days children grew up with the idea that stage-coaches always tore and
always tooted; but they also grew up with the idea that pirates went into
action in their Sunday clothes, carrying the black flag in one hand and
pistolling people with the other, merely because they were so represented
in the pictures--but these illusions vanished when later years brought
their disenchanting wisdom.  They learned then that the stagecoach is but
a poor, plodding, vulgar thing in the solitudes of the highway; and that
the pirate is only a seedy, unfantastic "rough," when he is out of the
pictures.

Toward evening, the stage-coach came thundering into Hawkeye with a
perfectly triumphant ostentation--which was natural and proper, for
Hawkey a was a pretty large town for interior Missouri.  Washington,
very stiff and tired and hungry, climbed out, and wondered how he was to
proceed now.  But his difficulty was quickly solved.  Col. Sellers came
down the street on a run and arrived panting for breath.  He said:

"Lord bless you--I'm glad to see you, Washington--perfectly delighted to
see you, my boy!  I got your message.  Been on the look-out for you.
Heard the stage horn, but had a party I couldn't shake off--man that's
got an enormous thing on hand--wants me to put some capital into it--and
I tell you, my boy, I could do worse, I could do a deal worse.  No, now,
let that luggage alone; I'll fix that.  Here, Jerry, got anything to do?
All right-shoulder this plunder and follow me.  Come along, Washington.
Lord I'm glad to see you!  Wife and the children are just perishing to
look at you.  Bless you, they won't know you, you've grown so.  Folks all
well, I suppose?  That's good--glad to hear that.  We're always going to
run down and see them, but I'm into so many operations, and they're not
things a man feels like trusting to other people, and so somehow we keep
putting it off.  Fortunes in them!  Good gracious, it's the country to
pile up wealth in!  Here we are--here's where the Sellers dynasty hangs
out.  Hump it on the door-step, Jerry--the blackest niggro in the State,
Washington, but got a good heart--mighty likely boy, is Jerry.  And now I
suppose you've got to have ten cents, Jerry.  That's all right--when a
man works for me--when a man--in the other pocket, I reckon--when a man
--why, where the mischief as that portmonnaie!--when a--well now that's
odd--Oh, now I remember, must have left it at the bank; and b'George I've
left my check-book, too--Polly says I ought to have a nurse--well, no
matter.  Let me have a dime, Washington, if you've got--ah, thanks.  Now
clear out, Jerry, your complexion has brought on the twilight half an
hour ahead of time.  Pretty fair joke--pretty fair.  Here he is, Polly!
Washington's come, children! come now, don't eat him up--finish him in
the house.  Welcome, my boy, to a mansion that is proud to shelter the
son of the best man that walks on the ground.  Si Hawkins has been a good
friend to me, and I believe I can say that whenever I've had a chance to
put him into a good thing I've done it, and done it pretty cheerfully,
too.  I put him into that sugar speculation--what a grand thing that was,
if we hadn't held on too long!"

True enough; but holding on too long had utterly ruined both of them;
and the saddest part of it was, that they never had had so much money to
lose before, for Sellers's sale of their mule crop that year in New
Orleans had been a great financial success.  If he had kept out of sugar
and gone back home content to stick to mules it would have been a happy
wisdom.  As it was, he managed to kill two birds with one stone--that is
to say, he killed the sugar speculation by holding for high rates till he
had to sell at the bottom figure, and that calamity killed the mule that
laid the golden egg--which is but a figurative expression and will be so
understood.  Sellers had returned home cheerful but empty-handed, and the
mule business lapsed into other hands.  The sale of the Hawkins property
by the Sheriff had followed, and the Hawkins hearts been torn to see
Uncle Dan'l and his wife pass from the auction-block into the hands of a
negro trader and depart for the remote South to be seen no more by the
family.  It had seemed like seeing their own flesh and blood sold into
banishment.

Washington was greatly pleased with the Sellers mansion.  It was a
two-story-and-a-half brick, and much more stylish than any of its
neighbors. He was borne to the family sitting room in triumph by the
swarm of little Sellerses, the parents following with their arms about
each other's waists.

The whole family were poorly and cheaply dressed; and the clothing,
although neat and clean, showed many evidences of having seen long
service.  The Colonel's "stovepipe" hat was napless and shiny with much
polishing, but nevertheless it had an almost convincing expression about
it of having been just purchased new.  The rest of his clothing was
napless and shiny, too, but it had the air of being entirely satisfied
with itself and blandly sorry for other people's clothes.  It was growing
rather dark in the house, and the evening air was chilly, too.  Sellers
said:

"Lay off your overcoat, Washington, and draw up to the stove and make
yourself at home--just consider yourself under your own shingles my boy
--I'll have a fire going, in a jiffy.  Light the lamp, Polly, dear, and
let's have things cheerful just as glad to see you, Washington, as if
you'd been lost a century and we'd found you again!"

By this time the Colonel was conveying a lighted match into a poor little
stove.  Then he propped the stove door to its place by leaning the poker
against it, for the hinges had retired from business.  This door framed
a small square of isinglass, which now warmed up with a faint glow.
Mrs. Sellers lit a cheap, showy lamp, which dissipated a good deal of the
gloom, and then everybody gathered into the light and took the stove into
close companionship.

The children climbed all over Sellers, fondled him, petted him, and were
lavishly petted in return.  Out from this tugging, laughing, chattering
disguise of legs and arms and little faces, the Colonel's voice worked
its way and his tireless tongue ran blithely on without interruption;
and the purring little wife, diligent with her knitting, sat near at hand
and looked happy and proud and grateful; and she listened as one who
listens to oracles and, gospels and whose grateful soul is being
refreshed with the bread of life.  Bye and bye the children quieted down
to listen; clustered about their father, and resting their elbows on his
legs, they hung upon his words as if he were uttering the music of the
spheres.

A dreary old hair-cloth sofa against the wall; a few damaged chairs; the
small table the lamp stood on; the crippled stove--these things
constituted the furniture of the room.  There was no carpet on the floor;
on the wall were occasional square-shaped interruptions of the general
tint of the plaster which betrayed that there used to be pictures in the
house--but there were none now.  There were no mantel ornaments, unless
one might bring himself to regard as an ornament a clock which never came
within fifteen strokes of striking the right time, and whose hands always
hitched together at twenty-two minutes past anything and traveled in
company the rest of the way home.

"Remarkable clock!" said Sellers, and got up and wound it.  "I've been
offered--well, I wouldn't expect you to believe what I've been offered
for that clock.  Old Gov. Hager never sees me but he says, 'Come, now,
Colonel, name your price--I must have that clock!'  But my goodness I'd
as soon think of selling my wife.  As I was saying to--silence in the
court--now, she's begun to strike!  You can't talk against her--you have
to just be patient and hold up till she's said her say.  Ah well, as I
was saying, when--she's beginning again!  Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one,
twenty-two, twen----ah, that's all.--Yes, as I was saying to old Judge
----go it, old girl, don't mind me.--Now how is that?----isn't that a
good, spirited tone?  She can wake the dead!  Sleep?  Why you might as
well try to sleep in a thunder-factory.  Now just listen at that.  She'll
strike a hundred and fifty, now, without stopping,--you'll see.  There
ain't another clock like that in Christendom."

Washington hoped that this might be true, for the din was distracting
--though the family, one and all, seemed filled with joy; and the more the
clock "buckled down to her work" as the Colonel expressed it, and the
more insupportable the clatter became, the more enchanted they all
appeared to be.  When there was silence, Mrs Sellers lifted upon
Washington a face that beamed with a childlike pride, and said:

"It belonged to his grandmother."

The look and the tone were a plain call for admiring surprise, and
therefore Washington said (it was the only thing that offered itself at
the moment:)

"Indeed!"

"Yes, it did, didn't it father!" exclaimed one of the twins.  "She was my
great-grandmother--and George's too; wasn't she, father!  You never saw
her, but Sis has seen her, when Sis was a baby-didn't you, Sis!  Sis has
seen her most a hundred times.  She was awful deef--she's dead, now.
Aint she, father!"

All the children chimed in, now, with one general Babel of information
about deceased--nobody offering to read the riot act or seeming to
discountenance the insurrection or disapprove of it in any way--but the
head twin drowned all the turmoil and held his own against the field:

"It's our clock, now--and it's got wheels inside of it, and a thing that
flutters every time she strikes--don't it, father!  Great-grandmother
died before hardly any of us was born--she was an Old-School Baptist and
had warts all over her--you ask father if she didn't.  She had an uncle
once that was bald-headed and used to have fits; he wasn't our uncle,
I don't know what he was to us--some kin or another I reckon--father's
seen him a thousand times--hain't you, father!  We used to have a calf
that et apples and just chawed up dishrags like nothing, and if you stay
here you'll see lots of funerals--won't he, Sis!  Did you ever see a
house afire?  I have!  Once me and Jim Terry----"

But Sellers began to speak now, and the storm ceased.  He began to tell
about an enormous speculation he was thinking of embarking some capital
in--a speculation which some London bankers had been over to consult with
him about--and soon he was building glittering pyramids of coin, and
Washington was presently growing opulent under the magic of his
eloquence.  But at the same time Washington was not able to ignore the
cold entirely.  He was nearly as close to the stove as he could get,
and yet he could not persuade himself, that he felt the slightest heat,
notwithstanding the isinglass' door was still gently and serenely
glowing.  He tried to get a trifle closer to the stove, and the
consequence was, he tripped the supporting poker and the stove-door
tumbled to the floor.  And then there was a revelation--there was nothing
in the stove but a lighted tallow-candle!  The poor youth blushed and
felt as if he must die with shame.  But the Colonel was only
disconcerted for a moment--he straightway found his voice again:

"A little idea of my own, Washington--one of the greatest things in the
world!  You must write and tell your father about it--don't forget that,
now.  I have been reading up some European Scientific reports--friend of
mine, Count Fugier, sent them to me--sends me all sorts of things from
Paris--he thinks the world of me, Fugier does.  Well, I saw that the
Academy of France had been testing the properties of heat, and they came
to the conclusion that it was a nonconductor or something like that,
and of course its influence must necessarily be deadly in nervous
organizations with excitable temperaments, especially where there is any
tendency toward rheumatic affections.  Bless you I saw in a moment what
was the matter with us, and says I, out goes your fires!--no more slow
torture and certain death for me, sir.  What you want is the appearance
of heat, not the heat itself--that's the idea.  Well how to do it was the
next thing.  I just put my head, to work, pegged away, a couple of days,
and here you are!  Rheumatism?  Why a man can't any more start a case of
rheumatism in this house than he can shake an opinion out of a mummy!
Stove with a candle in it and a transparent door--that's it--it has been
the salvation of this family.  Don't you fail to write your father about
it, Washington.  And tell him the idea is mine--I'm no more conceited
than most people, I reckon, but you know it is human nature for a man to
want credit for a thing like that."

Washington said with his blue lips that he would, but he said in his
secret heart that he would promote no such iniquity.  He tried to believe
in the healthfulness of the invention, and succeeded tolerably well;
but after all he could not feel that good health in a frozen, body was
any real improvement on the rheumatism.




CHAPTER VIII.

         --Whan pe horde is thynne, as of seruyse,
          Nought replenesshed with grete diuersite
          Of mete & drinke, good chere may then suffise
          With honest talkyng----
                             The Book of Curtesye.

          MAMMON.  Come on, sir.  Now, you set your foot on shore
          In Novo Orbe; here's the rich Peru:
          And there within, sir, are the golden mines,
          Great Solomon's Ophir!----
                                   B. Jonson

The supper at Col. Sellers's was not sumptuous, in the beginning, but it
improved on acquaintance.  That is to say, that what Washington regarded
at first sight as mere lowly potatoes, presently became awe-inspiring
agricultural productions that had been reared in some ducal garden beyond
the sea, under the sacred eye of the duke himself, who had sent them to
Sellers; the bread was from corn which could be grown in only one favored
locality in the earth and only a favored few could get it; the Rio
coffee, which at first seemed execrable to the taste, took to itself an
improved flavor when Washington was told to drink it slowly and not hurry
what should be a lingering luxury in order to be fully appreciated--it
was from the private stores of a Brazilian nobleman with an
unrememberable name.  The Colonel's tongue was a magician's wand that
turned dried apples into figs and water into wine as easily as it could
change a hovel into a palace and present poverty into imminent future
riches.

Washington slept in a cold bed in a carpetless room and woke up in a
palace in the morning; at least the palace lingered during the moment
that he was rubbing his eyes and getting his bearings--and then it
disappeared and he recognized that the Colonel's inspiring talk had been
influencing his dreams.  Fatigue had made him sleep late; when he entered
the sitting room he noticed that the old hair-cloth sofa was absent; when
he sat down to breakfast the Colonel tossed six or seven dollars in bills
on the table, counted them over, said he was a little short and must call
upon his banker; then returned the bills to his wallet with the
indifferent air of a man who is used to money.  The breakfast was not an
improvement upon the supper, but the Colonel talked it up and transformed
it into an oriental feast.  Bye and bye, he said:

"I intend to look out for you, Washington, my boy.  I hunted up a place
for you yesterday, but I am not referring to that,--now--that is a mere
livelihood--mere bread and butter; but when I say I mean to look out for
you I mean something very different.  I mean to put things in your way
than will make a mere livelihood a trifling thing.  I'll put you in a way
to make more money than you'll ever know what to do with.  You'll be
right here where I can put my hand on you when anything turns up.  I've
got some prodigious operations on foot; but I'm keeping quiet; mum's the
word; your old hand don't go around pow-wowing and letting everybody see
his k'yards and find out his little game.  But all in good time,
Washington, all in good time.  You'll see.  Now there's an operation in
corn that looks well.  Some New York men are trying to get me to go into
it--buy up all the growing crops and just boss the market when they
mature--ah I tell you it's a great thing.  And it only costs a trifle;
two millions or two and a half will do it.  I haven't exactly promised
yet--there's no hurry--the more indifferent I seem, you know, the more
anxious those fellows will get.  And then there is the hog speculation
--that's bigger still.  We've got quiet men at work," [he was very
impressive here,] "mousing around, to get propositions out of all the
farmers in the whole west and northwest for the hog crop, and other
agents quietly getting propositions and terms out of all the
manufactories--and don't you see, if we can get all the hogs and all the
slaughter horses into our hands on the dead quiet--whew! it would take
three ships to carry the money.--I've looked into the thing--calculated
all the chances for and all the chances against, and though I shake my
head and hesitate and keep on thinking, apparently, I've got my mind made
up that if the thing can be done on a capital of six millions, that's the
horse to put up money on!  Why Washington--but what's the use of talking
about it--any man can see that there's whole Atlantic oceans of cash in
it, gulfs and bays thrown in.  But there's a bigger thing than that, yes
bigger----"

"Why Colonel, you can't want anything bigger!" said Washington, his eyes
blazing.  "Oh, I wish I could go into either of those speculations--I
only wish I had money--I wish I wasn't cramped and kept down and fettered
with poverty, and such prodigious chances lying right here in sight!
Oh, it is a fearful thing to be poor.  But don't throw away those things
--they are so splendid and I can see how sure they are.  Don't throw them
away for something still better and maybe fail in it!  I wouldn't,
Colonel.  I would stick to these.  I wish father were here and were his
old self again--Oh, he never in his life had such chances as these are.
Colonel; you can't improve on these--no man can improve on them!"

A sweet, compassionate smile played about the Colonel's features, and he
leaned over the table with the air of a man who is "going to show you"
and do it without the least trouble:

"Why Washington, my boy, these things are nothing.  They look large of
course--they look large to a novice, but to a man who has been all his
life accustomed to large operations--shaw!  They're well enough to while
away an idle hour with, or furnish a bit of employment that will give a
trifle of idle capital a chance to earn its bread while it is waiting for
something to do, but--now just listen a moment--just let me give you an
idea of what we old veterans of commerce call 'business.'  Here's the
Rothschild's proposition--this is between you and me, you understand----"

Washington nodded three or four times impatiently, and his glowing eyes
said, "Yes, yes--hurry--I understand----"

----"for I wouldn't have it get out for a fortune.  They want me to go in
with them on the sly--agent was here two weeks ago about it--go in on the
sly" [voice down to an impressive whisper, now,] "and buy up a hundred
and thirteen wild cat banks in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and
Missouri--notes of these banks are at all sorts of discount now--average
discount of the hundred and thirteen is forty-four per cent--buy them all
up, you see, and then all of a sudden let the cat out of the bag!  Whiz!
the stock of every one of those wildcats would spin up to a tremendous
premium before you could turn a handspring--profit on the speculation not
a dollar less than forty millions!" [An eloquent pause, while the
marvelous vision settled into W.'s focus.]  "Where's your hogs now?
Why my dear innocent boy, we would just sit down on the front door-steps
and peddle banks like lucifer matches!"

Washington finally got his breath and said:

"Oh, it is perfectly wonderful!  Why couldn't these things have happened
in father's day?  And I--it's of no use--they simply lie before my face
and mock me.  There is nothing for me but to stand helpless and see other
people reap the astonishing harvest."

"Never mind, Washington, don't you worry.  I'll fix you.  There's plenty
of chances.  How much money have you got?"

In the presence of so many millions, Washington could not keep from
blushing when he had to confess that he had but eighteen dollars in the
world.

"Well, all right--don't despair.  Other people have been obliged to begin
with less.  I have a small idea that may develop into something for us
both, all in good time.  Keep your money close and add to it.  I'll make
it breed.  I've been experimenting (to pass away the time), on a little
preparation for curing sore eyes--a kind of decoction nine-tenths water
and the other tenth drugs that don't cost more than a dollar a barrel;
I'm still experimenting; there's one ingredient wanted yet to perfect the
thing, and somehow I can't just manage to hit upon the thing that's
necessary, and I don't dare talk with a chemist, of course.  But I'm
progressing, and before many weeks I wager the country will ring with the
fame of Beriah Sellers' Infallible Imperial Oriental Optic Liniment and
Salvation for Sore Eyes--the Medical Wonder of the Age!  Small bottles
fifty cents, large ones a dollar.  Average cost, five and seven cents for
the two sizes.

"The first year sell, say, ten thousand bottles in Missouri, seven
thousand in Iowa, three thousand in Arkansas, four thousand in Kentucky,
six thousand in Illinois, and say twenty-five thousand in the rest of the
country.  Total, fifty five thousand bottles; profit clear of all
expenses, twenty thousand dollars at the very lowest calculation.  All
the capital needed is to manufacture the first two thousand bottles
--say a hundred and fifty dollars--then the money would begin to flow in.
The second year, sales would reach 200,000 bottles--clear profit, say,
$75,000--and in the meantime the great factory would be building in St.
Louis, to cost, say, $100,000.  The third year we could, easily sell
1,000,000 bottles in the United States and----"

"O, splendid!" said Washington.  "Let's commence right away--let's----"

"----1,000,000 bottles in the United States--profit at least $350,000
--and then it would begin to be time to turn our attention toward the real
idea of the business."

"The real idea of it!  Ain't $350,000 a year a pretty real----"

"Stuff!  Why what an infant you are, Washington--what a guileless,
short-sighted, easily-contented innocent you, are, my poor little
country-bred know-nothing!  Would I go to all that trouble and bother for
the poor crumbs a body might pick up in this country?  Now do I look like
a man who----does my history suggest that I am a man who deals in
trifles, contents himself with the narrow horizon that hems in the common
herd, sees no further than the end of his nose?  Now you know that that
is not me--couldn't be me.  You ought to know that if I throw my time and
abilities into a patent medicine, it's a patent medicine whose field of
operations is the solid earth! its clients the swarming nations that
inhabit it!  Why what is the republic of America for an eye-water
country?  Lord bless you, it is nothing but a barren highway that you've
got to cross to get to the true eye-water market!  Why, Washington, in
the Oriental countries people swarm like the sands of the desert; every
square mile of ground upholds its thousands upon thousands of struggling
human creatures--and every separate and individual devil of them's got
the ophthalmia!  It's as natural to them as noses are--and sin.  It's
born with them, it stays with them, it's all that some of them have left
when they die.  Three years of introductory trade in the orient and what
will be the result?  Why, our headquarters would be in Constantinople and
our hindquarters in Further India!  Factories and warehouses in Cairo,
Ispahan, Bagdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Yedo, Peking, Bangkok, Delhi,
Bombay--and Calcutta!  Annual income--well, God only knows how many
millions and millions apiece!"

Washington was so dazed, so bewildered--his heart and his eyes had
wandered so far away among the strange lands beyond the seas, and such
avalanches of coin and currency had fluttered and jingled confusedly down
before him, that he was now as one who has been whirling round and round
for a time, and, stopping all at once, finds his surroundings still
whirling and all objects a dancing chaos.  However, little by little the
Sellers family cooled down and crystalized into shape, and the poor room
lost its glitter and resumed its poverty.  Then the youth found his voice
and begged Sellers to drop everything and hurry up the eye-water; and he
got his eighteen dollars and tried to force it upon the Colonel--pleaded
with him to take it--implored him to do it.  But the Colonel would not;
said he would not need the capital (in his native magnificent way he
called that eighteen dollars Capital) till the eye-water was an
accomplished fact.  He made Washington easy in his mind, though, by
promising that he would call for it just as soon as the invention was
finished, and he added the glad tidings that nobody but just they two
should be admitted to a share in the speculation.

When Washington left the breakfast table he could have worshiped that
man.  Washington was one of that kind of people whose hopes are in the
very, clouds one day and in the gutter the next.  He walked on air, now.
The Colonel was ready to take him around and introduce him to the
employment he had found for him, but Washington begged for a few moments
in which to write home; with his kind of people, to ride to-day's new
interest to death and put off yesterday's till another time, is nature
itself.  He ran up stairs and wrote glowingly, enthusiastically, to his
mother about the hogs and the corn, the banks and the eye-water--and
added a few inconsequential millions to each project.  And he said that
people little dreamed what a man Col. Sellers was, and that the world
would open its eyes when it found out.  And he closed his letter thus:

"So make yourself perfectly easy, mother-in a little while you shall have
everything you want, and more.  I am not likely to stint you in anything,
I fancy.  This money will not be for me, alone, but for all of us.
I want all to share alike; and there is going to be far more for each
than one person can spend.  Break it to father cautiously--you understand
the need of that--break it to him cautiously, for he has had such cruel
hard fortune, and is so stricken by it that great good news might
prostrate him more surely than even bad, for he is used to the bad but
is grown sadly unaccustomed to the other.  Tell Laura--tell all the
children.  And write to Clay about it if he is not with you yet.  You may
tell Clay that whatever I get he can freely share in-freely.  He knows
that that is true--there will be no need that I should swear to that to
make him believe it.  Good-bye--and mind what I say: Rest perfectly easy,
one and all of you, for our troubles are nearly at an end."

Poor lad, he could not know that his mother would cry some loving,
compassionate tears over his letter and put off the family with a
synopsis of its contents which conveyed a deal of love to then but not
much idea of his prospects or projects.  And he never dreamed that such a
joyful letter could sadden her and fill her night with sighs, and
troubled thoughts, and bodings of the future, instead of filling it with
peace and blessing it with restful sleep.

When the letter was done, Washington and the Colonel sallied forth, and
as they walked along Washington learned what he was to be.  He was to be
a clerk in a real estate office.  Instantly the fickle youth's dreams
forsook the magic eye-water and flew back to the Tennessee Land.  And the
gorgeous possibilities of that great domain straightway began to occupy
his imagination to such a degree that he could scarcely manage to keep
even enough of his attention upon the Colonel's talk to retain the
general run of what he was saying.  He was glad it was a real estate
office--he was a made man now, sure.

The Colonel said that General Boswell was a rich man and had a good and
growing business; and that Washington's work world be light and he would
get forty dollars a month and be boarded and lodged in the General's
family--which was as good as ten dollars more; and even better, for he
could not live as well even at the "City Hotel" as he would there, and
yet the hotel charged fifteen dollars a month where a man had a good
room.

General Boswell was in his office; a comfortable looking place, with
plenty of outline maps hanging about the walls and in the windows, and
a spectacled man was marking out another one on a long table.  The office
was in the principal street.  The General received Washington with a
kindly but reserved politeness.  Washington rather liked his looks.
He was about fifty years old, dignified, well preserved and well dressed.
After the Colonel took his leave, the General talked a while with
Washington--his talk consisting chiefly of instructions about the
clerical duties of the place.  He seemed satisfied as to Washington's
ability to take care of the books, he was evidently a pretty fair
theoretical bookkeeper, and experience would soon harden theory into
practice.  By and by dinner-time came, and the two walked to the
General's house; and now Washington noticed an instinct in himself that
moved him to keep not in the General's rear, exactly, but yet not at his
side--somehow the old gentleman's dignity and reserve did not inspire
familiarity.




CHAPTER IX

Washington dreamed his way along the street, his fancy flitting from
grain to hogs, from hogs to banks, from banks to eyewater, from eye-water
to Tennessee Land, and lingering but a feverish moment upon each of these
fascinations.  He was conscious of but one outward thing, to wit, the
General, and he was really not vividly conscious of him.

Arrived at the finest dwelling in the town, they entered it and were at
home.  Washington was introduced to Mrs. Boswell, and his imagination was
on the point of flitting into the vapory realms of speculation again,
when a lovely girl of sixteen or seventeen came in.  This vision swept
Washington's mind clear of its chaos of glittering rubbish in an instant.
Beauty had fascinated him before; many times he had been in love even for
weeks at a time with the same object but his heart had never suffered so
sudden and so fierce an assault as this, within his recollection.

Louise Boswell occupied his mind and drifted among his multiplication
tables all the afternoon.  He was constantly catching himself in a
reverie--reveries made up of recalling how she looked when she first
burst upon him; how her voice thrilled him when she first spoke; how
charmed the very air seemed by her presence.  Blissful as the afternoon
was, delivered up to such a revel as this, it seemed an eternity, so
impatient was he to see the girl again.  Other afternoons like it
followed.  Washington plunged into this love affair as he plunged into
everything else--upon impulse and without reflection.  As the days went
by it seemed plain that he was growing in favor with Louise,--not
sweepingly so, but yet perceptibly, he fancied.  His attentions to her
troubled her father and mother a little, and they warned Louise, without
stating particulars or making allusions to any special person, that a
girl was sure to make a mistake who allowed herself to marry anybody but
a man who could support her well.

Some instinct taught Washington that his present lack of money would be
an obstruction, though possibly not a bar, to his hopes, and straightway
his poverty became a torture to him which cast all his former sufferings
under that held into the shade.  He longed for riches now as he had ever
longed for them before.

He had been once or twice to dine with Col. Sellers, and had been
discouraged to note that the Colonel's bill of fare was falling off both
in quantity and quality--a sign, he feared, that the lacking ingredient
in the eye-water still remained undiscovered--though Sellers always
explained that these changes in the family diet had been ordered by the
doctor, or suggested by some new scientific work the Colonel had stumbled
upon.  But it always turned out that the lacking ingredient was still
lacking--though it always appeared, at the same time, that the Colonel
was right on its heels.

Every time the Colonel came into the real estate office Washington's
heart bounded and his eyes lighted with hope, but it always turned out
that the Colonel was merely on the scent of some vast, undefined landed
speculation--although he was customarily able to say that he was nearer
to the all-necessary ingredient than ever, and could almost name the hour
when success would dawn.  And then Washington's heart world sink again
and a sigh would tell when it touched bottom.

About this time a letter came, saying that Judge Hawkins had been ailing
for a fortnight, and was now considered to be seriously ill.  It was
thought best that Washington should come home.  The news filled him with
grief, for he loved and honored his father; the Boswells were touched by
the youth's sorrow, and even the General unbent and said encouraging
things to him.--There was balm in this; but when Louise bade him
good-bye, and shook his hand and said, "Don't be cast down--it will all
come out right--I know it will all come out right," it seemed a blessed
thing to be in misfortune, and the tears that welled up to his eyes were
the messengers of an adoring and a grateful heart; and when the girl saw
them and answering tears came into her own eyes, Washington could hardly
contain the excess of happiness that poured into the cavities of his
breast that were so lately stored to the roof with grief.

All the way home he nursed his woe and exalted it.  He pictured himself
as she must be picturing him: a noble, struggling young spirit persecuted
by misfortune, but bravely and patiently waiting in the shadow of a dread
calamity and preparing to meet the blow as became one who was all too
used to hard fortune and the pitiless buffetings of fate.  These thoughts
made him weep, and weep more broken-heartedly than ever; and he wished
that she could see his sufferings now.

There was nothing significant in the fact that Louise, dreamy and
distraught, stood at her bedroom bureau that night, scribbling
"Washington" here and there over a sheet of paper.  But there was
something significant in the fact that she scratched the word out every
time she wrote it; examined the erasure critically to see if anybody
could guess at what the word had been; then buried it under a maze of
obliterating lines; and finally, as if still unsatisfied, burned the
paper.

When Washington reached home, he recognized at once how serious his
father's case was.  The darkened room, the labored breathing and
occasional moanings of the patient, the tip-toeing of the attendants and
their whispered consultations, were full of sad meaning.  For three or
four nights Mrs. Hawkins and Laura had been watching by the bedside; Clay
had arrived, preceding Washington by one day, and he was now added to the
corps of watchers.  Mr. Hawkins would have none but these three, though
neighborly assistance was offered by old friends.  From this time forth
three-hour watches were instituted, and day and night the watchers kept
their vigils.  By degrees Laura and her mother began to show wear, but
neither of them would yield a minute of their tasks to Clay.  He ventured
once to let the midnight hour pass without calling Laura, but he ventured
no more; there was that about her rebuke when he tried to explain, that
taught him that to let her sleep when she might be ministering to her
father's needs, was to rob her of moments that were priceless in her
eyes; he perceived that she regarded it as a privilege to watch, not a
burden.  And, he had noticed, also, that when midnight struck, the
patient turned his eyes toward the door, with an expectancy in them which
presently grew into a longing but brightened into contentment as soon
as the door opened and Laura appeared.  And he did not need Laura's
rebuke when he heard his father say:

"Clay is good, and you are tired, poor child; but I wanted you so."

"Clay is not good, father--he did not call me.  I would not have treated
him so.  How could you do it, Clay?"

Clay begged forgiveness and promised not to break faith again; and as he
betook him to his bed, he said to himself:  "It's a steadfast little
soul; whoever thinks he is doing the Duchess a kindness by intimating
that she is not sufficient for any undertaking she puts her hand to,
makes a mistake; and if I did not know it before, I know now that there
are surer ways of pleasing her than by trying to lighten her labor when
that labor consists in wearing herself out for the sake of a person she
loves."

A week drifted by, and all the while the patient sank lower and lower.
The night drew on that was to end all suspense.  It was a wintry one.
The darkness gathered, the snow was falling, the wind wailed plaintively
about the house or shook it with fitful gusts.  The doctor had paid his
last visit and gone away with that dismal remark to the nearest friend of
the family that he "believed there was nothing more that he could do"
--a remark which is always overheard by some one it is not meant for and
strikes a lingering half-conscious hope dead with a withering shock;
the medicine phials had been removed from the bedside and put out of
sight, and all things made orderly and meet for the solemn event that was
impending; the patient, with closed eyes, lay scarcely breathing; the
watchers sat by and wiped the gathering damps from his forehead while the
silent tears flowed down their faces; the deep hush was only interrupted
by sobs from the children, grouped about the bed.

After a time--it was toward midnight now--Mr. Hawkins roused out of a
doze, looked about him and was evidently trying to speak.  Instantly
Laura lifted his head and in a failing voice he said, while something of
the old light shone in his eyes:

"Wife--children--come nearer--nearer.  The darkness grows.  Let me see
you all, once more."

The group closed together at the bedside, and their tears and sobs came
now without restraint.

"I am leaving you in cruel poverty.  I have been--so foolish--so
short-sighted.  But courage!  A better day is--is coming.  Never lose
sight of the Tennessee Land!  Be wary.  There is wealth stored up for you
there--wealth that is boundless!  The children shall hold up their heads
with the best in the land, yet.  Where are the papers?--Have you got the
papers safe?  Show them--show them to me!"

Under his strong excitement his voice had gathered power and his last
sentences were spoken with scarcely a perceptible halt or hindrance.
With an effort he had raised himself almost without assistance to a
sitting posture.  But now the fire faded out of his eyes and he fell back
exhausted.  The papers were brought and held before him, and the
answering smile that flitted across his face showed that he was
satisfied.  He closed his eyes, and the signs of approaching dissolution
multiplied rapidly.  He lay almost motionless for a little while, then
suddenly partly raised his head and looked about him as one who peers
into a dim uncertain light.  He muttered:

"Gone?  No--I see you--still.  It is--it is-over.  But you are--safe.
Safe.  The Ten-----"

The voice died out in a whisper; the sentence was never finished.  The
emaciated fingers began to pick at the coverlet, a fatal sign.  After a
time there were no sounds but the cries of the mourners within and the
gusty turmoil of the wind without.  Laura had bent down and kissed her
father's lips as the spirit left the body; but she did not sob, or utter
any ejaculation; her tears flowed silently.  Then she closed the dead
eyes, and crossed the hands upon the breast; after a season, she kissed
the forehead reverently, drew the sheet up over the face, and then walked
apart and sat down with the look of one who is done with life and has no
further interest in its joys and sorrows, its hopes or its ambitions.
Clay buried his face in the coverlet of the bed; when the other children
and the mother realized that death was indeed come at last, they threw
themselves into each others' arms and gave way to a frenzy of grief.




CHAPTER X.

Only two or three days had elapsed since the funeral, when something
happened which was to change the drift of Laura's life somewhat, and
influence in a greater or lesser degree the formation of her character.

Major Lackland had once been a man of note in the State--a man of
extraordinary natural ability and as extraordinary learning.  He had been
universally trusted and honored in his day, but had finally, fallen into
misfortune; while serving his third term in Congress, and while upon the
point of being elevated to the Senate--which was considered the summit of
earthly aggrandizement in those days--he had yielded to temptation, when
in distress for money wherewith to save his estate; and sold his vote.
His crime was discovered, and his fall followed instantly.  Nothing could
reinstate him in the confidence of the people, his ruin was
irretrievable--his disgrace complete.  All doors were closed against him,
all men avoided him.  After years of skulking retirement and dissipation,
death had relieved him of his troubles at last, and his funeral followed
close upon that of Mr. Hawkins.  He died as he had latterly lived--wholly
alone and friendless.  He had no relatives--or if he had they did not
acknowledge him.  The coroner's jury found certain memoranda upon his
body and about the premises which revealed a fact not suspected by the
villagers before-viz., that Laura was not the child of Mr. and Mrs.
Hawkins.

The gossips were soon at work.  They were but little hampered by the fact
that the memoranda referred to betrayed nothing but the bare circumstance
that Laura's real parents were unknown, and stopped there.  So far from
being hampered by this, the gossips seemed to gain all the more freedom
from it.  They supplied all the missing information themselves, they
filled up all the blanks.  The town soon teemed with histories of Laura's
origin and secret history, no two versions precisely alike, but all
elaborate, exhaustive, mysterious and interesting, and all agreeing in
one vital particular-to-wit, that there was a suspicious cloud about her
birth, not to say a disreputable one.

Laura began to encounter cold looks, averted eyes and peculiar nods and
gestures which perplexed her beyond measure; but presently the pervading
gossip found its way to her, and she understood them--then.  Her pride
was stung.  She was astonished, and at first incredulous.  She was about
to ask her mother if there was any truth in these reports, but upon
second thought held her peace.  She soon gathered that Major Lackland's
memoranda seemed to refer to letters which had passed between himself and
Judge Hawkins.  She shaped her course without difficulty the day that
that hint reached her.

That night she sat in her room till all was still, and then she stole
into the garret and began a search.  She rummaged long among boxes of
musty papers relating to business matters of no, interest to her, but at
last she found several bundles of letters.  One bundle was marked
"private," and in that she found what she wanted.  She selected six or
eight letters from the package and began to devour their contents,
heedless of the cold.

By the dates, these letters were from five to seven years old.  They were
all from Major Lackland to Mr. Hawkins.  The substance of them was, that
some one in the east had been inquiring of Major Lackland about a lost
child and its parents, and that it was conjectured that the child might
be Laura.

Evidently some of the letters were missing, for the name of the
inquirer was not mentioned; there was a casual reference to "this
handsome-featured aristocratic gentleman," as if the reader and the
writer were accustomed to speak of him and knew who was meant.

In one letter the Major said he agreed with Mr. Hawkins that the inquirer
seemed not altogether on the wrong track; but he also agreed that it
would be best to keep quiet until more convincing developments were
forthcoming.

Another letter said that "the poor soul broke completely down when he saw
Laura's picture, and declared it must be she."

Still another said:

     "He seems entirely alone in the world, and his heart is so wrapped
     up in this thing that I believe that if it proved a false hope, it
     would kill him; I have persuaded him to wait a little while and go
     west when I go."

Another letter had this paragraph in it:

     "He is better one day and worse the next, and is out of his mind a
     good deal of the time.  Lately his case has developed a something
     which is a wonder to the hired nurses, but which will not be much of
     a marvel to you if you have read medical philosophy much.  It is
     this: his lost memory returns to him when he is delirious, and goes
     away again when he is himself-just as old Canada Joe used to talk
     the French patois of his boyhood in the delirium of typhus fever,
     though he could not do it when his mind was clear.  Now this poor
     gentleman's memory has always broken down before he reached the
     explosion of the steamer; he could only remember starting up the
     river with his wife and child, and he had an idea that there was a
     race, but he was not certain; he could not name the boat he was on;
     there was a dead blank of a month or more that supplied not an item
     to his recollection.  It was not for me to assist him, of course.
     But now in his delirium it all comes out: the names of the boats,
     every incident of the explosion, and likewise the details of his
     astonishing escape--that is, up to where, just as a yawl-boat was
     approaching him (he was clinging to the starboard wheel of the
     burning wreck at the time), a falling timber struck him on the head.
     But I will write out his wonderful escape in full to-morrow or next
     day.  Of course the physicians will not let me tell him now that our
     Laura is indeed his child--that must come later, when his health is
     thoroughly restored.  His case is not considered dangerous at all;
     he will recover presently, the doctors say.  But they insist that he
     must travel a little when he gets well--they recommend a short sea
     voyage, and they say he can be persuaded to try it if we continue to
     keep him in ignorance and promise to let him see L. as soon as he
     returns."

The letter that bore the latest date of all, contained this clause:

     "It is the most unaccountable thing in the world; the mystery
     remains as impenetrable as ever; I have hunted high and low for him,
     and inquired of everybody, but in vain; all trace of him ends at
     that hotel in New York; I never have seen or heard of him since,
     up to this day; he could hardly have sailed, for his name does not
     appear upon the books of any shipping office in New York or Boston
     or Baltimore.  How fortunate it seems, now, that we kept this thing
     to ourselves; Laura still has a father in you, and it is better for
     her that we drop this subject here forever."

That was all.  Random remarks here and there, being pieced together gave
Laura a vague impression of a man of fine presence, abort forty-three or
forty-five years of age, with dark hair and eyes, and a slight limp in
his walk--it was not stated which leg was defective.  And this indistinct
shadow represented her father.  She made an exhaustive search for the
missing letters, but found none.  They had probably been burned; and she
doubted not that the ones she had ferreted out would have shared the same
fate if Mr. Hawkins had not been a dreamer, void of method, whose mind
was perhaps in a state of conflagration over some bright new speculation
when he received them.

She sat long, with the letters in her lap, thinking--and unconsciously
freezing.  She felt like a lost person who has traveled down a long lane
in good hope of escape, and, just as the night descends finds his
progress barred by a bridge-less river whose further shore, if it has
one, is lost in the darkness.  If she could only have found these letters
a month sooner!  That was her thought.  But now the dead had carried
their secrets with them.  A dreary, melancholy settled down upon her.
An undefined sense of injury crept into her heart.  She grew very
miserable.

She had just reached the romantic age--the age when there is a sad
sweetness, a dismal comfort to a girl to find out that there is a mystery
connected with her birth, which no other piece of good luck can afford.
She had more than her rightful share of practical good sense, but still
she was human; and to be human is to have one's little modicum of romance
secreted away in one's composition.  One never ceases to make a hero of
one's self, (in private,) during life, but only alters the style of his
heroism from time to time as the drifting years belittle certain gods of
his admiration and raise up others in their stead that seem greater.

The recent wearing days and nights of watching, and the wasting grief
that had possessed her, combined with the profound depression that
naturally came with the reaction of idleness, made Laura peculiarly
susceptible at this time to romantic impressions.  She was a heroine,
now, with a mysterious father somewhere.  She could not really tell
whether she wanted to find him and spoil it all or not; but still all the
traditions of romance pointed to the making the attempt as the usual and
necessary, course to follow; therefore she would some day begin the
search when opportunity should offer.

Now a former thought struck her--she would speak to Mrs. Hawkins.
And naturally enough Mrs. Hawkins appeared on the stage at that moment.

She said she knew all--she knew that Laura had discovered the secret that
Mr. Hawkins, the elder children, Col. Sellers and herself had kept so
long and so faithfully; and she cried and said that now that troubles had
begun they would never end; her daughter's love would wean itself away
from her and her heart would break.  Her grief so wrought upon Laura that
the girl almost forgot her own troubles for the moment in her compassion
for her mother's distress.  Finally Mrs. Hawkins said:

"Speak to me, child--do not forsake me.  Forget all this miserable talk.
Say I am your mother!--I have loved you so long, and there is no other.
I am your mother, in the sight of God, and nothing shall ever take you
from me!"

All barriers fell, before this appeal.  Laura put her arms about her
mother's neck and said:

"You are my mother, and always shall be.  We will be as we have always
been; and neither this foolish talk nor any other thing shall part us or
make us less to each other than we are this hour."

There was no longer any sense of separation or estrangement between them.
Indeed their love seemed more perfect now than it had ever been before.
By and by they went down stairs and sat by the fire and talked long and
earnestly about Laura's history and the letters.  But it transpired that
Mrs. Hawkins had never known of this correspondence between her husband
and Major Lackland.  With his usual consideration for his wife, Mr.
Hawkins had shielded her from the worry the matter would have caused her.

Laura went to bed at last with a mind that had gained largely in
tranquility and had lost correspondingly in morbid romantic exaltation.
She was pensive, the next day, and subdued; but that was not matter for
remark, for she did not differ from the mournful friends about her in
that respect.  Clay and Washington were the same loving and admiring
brothers now that they had always been.  The great secret was new to some
of the younger children, but their love suffered no change under the
wonderful revelation.

It is barely possible that things might have presently settled down into
their old rut and the mystery have lost the bulk of its romantic
sublimity in Laura's eyes, if the village gossips could have quieted
down.  But they could not quiet down and they did not.  Day after day
they called at the house, ostensibly upon visits of condolence, and they
pumped away at the mother and the children without seeming to know that
their questionings were in bad taste.  They meant no harm they only
wanted to know.  Villagers always want to know.

The family fought shy of the questionings, and of course that was high
testimony "if the Duchess was respectably born, why didn't they come out
and prove it?--why did they, stick to that poor thin story about picking
her up out of a steamboat explosion?"

Under this ceaseless persecution, Laura's morbid self-communing was
renewed.  At night the day's contribution of detraction, innuendo and
malicious conjecture would be canvassed in her mind, and then she would
drift into a course of thinking.  As her thoughts ran on, the indignant
tears would spring to her eyes, and she would spit out fierce little
ejaculations at intervals.  But finally she would grow calmer and say
some comforting disdainful thing--something like this:

"But who are they?--Animals!  What are their opinions to me?  Let them
talk--I will not stoop to be affected by it.  I could hate----.
Nonsense--nobody I care for or in any way respect is changed toward me,
I fancy."

She may have supposed she was thinking of many individuals, but it was
not so--she was thinking of only one.  And her heart warmed somewhat,
too, the while.  One day a friend overheard a conversation like this:
--and naturally came and told her all about it:

"Ned, they say you don't go there any more.  How is that?"

"Well, I don't; but I tell you it's not because I don't want to and it's
not because I think it is any matter who her father was or who he wasn't,
either; it's only on account of this talk, talk, talk.  I think she is a
fine girl every way, and so would you if you knew her as well as I do;
but you know how it is when a girl once gets talked about--it's all up
with her--the world won't ever let her alone, after that."

The only comment Laura made upon this revelation, was:

"Then it appears that if this trouble had not occurred I could have had
the happiness of Mr. Ned Thurston's serious attentions.  He is well
favored in person, and well liked, too, I believe, and comes of one of
the first families of the village.  He is prosperous, too, I hear; has
been a doctor a year, now, and has had two patients--no, three, I think;
yes, it was three.  I attended their funerals.  Well, other people have
hoped and been disappointed; I am not alone in that.  I wish you could
stay to dinner, Maria--we are going to have sausages; and besides,
I wanted to talk to you about Hawkeye and make you promise to come and
see us when we are settled there."

But Maria could not stay.  She had come to mingle romantic tears with
Laura's over the lover's defection and had found herself dealing with a
heart that could not rise to an appreciation of affliction because its
interest was all centred in sausages.

But as soon as Maria was gone, Laura stamped her expressive foot and
said:

"The coward!  Are all books lies?  I thought he would fly to the front,
and be brave and noble, and stand up for me against all the world, and
defy my enemies, and wither these gossips with his scorn!  Poor crawling
thing, let him go.  I do begin to despise thin world!"

She lapsed into thought.  Presently she said:

"If the time ever comes, and I get a chance, Oh, I'll----"

She could not find a word that was strong enough, perhaps.  By and by she
said:

"Well, I am glad of it--I'm glad of it.  I never cared anything for him
anyway!"

And then, with small consistency, she cried a little, and patted her foot
more indignantly than ever.



CHAPTER XI

Two months had gone by and the Hawkins family were domiciled in Hawkeye.
Washington was at work in the real estate office again, and was
alternately in paradise or the other place just as it happened that
Louise was gracious to him or seemingly indifferent--because indifference
or preoccupation could mean nothing else than that she was thinking of
some other young person.  Col. Sellers had asked him several times, to
dine with him, when he first returned to Hawkeye, but Washington, for no
particular reason, had not accepted.  No particular reason except one
which he preferred to keep to himself--viz. that he could not bear to be
away from Louise.  It occurred to him, now, that the Colonel had not
invited him lately--could he be offended?  He resolved to go that very
day, and give the Colonel a pleasant surprise.  It was a good idea;
especially as Louise had absented herself from breakfast that morning,
and torn his heart; he would tear hers, now, and let her see how it felt.

The Sellers family were just starting to dinner when Washington burst
upon them with his surprise.  For an instant the Colonel looked
nonplussed, and just a bit uncomfortable; and Mrs. Sellers looked
actually distressed; but the next moment the head of the house was
himself again, and exclaimed:

"All right, my boy, all right--always glad to see you--always glad to
hear your voice and take you by the hand.  Don't wait for special
invitations--that's all nonsense among friends.  Just come whenever you
can, and come as often as you can--the oftener the better.  You can't
please us any better than that, Washington; the little woman will tell
you so herself.  We don't pretend to style.  Plain folks, you know--plain
folks.  Just a plain family dinner, but such as it is, our friends are
always welcome, I reckon you know that yourself, Washington.  Run along,
children, run along; Lafayette,--[**In those old days the average man
called his children after his most revered literary and historical idols;
consequently there was hardly a family, at least in the West, but had a
Washington in it--and also a Lafayette, a Franklin, and six or eight
sounding names from Byron, Scott, and the Bible, if the offspring held
out.  To visit such a family, was to find one's self confronted by a
congress made up of representatives of the imperial myths and the
majestic dead of all the ages.  There was something thrilling about it,
to a stranger, not to say awe inspiring.]--stand off the cat's tail,
child, can't you see what you're doing?--Come, come, come, Roderick Dhu,
it isn't nice for little boys to hang onto young gentlemen's coat tails
--but never mind him, Washington, he's full of spirits and don't mean any
harm.  Children will be children, you know.  Take the chair next to Mrs.
Sellers, Washington--tut, tut, Marie Antoinette, let your brother have
the fork if he wants it, you are bigger than he is."

Washington contemplated the banquet, and wondered if he were in his right
mind.  Was this the plain family dinner?  And was it all present?  It was
soon apparent that this was indeed the dinner: it was all on the table:
it consisted of abundance of clear, fresh water, and a basin of raw
turnips--nothing more.

Washington stole a glance at Mrs. Sellers's face, and would have given
the world, the next moment, if he could have spared her that.  The poor
woman's face was crimson, and the tears stood in her eyes.  Washington
did not know what to do.  He wished he had never come there and spied out
this cruel poverty and brought pain to that poor little lady's heart and
shame to her cheek; but he was there, and there was no escape.  Col.
Sellers hitched back his coat sleeves airily from his wrists as who
should say "Now for solid enjoyment!" seized a fork, flourished it and
began to harpoon turnips and deposit them in the plates before him "Let
me help you, Washington--Lafayette pass this plate Washington--ah, well,
well, my boy, things are looking pretty bright, now, I tell you.
Speculation--my! the whole atmosphere's full of money.  I would'nt take
three fortunes for one little operation I've got on hand now--have
anything from the casters?  No?  Well, you're right, you're right.  Some
people like mustard with turnips, but--now there was Baron Poniatowski
--Lord, but that man did know how to live!--true Russian you know, Russian
to the back bone; I say to my wife, give me a Russian every time, for a
table comrade.  The Baron used to say, 'Take mustard, Sellers, try the
mustard,--a man can't know what turnips are in perfection without,
mustard,' but I always said, 'No, Baron, I'm a plain man and I want my
food plain--none of your embellishments for Beriah Sellers--no made
dishes for me!  And it's the best way--high living kills more than it
cures in this world, you can rest assured of that.--Yes indeed,
Washington, I've got one little operation on hand that--take some more
water--help yourself, won't you?--help yourself, there's plenty of it.
--You'll find it pretty good, I guess.  How does that fruit strike you?"

Washington said he did not know that he had ever tasted better.  He did
not add that he detested turnips even when they were cooked loathed them
in their natural state.  No, he kept this to himself, and praised the
turnips to the peril of his soul.

"I thought you'd like them.  Examine them--examine them--they'll bear it.
See how perfectly firm and juicy they are--they can't start any like them
in this part of the country, I can tell you.  These are from New Jersey
--I imported them myself.  They cost like sin, too; but lord bless me,
I go in for having the best of a thing, even if it does cost a little
more--it's the best economy, in the long run.  These are the Early
Malcolm--it's a turnip that can't be produced except in just one orchard,
and the supply never is up to the demand.  Take some more water,
Washington--you can't drink too much water with fruit--all the doctors
say that.  The plague can't come where this article is, my boy!"

"Plague?  What plague?"

"What plague, indeed?  Why the Asiatic plague that nearly depopulated
London a couple of centuries ago."

"But how does that concern us?  There is no plague here, I reckon."

"Sh! I've let it out!  Well, never mind--just keep it to yourself.
Perhaps I oughtn't said anything, but its bound to come out sooner or
later, so what is the odds?  Old McDowells wouldn't like me to--to
--bother it all, I'll jest tell the whole thing and let it go.  You see,
I've been down to St. Louis, and I happened to run across old Dr.
McDowells--thinks the world of me, does the doctor.  He's a man that
keeps himself to himself, and well he may, for he knows that he's got a
reputation that covers the whole earth--he won't condescend to open
himself out to many people, but lord bless you, he and I are just like
brothers; he won't let me go to a hotel when I'm in the city--says I'm
the only man that's company to him, and I don't know but there's some
truth in it, too, because although I never like to glorify myself and
make a great to-do over what I am or what I can do or what I know,
I don't mind saying here among friends that I am better read up in most
sciences, maybe, than the general run of professional men in these days.
Well, the other day he let me into a little secret, strictly on the
quiet, about this matter of the plague.

"You see it's booming right along in our direction--follows the Gulf
Stream, you know, just as all those epidemics do, and within three months
it will be just waltzing through this land like a whirlwind!  And whoever
it touches can make his will and contract for the funeral.  Well you
can't cure it, you know, but you can prevent it.  How?  Turnips! that's
it!  Turnips and water!  Nothing like it in the world, old McDowells
says, just fill yourself up two or three times a day, and you can snap
your fingers at the plague.  Sh!--keep mum, but just you confine yourself
to that diet and you're all right.  I wouldn't have old McDowells know
that I told about it for anything--he never would speak to me again.
Take some more water, Washington--the more water you drink, the better.
Here, let me give you some more of the turnips.  No, no, no, now, I
insist.  There, now.  Absorb those.  They're, mighty sustaining--brim
full of nutriment--all the medical books say so.  Just eat from four to
seven good-sized turnips at a meal, and drink from a pint and a half to a
quart of water, and then just sit around a couple of hours and let them
ferment.  You'll feel like a fighting cock next day."

Fifteen or twenty minutes later the Colonel's tongue was still chattering
away--he had piled up several future fortunes out of several incipient
"operations" which he had blundered into within the past week, and was
now soaring along through some brilliant expectations born of late
promising experiments upon the lacking ingredient of the eye-water.
And at such a time Washington ought to have been a rapt and enthusiastic
listener, but he was not, for two matters disturbed his mind and
distracted his attention.  One was, that he discovered, to his confusion
and shame, that in allowing himself to be helped a second time to the
turnips, he had robbed those hungry children.  He had not needed the
dreadful "fruit," and had not wanted it; and when he saw the pathetic
sorrow in their faces when they asked for more and there was no more to
give them, he hated himself for his stupidity and pitied the famishing
young things with all his heart.  The other matter that disturbed him was
the dire inflation that had begun in his stomach.  It grew and grew, it
became more and more insupportable.  Evidently the turnips were
"fermenting."  He forced himself to sit still as long as he could, but
his anguish conquered him at last.

He rose in the midst of the Colonel's talk and excused himself on the
plea of a previous engagement.  The Colonel followed him to the door,
promising over and over again that he would use his influence to get some
of the Early Malcolms for him, and insisting that he should not be such a
stranger but come and take pot-luck with him every chance he got.
Washington was glad enough to get away and feel free again.  He
immediately bent his steps toward home.

In bed he passed an hour that threatened to turn his hair gray, and then
a blessed calm settled down upon him that filled his heart with
gratitude.  Weak and languid, he made shift to turn himself about and
seek rest and sleep; and as his soul hovered upon the brink of
unconciousness, he heaved a long, deep sigh, and said to himself that in
his heart he had cursed the Colonel's preventive of rheumatism, before,
and now let the plague come if it must--he was done with preventives;
if ever any man beguiled him with turnips and water again, let him die
the death.

If he dreamed at all that night, no gossiping spirit disturbed his
visions to whisper in his ear of certain matters just then in bud in the
East, more than a thousand miles away that after the lapse of a few years
would develop influences which would profoundly affect the fate and
fortunes of the Hawkins family.




CHAPTER XII

"Oh, it's easy enough to make a fortune," Henry said.

"It seems to be easier than it is, I begin to think," replied Philip.

"Well, why don't you go into something?  You'll never dig it out of the
Astor Library."

If there be any place and time in the world where and when it seems easy
to "go into something" it is in Broadway on a spring morning, when one is
walking city-ward, and has before him the long lines of palace-shops with
an occasional spire seen through the soft haze that lies over the lower
town, and hears the roar and hum of its multitudinous traffic.

To the young American, here or elsewhere, the paths to fortune are
innumerable and all open; there is invitation in the air and success in
all his wide horizon.  He is embarrassed which to choose, and is not
unlikely to waste years in dallying with his chances, before giving
himself to the serious tug and strain of a single object.  He has no
traditions to bind him or guide him, and his impulse is to break away
from the occupation his father has followed, and make a new way for
himself.

Philip Sterling used to say that if he should seriously set himself for
ten years to any one of the dozen projects that were in his brain, he
felt that he could be a rich man.  He wanted to be rich, he had a sincere
desire for a fortune, but for some unaccountable reason he hesitated
about addressing himself to the narrow work of getting it.  He never
walked Broadway, a part of its tide of abundant shifting life, without
feeling something of the flush of wealth, and unconsciously taking the
elastic step of one well-to-do in this prosperous world.

Especially at night in the crowded theatre--Philip was too young to
remember the old Chambers' Street box, where the serious Burton led his
hilarious and pagan crew--in the intervals of the screaming comedy, when
the orchestra scraped and grunted and tooted its dissolute tunes, the
world seemed full of opportunities to Philip, and his heart exulted with
a conscious ability to take any of its prizes he chose to pluck.

Perhaps it was the swimming ease of the acting, on the stage, where
virtue had its reward in three easy acts, perhaps it was the excessive
light of the house, or the music, or the buzz of the excited talk between
acts, perhaps it was youth which believed everything, but for some reason
while Philip was at the theatre he had the utmost confidence in life and
his ready victory in it.

Delightful illusion of paint and tinsel and silk attire, of cheap
sentiment and high and mighty dialogue!  Will there not always be rosin
enough for the squeaking fiddle-bow?

Do we not all like the maudlin hero, who is sneaking round the right
entrance, in wait to steal the pretty wife of his rich and tyrannical
neighbor from the paste-board cottage at the left entrance? and when he
advances down to the foot-lights and defiantly informs the audience that,
"he who lays his hand on a woman except in the way of kindness," do we
not all applaud so as to drown the rest of the sentence?

Philip never was fortunate enough to hear what would become of a man who
should lay his hand on a woman with the exception named; but he learned
afterwards that the woman who lays her hand on a man, without any
exception whatsoever, is always acquitted by the jury.

The fact was, though Philip Sterling did not know it, that he wanted
several other things quite as much as he wanted wealth.  The modest
fellow would have liked fame thrust upon him for some worthy achievement;
it might be for a book, or for the skillful management of some great
newspaper, or for some daring expedition like that of Lt. Strain or Dr.
Kane.  He was unable to decide exactly what it should be.  Sometimes he
thought he would like to stand in a conspicuous pulpit and humbly preach
the gospel of repentance; and it even crossed his mind that it would be
noble to give himself to a missionary life to some benighted region,
where the date-palm grows, and the nightingale's voice is in tune, and
the bul-bul sings on the off nights.  If he were good enough he would
attach himself to that company of young men in the Theological Seminary,
who were seeing New York life in preparation for the ministry.

Philip was a New England boy and had graduated at Yale; he had not
carried off with him all the learning of that venerable institution, but
he knew some things that were not in the regular course of study.  A very
good use of the English language and considerable knowledge of its
literature was one of them; he could sing a song very well, not in time
to be sure, but with enthusiasm; he could make a magnetic speech at a
moment's notice in the class room, the debating society, or upon any
fence or dry-goods box that was convenient; he could lift himself by one
arm, and do the giant swing in the gymnasium; he could strike out from
his left shoulder; he could handle an oar like a professional and pull
stroke in a winning race.  Philip had a good appetite, a sunny temper,
and a clear hearty laugh.  He had brown hair, hazel eyes set wide apart,
a broad but not high forehead, and a fresh winning face.  He was six feet
high, with broad shoulders, long legs and a swinging gait; one of those
loose-jointed, capable fellows, who saunter into the world with a free
air and usually make a stir in whatever company they enter.

After he left college Philip took the advice of friends and read law.
Law seemed to him well enough as a science, but he never could discover a
practical case where it appeared to him worth while to go to law, and all
the clients who stopped with this new clerk in the ante-room of the law
office where he was writing, Philip invariably advised to settle--no
matter how, but settle--greatly to the disgust of his employer, who knew
that justice between man and man could only be attained by the recognized
processes, with the attendant fees.  Besides Philip hated the copying of
pleadings, and he was certain that a life of "whereases" and "aforesaids"
and whipping the devil round the stump, would be intolerable.

[Note: these few paragraphs are nearly an autobiography of the life of
Charles Dudley Warner whose contributions to the story start here with
Chapter XII.  D.W.]

His pen therefore, and whereas, and not as aforesaid, strayed off into
other scribbling.  In an unfortunate hour, he had two or three papers
accepted by first-class magazines, at three dollars the printed page,
and, behold, his vocation was open to him.  He would make his mark in
literature.

Life has no moment so sweet as that in which a young man believes himself
called into the immortal ranks of the masters of literature.  It is such
a noble ambition, that it is a pity it has usually such a shallow
foundation.

At the time of this history, Philip had gone to New York for a career.
With his talent he thought he should have little difficulty in getting an
editorial position upon a metropolitan newspaper; not that he knew
anything about news paper work, or had the least idea of journalism; he
knew he was not fitted for the technicalities of the subordinate
departments, but he could write leaders with perfect ease, he was sure.
The drudgery of the newspaper office was too distaste ful, and besides it
would be beneath the dignity of a graduate and a successful magazine
writer.  He wanted to begin at the top of the ladder.

To his surprise he found that every situation in the editorial department
of the journals was full, always had been full, was always likely to be
full.  It seemed to him that the newspaper managers didn't want genius,
but mere plodding and grubbing.  Philip therefore read diligently in the
Astor library, planned literary works that should compel attention, and
nursed his genius.  He had no friend wise enough to tell him to step into
the Dorking Convention, then in session, make a sketch of the men and
women on the platform, and take it to the editor of the Daily Grapevine,
and see what he could get a line for it.

One day he had an offer from some country friends, who believed in him,
to take charge of a provincial daily newspaper, and he went to consult
Mr. Gringo--Gringo who years ago managed the Atlas--about taking the
situation.

"Take it of course," says Gringo, "take anything that offers, why not?"

"But they want me to make it an opposition paper."

"Well, make it that.  That party is going to succeed, it's going to elect
the next president."

"I don't believe it," said Philip, stoutly, "its wrong in principle, and
it ought not to succeed, but I don't see how I can go for a thing I don't
believe in."

"O, very well," said Gringo, turning away with a shade of contempt,
"you'll find if you are going into literature and newspaper work that you
can't afford a conscience like that."

But Philip did afford it, and he wrote, thanking his friends, and
declining because he said the political scheme would fail, and ought to
fail.  And he went back to his books and to his waiting for an opening
large enough for his dignified entrance into the literary world.

It was in this time of rather impatient waiting that Philip was one
morning walking down Broadway with Henry Brierly.  He frequently
accompanied Henry part way down town to what the latter called his office
in Broad Street, to which he went, or pretended to go, with regularity
every day.  It was evident to the most casual acquaintance that he was a
man of affairs, and that his time was engrossed in the largest sort of
operations, about which there was a mysterious air.  His liability to be
suddenly summoned to Washington, or Boston or Montreal or even to
Liverpool was always imminent.  He never was so summoned, but none of his
acquaintances would have been surprised to hear any day that he had gone
to Panama or Peoria, or to hear from him that he had bought the Bank of
Commerce.

The two were intimate at that time,--they had been class, mates--and saw
a great deal of each other.  Indeed, they lived together in Ninth Street,
in a boarding-house, there, which had the honor of lodging and partially
feeding several other young fellows of like kidney, who have since gone
their several ways into fame or into obscurity.

It was during the morning walk to which reference has been made that
Henry Brierly suddenly said, "Philip, how would you like to go to
St. Jo?"

"I think I should like it of all things," replied Philip, with some
hesitation, "but what for."

"Oh, it's a big operation.  We are going, a lot of us, railroad men,
engineers, contractors.  You know my uncle is a great railroad man.  I've
no doubt I can get you a chance to go if you'll go."

"But in what capacity would I go?"

"Well, I'm going as an engineer.  You can go as one."

"I don't know an engine from a coal cart."

"Field engineer, civil engineer.  You can begin by carrying a rod, and
putting down the figures.  It's easy enough.  I'll show you about that.
We'll get Trautwine and some of those books."

"Yes, but what is it for, what is it all about?"

"Why don't you see?  We lay out a line, spot the good land, enter it up,
know where the stations are to be, spot them, buy lots; there's heaps of
money in it.  We wouldn't engineer long."

"When do you go?" was Philip's next question, after some moments of
silence.

"To-morrow.  Is that too soon?"

"No, its not too soon.  I've been ready to go anywhere for six months.
The fact is, Henry, that I'm about tired of trying to force myself into
things, and am quite willing to try floating with the stream for a while,
and see where I will land.  This seems like a providential call; it's
sudden enough."

The two young men who were by this time full of the adventure, went down
to the Wall street office of Henry's uncle and had a talk with that wily
operator.  The uncle knew Philip very well, and was pleased with his
frank enthusiasm, and willing enough to give him a trial in the western
venture.  It was settled therefore, in the prompt way in which things are
settled in New York, that they would start with the rest of the company
next morning for the west.

On the way up town these adventurers bought books on engineering, and
suits of India-rubber, which they supposed they would need in a new and
probably damp country, and many other things which nobody ever needed
anywhere.

The night was spent in packing up and writing letters, for Philip would
not take such an important step without informing his friends.  If they
disapprove, thought he, I've done my duty by letting them know.  Happy
youth, that is ready to pack its valise, and start for Cathay on an
hour's notice.

"By the way," calls out Philip from his bed-room, to Henry, "where is
St. Jo.?"

"Why, it's in Missouri somewhere, on the frontier I think.  We'll get a
map."

"Never mind the map.  We will find the place itself.  I was afraid it was
nearer home."

Philip wrote a long letter, first of all, to his mother, full of love and
glowing anticipations of his new opening.  He wouldn't bother her with
business details, but he hoped that the day was not far off when she
would see him return, with a moderate fortune, and something to add to
the comfort of her advancing years.

To his uncle he said that he had made an arrangement with some New York
capitalists to go to Missouri, in a land and railroad operation, which
would at least give him a knowledge of the world and not unlikely offer
him a business opening.  He knew his uncle would be glad to hear that he
had at last turned his thoughts to a practical matter.

It was to Ruth Bolton that Philip wrote last.  He might never see her
again; he went to seek his fortune.  He well knew the perils of the
frontier, the savage state of society, the lurking Indians and the
dangers of fever.  But there was no real danger to a person who took care
of himself.  Might he write to her often and, tell her of his life.
If he returned with a fortune, perhaps and perhaps.  If he was
unsuccessful, or if he never returned--perhaps it would be as well.
No time or distance, however, would ever lessen his interest in her.  He
would say good-night, but not good-bye.

In the soft beginning of a Spring morning, long before New York had
breakfasted, while yet the air of expectation hung about the wharves of
the metropolis, our young adventurers made their way to the Jersey City
railway station of the Erie road, to begin the long, swinging, crooked
journey, over what a writer of a former day called a causeway of cracked
rails and cows, to the West.




CHAPTER XIII.

          What ever to say be toke in his entente,
          his langage was so fayer & pertynante,
          yt semeth unto manys herying not only the worde,
          but veryly the thyng.
                              Caxton's Book of Curtesye.

In the party of which our travelers found themselves members, was Duff
Brown, the great railroad contractor, and subsequently a well-known
member of Congress; a bluff, jovial Bost'n man, thick-set, close shaven,
with a heavy jaw and a low forehead--a very pleasant man if you were not
in his way.  He had government contracts also, custom houses and dry
docks, from Portland to New Orleans, and managed to get out of congress,
in appropriations, about weight for weight of gold for the stone
furnished.

Associated with him, and also of this party, was Rodney Schaick, a sleek
New York broker, a man as prominent in the church as in the stock
exchange, dainty in his dress, smooth of speech, the necessary complement
of Duff Brown in any enterprise that needed assurance and adroitness.

It would be difficult to find a pleasanter traveling party one that shook
off more readily the artificial restraints of Puritanic strictness, and
took the world with good-natured allowance.  Money was plenty for every
attainable luxury, and there seemed to be no doubt that its supply would
continue, and that fortunes were about to be made without a great deal of
toil.  Even Philip soon caught the prevailing spirit; Barry did not need
any inoculation, he always talked in six figures.  It was as natural for
the dear boy to be rich as it is for most people to be poor.

The elders of the party were not long in discovering the fact, which
almost all travelers to the west soon find out; that the water was poor.
It must have been by a lucky premonition of this that they all had brandy
flasks with which to qualify the water of the country; and it was no
doubt from an uneasy feeling of the danger of being poisoned that they
kept experimenting, mixing a little of the dangerous and changing fluid,
as they passed along, with the contents of the flasks, thus saving their
lives hour by hour.  Philip learned afterwards that temperance and the
strict observance of Sunday and a certain gravity of deportment are
geographical habits, which people do not usually carry with them away
from home.

Our travelers stopped in Chicago long enough to see that they could make
their fortunes there in two week's tine, but it did not seem worth while;
the west was more attractive; the further one went the wider the
opportunities opened.

They took railroad to Alton and the steamboat from there to St. Louis,
for the change and to have a glimpse of the river.

"Isn't this jolly?" cried Henry, dancing out of the barber's room, and
coming down the deck with a one, two, three step, shaven, curled and
perfumed after his usual exquisite fashion.

"What's jolly?" asked Philip, looking out upon the dreary and monotonous
waste through which the shaking steamboat was coughing its way.

"Why, the whole thing; it's immense I can tell you.  I wouldn't give that
to be guaranteed a hundred thousand cold cash in a year's time."

"Where's Mr. Brown?"

"He is in the saloon, playing poker with Schaick and that long haired
party with the striped trousers, who scrambled aboard when the stage
plank was half hauled in, and the big Delegate to Congress from out
west."

"That's a fine looking fellow, that delegate, with his glossy, black
whiskers; looks like a Washington man; I shouldn't think he'd be at
poker."

"Oh, its only five cent ante, just to make it interesting, the Delegate
said."

"But I shouldn't think a representative in Congress would play poker any
way in a public steamboat."

"Nonsense, you've got to pass the time.  I tried a hand myself, but those
old fellows are too many for me.  The Delegate knows all the points.
I'd bet a hundred dollars he will ante his way right into the United
States Senate when his territory comes in.  He's got the cheek for it."

"He has the grave and thoughtful manner of expectoration of a public man,
for one thing," added Philip.

"Harry," said Philip, after a pause, "what have you got on those big
boots for; do you expect to wade ashore?"

"I'm breaking 'em in."

The fact was Harry had got himself up in what he thought a proper costume
for a new country, and was in appearance a sort of compromise between a
dandy of Broadway and a backwoodsman.  Harry, with blue eyes, fresh
complexion, silken whiskers and curly chestnut hair, was as handsome as
a fashion plate.  He wore this morning a soft hat, a short cutaway coat,
an open vest displaying immaculate linen, a leathern belt round his
waist, and top-boots of soft leather, well polished, that came above his
knees and required a string attached to his belt to keep them up.  The
light hearted fellow gloried in these shining encasements of his well
shaped legs, and told Philip that they were a perfect protection against
prairie rattle-snakes, which never strike above the knee.

The landscape still wore an almost wintry appearance when our travelers
left Chicago.  It was a genial spring day when they landed at St. Louis;
the birds were singing, the blossoms of peach trees in city garden plots,
made the air sweet, and in the roar and tumult on the long river levee
they found an excitement that accorded with their own hopeful
anticipations.

The party went to the Southern Hotel, where the great Duff Brown was very
well known, and indeed was a man of so much importance that even the
office clerk was respectful to him.  He might have respected in him also
a certain vulgar swagger and insolence of money, which the clerk greatly
admired.

The young fellows liked the house and liked the city; it seemed to them a
mighty free and hospitable town.  Coming from the East they were struck
with many peculiarities.  Everybody smoked in the streets, for one thing,
they noticed; everybody "took a drink" in an open manner whenever he
wished to do so or was asked, as if the habit needed no concealment or
apology.  In the evening when they walked about they found people sitting
on the door-steps of their dwellings, in a manner not usual in a northern
city; in front of some of the hotels and saloons the side walks were
filled with chairs and benches--Paris fashion, said Harry--upon which
people lounged in these warm spring evenings, smoking, always smoking;
and the clink of glasses and of billiard balls was in the air.  It was
delightful.

Harry at once found on landing that his back-woods custom would not be
needed in St. Louis, and that, in fact, he had need of all the resources
of his wardrobe to keep even with the young swells of the town.  But this
did not much matter, for Harry was always superior to his clothes.
As they were likely to be detained some time in the city, Harry told
Philip that he was going to improve his time.  And he did.  It was an
encouragement to any industrious man to see this young fellow rise,
carefully dress himself, eat his breakfast deliberately, smoke his cigar
tranquilly, and then repair to his room, to what he called his work, with
a grave and occupied manner, but with perfect cheerfulness.

Harry would take off his coat, remove his cravat, roll up his
shirt-sleeves, give his curly hair the right touch before the glass, get
out his book on engineering, his boxes of instruments, his drawing paper,
his profile paper, open the book of logarithms, mix his India ink,
sharpen his pencils, light a cigar, and sit down at the table to "lay out
a line," with the most grave notion that he was mastering the details of
engineering.  He would spend half a day in these preparations without
ever working out a problem or having the faintest conception of the use
of lines or logarithms.  And when he had finished, he had the most
cheerful confidence that he had done a good day's work.

It made no difference, however, whether Harry was in his room in a hotel
or in a tent, Philip soon found, he was just the same.  In camp he would
get himself, up in the most elaborate toilet at his command, polish his
long boots to the top, lay out his work before him, and spend an hour or
longer, if anybody was looking at him, humming airs, knitting his brows,
and "working" at engineering; and if a crowd of gaping rustics were
looking on all the while it was perfectly satisfactory to him.

"You see," he says to Philip one morning at the hotel when he was thus
engaged, "I want to get the theory of this thing, so that I can have a
check on the engineers."

"I thought you were going to be an engineer yourself,"  queried Philip.

"Not many times, if the court knows herself.  There's better game.  Brown
and Schaick have, or will have, the control for the whole line of the
Salt Lick Pacific Extension, forty thousand dollars a mile over the
prairie, with extra for hard-pan--and it'll be pretty much all hardpan
I can tell you; besides every alternate section of land on this line.
There's millions in the job.  I'm to have the sub-contract for the first
fifty miles, and you can bet it's a soft thing."

"I'll tell you what you do, Philip," continued Larry, in a burst of
generosity, "if I don't get you into my contract, you'll be with the
engineers, and you jest stick a stake at the first ground marked for a
depot, buy the land of the farmer before he knows where the depot will
be, and we'll turn a hundred or so on that.  I'll advance the money for
the payments, and you can sell the lots.  Schaick is going to let me have
ten thousand just for a flyer in such operations."

"But that's a good deal of money."

"Wait till you are used to handling money.  I didn't come out here for a
bagatelle.  My uncle wanted me to stay East and go in on the Mobile
custom house, work up the Washington end of it; he said there was a
fortune in it for a smart young fellow, but I preferred to take the
chances out here.  Did I tell you I had an offer from Bobbett and Fanshaw
to go into their office as confidential clerk on a salary of ten
thousand?"

"Why didn't you take it?" asked Philip, to whom a salary of two thousand
would have seemed wealth, before he started on this journey.

"Take it?  I'd rather operate on my own hook;" said Harry, in his most
airy manner.

A few evenings after their arrival at the Southern, Philip and Harry made
the acquaintance of a very agreeable gentleman, whom they had frequently
seen before about the hotel corridors, and passed a casual word with.  He
had the air of a man of business, and was evidently a person of
importance.

The precipitating of this casual intercourse into the more substantial
form of an acquaintanceship was the work of the gentleman himself, and
occurred in this wise.  Meeting the two friends in the lobby one evening,
he asked them to give him the time, and added:

"Excuse me, gentlemen--strangers in St. Louis?  Ah, yes-yes.  From the
East, perhaps?  Ah; just so, just so.  Eastern born myself--Virginia.
Sellers is my name--Beriah Sellers.

"Ah! by the way--New York, did you say?  That reminds me; just met some
gentlemen from your State, a week or two ago--very prominent gentlemen
--in public life they are; you must know them, without doubt.  Let me see
--let me see.  Curious those names have escaped me.  I know they were from
your State, because I remember afterward my old friend Governor Shackleby
said to me--fine man, is the Governor--one of the finest men our country
has produced--said he, 'Colonel, how did you like those New York
gentlemen?--not many such men in the world,--Colonel Sellers,' said the
Governor--yes, it was New York he said--I remember it distinctly.
I can't recall those names, somehow.  But no matter.  Stopping here,
gentlemen--stopping at the Southern?"

In shaping their reply in their minds, the title "Mr." had a place in it;
but when their turn had arrived to speak, the title "Colonel" came from
their lips instead.

They said yes, they were abiding at the Southern, and thought it a very
good house.

"Yes, yes, the Southern is fair.  I myself go to the Planter's, old,
aristocratic house.  We Southern gentlemen don't change our ways, you
know.  I always make it my home there when I run down from Hawkeye--my
plantation is in Hawkeye, a little up in the country.  You should know
the Planter's."

Philip and Harry both said they should like to see a hotel that had been
so famous in its day--a cheerful hostelrie, Philip said it must have been
where duels were fought there across the dining-room table.

"You may believe it, sir, an uncommonly pleasant lodging.  Shall we
walk?"

And the three strolled along the streets, the Colonel talking all
the way in the most liberal and friendly manner, and with a frank
open-heartedness that inspired confidence.

"Yes, born East myself, raised all along, know the West--a great country,
gentlemen.  The place for a young fellow of spirit to pick up a fortune,
simply pick it up, it's lying round loose here.  Not a day that I don't
put aside an opportunity; too busy to look into it.  Management of my own
property takes my time.  First visit?  Looking for an opening?"

"Yes, looking around," replied Harry.

"Ah, here we are.  You'd rather sit here in front than go to my
apartments?  So had I. An opening eh?"

The Colonel's eyes twinkled.  "Ah, just so.  The country is opening up,
all we want is capital to develop it.  Slap down the rails and bring the
land into market.  The richest land on God Almighty's footstool is lying
right out there.  If I had my capital free I could plant it for
millions."

"I suppose your capital is largely in your plantation?" asked Philip.

"Well, partly, sir, partly.  I'm down here now with reference to a little
operation--a little side thing merely.  By the way gentlemen, excuse the
liberty, but it's about my usual time"--

The Colonel paused, but as no movement of his acquaintances followed this
plain remark, he added, in an explanatory manner,

"I'm rather particular about the exact time--have to be in this climate."

Even this open declaration of his hospitable intention not being
understood the Colonel politely said,

"Gentlemen, will you take something?"

Col. Sellers led the way to a saloon on Fourth street under the hotel,
and the young gentlemen fell into the custom of the country.

"Not that," said the Colonel to the bar-keeper, who shoved along the
counter a bottle of apparently corn-whiskey, as if he had done it before
on the same order; "not that," with a wave of the hand.  "That Otard if
you please.  Yes.  Never take an inferior liquor, gentlemen, not in the
evening, in this climate.  There.  That's the stuff.  My respects!"

The hospitable gentleman, having disposed of his liquor, remarking that
it was not quite the thing--"when a man has his own cellar to go to, he
is apt to get a little fastidious about his liquors"--called for cigars.
But the brand offered did not suit him; he motioned the box away, and
asked for some particular Havana's, those in separate wrappers.

"I always smoke this sort, gentlemen; they are a little more expensive,
but you'll learn, in this climate, that you'd better not economize on
poor cigars."

Having imparted this valuable piece of information, the Colonel lighted
the fragrant cigar with satisfaction, and then carelessly put his fingers
into his right vest pocket.  That movement being without result, with a
shade of disappointment on his face, he felt in his left vest pocket.
Not finding anything there, he looked up with a serious and annoyed air,
anxiously slapped his right pantaloon's pocket, and then his left, and
exclaimed,

"By George, that's annoying.  By George, that's mortifying.  Never had
anything of that kind happen to me before.  I've left my pocket-book.
Hold!  Here's a bill, after all.  No, thunder, it's a receipt."

"Allow me," said Philip, seeing how seriously the Colonel was annoyed,
and taking out his purse.

The Colonel protested he couldn't think of it, and muttered something to
the barkeeper about "hanging it up," but the vender of exhilaration made
no sign, and Philip had the privilege of paying the costly shot; Col.
Sellers profusely apologizing and claiming the right "next time, next
time."

As soon as Beriah Sellers had bade his friends good night and seen them
depart, he did not retire apartments in the Planter's, but took his way
to his lodgings with a friend in a distant part of the city.




CHAPTER XIV.

The letter that Philip Sterling wrote to Ruth Bolton, on the evening of
setting out to seek his fortune in the west, found that young lady in her
own father's house in Philadelphia.  It was one of the pleasantest of the
many charming suburban houses in that hospitable city, which is
territorially one of the largest cities in the world, and only prevented
from becoming the convenient metropolis of the country by the intrusive
strip of Camden and Amboy sand which shuts it off from the Atlantic
ocean.  It is a city of steady thrift, the arms of which might well be
the deliberate but delicious terrapin that imparts such a royal flavor to
its feasts.

It was a spring morning, and perhaps it was the influence of it that made
Ruth a little restless, satisfied neither with the out-doors nor the
in-doors.  Her sisters had gone to the city to show some country visitors
Independence Hall, Girard College and Fairmount Water Works and Park,
four objects which Americans cannot die peacefully, even in Naples,
without having seen.  But Ruth confessed that she was tired of them, and
also of the Mint.  She was tired of other things.  She tried this morning
an air or two upon the piano, sang a simple song in a sweet but slightly
metallic voice, and then seating herself by the open window, read
Philip's letter.  Was she thinking about Philip, as she gazed across the
fresh lawn over the tree tops to the Chelton Hills, or of that world
which his entrance, into her tradition-bound life had been one of the
means of opening to her?  Whatever she thought, she was not idly musing,
as one might see by the expression of her face.  After a time she took
up a book; it was a medical work, and to all appearance about as
interesting to a girl of eighteen as the statutes at large; but her face
was soon aglow over its pages, and she was so absorbed in it that she did
not notice the entrance of her mother at the open door.

"Ruth?"

"Well, mother," said the young student, looking up, with a shade of
impatience.

"I wanted to talk with thee a little about thy plans."

"Mother; thee knows I couldn't stand it at Westfield; the school stifled
me, it's a place to turn young people into dried fruit."

"I know," said Margaret Bolton, with a half anxious smile, "thee chafes
against all the ways of Friends, but what will thee do?  Why is thee so
discontented?"

"If I must say it, mother, I want to go away, and get out of this dead
level."

With a look half of pain and half of pity, her mother answered, "I am
sure thee is little interfered with; thee dresses as thee will, and goes
where thee pleases, to any church thee likes, and thee has music.  I had
a visit yesterday from the society's committee by way of discipline,
because we have a piano in the house, which is against the rules."

"I hope thee told the elders that father and I are responsible for the
piano, and that, much as thee loves music, thee is never in the room when
it is played.  Fortunately father is already out of meeting, so they
can't discipline him.  I heard father tell cousin Abner that he was
whipped so often for whistling when he was a boy that he was determined
to have what compensation he could get now."

"Thy ways greatly try me, Ruth, and all thy relations.  I desire thy
happiness first of all, but thee is starting out on a dangerous path.
Is thy father willing thee should go away to a school of the world's
people?"

"I have not asked him," Ruth replied with a look that might imply that
she was one of those determined little bodies who first made up her own
mind and then compelled others to make up theirs in accordance with hers.

"And when thee has got the education thee wants, and lost all relish for
the society of thy friends and the ways of thy ancestors, what then?"

Ruth turned square round to her mother, and with an impassive face and
not the slightest change of tone, said,

"Mother, I'm going to study medicine?"

Margaret Bolton almost lost for a moment her habitual placidity.

"Thee, study medicine!  A slight frail girl like thee, study medicine!
Does thee think thee could stand it six months?  And the lectures,
and the dissecting rooms, has thee thought of the dissecting rooms?"

"Mother," said Ruth calmly, "I have thought it all over.  I know I can go
through the whole, clinics, dissecting room and all.  Does thee think I
lack nerve?  What is there to fear in a person dead more than in a person
living?"

"But thy health and strength, child; thee can never stand the severe
application.  And, besides, suppose thee does learn medicine?"

"I will practice it."

"Here?"

"Here."

"Where thee and thy family are known?"

"If I can get patients."

"I hope at least, Ruth, thee will let us know when thee opens an office,"
said her mother, with an approach to sarcasm that she rarely indulged in,
as she rose and left the room.

Ruth sat quite still for a tine, with face intent and flushed.  It was
out now.  She had begun her open battle.

The sight-seers returned in high spirits from the city.  Was there any
building in Greece to compare with Girard College, was there ever such a
magnificent pile of stone devised for the shelter of poor orphans?  Think
of the stone shingles of the roof eight inches thick!  Ruth asked the
enthusiasts if they would like to live in such a sounding mausoleum, with
its great halls and echoing rooms, and no comfortable place in it for the
accommodation of any body?  If they were orphans, would they like to be
brought up in a Grecian temple?

And then there was Broad street!  Wasn't it the broadest and the longest
street in the world?  There certainly was no end to it, and even Ruth was
Philadelphian enough to believe that a street ought not to have any end,
or architectural point upon which the weary eye could rest.

But neither St. Girard, nor Broad street, neither wonders of the Mint nor
the glories of the Hall where the ghosts of our fathers sit always
signing the Declaration; impressed the visitors so much as the splendors
of the Chestnut street windows, and the bargains on Eighth street.
The truth is that the country cousins had come to town to attend the
Yearly Meeting, and the amount of shopping that preceded that religious
event was scarcely exceeded by the preparations for the opera in more
worldly circles.

"Is thee going to the Yearly Meeting, Ruth?" asked one of the girls.

"I have nothing to wear," replied that demure person.  "If thee wants to
see new bonnets, orthodox to a shade and conformed to the letter of the
true form, thee must go to the Arch Street Meeting.  Any departure from
either color or shape would be instantly taken note of.  It has occupied
mother a long time, to find at the shops the exact shade for her new
bonnet.  Oh, thee must go by all means.  But thee won't see there a
sweeter woman than mother."

"And thee won't go?"

"Why should I?  I've been again and again.  If I go to Meeting at all I
like best to sit in the quiet old house in Germantown, where the windows
are all open and I can see the trees, and hear the stir of the leaves.
It's such a crush at the Yearly Meeting at Arch Street, and then there's
the row of sleek-looking young men who line the curbstone and stare at us
as we come out.  No, I don't feel at home there."

That evening Ruth and her father sat late by the drawing-room fire, as
they were quite apt to do at night.  It was always a time of confidences.

"Thee has another letter from young Sterling," said Eli Bolton.

"Yes.  Philip has gone to the far west."

"How far?"

"He doesn't say, but it's on the frontier, and on the map everything
beyond it is marked 'Indians' and 'desert,' and looks as desolate as a
Wednesday Meeting."

"Humph.  It was time for him to do something.  Is he going to start a
daily newspaper among the Kick-a-poos?"

"Father, thee's unjust to Philip.  He's going into business."

"What sort of business can a young man go into without capital?"

"He doesn't say exactly what it is," said Ruth a little dubiously, "but
it's something about land and railroads, and thee knows, father, that
fortunes are made nobody knows exactly how, in a new country."

"I should think so, you innocent puss, and in an old one too.  But Philip
is honest, and he has talent enough, if he will stop scribbling, to make
his way.  But thee may as well take care of theeself, Ruth, and not go
dawdling along with a young man in his adventures, until thy own mind is
a little more settled what thee wants."

This excellent advice did not seem to impress Ruth greatly, for she was
looking away with that abstraction of vision which often came into her
grey eyes, and at length she exclaimed, with a sort of impatience,

"I wish I could go west, or south, or somewhere.  What a box women are
put into, measured for it, and put in young; if we go anywhere it's in a
box, veiled and pinioned and shut in by disabilities.  Father, I should
like to break things and get loose!"

What a sweet-voiced little innocent, it was to be sure.

"Thee will no doubt break things enough when thy time comes, child; women
always have; but what does thee want now that thee hasn't?"

"I want to be something, to make myself something, to do something.  Why
should I rust, and be stupid, and sit in inaction because I am a girl?
What would happen to me if thee should lose thy property and die?  What
one useful thing could I do for a living, for the support of mother and
the children?  And if I had a fortune, would thee want me to lead a
useless life?"

"Has thy mother led a useless life?"

"Somewhat that depends upon whether her children amount to anything,"
retorted the sharp little disputant.  "What's the good, father, of a
series of human beings who don't advance any?"

Friend Eli, who had long ago laid aside the Quaker dress, and was out of
Meeting, and who in fact after a youth of doubt could not yet define his
belief, nevertheless looked with some wonder at this fierce young eagle
of his, hatched in a Friend's dove-cote.  But he only said,

"Has thee consulted thy mother about a career, I suppose it is a career
thee wants?"

Ruth did not reply directly; she complained that her mother didn't
understand her.  But that wise and placid woman understood the sweet
rebel a great deal better than Ruth understood herself.  She also had a
history, possibly, and had sometime beaten her young wings against the
cage of custom, and indulged in dreams of a new social order, and had
passed through that fiery period when it seems possible for one mind,
which has not yet tried its limits, to break up and re-arrange the world.

Ruth replied to Philip's letter in due time and in the most cordial and
unsentimental manner.  Philip liked the letter, as he did everything she
did; but he had a dim notion that there was more about herself in the
letter than about him.  He took it with him from the Southern Hotel, when
he went to walk, and read it over and again in an unfrequented street as
he stumbled along. The rather common-place and unformed hand-writing
seemed to him peculiar and characteristic, different from that of any
other woman.

Ruth was glad to hear that Philip had made a push into the world, and she
was sure that his talent and courage would make a way for him.  She
should pray for his success at any rate, and especially that the Indians,
in St. Louis, would not take his scalp.

Philip looked rather dubious at this sentence, and wished that he had
written nothing about Indians.




CHAPTER XV.

Eli Bolton and his wife talked over Ruth's case, as they had often done
before, with no little anxiety.  Alone of all their children she was
impatient of the restraints and monotony of the Friends' Society, and
wholly indisposed to accept the "inner light" as a guide into a life of
acceptance and inaction.  When Margaret told her husband of Ruth's newest
project, he did not exhibit so much surprise as she hoped for.  In fact
he said that he did not see why a woman should not enter the medical
profession if she felt a call to it.

"But," said Margaret, "consider her total inexperience of the world, and
her frail health.  Can such a slight little body endure the ordeal of the
preparation for, or the strain of, the practice of the profession?"

"Did thee ever think, Margaret, whether, she can endure being thwarted in
an object on which she has so set her heart, as she has on this?  Thee
has trained her thyself at home, in her enfeebled childhood, and thee
knows how strong her will is, and what she has been able to accomplish in
self-culture by the simple force of her determination.  She never will be
satisfied until she has tried her own strength."

"I wish," said Margaret, with an inconsequence that is not exclusively
feminine, "that she were in the way to fall in love and marry by and by.
I think that would cure her of some of her notions.  I am not sure but if
she went away, to some distant school, into an entirely new life, her
thoughts would be diverted."

Eli Bolton almost laughed as he regarded his wife, with eyes that never
looked at her except fondly, and replied,

"Perhaps thee remembers that thee had notions also, before we were
married, and before thee became a member of Meeting.  I think Ruth comes
honestly by certain tendencies which thee has hidden under the Friend's
dress."

Margaret could not say no to this, and while she paused, it was evident
that memory was busy with suggestions to shake her present opinions.

"Why not let Ruth try the study for a time," suggested Eli; "there is a
fair beginning of a Woman's Medical College in the city.  Quite likely
she will soon find that she needs first a more general culture, and fall,
in with thy wish that she should see more of the world at some large
school."

There really seemed to be nothing else to be done, and Margaret consented
at length without approving.  And it was agreed that Ruth, in order to
spare her fatigue, should take lodgings with friends near the college and
make a trial in the pursuit of that science to which we all owe our
lives, and sometimes as by a miracle of escape.

That day Mr. Bolton brought home a stranger to dinner, Mr. Bigler of the
great firm of Pennybacker, Bigler & Small, railroad contractors.  He was
always bringing home somebody, who had a scheme; to build a road, or open
a mine, or plant a swamp with cane to grow paper-stock, or found a
hospital, or invest in a patent shad-bone separator, or start a college
somewhere on the frontier, contiguous to a land speculation.

The Bolton house was a sort of hotel for this kind of people.  They were
always coming.  Ruth had known them from childhood, and she used to say
that her father attracted them as naturally as a sugar hogshead does
flies.  Ruth had an idea that a large portion of the world lived by
getting the rest of the world into schemes.  Mr. Bolton never could say
"no" to any of them, not even, said Ruth again, to the society for
stamping oyster shells with scripture texts before they were sold at
retail.

Mr. Bigler's plan this time, about which he talked loudly, with his mouth
full, all dinner time, was the building of the Tunkhannock, Rattlesnake
and Young-womans-town railroad, which would not only be a great highway to
the west, but would open to market inexhaustible coal-fields and untold
millions of lumber.  The plan of operations was very simple.

"We'll buy the lands," explained he, "on long time, backed by the notes
of good men; and then mortgage them for money enough to get the road well
on.  Then get the towns on the line to issue their bonds for stock, and
sell their bonds for enough to complete the road, and partly stock it,
especially if we mortgage each section as we complete it.  We can then
sell the rest of the stock on the prospect of the business of the road
through an improved country, and also sell the lands at a big advance,
on the strength of the road.  All we want," continued Mr. Bigler in his
frank manner, "is a few thousand dollars to start the surveys, and
arrange things in the legislature.  There is some parties will have to be
seen, who might make us trouble."

"It will take a good deal of money to start the enterprise," remarked Mr.
Bolton, who knew very well what "seeing" a Pennsylvania Legislature
meant, but was too polite to tell Mr. Bigler what he thought of him,
while he was his guest; "what security would one have for it?"

Mr. Bigler smiled a hard kind of smile, and said, "You'd be inside, Mr.
Bolton, and you'd have the first chance in the deal."

This was rather unintelligible to Ruth, who was nevertheless somewhat
amused by the study of a type of character she had seen before.
At length she interrupted the conversation by asking,

"You'd sell the stock, I suppose, Mr. Bigler, to anybody who was
attracted by the prospectus?"

"O, certainly, serve all alike," said Mr. Bigler, now noticing Ruth for
the first time, and a little puzzled by the serene, intelligent face that
was turned towards him.

"Well, what would become of the poor people who had been led to put their
little money into the speculation, when you got out of it and left it
half way?"

It would be no more true to say of Mr. Bigler that he was or could be
embarrassed, than to say that a brass counterfeit dollar-piece would
change color when refused; the question annoyed him a little, in Mr.
Bolton's presence.

"Why, yes, Miss, of course, in a great enterprise for the benefit of the
community there will little things occur, which, which--and, of course,
the poor ought to be looked to; I tell my wife, that the poor must be
looked to; if you can tell who are poor--there's so many impostors.  And
then, there's so many poor in the legislature to be looked after," said
the contractor with a sort of a chuckle, "isn't that so, Mr. Bolton?"

Eli Bolton replied that he never had much to do with the legislature.

"Yes," continued this public benefactor, "an uncommon poor lot this year,
uncommon.  Consequently an expensive lot.  The fact is, Mr. Bolton, that
the price is raised so high on United States Senator now, that it affects
the whole market; you can't get any public improvement through on
reasonable terms.  Simony is what I call it, Simony," repeated Mr.
Bigler, as if he had said a good thing.

Mr. Bigler went on and gave some very interesting details of the intimate
connection between railroads and politics, and thoroughly entertained
himself all dinner time, and as much disgusted Ruth, who asked no more
questions, and her father who replied in monosyllables:

"I wish," said Ruth to her father, after the guest had gone, "that you
wouldn't bring home any more such horrid men.  Do all men who wear big
diamond breast-pins, flourish their knives at table, and use bad grammar,
and cheat?"

"O, child, thee mustn't be too observing.  Mr. Bigler is one of the most
important men in the state; nobody has more influence at Harrisburg.
I don't like him any more than thee does, but I'd better lend him a
little money than to have his ill will."

"Father, I think thee'd better have his ill-will than his company.  Is it
true that he gave money to help build the pretty little church of
St. James the Less, and that he is, one of the vestrymen?"

"Yes.  He is not such a bad fellow.  One of the men in Third street asked
him the other day, whether his was a high church or a low church?  Bigler
said he didn't know; he'd been in it once, and he could touch the ceiling
in the side aisle with his hand."

"I think he's just horrid," was Ruth's final summary of him, after the
manner of the swift judgment of women, with no consideration of the
extenuating circumstances.  Mr. Bigler had no idea that he had not made a
good impression on the whole family; he certainly intended to be
agreeable.  Margaret agreed with her daughter, and though she never said
anything to such people, she was grateful to Ruth for sticking at least
one pin into him.

Such was the serenity of the Bolton household that a stranger in it would
never have suspected there was any opposition to Ruth's going to the
Medical School.  And she went quietly to take her residence in town, and
began her attendance of the lectures, as if it were the most natural
thing in the world.  She did not heed, if she heard, the busy and
wondering gossip of relations and acquaintances, gossip that has no less
currency among the Friends than elsewhere because it is whispered slyly
and creeps about in an undertone.

Ruth was absorbed, and for the first time in her life thoroughly happy;
happy in the freedom of her life, and in the keen enjoyment of the
investigation that broadened its field day by day.  She was in high
spirits when she came home to spend First Days; the house was full of her
gaiety and her merry laugh, and the children wished that Ruth would never
go away again.  But her mother noticed, with a little anxiety, the
sometimes flushed face, and the sign of an eager spirit in the kindling
eyes, and, as well, the serious air of determination and endurance in her
face at unguarded moments.

The college was a small one and it sustained itself not without
difficulty in this city, which is so conservative, and is yet the origin
of so many radical movements.  There were not more than a dozen
attendants on the lectures all together, so that the enterprise had the
air of an experiment, and the fascination of pioneering for those engaged
in it.  There was one woman physician driving about town in her carriage,
attacking the most violent diseases in all quarters with persistent
courage, like a modern Bellona in her war chariot, who was popularly
supposed to gather in fees to the amount ten to twenty thousand dollars a
year.  Perhaps some of these students looked forward to the near day when
they would support such a practice and a husband besides, but it is
unknown that any of them ever went further than practice in hospitals and
in their own nurseries, and it is feared that some of them were quite as
ready as their sisters, in emergencies, to "call a man."

If Ruth had any exaggerated expectations of a professional life, she kept
them to herself, and was known to her fellows of the class simply as a
cheerful, sincere student, eager in her investigations, and never
impatient at anything, except an insinuation that women had not as much
mental capacity for science as men.

"They really say," said one young Quaker sprig to another youth of his
age, "that Ruth Bolton is really going to be a saw-bones, attends
lectures, cuts up bodies, and all that.  She's cool enough for a surgeon,
anyway."  He spoke feelingly, for he had very likely been weighed in
Ruth's calm eyes sometime, and thoroughly scared by the little laugh that
accompanied a puzzling reply to one of his conversational nothings.  Such
young gentlemen, at this time, did not come very distinctly into Ruth's
horizon, except as amusing circumstances.

About the details of her student life, Ruth said very little to her
friends, but they had reason to know, afterwards, that it required all
her nerve and the almost complete exhaustion of her physical strength,
to carry her through.  She began her anatomical practice upon detached
portions of the human frame, which were brought into the demonstrating
room--dissecting the eye, the ear, and a small tangle of muscles and
nerves--an occupation which had not much more savor of death in it than
the analysis of a portion of a plant out of which the life went when it
was plucked up by the roots.  Custom inures the most sensitive persons to
that which is at first most repellant; and in the late war we saw the
most delicate women, who could not at home endure the sight of blood,
become so used to scenes of carnage, that they walked the hospitals and
the margins of battle-fields, amid the poor remnants of torn humanity,
with as perfect self-possession as if they were strolling in a flower
garden.

It happened that Ruth was one evening deep in a line of investigation
which she could not finish or understand without demonstration, and so
eager was she in it, that it seemed as if she could not wait till the
next day.  She, therefore, persuaded a fellow student, who was reading
that evening with her, to go down to the dissecting room of the college,
and ascertain what they wanted to know by an hour's work there.  Perhaps,
also, Ruth wanted to test her own nerve, and to see whether the power of
association was stronger in her mind than her own will.

The janitor of the shabby and comfortless old building admitted the
girls, not without suspicion, and gave them lighted candles, which they
would need, without other remark than "there's a new one, Miss," as the
girls went up the broad stairs.

They climbed to the third story, and paused before a door, which they
unlocked, and which admitted them into a long apartment, with a row of
windows on one side and one at the end.  The room was without light, save
from the stars and the candles the girls carried, which revealed to them
dimly two long and several small tables, a few benches and chairs, a
couple of skeletons hanging on the wall, a sink, and cloth-covered heaps
of something upon the tables here and there.

The windows were open, and the cool night wind came in strong enough to
flutter a white covering now and then, and to shake the loose casements.
But all the sweet odors of the night could not take from the room a faint
suggestion of mortality.

The young ladies paused a moment.  The room itself was familiar enough,
but night makes almost any chamber eerie, and especially such a room of
detention as this where the mortal parts of the unburied might--almost be
supposed to be, visited, on the sighing night winds, by the wandering
spirits of their late tenants.

Opposite and at some distance across the roofs of lower buildings, the
girls saw a tall edifice, the long upper story of which seemed to be a
dancing hall.  The windows of that were also open, and through them they
heard the scream of the jiggered and tortured violin, and the pump, pump
of the oboe, and saw the moving shapes of men and women in quick
transition, and heard the prompter's drawl.

"I wonder," said Ruth, "what the girls dancing there would think if they
saw us, or knew that there was such a room as this so near them."

She did not speak very loud, and, perhaps unconsciously, the girls drew
near to each other as they approached the long table in the centre of the
room.  A straight object lay upon it, covered with a sheet.  This was
doubtless "the new one" of which the janitor spoke.  Ruth advanced, and
with a not very steady hand lifted the white covering from the upper part
of the figure and turned it down.  Both the girls started.  It was a
negro.  The black face seemed to defy the pallor of death, and asserted
an ugly life-likeness that was frightful.

Ruth was as pale as the white sheet, and her comrade whispered, "Come
away, Ruth, it is awful."

Perhaps it was the wavering light of the candles, perhaps it was only the
agony from a death of pain, but the repulsive black face seemed to wear a
scowl that said, "Haven't you yet done with the outcast, persecuted black
man, but you must now haul him from his grave, and send even your women
to dismember his body?"

Who is this dead man, one of thousands who died yesterday, and will be
dust anon, to protest that science shall not turn his worthless carcass
to some account?

Ruth could have had no such thought, for with a pity in her sweet face,
that for the moment overcame fear and disgust, she reverently replaced
the covering, and went away to her own table, as her companion did to
hers.  And there for an hour they worked at their several problems,
without speaking, but not without an awe of the presence there, "the new
one," and not without an awful sense of life itself, as they heard the
pulsations of the music and the light laughter from the dancing-hall.

When, at length, they went away, and locked the dreadful room behind
them, and came out into the street, where people were passing, they, for
the first time, realized, in the relief they felt, what a nervous strain
they had been under.




CHAPTER XVI.

While Ruth was thus absorbed in her new occupation, and the spring was
wearing away, Philip and his friends were still detained at the Southern
Hotel.  The great contractors had concluded their business with the state
and railroad officials and with the lesser contractors, and departed for
the East.  But the serious illness of one of the engineers kept Philip
and Henry in the city and occupied in alternate watchings.

Philip wrote to Ruth of the new acquaintance they had made, Col. Sellers,
an enthusiastic and hospitable gentleman, very much interested in the
development of the country, and in their success.  They had not had an
opportunity to visit at his place "up in the country" yet, but the
Colonel often dined with them, and in confidence, confided to them his
projects, and seemed to take a great liking to them, especially to his
friend Harry.  It was true that he never seemed to have ready money,
but he was engaged in very large operations.

The correspondence was not very brisk between these two young persons,
so differently occupied; for though Philip wrote long letters, he got
brief ones in reply, full of sharp little observations however, such as
one concerning Col. Sellers, namely, that such men dined at their house
every week.

Ruth's proposed occupation astonished Philip immensely, but while he
argued it and discussed it, he did not dare hint to her his fear that it
would interfere with his most cherished plans.  He too sincerely
respected Ruth's judgment to make any protest, however, and he would have
defended her course against the world.

This enforced waiting at St. Louis was very irksome to Philip.  His money
was running away, for one thing, and he longed to get into the field,
and see for himself what chance there was for a fortune or even an
occupation.  The contractors had given the young men leave to join the
engineer corps as soon as they could, but otherwise had made no provision
for them, and in fact had left them with only the most indefinite
expectations of something large in the future.

Harry was entirely happy; in his circumstances.  He very soon knew
everybody, from the governor of the state down to the waiters at the
hotel.  He had the Wall street slang at his tongue's end; he always
talked like a capitalist, and entered with enthusiasm into all the land
and railway schemes with which the air was thick.

Col. Sellers and Harry talked together by the hour and by the day.  Harry
informed his new friend that he was going out with the engineer corps of
the Salt Lick Pacific Extension, but that wasn't his real business.

"I'm to have, with another party," said Harry, "a big contract in the
road, as soon as it is let; and, meantime, I'm with the engineers to spy
out the best land and the depot sites."

"It's everything," suggested' the Colonel, "in knowing where to invest.
I've known people throwaway their money because they  were too
consequential to take Sellers' advice.  Others, again, have made their
pile on taking it.  I've looked over the ground; I've been studying it
for twenty years.  You can't put your finger on a spot in the map of
Missouri that I don't know as if I'd made it.  When you want to place
anything," continued the Colonel, confidently, "just let Beriah Sellers
know.  That's all."

"Oh, I haven't got much in ready money I can lay my hands on now, but if
a fellow could do anything with fifteen or twenty thousand dollars,
as a beginning, I shall draw for that when I see the right opening."

"Well, that's something, that's something, fifteen or twenty thousand
dollars, say twenty--as an advance," said the Colonel reflectively, as if
turning over his mind for a project that could be entered on with such a
trifling sum.

"I'll tell you what it is--but only to you Mr. Brierly, only to you,
mind; I've got a little project that I've been keeping.  It looks small,
looks small on paper, but it's got a big future.  What should you say,
sir, to a city, built up like the rod of Aladdin had touched it, built up
in two years, where now you wouldn't expect it any more than you'd expect
a light-house on the top of Pilot Knob? and you could own the land!  It
can be done, sir.  It can be done!"

The Colonel hitched up his chair close to Harry, laid his hand on his
knee, and, first looking about him, said in a low voice, "The Salt Lick
Pacific Extension is going to run through Stone's Landing!  The Almighty
never laid out a cleaner piece of level prairie for a city; and it's the
natural center of all that region of hemp and tobacco."

"What makes you think the road will go there?  It's twenty miles, on the
map, off the straight line of the road?"

"You can't tell what is the straight line till the engineers have been
over it.  Between us, I have talked with Jeff Thompson, the division
engineer.  He understands the wants of Stone's Landing, and the claims of
the inhabitants--who are to be there.  Jeff says that a railroad is for
--the accommodation of the people and not for the benefit of gophers; and
if, he don't run this to Stone's Landing he'll be damned!  You ought to
know Jeff; he's one of the most enthusiastic engineers in this western
country, and one of the best fellows that ever looked through the bottom
of a glass."

The recommendation was not undeserved.  There was nothing that Jeff
wouldn't do, to accommodate a friend, from sharing his last dollar with
him, to winging him in a duel.  When he understood from Col. Sellers.
how the land lay at Stone's Landing, he cordially shook hands with that
gentleman, asked him to drink, and fairly roared out, "Why, God bless my
soul, Colonel, a word from one Virginia gentleman to another is 'nuff
ced.'  There's Stone's Landing been waiting for a railroad more than four
thousand years, and damme if she shan't have it."

Philip had not so much faith as Harry in Stone's Landing, when the latter
opened the project to him, but Harry talked about it as if he already
owned that incipient city.

Harry thoroughly believed in all his projects and inventions, and lived
day by day in their golden atmosphere.  Everybody liked the young fellow,
for how could they help liking one of such engaging manners and large
fortune?  The waiters at the hotel would do more for him than for any
other guest, and he made a great many acquaintances among the people of
St. Louis, who liked his sensible and liberal views about the development
of the western country, and about St. Louis.  He said it ought to be the
national capital.  Harry made partial arrangements with several of the
merchants for furnishing supplies for his contract on the Salt Lick
Pacific Extension; consulted the maps with the engineers, and went over
the profiles with the contractors, figuring out estimates for bids.
He was exceedingly busy with those things when he was not at the bedside
of his sick acquaintance, or arranging the details of his speculation
with Col. Sellers.

Meantime the days went along and the weeks, and the money in Harry's
pocket got lower and lower.  He was just as liberal with what he had as
before, indeed it was his nature to be free with his money or with that
of others, and he could lend or spend a dollar with an air that made it
seem like ten.  At length, at the end of one week, when his hotel bill
was presented, Harry found not a cent in his pocket to meet it.  He
carelessly remarked to the landlord that he was not that day in funds,
but he would draw on New York, and he sat down and wrote to the
contractors in that city a glowing letter about the prospects of the
road, and asked them to advance a hundred or two, until he got at work.
No reply came.  He wrote again, in an unoffended business like tone,
suggesting that he had better draw at three days.  A short answer came to
this, simply saying that money was very tight in Wall street just then,
and that he had better join the engineer corps as soon as he could.

But the bill had to be paid, and Harry took it to Philip, and asked him
if he thought he hadn't better draw on his uncle.  Philip had not much
faith in Harry's power of "drawing," and told him that he would pay the
bill himself.  Whereupon Harry dismissed the matter then and thereafter
from his thoughts, and, like a light-hearted good fellow as he was, gave
himself no more trouble about his board-bills.  Philip paid them, swollen
as they were with a monstrous list of extras; but he seriously counted
the diminishing bulk of his own hoard, which was all the money he had in
the world.  Had he not tacitly agreed to share with Harry to the last in
this adventure, and would not the generous fellow divide; with him if he,
Philip, were in want and Harry had anything?

The fever at length got tired of tormenting the stout young engineer, who
lay sick at the hotel, and left him, very thin, a little sallow but an
"acclimated" man.  Everybody said he was "acclimated" now, and said it
cheerfully.  What it is to be acclimated to western fevers no two persons
exactly agree.

Some say it is a sort of vaccination that renders death by some malignant
type of fever less probable.  Some regard it as a sort of initiation,
like that into the Odd Fellows, which renders one liable to his regular
dues thereafter.  Others consider it merely the acquisition of a habit of
taking every morning before breakfast a dose of bitters, composed of
whiskey and assafoetida, out of the acclimation jug.

Jeff Thompson afterwards told Philip that he once asked Senator Atchison,
then acting Vice-President: of the United States, about the possibility
of acclimation; he thought the opinion of the second officer of our great
government would be, valuable on this point.  They were sitting together
on a bench before a country tavern, in the free converse permitted by our
democratic habits.

"I suppose, Senator, that you have become acclimated to this country?"

"Well," said the Vice-President, crossing his legs, pulling his
wide-awake down over his forehead, causing a passing chicken to hop
quickly one side by the accuracy of his aim, and speaking with senatorial
deliberation, "I think I have.  I've been here twenty-five years, and
dash, dash my dash to dash, if I haven't entertained twenty-five separate
and distinct earthquakes, one a year.  The niggro is the only person who
can stand the fever and ague of this region."

The convalescence of the engineer was the signal for breaking up quarters
at St. Louis, and the young fortune-hunters started up the river in good
spirits.  It was only the second time either of them had been upon a
Mississippi steamboat, and nearly everything they saw had the charm of
novelty.  Col. Sellers was at the landing to bid thorn good-bye.

"I shall send you up that basket of champagne by the next boat; no, no;
no thanks; you'll find it not bad in camp," he cried out as the plank was
hauled in.  "My respects to Thompson.  Tell him to sight for Stone's.
Let me know, Mr. Brierly, when you are ready to locate; I'll come over
from Hawkeye.  Goodbye."

And the last the young fellows saw of the Colonel, he was waving his hat,
and beaming prosperity and good luck.

The voyage was delightful, and was not long enough to become monotonous.
The travelers scarcely had time indeed to get accustomed to the splendors
of the great saloon where the tables were spread for meals, a marvel of
paint and gilding, its ceiling hung with fancifully cut tissue-paper of
many colors, festooned and arranged in endless patterns.  The whole was
more beautiful than a barber's shop.  The printed bill of fare at dinner
was longer and more varied, the proprietors justly boasted, than that of
any hotel in New York.  It must have been the work of an author of talent
and imagination, and it surely was not his fault if the dinner itself was
to a certain extent a delusion, and if the guests got something that
tasted pretty much the same whatever dish they ordered; nor was it his
fault if a general flavor of rose in all the dessert dishes suggested
that they hid passed through the barber's saloon on their way from the
kitchen.

The travelers landed at a little settlement on the left bank, and at once
took horses for the camp in the interior, carrying their clothes and
blankets strapped behind the saddles.  Harry was dressed as we have seen
him once before, and his long and shining boots attracted not a little
the attention of the few persons they met on the road, and especially of
the bright faced wenches who lightly stepped along the highway,
picturesque in their colored kerchiefs, carrying light baskets, or riding
upon mules and balancing before them a heavier load.

Harry sang fragments of operas and talked abort their fortune.  Philip
even was excited by the sense of freedom and adventure, and the beauty of
the landscape.  The prairie, with its new grass and unending acres of
brilliant flowers--chiefly the innumerable varieties of phlox-bore the
look of years of cultivation, and the occasional open groves of white
oaks gave it a park-like appearance.  It was hardly unreasonable to
expect to see at any moment, the gables and square windows of an
Elizabethan mansion in one of the well kept groves.

Towards sunset of the third day, when the young gentlemen thought they
ought to be near the town of Magnolia, near which they had been directed
to find the engineers' camp, they descried a log house and drew up before
it to enquire the way.  Half the building was store, and half was
dwelling house.  At the door of the latter stood a regress with a bright
turban on her head, to whom Philip called,

"Can you tell me, auntie, how far it is to the town of Magnolia?"

"Why, bress you chile," laughed the woman, "you's dere now."

It was true.  This log horse was the compactly built town, and all
creation was its suburbs.  The engineers' camp was only two or three
miles distant.

"You's boun' to find it," directed auntie, "if you don't keah nuffin
'bout de road, and go fo' de sun-down."

A brisk gallop brought the riders in sight of the twinkling light of the
camp, just as the stars came out.  It lay in a little hollow, where a
small stream ran through a sparse grove of young white oaks.  A half
dozen tents were pitched under the trees, horses and oxen were corraled
at a little distance, and a group of men sat on camp stools or lay on
blankets about a bright fire.  The twang of a banjo became audible as
they drew nearer, and they saw a couple of negroes, from some neighboring
plantation, "breaking down" a juba in approved style, amid the "hi, hi's"
of the spectators.

Mr. Jeff Thompson, for it was the camp of this redoubtable engineer, gave
the travelers a hearty welcome, offered them ground room in his own tent,
ordered supper, and set out a small jug, a drop from which he declared
necessary on account of the chill of the evening.

"I never saw an Eastern man," said Jeff, "who knew how to drink from a
jug with one hand.  It's as easy as lying.  So."  He grasped the handle
with the right hand, threw the jug back upon his arm, and applied his
lips to the nozzle.  It was an act as graceful as it was simple.
"Besides," said Mr. Thompson, setting it down, "it puts every man on his
honor as to quantity."

Early to turn in was the rule of the camp, and by nine o'clock everybody
was under his blanket, except Jeff himself, who worked awhile at his
table over his field-book, and then arose, stepped outside the tent door
and sang, in a strong and not unmelodious tenor, the Star Spangled Banner
from beginning to end.  It proved to be his nightly practice to let off
the unexpended seam of his conversational powers, in the words of this
stirring song.

It was a long time before Philip got to sleep.  He saw the fire light,
he saw the clear stars through the tree-tops, he heard the gurgle of the
stream, the stamp of the horses, the occasional barking of the dog which
followed the cook's wagon, the hooting of an owl; and when these failed
he saw Jeff, standing on a battlement, mid the rocket's red glare, and
heard him sing, "Oh, say, can you see?", It was the first time he had
ever slept on the ground.




CHAPTER XVII.

         ----"We have view'd it,
          And measur'd it within all, by the scale
          The richest tract of land, love, in the kingdom!
          There will be made seventeen or eighteeen millions,
          Or more, as't may be handled!"
                              The Devil is an Ass.

Nobody dressed more like an engineer than Mr. Henry Brierly.  The
completeness of his appointments was the envy of the corps, and the gay
fellow himself was the admiration of the camp servants, axemen, teamsters
and cooks.

"I reckon you didn't git them boots no wher's this side o' Sent Louis?"
queried the tall Missouri youth who acted as commissariy's assistant.

"No, New York."

"Yas, I've heern o' New York," continued the butternut lad, attentively
studying each item of Harry's dress, and endeavoring to cover his design
with interesting conversation.  "'N there's Massachusetts.",

"It's not far off."

"I've heern Massachusetts was a-----of a place.  Les, see, what state's
Massachusetts in?"

"Massachusetts," kindly replied Harry, "is in the state of Boston."

"Abolish'n wan't it?  They must a cost right smart," referring to the
boots.

Harry shouldered his rod and went to the field, tramped over the prairie
by day, and figured up results at night, with the utmost cheerfulness and
industry, and plotted the line on the profile paper, without, however,
the least idea of engineering practical or theoretical.  Perhaps there
was not a great deal of scientific knowledge in the entire corps, nor was
very much needed.  They were making, what is called a preliminary survey,
and the chief object of a preliminary survey was to get up an excitement
about the road, to interest every town in that part of the state in it,
under the belief that the road would run through it, and to get the aid
of every planter upon the prospect that a station would be on his land.

Mr. Jeff Thompson was the most popular engineer who could be found for
this work.  He did not bother himself much about details or
practicabilities of location, but ran merrily along, sighting from the
top of one divide to the top of another, and striking "plumb" every town
site and big plantation within twenty or thirty miles of his route.  In
his own language he "just went booming."

This course gave Harry an opportunity, as he said, to learn the practical
details of engineering, and it gave Philip a chance to see the country,
and to judge for himself what prospect of a fortune it offered.  Both he
and Harry got the "refusal" of more than one plantation as they went
along, and wrote urgent letters to their eastern correspondents, upon the
beauty of the land and the certainty that it would quadruple in value as
soon as the road was finally located.  It seemed strange to them that
capitalists did not flock out there and secure this land.

They had not been in the field over two weeks when Harry wrote to his
friend Col. Sellers that he'd better be on the move, for the line was
certain to go to Stone's Landing.  Any one who looked at the line on the
map, as it was laid down from day to day, would have been uncertain which
way it was going; but Jeff had declared that in his judgment the only
practicable route from the point they then stood on was to follow the
divide to Stone's Landing, and it was generally understood that that town
would be the next one hit.

"We'll make it, boys," said the chief, "if we have to go in a balloon."

And make it they did In less than a week, this indomitable engineer had
carried his moving caravan over slues and branches, across bottoms and
along divides, and pitched his tents in the very heart of the city of
Stone's Landing.

"Well, I'll be dashed," was heard the cheery voice of Mr. Thompson, as he
stepped outside the tent door at sunrise next morning.  "If this don't
get me.  I say yon Grayson, get out your sighting iron and see if you
can find old Sellers' town.  Blame me if we wouldn't have run plumb by it
if twilight had held on a little longer.  Oh!  Sterling, Brierly, get up
and see the city.  There's a steamboat just coming round the bend."  And
Jeff roared with laughter.  "The mayor'll be round here to breakfast."

The fellows turned out of the tents, rubbing their eyes, and stared about
them.  They were camped on the second bench of the narrow bottom of a
crooked, sluggish stream, that was some five rods wide in the present
good stage of water.  Before them were a dozen log cabins, with stick and
mud chimneys, irregularly disposed on either side of a not very well
defined road, which did not seem to know its own mind exactly, and, after
straggling through the town, wandered off over the rolling prairie in an
uncertain way, as if it had started for nowhere and was quite likely to
reach its destination.  Just as it left the town, however, it was cheered
and assisted by a guide-board, upon which was the legend "10 Mils to
Hawkeye."

The road had never been made except by the travel over it, and at this
season--the rainy June--it was a way of ruts cut in the black soil, and
of fathomless mud-holes.  In the principal street of the city, it had
received more attention; for hogs; great and small, rooted about in it
and wallowed in it, turning the street into a liquid quagmire which could
only be crossed on pieces of plank thrown here and there.

About the chief cabin, which was the store and grocery of this mart of
trade, the mud was more liquid than elsewhere, and the rude platform in
front of it and the dry-goods boxes mounted thereon were places of refuge
for all the loafers of the place.  Down by the stream was a dilapidated
building which served for a hemp warehouse, and a shaky wharf extended
out from it, into the water.  In fact a flat-boat was there moored by it,
it's setting poles lying across the gunwales.  Above the town the stream
was crossed by a crazy wooden bridge, the supports of which leaned all
ways in the soggy soil; the absence of a plank here and there in the
flooring made the crossing of the bridge faster than a walk an offense
not necessary to be prohibited by law.

"This, gentlemen," said Jeff, "is Columbus River, alias Goose Run.  If it
was widened, and deepened, and straightened, and  made, long enough, it
would be one of the finest rivers in the western country."

As the sun rose and sent his level beams along the stream, the thin
stratum of mist, or malaria, rose also and dispersed, but the light was
not able to enliven the dull water nor give any hint of its apparently
fathomless depth.  Venerable mud-turtles crawled up and roosted upon the
old logs in the stream, their backs glistening in the sun, the first
inhabitants of the metropolis to begin the active business of the day.

It was not long, however, before smoke began to issue from the city
chimneys; and before the engineers, had finished their breakfast they
were the object of the curious inspection of six or eight boys and men,
who lounged into the camp and gazed about them with languid interest,
their hands in their pockets every one.

"Good morning; gentlemen," called out the chief engineer, from the table.

"Good mawning," drawled out the spokesman of the party.  "I allow
thish-yers the railroad, I heern it was a-comin'."

"Yes, this is the railroad; all but the rails and the ironhorse."

"I reckon you kin git all the rails you want oaten my white oak timber
over, thar," replied the first speaker, who appeared to be a man of
property and willing to strike up a trade.

"You'll have to negotiate with the contractors about the rails, sir,"
said Jeff; "here's Mr. Brierly, I've no doubt would like to buy your
rails when the time comes."

"O," said the man, "I thought maybe you'd fetch the whole bilin along
with you.  But if you want rails, I've got em, haint I Eph."

"Heaps," said Eph, without taking his eyes off the group at the table.

"Well," said Mr. Thompson, rising from his seat and moving towards his
tent, "the railroad has come to Stone's Landing, sure; I move we take a
drink on it all round."

The proposal met with universal favor.  Jeff gave prosperity to Stone's
Landing and navigation to Goose Run, and the toast was washed down with
gusto, in the simple fluid of corn; and with the return compliment that a
rail road was a good thing, and that Jeff Thompson was no slouch.

About ten o'clock a horse and wagon was descried making a slow approach
to the camp over the prairie.  As it drew near, the wagon was seen to
contain a portly gentleman, who hitched impatiently forward on his seat,
shook the reins and gently touched up his horse, in the vain attempt to
communicate his own energy to that dull beast, and looked eagerly at the
tents.  When the conveyance at length drew up to Mr. Thompson's door,
the gentleman descended with great deliberation, straightened himself up,
rubbed his hands, and beaming satisfaction from every part of his radiant
frame, advanced to the group that was gathered to welcome him, and which
had saluted him by name as soon as he came within hearing.

"Welcome to Napoleon, gentlemen, welcome.  I am proud to see you here
Mr. Thompson.  You are, looking well Mr. Sterling.  This is the country,
sir.  Right glad to see you Mr. Brierly.  You got that basket of
champagne?  No?  Those blasted river thieves!  I'll never send anything
more by 'em.  The best brand, Roederer.  The last I had in my cellar,
from a lot sent me by Sir George Gore--took him out on a buffalo hunt,
when he visited our country.  Is always sending me some trifle.  You
haven't looked about any yet, gentlemen?  It's in the rough yet, in the
rough.  Those buildings will all have to come down.  That's the place for
the public square, Court House, hotels, churches, jail--all that sort of
thing.  About where we stand, the deepo.  How does that strike your
engineering eye, Mr. Thompson?  Down yonder the business streets, running
to the wharves.  The University up there, on rising ground, sightly
place, see the river for miles.  That's Columbus river, only forty-nine
miles to the Missouri.  You see what it is, placid, steady, no current to
interfere with navigation, wants widening in places and dredging, dredge
out the harbor and raise a levee in front of the town; made by nature on
purpose for a mart.  Look at all this country, not another building
within ten miles, no other navigable stream, lay of the land points right
here; hemp, tobacco, corn, must come here.  The railroad will do it,
Napoleon won't know itself in a year."

"Don't now evidently," said Philip aside to Harry.  "Have you breakfasted
Colonel?"

"Hastily.  Cup of coffee.  Can't trust any coffee I don't import myself.
But I put up a basket of provisions,--wife would put in a few delicacies,
women always will, and a half dozen of that Burgundy, I was telling you
of Mr. Briefly.  By the way, you never got to dine with me."  And the
Colonel strode away to the wagon and looked under the seat for the
basket.

Apparently it was not there.  For the Colonel raised up the flap, looked
in front and behind, and then exclaimed,

"Confound it.  That comes of not doing a thing yourself.  I trusted to
the women folks to set that basket in the wagon, and it ain't there."

The camp cook speedily prepared a savory breakfast for the Colonel,
broiled chicken, eggs, corn-bread, and coffee, to which he did ample
justice, and topped  off with a drop of Old Bourbon, from Mr. Thompson's
private store, a brand which he said he knew well, he should think it
came from his own sideboard.

While the engineer corps went to the field, to run back a couple of miles
and ascertain, approximately, if a road could ever get down to the
Landing, and to sight ahead across the Run, and see if it could ever get
out again, Col. Sellers and Harry sat down and began to roughly map out
the city of Napoleon on a large piece of drawing paper.

"I've got the refusal of a mile square here," said the Colonel, "in our
names, for a year, with a quarter interest reserved for the four owners."

They laid out the town liberally, not lacking room, leaving space for the
railroad to come in, and for the river as it was to be when improved.

The engineers reported that the railroad could come in, by taking a
little sweep and crossing the stream on a high bridge, but the grades
would be steep.  Col. Sellers said he didn't care so much about the
grades, if the road could only be made to reach the elevators on the
river.  The next day Mr. Thompson made a hasty survey of the stream for a
mile or two, so that the Colonel and Harry were enabled to show on their
map how nobly that would accommodate the city.  Jeff took a little
writing from the Colonel and Harry for a prospective share but Philip
declined to join in, saying that he had no money, and didn't want to make
engagements he couldn't fulfill.

The next morning the camp moved on, followed till it was out of sight by
the listless eyes of the group in front of the store, one of whom
remarked that, "he'd be doggoned if he ever expected to see that railroad
any mo'."

Harry went with the Colonel to Hawkeye to complete their arrangements, a
part of which was the preparation of a petition to congress for the
improvement of the navigation of Columbus River.




CHAPTER XVIII.

Eight years have passed since the death of Mr. Hawkins.  Eight years are
not many in the life of a nation or the history of a state, but they
maybe years of destiny that shall fix the current of the century
following.  Such years were those that followed the little scrimmage on
Lexington Common.  Such years were those that followed the double-shotted
demand for the surrender of Fort Sumter.  History is never done with
inquiring of these years, and summoning witnesses about them, and trying
to understand their significance.

The eight years in America from 1860 to 1868 uprooted institutions that
were centuries old, changed the politics of a people, transformed the
social life of half the country, and wrought so profoundly upon the
entire national character that the influence cannot be measured short of
two or three generations.

As we are accustomed to interpret the economy of providence, the life of
the individual is as nothing to that of the nation or the race; but who
can say, in the broader view and the more intelligent weight of values,
that the life of one man is not more than that of a nationality, and that
there is not a tribunal where the tragedy of one human soul shall not
seem more significant than the overturning of any human institution
whatever?

When one thinks of the tremendous forces of the upper and the nether
world which play for the mastery of the soul of a woman during the few
years in which she passes from plastic girlhood to the ripe maturity of
womanhood, he may well stand in awe before the momentous drama.

What capacities she has of purity, tenderness, goodness; what capacities
of vileness, bitterness and evil.  Nature must needs be lavish with the
mother and creator of men, and centre in her all the possibilities of
life.  And a few critical years can decide whether her life is to be full
of sweetness and light, whether she is to be the vestal of a holy temple,
or whether she will be the fallen priestess of a desecrated shrine.
There are women, it is true, who seem to be capable neither of rising
much nor of falling much, and whom a conventional life saves from any
special development of character.

But Laura was not one of them.  She had the fatal gift of beauty, and
that more fatal gift which does not always accompany mere beauty, the
power of fascination, a power that may, indeed, exist without beauty.
She had will, and pride and courage and ambition, and she was left to be
very much her own guide at the age when romance comes to the aid of
passion, and when the awakening powers of her vigorous mind had little
object on which to discipline themselves.

The tremendous conflict that was fought in this girl's soul none of those
about her knew, and very few knew that her life had in it anything
unusual or romantic or strange.

Those were troublous days in Hawkeye as well as in most other Missouri
towns, days of confusion, when between Unionist and Confederate
occupations, sudden maraudings and bush-whackings and raids, individuals
escaped observation or comment in actions that would have filled the town
with scandal in quiet times.

Fortunately we only need to deal with Laura's life at this period
historically, and look back upon such portions of it as will serve to
reveal the woman as she was at the time of the arrival of Mr. Harry
Brierly in Hawkeye.

The Hawkins family were settled there, and had a hard enough struggle
with poverty and the necessity of keeping up appearances in accord with
their own family pride and the large expectations they secretly cherished
of a fortune in the Knobs of East Tennessee.  How pinched they were
perhaps no one knew but Clay, to whom they looked for almost their whole
support.  Washington had been in Hawkeye off and on, attracted away
occasionally by some tremendous speculation, from which he invariably
returned to Gen. Boswell's office as poor as he went.  He was the
inventor of no one knew how many useless contrivances, which were not
worth patenting, and his years had been passed in dreaming and planning
to no purpose; until he was now a man of about thirty, without a
profession or a permanent occupation, a tall, brown-haired, dreamy person
of the best intentions and the frailest resolution.  Probably however,
the eight years had been happier to him than to any others in his
circle, for the time had been mostly spent in a blissful dream of the
coming of enormous wealth.

He went out with a company from Hawkeye to the war, and was not wanting
in courage, but he would have been a better soldier if he had been less
engaged in contrivances for circumventing the enemy by strategy unknown
to the books.

It happened to him to be captured in one of his self-appointed
expeditions, but the federal colonel released him, after a short
examination, satisfied that he could most injure the confederate forces
opposed to the Unionists by returning him to his regiment.  Col. Sellers
was of course a prominent man during the war.  He was captain of the home
guards in Hawkeye, and he never left home except upon one occasion, when
on the strength of a rumor, he executed a flank movement and fortified
Stone's Landing, a place which no one unacquainted with the country would
be likely to find.

"Gad," said the Colonel afterwards, "the Landing is the key to upper
Missouri, and it is the only place the enemy never captured.  If other
places had been defended as well as that was, the result would have been
different, sir."

The Colonel had his own theories about war as he had in other things.
If everybody had stayed at home as he did, he said, the South never would
have been conquered.  For what would there have been to conquer?  Mr.
Jeff Davis was constantly writing him to take command of a corps in the
confederate army, but Col. Sellers said, no, his duty was at home.  And
he was by no means idle.  He was the inventor of the famous air torpedo,
which came very near destroying the Union armies in Missouri, and the
city of St. Louis itself.

His plan was to fill a torpedo with Greek fire and poisonous and deadly
missiles, attach it to a balloon, and then let it sail away over the
hostile camp and explode at the right moment, when the time-fuse burned
out.  He intended to use this invention in the capture of St. Louis,
exploding his torpedoes over the city, and raining destruction upon it
until the army of occupation would gladly capitulate.  He was unable to
procure the Greek fire, but he constructed a vicious torpedo which would
have answered the purpose, but the first one prematurely exploded in his
wood-house, blowing it clean away, and setting fire to his house.  The
neighbors helped him put out the conflagration, but they discouraged any
more experiments of that sort.

The patriotic old gentleman, however, planted so much powder and so many
explosive contrivances in the roads leading into Hawkeye, and then forgot
the exact spots of danger, that people were afraid to travel the
highways, and used to come to town across the fields, The Colonel's motto
was, "Millions for defence but not one cent for tribute."

When Laura came to Hawkeye she might have forgotten the annoyances of the
gossips of Murpheysburg and have out lived the bitterness that was
growing in her heart, if she had been thrown less upon herself, or if the
surroundings of her life had been more congenial and helpful.  But she
had little society, less and less as she grew older that was congenial to
her, and her mind preyed upon itself; and the mystery of her birth at
once chagrined her and raised in her the most extravagant expectations.
She was proud and she felt the sting of poverty.  She could not but be
conscious of her beauty also, and she was vain of that, and came to take
a sort of delight in the exercise of her fascinations upon the rather
loutish young men who came in her way and whom she despised.

There was another world opened to her--a world of books.  But it was not
the best world of that sort, for the small libraries she had access to in
Hawkeye were decidedly miscellaneous, and largely made up of romances and
fictions which fed her imagination with the most exaggerated notions of
life, and showed her men and women in a very false sort of heroism.  From
these stories she learned what a woman of keen intellect and some culture
joined to beauty and fascination of manner, might expect to accomplish in
society as she read of it; and along with these ideas she imbibed other
very crude ones in regard to the emancipation of woman.

There were also other books-histories, biographies of distinguished
people, travels in far lands, poems, especially those of Byron, Scott and
Shelley and Moore, which she eagerly absorbed, and appropriated therefrom
what was to her liking.  Nobody in Hawkeye had read so much or, after a
fashion, studied so diligently as Laura.  She passed for an accomplished
girl, and no doubt thought herself one, as she was, judged by any
standard near her.

During the war there came to Hawkeye a confederate officer, Col. Selby,
who was stationed there for a time, in command of that district.  He was
a handsome, soldierly man of thirty years, a graduate of the University
of Virginia, and of distinguished family, if his story might be believed,
and, it was evident, a man of the world and of extensive travel and
adventure.

To find in such an out of the way country place a woman like Laura was a
piece of good luck upon which Col. Selby congratulated himself.  He was
studiously polite to her and treated her with a consideration to which
she was unaccustomed.  She had read of such men, but she had never seen
one before, one so high-bred, so noble in sentiment, so entertaining in
conversation, so engaging in manner.

It is a long story; unfortunately it is an old story, and it need not be
dwelt on.  Laura loved him, and believed that his love for her was as
pure and deep as her own.  She worshipped him and would have counted her
life a little thing to give him, if he would only love her and let her
feed the hunger of her heart upon him.

The passion possessed her whole being, and lifted her up, till she seemed
to walk on air.  It was all true, then, the romances she had read, the
bliss of love she had dreamed of.  Why had she never noticed before how
blithesome the world was, how jocund with love; the birds sang it, the
trees whispered it to her as she passed, the very flowers beneath her
feet strewed the way as for a bridal march.

When the Colonel went away they were engaged to be married, as soon as he
could make certain arrangements which he represented to be necessary, and
quit the army.  He wrote to her from Harding, a small town in the
southwest corner of the state, saying that he should be held in the
service longer than he had expected, but that it would not be more than a
few months, then he should be at liberty to take her to Chicago where he
had property, and should have business, either now or as soon as the war
was over, which he thought could not last long.  Meantime why should they
be separated?  He was established in comfortable quarters, and if she
could find company and join him, they would be married, and gain so many
more months of happiness.

Was woman ever prudent when she loved?  Laura went to Harding, the
neighbors supposed to nurse Washington who had fallen ill there.
Her engagement was, of course, known in Hawkeye, and was indeed a matter
of pride to her family.  Mrs. Hawkins would have told the first inquirer
that.  Laura had gone to be married; but Laura had cautioned her; she did
not want to be thought of, she said, as going in search of a husband; let
the news come back after she was married.

So she traveled to Harding on the pretence we have mentioned, and was
married.  She was married, but something must have happened on that very
day or the next that alarmed her.  Washington did not know then or after
what it was, but Laura bound him not to send news of her marriage to
Hawkeye yet, and to enjoin her mother not to speak of it.  Whatever cruel
suspicion or nameless dread this was, Laura tried bravely to put it away,
and not let it cloud her happiness.

Communication that summer, as may be imagined, was neither regular nor
frequent between the remote confederate camp at Harding and Hawkeye, and
Laura was in a measure lost sight of--indeed, everyone had troubles
enough of his own without borrowing from his neighbors.

Laura had given herself utterly to her husband, and if he had faults, if
he was selfish, if he was sometimes coarse, if he was dissipated, she did
not or would not see it.  It was the passion of her life, the time when
her whole nature went to flood tide and swept away all barriers.  Was her
husband ever cold or indifferent?  She shut her eyes to everything but
her sense of possession of her idol.

Three months passed.  One morning her husband informed her that he had
been ordered South, and must go within two hours.

"I can be ready," said Laura, cheerfully.

"But I can't take you.  You must go back to Hawkeye."

"Can't-take-me?" Laura asked, with wonder in her eyes.  "I can't live
without you.  You said-----"

"O bother what I said,"--and the Colonel took up his sword to buckle it
on, and then continued coolly, "the fact is Laura, our romance is played
out."

Laura heard, but she did not comprehend.  She caught his arm and cried,
"George, how can you joke so cruelly?  I will go any where with you.
I will wait any where.  I can't go back to Hawkeye."

"Well, go where you like.  Perhaps," continued he with a sneer, "you
would do as well to wait here, for another colonel."

Laura's brain whirled.  She did not yet comprehend.  "What does this
mean?  Where are you going?"

"It means," said the officer, in measured words, "that you haven't
anything to show for a legal marriage, and that I am going to New
Orleans."

"It's a lie, George, it's a lie.  I am your wife.  I shall go.  I shall
follow you to New Orleans."

"Perhaps my wife might not like it!"

Laura raised her head, her eyes flamed with fire, she tried to utter a
cry, and fell senseless on the floor.

When she came to herself the Colonel was gone.  Washington Hawkins stood
at her bedside.  Did she come to herself?  Was there anything left in her
heart but hate and bitterness, a sense of an infamous wrong at the hands
of the only man she had ever loved?

She returned to Hawkeye.  With the exception of Washington and his
mother, no one knew what had happened.  The neighbors supposed that the
engagement with Col. Selby had fallen through.  Laura was ill for a long
time, but she recovered; she had that resolution in her that could
conquer death almost.  And with her health came back her beauty, and an
added fascination, a something that might be mistaken for sadness.  Is
there a beauty in the knowledge of evil, a beauty that shines out in the
face of a person whose inward life is transformed by some terrible
experience?  Is the pathos in the eyes of the Beatrice Cenci from her
guilt or her innocence?

Laura was not much changed.  The lovely woman had a devil in her heart.
That was all.




CHAPTER XIX.

Mr. Harry Brierly drew his pay as an engineer while he was living at the
City Hotel in Hawkeye.  Mr. Thompson had been kind enough to say that it
didn't make any difference whether he was with the corps or not; and
although Harry protested to the Colonel daily and to Washington Hawkins
that he must go back at once to the line and superintend the lay-out with
reference to his contract, yet he did not go, but wrote instead long
letters to Philip, instructing him to keep his eye out, and to let him
know when any difficulty occurred that required his presence.

Meantime Harry blossomed out in the society of Hawkeye, as he did in any
society where fortune cast him and he had the slightest opportunity to
expand.  Indeed the talents of a rich and accomplished young fellow like
Harry were not likely to go unappreciated in such a place.  A land
operator, engaged in vast speculations, a favorite in the select circles
of New York, in correspondence with brokers and bankers, intimate with
public men at Washington, one who could play the guitar and touch the
banjo lightly, and who had an eye for a pretty girl, and knew the
language of flattery, was welcome everywhere in Hawkeye.  Even Miss Laura
Hawkins thought it worth while to use her fascinations upon him, and to
endeavor to entangle the volatile fellow in the meshes of her
attractions.

"Gad," says Harry to the Colonel, "she's a superb creature, she'd make a
stir in New York, money or no money.  There are men I know would give her
a railroad or an opera house, or whatever she wanted--at least they'd
promise."

Harry had a way of looking at women as he looked at anything else in the
world he wanted, and he half resolved to appropriate Miss Laura, during
his stay in Hawkeye.  Perhaps the Colonel divined his thoughts, or was
offended at Harry's talk, for he replied,

"No nonsense, Mr. Brierly.  Nonsense won't do in Hawkeye, not with my
friends.  The Hawkins' blood is good blood, all the way from Tennessee.
The Hawkinses are under the weather now, but their Tennessee property is
millions when it comes into market."

"Of course, Colonel.  Not the least offense intended.  But you can see
she is a fascinating woman.  I was only thinking, as to this
appropriation, now, what such a woman could do in Washington.  All
correct, too, all correct.  Common thing, I assure you in Washington; the
wives of senators, representatives, cabinet officers, all sorts of wives,
and some who are not wives, use their influence.  You want an
appointment?  Do you go to Senator X?  Not much.  You get on the right
side of his wife.  Is it an appropriation?  You'd go 'straight to the
Committee, or to the Interior office, I suppose?  You'd learn better than
that.  It takes a woman to get any thing through the Land Office: I tell
you, Miss Laura would fascinate an appropriation right through the Senate
and the House of Representatives in one session, if she was in
Washington, as your friend, Colonel, of course as your friend."

"Would you have her sign our petition?" asked the Colonel, innocently.

Harry laughed.  "Women don't get anything by petitioning Congress; nobody
does, that's for form.  Petitions are referred somewhere, and that's the
last of them; you can't refer a handsome woman so easily, when she is
present.  They prefer 'em mostly."

The petition however was elaborately drawn up, with a glowing description
of Napoleon and the adjacent country, and a statement of the absolute
necessity to the prosperity of that region and of one of the stations on
the great through route to the Pacific, of the immediate improvement of
Columbus River; to this was appended a map of the city and a survey of
the river.  It was signed by all the people at Stone's Landing who could
write their names, by Col. Beriah Sellers, and the Colonel agreed to have
the names headed by all the senators and representatives from the state
and by a sprinkling of ex-governors and ex-members of congress.  When
completed it was a formidable document.  Its preparation and that of more
minute plots of the new city consumed the valuable time of Sellers and
Harry for many weeks, and served to keep them both in the highest
spirits.

In the eyes of Washington Hawkins, Harry was a superior being, a man who
was able to bring things to pass in a way that excited his enthusiasm.
He never tired of listening to his stories of what he had done and of
what he was going to do.  As for Washington, Harry thought he was a man
of ability and comprehension, but "too visionary," he told the Colonel.
The Colonel said he might be right, but he had never noticed anything
visionary about him.

"He's got his plans, sir.  God bless my soul, at his age, I was full of
plans.  But experience sobers a man, I never touch any thing now that
hasn't been weighed in my judgment; and when Beriah Sellers puts his
judgment on a thing, there it is."

Whatever might have been Harry's intentions with regard to Laura, he saw
more and more of her every day, until he got to be restless and nervous
when he was not with her.

That consummate artist in passion allowed him to believe that the
fascination was mainly on his side, and so worked upon his vanity, while
inflaming his ardor, that he scarcely knew what he was about.  Her
coolness and coyness were even made to appear the simple precautions of a
modest timidity, and attracted him even more than the little tendernesses
into which she was occasionally surprised.  He could never be away from
her long, day or evening; and in a short time their intimacy was the town
talk.  She played with him so adroitly that Harry thought she was
absorbed in love for him, and yet he was amazed that he did not get on
faster in his conquest.

And when he thought of it, he was piqued as well.  A country girl, poor
enough, that was evident; living with her family in a cheap and most
unattractive frame house, such as carpenters build in America, scantily
furnished and unadorned; without the adventitious aids of dress or jewels
or the fine manners of society--Harry couldn't understand it.  But she
fascinated him, and held him just beyond the line of absolute familiarity
at the same time.  While he was with her she made him forget that the
Hawkins' house was nothing but a wooden tenement, with four small square
rooms on the ground floor and a half story; it might have been a palace
for aught he knew.

Perhaps Laura was older than Harry.  She was, at any rate, at that ripe
age when beauty in woman seems more solid than in the budding period of
girlhood, and she had come to understand her powers perfectly, and to
know exactly how much of the susceptibility and archness of the girl it
was profitable to retain.  She saw that many women, with the best
intentions, make a mistake of carrying too much girlishness into
womanhood.  Such a woman would have attracted Harry at any time, but only
a woman with a cool brain and exquisite art could have made him lose his
head in this way; for Harry thought himself a man of the world.  The
young fellow never dreamed that he was merely being experimented on; he
was to her a man of another society and another culture, different from
that she had any knowledge of except in books, and she was not unwilling
to try on him the fascinations of her mind and person.

For Laura had her dreams.  She detested the narrow limits in which her
lot was cast, she hated poverty.  Much of her reading had been of modern
works of fiction, written by her own sex, which had revealed to her
something of her own powers and given her indeed, an exaggerated notion
of the influence, the wealth, the position a woman may attain who has
beauty and talent and ambition and a little culture, and is not too
scrupulous in the use of them.  She wanted to be rich, she wanted luxury,
she wanted men at her feet, her slaves, and she had not--thanks to some
of the novels she had read--the nicest discrimination between notoriety
and reputation; perhaps she did not know how fatal notoriety usually is
to the bloom of womanhood.

With the other Hawkins children Laura had been brought up in the belief
that they had inherited a fortune in the Tennessee Lands.  She did not by
any means share all the delusion of the family; but her brain was not
seldom busy with schemes about it.  Washington seemed to her only to
dream of it and to be willing to wait for its riches to fall upon him in
a golden shower; but she was impatient, and wished she were a man to take
hold of the business.

"You men must enjoy your schemes and your activity and liberty to go
about the world," she said to Harry one day, when he had been talking of
New York and Washington and his incessant engagements.

"Oh, yes," replied that martyr to business, "it's all well enough, if you
don't have too much of it, but it only has one object."

"What is that?"

"If a woman doesn't know, it's useless to tell her.  What do you suppose
I am staying in Hawkeye for, week after week, when I ought to be with my
corps?"

"I suppose it's your business with Col. Sellers about Napoleon, you've
always told me so," answered Laura, with a look intended to contradict
her words.

"And now I tell you that is all arranged, I suppose you'll tell me I
ought to go?"

"Harry!" exclaimed Laura, touching his arm and letting her pretty hand
rest there a moment.  "Why should I want you to go away?  The only person
in Hawkeye who understands me."

"But you refuse to understand me," replied Harry, flattered but still
petulant.  "You are like an iceberg, when we are alone."

Laura looked up with wonder in her great eyes, and something like a blush
suffusing her face, followed by a look of langour that penetrated Harry's
heart as if it had been longing.

"Did I ever show any want of confidence in you, Harry?"  And she gave him
her hand, which Harry pressed with effusion--something in her manner told
him that he must be content with that favor.

It was always so.  She excited his hopes and denied him, inflamed his
passion and restrained it, and wound him in her toils day by day.  To
what purpose?  It was keen delight to Laura to prove that she had power
over men.

Laura liked to hear about life at the east, and especially about the
luxurious society in which Mr. Brierly moved when he was at home.  It
pleased her imagination to fancy herself a queen in it.

"You should be a winter in Washington," Harry said.

"But I have no acquaintances there."

"Don't know any of the families of the congressmen?  They like to have a
pretty woman staying with them."

"Not one."

"Suppose Col. Sellers should, have business there; say, about this
Columbus River appropriation?"

"Sellers!" and Laura laughed.

"You needn't laugh.  Queerer things have happened.  Sellers knows
everybody from Missouri, and from the West, too, for that matter.  He'd
introduce you to Washington life quick enough.  It doesn't need a crowbar
to break your way into society there as it does in Philadelphia.  It's
democratic, Washington is.  Money or beauty will open any door.  If I
were a handsome woman, I shouldn't want any better place than the capital
to pick up a prince or a fortune."

"Thank you," replied Laura.  "But I prefer the quiet of home, and the
love of those I know;" and her face wore a look of sweet contentment and
unworldliness that finished Mr. Harry Brierly for the day.

Nevertheless, the hint that Harry had dropped fell upon good ground, and
bore fruit an hundred fold; it worked in her mind until she had built up
a plan on it, and almost a career for herself.  Why not, she said, why
shouldn't I do as other women have done?  She took the first opportunity
to see Col. Sellers, and to sound him about the Washington visit.  How
was he getting on with his navigation scheme, would it be likely to take
him from home to Jefferson City; or to Washington, perhaps?

"Well, maybe.  If the people of Napoleon want me to go to Washington, and
look after that matter, I might tear myself from my home.  It's been
suggested to me, but--not a word of it to Mrs. Sellers and the children.
Maybe they wouldn't like to think of their father in Washington.  But
Dilworthy, Senator Dilworthy, says to me, 'Colonel, you are the man, you
could influence more votes than any one else on such a measure, an old
settler, a man of the people, you know the wants of Missouri; you've a
respect for religion too, says he, and know how the cause of the gospel
goes with improvements: Which is true enough, Miss Laura, and hasn't been
enough thought of in connection with Napoleon.  He's an able man,
Dilworthy, and a good man.  A man has got to be good to succeed as he
has.  He's only been in Congress a few years, and he must be worth a
million.  First thing in the morning when he stayed with me he asked
about family prayers, whether we had 'em before or after breakfast.
I hated to disappoint the Senator, but I had to out with it, tell him we
didn't have 'em, not steady.  He said he understood, business
interruptions and all that, some men were well enough without, but as for
him he never neglected the ordinances of religion.  He doubted if the
Columbus River appropriation would succeed if we did not invoke the
Divine Blessing on it."

Perhaps it is unnecessary to say to the reader that Senator Dilworthy had
not stayed with Col. Sellers while he was in Hawkeye; this visit to his
house being only one of the Colonel's hallucinations--one of those
instant creations of his fertile fancy, which were always flashing into
his brain and out of his mouth in the course of any conversation and
without interrupting the flow of it.

During the summer Philip rode across the country and made a short visit
in Hawkeye, giving Harry an opportunity to show him the progress that he
and the Colonel had made in their operation at Stone's Landing, to
introduce him also to Laura, and to borrow a little money when he
departed.  Harry bragged about his conquest, as was his habit, and took
Philip round to see his western prize.

Laura received Mr. Philip with a courtesy and a slight hauteur that
rather surprised and not a little interested him.  He saw at once that
she was older than Harry, and soon made up his mind that she was leading
his friend a country dance to which he was unaccustomed.  At least he
thought he saw that, and half hinted as much to Harry, who flared up at
once; but on a second visit Philip was not so sure, the young lady was
certainly kind and friendly and almost confiding with Harry, and treated
Philip with the greatest consideration.  She deferred to his opinions,
and listened attentively when he talked, and in time met his frank manner
with an equal frankness, so that he was quite convinced that whatever she
might feel towards Harry, she was sincere with him.  Perhaps his manly
way did win her liking.  Perhaps in her mind, she compared him with
Harry, and recognized in him a man to whom a woman might give her whole
soul, recklessly and with little care if she lost it.  Philip was not
invincible to her beauty nor to the intellectual charm of her presence.

The week seemed very short that he passed in Hawkeye, and when he bade
Laura good by, he seemed to have known her a year.

"We shall see you again, Mr. Sterling," she said as she gave him her
hand, with just a shade of sadness in her handsome eyes.

And when he turned away she followed him with a look that might have
disturbed his serenity, if he had not at the moment had a little square
letter in his breast pocket, dated at Philadelphia, and signed "Ruth."




CHAPTER XX.

The visit of Senator Abner Dilworthy was an event in Hawkeye.  When a
Senator, whose place is in Washington moving among the Great and guiding
the destinies of the nation, condescends to mingle among the people and
accept the hospitalities of such a place as Hawkeye, the honor is not
considered a light one.  All, parties are flattered by it and politics
are forgotten in the presence of one so distinguished among his fellows.

Senator Dilworthy, who was from a neighboring state, had been a Unionist
in the darkest days of his country, and had thriven by it, but was that
any reason why Col. Sellers, who had been a confederate and had not
thriven by it, should give him the cold shoulder?

The Senator was the guest of his old friend Gen. Boswell, but it almost
appeared that he was indebted to Col. Sellers for the unreserved
hospitalities of the town.  It was the large hearted Colonel who, in a
manner, gave him the freedom of the city.

"You are known here, sir," said the Colonel, "and Hawkeye is proud of
you.  You will find every door open, and a welcome at every hearthstone.
I should insist upon your going to my house, if you were not claimed by
your older friend Gen. Boswell.  But you will mingle with our people, and
you will see here developments that will surprise you."

The Colonel was so profuse in his hospitality that he must have made the
impression upon himself that he had entertained the Senator at his own
mansion during his stay; at any rate, he afterwards always spoke of him
as his guest, and not seldom referred to the Senator's relish of certain
viands on his table.  He did, in fact, press him to dine upon the morning
of the day the Senator was going away.

Senator Dilworthy was large and portly, though not tall--a pleasant
spoken man, a popular man with the people.

He took a lively interest in the town and all the surrounding country,
and made many inquiries as to the progress of agriculture, of education,
and of religion, and especially as to the condition of the emancipated
race.

"Providence," he said, "has placed them in our hands, and although you
and I, General, might have chosen a different destiny for them, under the
Constitution, yet Providence knows best."

"You can't do much with 'em," interrupted Col. Sellers.  "They are a
speculating race, sir, disinclined to work for white folks without
security, planning how to live by only working for themselves.  Idle,
sir, there's my garden just a ruin of weeds.  Nothing practical in 'em."

"There is some truth in your observation, Colonel, but you must educate
them."

"You educate the niggro and you make him more speculating than he was
before.  If he won't stick to any industry except for himself now, what
will he do then?"

"But, Colonel, the negro when educated will be more able to make his
speculations fruitful."

"Never, sir, never.  He would only have a wider scope to injure himself.
A niggro has no grasp, sir.  Now, a white man can conceive great
operations, and carry them out; a niggro can't."

"Still," replied the Senator, "granting that he might injure himself in a
worldly point of view, his elevation through education would multiply his
chances for the hereafter--which is the important thing after all,
Colonel.  And no matter what the result is, we must fulfill our duty by
this being."

"I'd elevate his soul," promptly responded the Colonel; "that's just it;
you can't make his soul too immortal, but I wouldn't touch him, himself.
Yes, sir!  make his soul immortal, but don't disturb the niggro as he
is."

Of course one of the entertainments offered the Senator was a public
reception, held in the court house, at which he made a speech to his
fellow citizens.  Col. Sellers was master of ceremonies.  He escorted the
band from the city hotel to Gen. Boswell's; he marshalled the procession
of Masons, of Odd Fellows, and of Firemen, the Good Templars, the Sons of
Temperance, the Cadets of Temperance, the Daughters of Rebecca, the
Sunday School children, and citizens generally, which followed the
Senator to the court house; he bustled about the room long after every
one else was seated, and loudly cried "Order!" in the dead silence which
preceded the introduction of the Senator by Gen. Boswell.  The occasion
was one to call out his finest powers of personal appearance, and one he
long dwelt on with pleasure.

This not being an edition of the Congressional Globe it is impossible to
give Senator Dilworthy's speech in full.  He began somewhat as follows:

"Fellow citizens: It gives me great pleasure to thus meet and mingle with
you, to lay aside for a moment the heavy duties of an official and
burdensome station, and confer in familiar converse with my friends in
your great state.  The good opinion of my fellow citizens of all sections
is the sweetest solace in all my anxieties.  I look forward with longing
to the time when I can lay aside the cares of office--" ["dam sight,"
shouted a tipsy fellow near the door.  Cries of "put him out."]

"My friends, do not remove him.  Let the misguided man stay.  I see that
he is a victim of that evil which is swallowing up public virtue and
sapping the foundation of society.  As I was saying, when I can lay down
the cares of office and retire to the sweets of private life in some such
sweet, peaceful, intelligent, wide-awake and patriotic place as Hawkeye
(applause).  I have traveled much, I have seen all parts of our glorious
union, but I have never seen a lovelier village than yours, or one that
has more signs of commercial and industrial and religious prosperity
--(more applause)."

The Senator then launched into a sketch of our great country, and dwelt
for an hour or more upon its prosperity and the dangers which threatened
it.

He then touched reverently upon the institutions of religion, and upon
the necessity of private purity, if we were to have any public morality.
"I trust," he said, "that there are children within the sound of my
voice," and after some remarks to them, the Senator closed with an
apostrophe to "the genius of American Liberty, walking with the Sunday
School in one hand and Temperance in the other up the glorified steps of
the National Capitol."

Col. Sellers did not of course lose the opportunity to impress upon so
influential a person as the Senator the desirability of improving the
navigation of Columbus river.  He and Mr. Brierly took the Senator over
to Napoleon and opened to him their plan.  It was a plan that the Senator
could understand without a great deal of explanation, for he seemed to be
familiar with the like improvements elsewhere.  When, however, they
reached Stone's Landing the Senator looked about him and inquired,

"Is this Napoleon?"

"This is the nucleus, the nucleus," said the Colonel, unrolling his map.
"Here is the deepo, the church, the City Hall and so on."

"Ah, I see.  How far from here is Columbus River?  Does that stream
empty----"

"That, why, that's Goose Run.  Thar ain't no Columbus, thout'n it's over
to Hawkeye," interrupted one of the citizens, who had come out to stare
at the strangers.  "A railroad come here last summer, but it haint been
here no mo'."

"Yes, sir," the Colonel hastened to explain, "in the old records
Columbus River is called Goose Run.  You see how it sweeps round the
town--forty-nine miles to the Missouri; sloop navigation all the way
pretty much, drains this whole country; when it's improved steamboats
will run right up here.  It's got to be enlarged, deepened.  You see by
the map. Columbus River.  This country must have water communication!"

"You'll want a considerable appropriation, Col. Sellers.

"I should say a million; is that your figure Mr. Brierly."

"According to our surveys," said Harry, "a million would do it; a million
spent on the river would make Napoleon worth two millions at least."

"I see," nodded the Senator.  "But you'd better begin by asking only for
two or three hundred thousand, the usual way.  You can begin to sell town
lots on that appropriation you know."

The Senator, himself, to do him justice, was not very much interested in
the country or the stream, but he favored the appropriation, and he gave
the Colonel and Mr. Brierly to and understand that he would endeavor to
get it through.  Harry, who thought he was shrewd and understood
Washington, suggested an interest.

But he saw that the Senator was wounded by the suggestion.

"You will offend me by repeating such an observation," he said.
"Whatever I do will be for the public interest.  It will require a
portion of the appropriation for necessary expenses, and I am sorry to
say that there are members who will have to be seen.  But you can reckon
upon my humble services."

This aspect of the subject was not again alluded to.  The Senator
possessed himself of the facts, not from his observation of the ground,
but from the lips of Col. Sellers, and laid the appropriation scheme away
among his other plans for benefiting the public.

It was on this visit also that the Senator made the acquaintance of Mr.
Washington Hawkins, and was greatly taken with his innocence, his
guileless manner and perhaps with his ready adaptability to enter upon
any plan proposed.

Col. Sellers was pleased to see this interest that Washington had
awakened, especially since it was likely to further his expectations with
regard to the Tennessee lands; the Senator having remarked to the
Colonel, that he delighted to help any deserving young man, when the
promotion of a private advantage could at the same time be made to
contribute to the general good.  And he did not doubt that this was an
opportunity of that kind.

The result of several conferences with Washington was that the Senator
proposed that he should go to Washington with him and become his private
secretary and the secretary of his committee; a proposal which was
eagerly accepted.

The Senator spent Sunday in Hawkeye and attended church.  He cheered the
heart of the worthy and zealous minister by an expression of his sympathy
in his labors, and by many inquiries in regard to the religious state of
the region.  It was not a very promising state, and the good man felt how
much lighter his task would be, if he had the aid of such a man as
Senator Dilworthy.

"I am glad to see, my dear sir," said the Senator, "that you give them
the doctrines.  It is owing to a neglect of the doctrines, that there is
such a fearful falling away in the country.  I wish that we might have
you in Washington--as chaplain, now, in the senate."

The good man could not but be a little flattered, and if sometimes,
thereafter, in his discouraging work, he allowed the thought that he
might perhaps be called to Washington as chaplain of the Senate, to cheer
him, who can wonder.  The Senator's commendation at least did one service
for him, it elevated him in the opinion of Hawkeye.

Laura was at church alone that day, and Mr. Brierly walked home with her.
A part of their way lay with that of General Boswell and Senator
Dilworthy, and introductions were made.  Laura had her own reasons for
wishing to know the Senator, and the Senator was not a man who could be
called indifferent to charms such as hers.  That meek young lady so
commended herself to him in the short walk, that he announced his
intentions of paying his respects to her the next day, an intention which
Harry received glumly; and when the Senator was out of hearing he called
him "an old fool."

"Fie," said Laura, "I do believe you are jealous, Harry.  He is a very
pleasant man.  He said you were a young man of great promise."

The Senator did call next day, and the result of his visit was that he
was confirmed in his impression that there was something about him very
attractive to ladies.  He saw Laura again and again daring his stay, and
felt more and more the subtle influence of her feminine beauty, which
every man felt who came near her.

Harry was beside himself with rage while the Senator remained in town;
he declared that women were always ready to drop any man for higher game;
and he attributed his own ill-luck to the Senator's appearance.  The
fellow was in fact crazy about her beauty and ready to beat his brains
out in chagrin.  Perhaps Laura enjoyed his torment, but she soothed him
with blandishments that increased his ardor, and she smiled to herself to
think that he had, with all his protestations of love, never spoken of
marriage.  Probably the vivacious fellow never had thought of it.  At any
rate when he at length went away from Hawkeye he was no nearer it.  But
there was no telling to what desperate lengths his passion might not
carry him.

Laura bade him good bye with tender regret, which, however, did not
disturb her peace or interfere with her plans.  The visit of Senator
Dilworthy had become of more importance to her, and it by and by bore the
fruit she longed for, in an invitation to visit his family in the
National Capital during the winter session of Congress.




CHAPTER XXI.

                              O lift your natures up:
               Embrace our aims: work out your freedom.  Girls,
               Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed;
               Drink deep until the habits of the slave,
               The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite
               And slander, die.
                                   The Princess.

Whether medicine is a science, or only an empirical method of getting a
living out of the ignorance of the human race, Ruth found before her
first term was over at the medical school that there were other things
she needed to know quite as much as that which is taught in medical
books, and that she could never satisfy her aspirations without more
general culture.

"Does your doctor know any thing--I don't mean about medicine, but about
things in general, is he a man of information and good sense?" once asked
an old practitioner.  "If he doesn't know any thing but medicine the
chance is he doesn't know that:"

The close application to her special study was beginning to tell upon
Ruth's delicate health also, and the summer brought with it only
weariness and indisposition for any mental effort.

In this condition of mind and body the quiet of her home and the
unexciting companionship of those about her were more than ever tiresome.

She followed with more interest Philip's sparkling account of his life
in the west, and longed for his experiences, and to know some of those
people of a world so different from here, who alternately amused and
displeased him.  He at least was learning the world, the good and the bad
of it, as must happen to every one who accomplishes anything in it.

But what, Ruth wrote, could a woman do, tied up by custom, and cast into
particular circumstances out of which it was almost impossible to
extricate herself?  Philip thought that he would go some day and
extricate Ruth, but he did not write that, for he had the instinct to
know that this was not the extrication she dreamed of, and that she must
find out by her own experience what her heart really wanted.

Philip was not a philosopher, to be sure, but he had the old fashioned
notion, that whatever a woman's theories of life might be, she would come
round to matrimony, only give her time.  He could indeed recall to mind
one woman--and he never knew a nobler--whose whole soul was devoted and
who believed that her life was consecrated to a certain benevolent
project in singleness of life, who yielded to the touch of matrimony, as
an icicle yields to a sunbeam.

Neither at home nor elsewhere did Ruth utter any complaint, or admit any
weariness or doubt of her ability to pursue the path she had marked out
for herself.  But her mother saw clearly enough her struggle with
infirmity, and was not deceived by either her gaiety or by the cheerful
composure which she carried into all the ordinary duties that fell to
her.  She saw plainly enough that Ruth needed an entire change of scene
and of occupation, and perhaps she believed that such a change, with the
knowledge of the world it would bring, would divert Ruth from a course
for which she felt she was physically entirely unfitted.

It therefore suited the wishes of all concerned, when autumn came, that
Ruth should go away to school.  She selected a large New England
Seminary, of which she had often heard Philip speak, which was attended
by both sexes and offered almost collegiate advantages of education.
Thither she went in September, and began for the second time in the year
a life new to her.

The Seminary was the chief feature of Fallkill, a village of two to three
thousand inhabitants.  It was a prosperous school, with three hundred
students, a large corps of teachers, men and women, and with a venerable
rusty row of academic buildings on the shaded square of the town.  The
students lodged and boarded in private families in the place, and so it
came about that while the school did a great deal to support the town,
the town gave the students society and the sweet influences of home life.
It is at least respectful to say that the influences of home life are
sweet.

Ruth's home, by the intervention of Philip, was in a family--one of the
rare exceptions in life or in fiction--that had never known better days.
The Montagues, it is perhaps well to say, had intended to come over in
the Mayflower, but were detained at Delft Haven by the illness of a
child.  They came over to Massachusetts Bay in another vessel, and thus
escaped the onus of that brevet nobility under which the successors of
the Mayflower Pilgrims have descended.  Having no factitious weight of
dignity to carry, the Montagues steadily improved their condition from
the day they landed, and they were never more vigorous or prosperous than
at the date of this narrative.  With character compacted by the rigid
Puritan discipline of more than two centuries, they had retained its
strength and purity and thrown off its narrowness, and were now
blossoming under the generous modern influences.  Squire Oliver Montague,
a lawyer who had retired from the practice of his profession except in
rare cases, dwelt in a square old fashioned New England mansion a quarter
of a mile away from the green.  It was called a mansion because it stood
alone with ample fields about it, and had an avenue of trees leading to
it from the road, and on the west commanded a view of a pretty little
lake with gentle slopes and nodding were now blossoming under the
generous modern influences.  Squire Oliver Montague, a lawyer who
had retired from the practice of his profession except in rare cases,
dwelt in a square old fashioned New England groves.  But it was just
a plain, roomy house, capable of extending to many guests an
unpretending hospitality.

The family consisted of the Squire and his wife, a son and a daughter
married and not at home, a son in college at Cambridge, another son at
the Seminary, and a daughter Alice, who was a year or more older than
Ruth.  Having only riches enough to be able to gratify reasonable
desires, and yet make their gratifications always a novelty and a
pleasure, the family occupied that just mean in life which is so rarely
attained, and still more rarely enjoyed without discontent.

If Ruth did not find so much luxury in the house as in her own home,
there were evidences of culture, of intellectual activity and of a zest
in the affairs of all the world, which greatly impressed her.  Every room
had its book-cases or book-shelves, and was more or less a library; upon
every table was liable to be a litter of new books, fresh periodicals and
daily newspapers.  There were plants in the sunny windows and some choice
engravings on the walls, with bits of color in oil or water-colors;
the piano was sure to be open and strewn with music; and there were
photographs and little souvenirs here and there of foreign travel.
An absence of any "what-pots" in the corners with rows of cheerful
shells, and Hindoo gods, and Chinese idols, and nests of use less boxes
of lacquered wood, might be taken as denoting a languidness in the family
concerning foreign missions, but perhaps unjustly.

At any rate the life of the world flowed freely into this hospitable
house, and there was always so much talk there of the news of the day,
of the new books and of authors, of Boston radicalism and New York
civilization, and the virtue of Congress, that small gossip stood a very
poor chance.

All this was in many ways so new to Ruth that she seemed to have passed
into another world, in which she experienced a freedom and a mental
exhilaration unknown to her before.  Under this influence she entered
upon her studies with keen enjoyment, finding for a time all the
relaxation she needed, in the charming social life at the Montague house.

It is strange, she wrote to Philip, in one of her occasional letters,
that you never told me more about this delightful family, and scarcely
mentioned Alice who is the life of it, just the noblest girl, unselfish,
knows how to do so many things, with lots of talent, with a dry humor,
and an odd way of looking at things, and yet quiet and even serious
often--one of your "capable" New England girls.  We shall be great
friends.  It had never occurred to Philip that there was any thing
extraordinary about the family that needed mention.  He knew dozens of
girls like Alice, he thought to himself, but only one like Ruth.

Good friends the two girls were from the beginning.  Ruth was a study to
Alice; the product of a culture entirely foreign to her experience, so
much a child in some things, so much a woman in others; and Ruth in turn,
it must be confessed, probing Alice sometimes with her serious grey eyes,
wondered what her object in life was, and whether she had any purpose
beyond living as she now saw her.  For she could scarcely conceive of a
life that should not be devoted to the accomplishment of some definite
work, and she had-no doubt that in her own case everything else would
yield to the professional career she had marked out.

"So you know Philip Sterling," said Ruth one day as the girls sat at
their sewing.  Ruth never embroidered, and never sewed when she could
avoid it.  Bless her.

"Oh yes, we are old friends.  Philip used to come to Fallkill often while
he was in college.  He was once rusticated here for a term."

"Rusticated?"

"Suspended for some College scrape.  He was a great favorite here.
Father and he were famous friends.  Father said that Philip had no end of
nonsense in him and was always blundering into something, but he was a
royal good fellow and would come out all right."

"Did you think he was fickle?"

"Why, I never thought whether he was or not," replied Alice looking up.
"I suppose he was always in love with some girl or another, as college
boys are.  He used to make me his confidant now and then, and be terribly
in the dumps."

"Why did he come to you?" pursued Ruth, "you were younger than he."

"I'm sure I don't know.  He was at our house a good deal.  Once at a
picnic by the lake, at the risk of his own life, he saved sister Millie
from drowning, and we all liked to have him here.  Perhaps he thought as
he had saved one sister, the other ought to help him when he was in
trouble.  I don't know."

The fact was that Alice was a person who invited confidences, because she
never betrayed them, and gave abundant sympathy in return.  There are
persons, whom we all know, to whom human confidences, troubles and
heart-aches flow as naturally its streams to a placid lake.

This is not a history of Fallkill, nor of the Montague family, worthy as
both are of that honor, and this narrative cannot be diverted into long
loitering with them.  If the reader visits the village to-day, he will
doubtless be pointed out the Montague dwelling, where Ruth lived, the
cross-lots path she traversed to the Seminary, and the venerable chapel
with its cracked bell.

In the little society of the place, the Quaker girl was a favorite, and
no considerable social gathering or pleasure party was thought complete
without her.  There was something in this seemingly transparent and yet
deep character, in her childlike gaiety and enjoyment of the society
about her, and in her not seldom absorption in herself, that would have
made her long remembered there if no events had subsequently occurred to
recall her to mind.

To the surprise of Alice, Ruth took to the small gaieties of the village
with a zest of enjoyment that seemed foreign to one who had devoted her
life to a serious profession from the highest motives.  Alice liked
society well enough, she thought, but there was nothing exciting in that
of Fallkill, nor anything novel in the attentions of the well-bred young
gentlemen one met in it.  It must have worn a different aspect to Ruth,
for she entered into its pleasures at first with curiosity, and then with
interest and finally with a kind of staid abandon that no one would have
deemed possible for her.  Parties, picnics, rowing-matches, moonlight
strolls, nutting expeditions in the October woods,--Alice declared that
it was a whirl of dissipation.  The fondness of Ruth, which was scarcely
disguised, for the company of agreeable young fellows, who talked
nothings, gave Alice opportunity for no end of banter.

"Do you look upon them as I subjects, dear?" she would ask.

And Ruth laughed her merriest laugh, and then looked sober again.
Perhaps she was thinking, after all, whether she knew herself.

If you should rear a duck in the heart of the Sahara, no doubt it would
swim if you brought it to the Nile.

Surely no one would have predicted when Ruth left Philadelphia that she
would become absorbed to this extent, and so happy, in a life so unlike
that she thought she desired.  But no one can tell how a woman will act
under any circumstances.  The reason novelists nearly always fail in
depicting women when they make them act, is that they let them do what
they have observed some woman has done at sometime or another.  And that
is where they make a mistake; for a woman will never do again what has
been done before.  It is this uncertainty that causes women, considered
as materials for fiction, to be so interesting to themselves and to
others.

As the fall went on and the winter, Ruth did not distinguish herself
greatly at the Fallkill Seminary as a student, a fact that apparently
gave her no anxiety, and did not diminish her enjoyment of a new sort of
power which had awakened within her.




CHAPTER XXII.
In mid-winter, an event occurred of unusual interest to the inhabitants
of the Montague house, and to the friends of the young ladies who sought
their society.

This was the arrival at the Sassacua Hotel of two young gentlemen from
the west.

It is the fashion in New England to give Indian names to the public
houses, not that the late lamented savage knew how to keep a hotel, but
that his warlike name may impress the traveler who humbly craves shelter
there, and make him grateful to the noble and gentlemanly clerk if he is
allowed to depart with his scalp safe.

The two young gentlemen were neither students for the Fallkill Seminary,
nor lecturers on physiology, nor yet life assurance solicitors, three
suppositions that almost exhausted the guessing power of the people at
the hotel in respect to the names of "Philip Sterling and Henry Brierly,
Missouri," on the register.  They were handsome enough fellows, that was
evident, browned by out-door exposure, and with a free and lordly way
about them that almost awed the hotel clerk himself.  Indeed, he very
soon set down Mr. Brierly as a gentleman of large fortune, with enormous
interests on his shoulders.  Harry had a way of casually mentioning
western investments, through lines, the freighting business, and the
route through the Indian territory to Lower California, which was
calculated to give an importance to his lightest word.

"You've a pleasant town here, sir, and the most comfortable looking hotel
I've seen out of New York," said Harry to the clerk; "we shall stay here
a few days if you can give us a roomy suite of apartments."

Harry usually had the best of everything, wherever he went, as such
fellows always do have in this accommodating world.  Philip would have
been quite content with less expensive quarters, but there was no
resisting Harry's generosity in such matters.

Railroad surveying and real-estate operations were at a standstill during
the winter in Missouri, and the young men had taken advantage of the lull
to come east, Philip to see if there was any disposition in his friends,
the railway contractors, to give him a share in the Salt Lick Union
Pacific Extension, and Harry to open out to his uncle the prospects of
the new city at Stone's Landing, and to procure congressional
appropriations for the harbor and for making Goose Run navigable.  Harry
had with him a map of that noble stream and of the harbor, with a perfect
net-work of railroads centering in it, pictures of wharves, crowded with
steamboats, and of huge grain-elevators on the bank, all of which grew
out of the combined imaginations of Col. Sellers and Mr. Brierly.  The
Colonel had entire confidence in Harry's influence with Wall street, and
with congressmen, to bring about the consummation of their scheme, and he
waited his return in the empty house at Hawkeye, feeding his pinched
family upon the most gorgeous expectations with a reckless prodigality.

"Don't let 'em into the thing more than is necessary," says the Colonel
to Harry; "give 'em a small interest; a lot apiece in the suburbs of the
Landing ought to do a congressman, but I reckon you'll have to mortgage a
part of the city itself to the brokers."

Harry did not find that eagerness to lend money on Stone's Landing in
Wall street which Col. Sellers had expected, (it had seen too many such
maps as he exhibited), although his uncle and some of the brokers looked
with more favor on the appropriation for improving the navigation of
Columbus River, and were not disinclined to form a company for that
purpose.  An appropriation was a tangible thing, if you could get hold of
it, and it made little difference what it was appropriated for, so long
as you got hold of it.

Pending these weighty negotiations, Philip has persuaded Harry to take a
little run up to Fallkill, a not difficult task, for that young man would
at any time have turned his back upon all the land in the West at sight
of a new and pretty face, and he had, it must be confessed, a facility in
love making which made it not at all an interference with the more
serious business of life.  He could not, to be sure, conceive how Philip
could be interested in a young lady who was studying medicine, but he had
no objection to going, for he did not doubt that there were other girls
in Fallkill who were worth a week's attention.

The young men were received at the house of the Montagues with the
hospitality which never failed there.

"We are glad to see you again," exclaimed the Squire heartily, "you are
welcome Mr. Brierly, any friend of Phil's is welcome at our house."

"It's more like home to me, than any place except my own home," cried
Philip, as he looked about the cheerful house and went through a general
hand-shaking.

"It's a long time, though, since you have been here to say so," Alice
said, with her father's frankness of manner; "and I suspect we owe the
visit now to your sudden interest in the Fallkill Seminary."

Philip's color came, as it had an awkward way of doing in his tell-tale
face, but before he could stammer a reply, Harry came in with,

"That accounts for Phil's wish to build a Seminary at Stone's Landing,
our place in Missouri, when Col. Sellers insisted it should be a
University.  Phil appears to have a weakness for Seminaries."

"It would have been better for your friend Sellers," retorted Philip,
"if he had had a weakness for district schools.  Col. Sellers, Miss
Alice, is a great friend of Harry's, who is always trying to build a
house by beginning at the top."

"I suppose it's as easy to build a University on paper as a Seminary, and
it looks better," was Harry's reflection; at which the Squire laughed,
and said he quite agreed with him.  The old gentleman understood Stone's
Landing a good deal better than he would have done after an hour's talk
with either of it's expectant proprietors.

At this moment, and while Philip was trying to frame a question that he
found it exceedingly difficult to put into words, the door opened
quietly, and Ruth entered.  Taking in the group with a quick glance, her
eye lighted up, and with a merry smile she advanced and shook hands with
Philip.  She was so unconstrained and sincerely cordial, that it made
that hero of the west feel somehow young, and very ill at ease.

For months and months he had thought of this meeting and pictured it to
himself a hundred times, but he had never imagined it would be like this.
He should meet Ruth unexpectedly, as she was walking alone from the
school, perhaps, or entering the room where he was waiting for her, and
she would cry "Oh!  Phil," and then check herself, and perhaps blush, and
Philip calm but eager and enthusiastic, would reassure her by his warm
manner, and he would take her hand impressively, and she would look up
timidly, and, after his' long absence, perhaps he would be permitted to
Good heavens, how many times he had come to this point, and wondered if
it could happen so.  Well, well; he had never supposed that he should be
the one embarrassed, and above all by a sincere and cordial welcome.

"We heard you were at the Sassacus House," were Ruth's first words; "and
this I suppose is your friend?"

"I beg your pardon," Philip at length blundered out, "this is Mr. Brierly
of whom I have written you."

And Ruth welcomed Harry with a friendliness that Philip thought was due
to his friend, to be sure, but which seemed to him too level with her
reception of himself, but which Harry received as his due from the other
sex.

Questions were asked about the journey and about the West, and the
conversation became a general one, until Philip at length found himself
talking with the Squire in relation to land and railroads and things he
couldn't keep his mind on especially as he heard Ruth and Harry in an
animated discourse, and caught the words "New York," and "opera," and
"reception," and knew that Harry was giving his imagination full range in
the world of fashion.

Harry knew all about the opera, green room and all (at least he said so)
and knew a good many of the operas and could make very entertaining
stories of their plots, telling how the soprano came in here, and the
basso here, humming the beginning of their airs--tum-ti-tum-ti-ti
--suggesting the profound dissatisfaction of the basso recitative--down
--among--the--dead--men--and touching off the whole with an airy grace
quite captivating; though he couldn't have sung a single air through to
save himself, and he hadn't an ear to know whether it was sung correctly.
All the same he doted on the opera, and kept a box there, into which he
lounged occasionally to hear a favorite scene and meet his society
friends.

If Ruth was ever in the city he should be happy to place his box at the
disposal of Ruth and her friends.  Needless to say that she was delighted
with the offer.

When she told Philip of it, that discreet young fellow only smiled, and
said that he hoped she would be fortunate enough to be in New York some
evening when Harry had not already given the use of his private box to
some other friend.

The Squire pressed the visitors to let him send for their trunks and
urged them to stay at his house, and Alice joined in the invitation, but
Philip had reasons for declining.  They staid to supper, however, and in;
the evening Philip had a long talk apart with Ruth, a delightful hour to
him, in which she spoke freely of herself as of old, of her studies at
Philadelphia and of her plans, and she entered into his adventures and
prospects in the West with a genuine and almost sisterly interest; an
interest, however, which did not exactly satisfy Philip--it was too
general and not personal enough to suit him.  And with all her freedom in
speaking of her own hopes, Philip could not, detect any reference to
himself in them; whereas he never undertook anything that he did not
think of Ruth in connection with it, he never made a plan that had not
reference to her, and he never thought of anything as complete if she
could not share it.  Fortune, reputation these had no value to him except
in Ruth's eyes, and there were times when it seemed to him that if Ruth
was not on this earth, he should plunge off into some remote wilderness
and live in a purposeless seclusion.

"I hoped," said Philip; "to get a little start in connection with this
new railroad, and make a little money, so that I could came east and
engage in something more suited to my tastes.  I shouldn't like to live
in the West.  Would you?

"It never occurred to me whether I would or not," was the unembarrassed
reply.  "One of our graduates went to Chicago, and has a nice practice
there.  I don't know where I shall go.  It would mortify mother
dreadfully to have me driving about Philadelphia in a doctor's gig."

Philip laughed at the idea of it.  "And does it seem as necessary to you
to do it as it did before you came to Fallkill?"

It was a home question, and went deeper than Philip knew, for Ruth at
once thought of practicing her profession among the young gentlemen and
ladies of her acquaintance in the village; but she was reluctant to admit
to herself that her notions of a career had undergone any change.

"Oh, I don't think I should come to Fallkill to practice, but I must do
something when I am through school; and why not medicine?"

Philip would like to have explained why not, but the explanation would be
of no use if it were not already obvious to Ruth.

Harry was equally in his element whether instructing Squire Montague
about the investment of capital in Missouri, the improvement of Columbus
River, the project he and some gentlemen in New York had for making a
shorter Pacific connection with the Mississippi than the present one; or
diverting Mrs. Montague with his experience in cooking in camp; or
drawing for Miss Alice an amusing picture of the social contrasts of New
England and the border where he had been. Harry was a very entertaining
fellow, having his imagination to help his memory, and telling his
stories as if he believed them--as perhaps he did. Alice was greatly
amused with Harry and listened so seriously to his romancing that he
exceeded his usual limits.  Chance allusions to his bachelor
establishment in town and the place of his family on the Hudson, could
not have been made by a millionaire, more naturally.

"I should think," queried Alice, "you would rather stay in New York than
to try the rough life at the West you have been speaking of."

"Oh, adventure," says Harry, "I get tired of New York.  And besides I
got involved in some operations that I had to see through.  Parties in
New York only last week wanted me to go down into Arizona in a big
diamond interest.  I told them, no, no speculation for me.  I've got my
interests in Missouri; and I wouldn't leave Philip, as long as he stays
there."

When the young gentlemen were on their way back to the hotel, Mr. Philip,
who was not in very good humor, broke out,

"What the deuce, Harry, did you go on in that style to the Montagues
for?"

"Go on?" cried Harry.  "Why shouldn't I try to make a pleasant evening?
And besides, ain't I going to do those things?  What difference does it
make about the mood and tense of a mere verb?  Didn't uncle tell me only
last Saturday, that I might as well go down to Arizona and hunt for
diamonds?  A fellow might as well make a good impression as a poor one."

"Nonsense.  You'll get to believing your own romancing by and by."

"Well, you'll see.  When Sellers and I get that appropriation, I'll show
you an establishment in town and another on the Hudson and a box at the
opera."

"Yes, it will be like Col. Sellers' plantation at Hawkeye.  Did you ever
see that?"

"Now, don't be cross, Phil.  She's just superb, that little woman.  You
never told me."

"Who's just superb?" growled Philip, fancying this turn of the
conversation less than the other.

"Well, Mrs. Montague, if you must know."  And Harry stopped to light a
cigar, and then puffed on in silence.  The little quarrel didn't last
over night, for Harry never appeared to cherish any ill-will half a
second, and Philip was too sensible to continue a row about nothing; and
he had invited Harry to come with him.

The young gentlemen stayed in Fallkill a week, and were every day at the
Montagues, and took part in the winter gaieties of the village.  There
were parties here and there to which the friends of Ruth and the
Montagues were of course invited, and Harry in the generosity of his
nature, gave in return a little supper at the hotel, very simple indeed,
with dancing in the hall, and some refreshments passed round.  And Philip
found the whole thing in the bill when he came to pay it.

Before the week was over Philip thought he had a new light on the
character of Ruth.  Her absorption in the small gaieties of the society
there surprised him.  He had few opportunities for serious conversation
with her.  There was always some butterfly or another flitting about,
and when Philip showed by his manner that he was not pleased, Ruth
laughed merrily enough and rallied him on his soberness--she declared he
was getting to be grim and unsocial.  He talked indeed more with Alice
than with Ruth, and scarcely concealed from her the trouble that was in
his mind.  It needed, in fact, no word from him, for she saw clearly
enough what was going forward, and knew her sex well enough to know there
was no remedy for it but time.

"Ruth is a dear girl, Philip, and has as much firmness of purpose as
ever, but don't you see she has just discovered that she is fond of
society?  Don't you let her see you are selfish about it, is my advice."

The last evening they were to spend in Fallkill, they were at the
Montagues, and Philip hoped that he would find Ruth in a different mood.
But she was never more gay, and there was a spice of mischief in her eye
and in her laugh.  "Confound it," said Philip to himself, "she's in a
perfect twitter."

He would have liked to quarrel with her, and fling himself out of the
house in tragedy style, going perhaps so far as to blindly wander off
miles into the country and bathe his throbbing brow in the chilling rain
of the stars, as people do in novels; but he had no opportunity.  For
Ruth was as serenely unconscious of mischief as women can be at times,
and fascinated him more than ever with her little demurenesses and
half-confidences.  She even said "Thee" to him once in reproach for a
cutting speech he began.  And the sweet little word made his heart beat
like a trip-hammer, for never in all her life had she said "thee" to him
before.

Was she fascinated with Harry's careless 'bon homie' and gay assurance?
Both chatted away in high spirits, and made the evening whirl along in
the most mirthful manner.  Ruth sang for Harry, and that young gentleman
turned the leaves for her at the piano, and put in a bass note now and
then where he thought it would tell.

Yes, it was a merry evening, and Philip was heartily glad when it was
over, and the long leave-taking with the family was through with.

"Farewell Philip.  Good night Mr. Brierly," Ruth's clear voice sounded
after them as they went down the walk.

And she spoke Harry's name last, thought Philip.




CHAPTER XXIII.

               "O see ye not yon narrow road
               So thick beset wi' thorns and briers?
               That is the Path of Righteousness,
               Though after it but few inquires.

               "And see ye not yon braid, braid road,
               That lies across the lily leven?
               That is the Path of Wickedness,
               Though some call it the road to Heaven."

                                             Thomas the Rhymer.

Phillip and Harry reached New York in very different states of mind.
Harry was buoyant.  He found a letter from Col. Sellers urging him to go
to Washington and confer with Senator Dilworthy.  The petition was in his
hands.

It had been signed by everybody of any importance in Missouri, and would
be presented immediately.

"I should go on myself," wrote the Colonel, "but I am engaged in the
invention of a process for lighting such a city as St. Louis by means of
water; just attach my machine to the water-pipes anywhere and the
decomposition of the fluid begins, and you will have floods of light for
the mere cost of the machine.  I've nearly got the lighting part, but I
want to attach to it a heating, cooking, washing and ironing apparatus.
It's going to be the great thing, but we'd better keep this appropriation
going while I am perfecting it."

Harry took letters to several congressmen from his uncle and from Mr.
Duff Brown, each of whom had an extensive acquaintance in both houses
where they were well known as men engaged in large private operations for
the public good and men, besides, who, in the slang of the day,
understood the virtues of "addition, division and silence."

Senator Dilworthy introduced the petition into the Senate with the remark
that he knew, personally, the signers of it, that they were men
interested; it was true, in the improvement of the country, but he
believed without any selfish motive, and that so far as he knew the
signers were loyal.  It pleased him to see upon the roll the names of
many colored citizens, and it must rejoice every friend of humanity to
know that this lately emancipated race were intelligently taking part in
the development of the resources of their native land.  He moved the
reference of the petition to the proper committee.

Senator Dilworthy introduced his young friend to influential members,
as a person who was very well informed about the Salt Lick Extension of
the Pacific, and was one of the Engineers who had made a careful survey
of Columbus River; and left him to exhibit his maps and plans and to show
the connection between the public treasury, the city of Napoleon and
legislation for the benefit off the whole country.

Harry was the guest of Senator Dilworthy.  There was scarcely any good
movement in which the Senator was not interested.  His house was open to
all the laborers in the field of total abstinence, and much of his time
was taken up in attending the meetings of this cause.  He had a Bible
class in the Sunday school of the church which he attended, and he
suggested to Harry that he might take a class during the time he remained
in Washington, Mr. Washington Hawkins had a class.  Harry asked the
Senator if there was a class of young ladies for him to teach, and after
that the Senator did not press the subject.

Philip, if the truth must be told, was not well satisfied with his
western prospects, nor altogether with the people he had fallen in with.
The railroad contractors held out large but rather indefinite promises.
Opportunities for a fortune he did not doubt existed in Missouri, but for
himself he saw no better means for livelihood than the mastery of the
profession he had rather thoughtlessly entered upon.  During the summer
he had made considerable practical advance in the science of engineering;
he had been diligent, and made himself to a certain extent necessary to
the work he was engaged on.  The contractors called him into their
consultations frequently, as to the character of the country he had been
over, and the cost of constructing the road, the nature of the work, etc.

Still Philip felt that if he was going to make either reputation or money
as an engineer, he had a great deal of hard study before him, and it is
to his credit that he did not shrink from it.  While Harry was in
Washington dancing attendance upon the national legislature and making
the acquaintance of the vast lobby that encircled it, Philip devoted
himself day and night, with an energy and a concentration he was capable
of, to the learning and theory of his profession, and to the science of
railroad building.  He wrote some papers at this time for the "Plow, the
Loom and the Anvil," upon the strength of materials, and especially upon
bridge-building, which attracted considerable attention, and were copied
into the English "Practical Magazine."  They served at any rate to raise
Philip in the opinion of his friends the contractors, for practical men
have a certain superstitious estimation of ability with the pen, and
though they may a little despise the talent, they are quite ready to make
use of it.

Philip sent copies of his performances to Ruth's father and to other
gentlemen whose good opinion he coveted, but he did not rest upon his
laurels.  Indeed, so diligently had he applied himself, that when it came
time for him to return to the West, he felt himself, at least in theory,
competent to take charge of a division in the field.




CHAPTER XXIV.

The capital of the Great Republic was a new world to country-bred
Washington Hawkins.  St. Louis was a greater city, but its floating.
population did not hail from great distances, and so it had the general
family aspect of the permanent population; but Washington gathered its
people from the four winds of heaven, and so the manners, the faces and
the fashions there, presented a variety that was infinite.  Washington
had never been in "society" in St. Louis, and he knew nothing of the ways
of its wealthier citizens and had never inspected one of their dwellings.
Consequently, everything in the nature of modern fashion and grandeur was
a new and wonderful revelation to him.

Washington is an interesting city to any of us.  It seems to become more
and more interesting the oftener we visit it.  Perhaps the reader has
never been there?  Very well.  You arrive either at night, rather too
late to do anything or see anything until morning, or you arrive so early
in the morning that you consider it best to go to your hotel and sleep an
hour or two while the sun bothers along over the Atlantic.  You cannot
well arrive at a pleasant intermediate hour, because the railway
corporation that keeps the keys of the only door that leads into the town
or out of it take care of that.  You arrive in tolerably good spirits,
because it is only thirty-eight miles from Baltimore to the capital, and
so you have only been insulted three times (provided you are not in a
sleeping car--the average is higher there): once when you renewed your
ticket after stopping over in Baltimore, once when you were about to
enter the "ladies' car" without knowing it was a lady's car, and once
When you asked the conductor at what hour you would reach Washington.

You are assailed by a long rank of hackmen who shake their whips in your
face as you step out upon the sidewalk; you enter what they regard as a
"carriage," in the capital, and you wonder why they do not take it out of
service and put it in the museum: we have few enough antiquities, and
it is little to our credit that we make scarcely any effort to preserve
the few we have.  You reach your hotel, presently--and here let us draw
the curtain of charity--because of course you have gone to the wrong one.
You being a stranger, how could you do otherwise?  There are a hundred
and eighteen bad hotels, and only one good one.  The most renowned and
popular hotel of them all is perhaps the worst one known to history.

It is winter, and night.  When you arrived, it was snowing.  When you
reached the hotel, it was sleeting.  When you went to bed, it was
raining.  During the night it froze hard, and the wind blew some chimneys
down.  When you got up in the morning, it was foggy.  When you finished
your breakfast at ten o'clock and went out, the sunshine was brilliant,
the weather balmy and delicious, and the mud and slush deep and
all-pervading.  You will like the climate when you get used to it.

You naturally wish to view the city; so you take an umbrella, an
overcoat, and a fan, and go forth.  The prominent features you soon
locate and get familiar with; first you glimpse the ornamental upper
works of a long, snowy palace projecting above a grove of trees, and a
tall, graceful white dome with a statue on it surmounting the palace and
pleasantly contrasting with the background of blue sky.  That building is
the capitol; gossips will tell you that by the original estimates it was
to cost $12,000,000, and that the government did come within $21,200,000
of building it for that sum.

You stand at the back of the capitol to treat yourself to a view, and it
is a very noble one.  You understand, the capitol stands upon the verge
of a high piece of table land, a fine commanding position, and its front
looks out over this noble situation for a city--but it don't see it, for
the reason that when the capitol extension was decided upon, the property
owners at once advanced their prices to such inhuman figures that the
people went down and built the city in the muddy low marsh behind the
temple of liberty; so now the lordly front of the building, with, its
imposing colonades, its projecting graceful wings, its picturesque
groups of statuary, and its long terraced ranges of steps, flowing down
in white marble waves to the ground, merely looks out upon a sorrowful
little desert of cheap boarding houses.

So you observe, that you take your view from the back of the capitol.
And yet not from the airy outlooks of the dome, by the way, because to
get there you must pass through the great rotunda: and to do that, you
would have to see the marvelous Historical Paintings that hang there,
and the bas-reliefs--and what have you done that you should suffer thus?
And besides, you might have to pass through the old part of the building,
and you could not help seeing Mr. Lincoln, as petrified by a young lady
artist for $10,000--and you might take his marble emancipation
proclamation, which he holds out in his hand and contemplates, for a
folded napkin; and you might conceive from his expression and his
attitude, that he is finding fault with the washing.  Which is not the
case.  Nobody knows what is the matter with him; but everybody feels for
him.  Well, you ought not to go into the dome anyhow, because it would be
utterly impossible to go up there without seeing the frescoes in it--and
why should you be interested in the delirium tremens of art?

The capitol is a very noble and a very beautiful building, both within
and without, but you need not examine it now.  Still, if you greatly
prefer going into the dome, go.  Now your general glance gives you
picturesque stretches of gleaming water, on your left, with a sail here
and there and a lunatic asylum on shore; over beyond the water, on a
distant elevation, you see a squat yellow temple which your eye dwells
upon lovingly through a blur of unmanly moisture, for it recalls your
lost boyhood and the Parthenons done in molasses candy which made it
blest and beautiful.  Still in the distance, but on this side of the
water and close to its edge, the Monument to the Father of his Country
towers out of the mud--sacred soil is the customary term.  It has the
aspect of a factory chimney with the top broken off.  The skeleton of a
decaying scaffolding lingers about its summit, and tradition says that
the spirit of Washington often comes down and sits on those rafters to
enjoy this tribute of respect which the nation has reared as the symbol
of its unappeasable gratitude.  The Monument is to be finished, some day,
and at that time our Washington will have risen still higher in the
nation's veneration, and will be known as the Great-Great-Grandfather of
his Country.  The memorial Chimney stands in a quiet pastoral locality
that is full of reposeful expression.  With a glass you can see the
cow-sheds about its base, and the contented sheep nimbling pebbles in the
desert solitudes that surround it, and the tired pigs dozing in the holy
calm of its protecting shadow.

Now you wrench your gaze loose, and you look down in front of you and see
the broad Pennsylvania Avenue stretching straight ahead for a mile or
more till it brings up against the iron fence in front of a pillared
granite pile, the Treasury building-an edifice that would command respect
in any capital.  The stores and hotels that wall in this broad avenue are
mean, and cheap, and dingy, and are better left without comment.  Beyond
the Treasury is a fine large white barn, with wide unhandsome grounds
about it.  The President lives there.  It is ugly enough outside, but
that is nothing to what it is inside.  Dreariness, flimsiness, bad taste
reduced to mathematical completeness is what the inside offers to the
eye, if it remains yet what it always has been.

The front and right hand views give you the city at large.  It is a wide
stretch of cheap little brick houses, with here and there a noble
architectural pile lifting itself out of the midst-government buildings,
these.  If the thaw is still going on when you come down and go about
town, you will wonder at the short-sightedness of the city fathers, when
you come to inspect the streets, in that they do not dilute the mud a
little more and use them for canals.

If you inquire around a little, you will find that there are more
boardinghouses to the square acre in Washington than there are in any
other city in the land, perhaps.  If you apply for a home in one of them,
it will seem odd to you to have the landlady inspect you with a severe
eye and then ask you if you are a member of Congress.  Perhaps, just as a
pleasantry, you will say yes.  And then she will tell you that she is
"full."  Then you show her her advertisement in the morning paper, and
there she stands, convicted and ashamed.  She will try to blush, and it
will be only polite in you to take the effort for the deed.  She shows
you her rooms, now, and lets you take one--but she makes you pay in
advance for it.  That is what you will get for pretending to be a member
of Congress.  If you had been content to be merely a private citizen,
your trunk would have been sufficient security for your board.  If you
are curious and inquire into this thing, the chances are that your
landlady will be ill-natured enough to say that the person and property
of a Congressman are exempt from arrest or detention, and that with the
tears in her eyes she has seen several of the people's representatives
walk off to their several States and Territories carrying her unreceipted
board bills in their pockets for keepsakes.  And before you have been in
Washington many weeks you will be mean enough to believe her, too.

Of course you contrive to see everything and find out everything.  And
one of the first and most startling things you find out is, that every
individual you encounter in the City of Washington almost--and certainly
every separate and distinct individual in the public employment, from the
highest bureau chief, clear down to the maid who scrubs Department halls,
the night watchmen of the public buildings and the darkey boy who
purifies the Department spittoons--represents Political Influence.
Unless you can get the ear of a Senator, or a Congressman, or a Chief of
a Bureau or Department, and persuade him to use his "influence" in your
behalf, you cannot get an employment of the most trivial nature in
Washington.  Mere merit, fitness and capability, are useless baggage to
you without "influence."  The population of Washington consists pretty
much entirely of government employee and the people who board them.
There are thousands of these employees, and they have gathered there from
every corner of the Union and got their berths through the intercession
(command is nearer the word) of the Senators and Representatives of their
respective States.  It would be an odd circumstance to see a girl get
employment at three or four dollars a week in one of the great public
cribs without any political grandee to back her, but merely because she
was worthy, and competent, and a good citizen of a free country that
"treats all persons alike."  Washington would be mildly thunderstruck at
such a thing as that.  If you are a member of Congress, (no offence,) and
one of your constituents who doesn't know anything, and does not want to
go into the bother of learning something, and has no money, and no
employment, and can't earn a living, comes besieging you for help, do you
say, "Come, my friend, if your services were valuable you could get
employment elsewhere--don't want you here?"  Oh, no: You take him to a
Department and say, "Here, give this person something to pass away the
time at--and a salary"--and the thing is done.  You throw him on his
country.  He is his country's child, let his country support him.  There
is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old benevolent
National Asylum for the Helpless.

The wages received by this great hive of employees are placed at the
liberal figure meet and just for skilled and competent labor.  Such of
them as are immediately employed about the two Houses of Congress, are
not only liberally paid also, but are remembered in the customary Extra
Compensation bill which slides neatly through, annually, with the general
grab that signalizes the last night of a session, and thus twenty per
cent. is added to their wages, for--for fun, no doubt.

Washington Hawkins' new life was an unceasing delight to him.  Senator
Dilworthy lived sumptuously, and Washington's quarters were charming
--gas; running water, hot and cold; bath-room, coal-fires, rich carpets,
beautiful pictures on the walls; books on religion, temperance, public
charities and financial schemes; trim colored servants, dainty food
--everything a body could wish for.  And as for stationery, there was no
end to it; the government furnished it; postage stamps were not needed
--the Senator's frank could convey a horse through the mails, if necessary.

And then he saw such dazzling company.  Renowned generals and admirals
who had seemed but colossal myths when he was in the far west, went in
and out before him or sat at the Senator's table, solidified into
palpable flesh and blood; famous statesmen crossed his path daily; that
once rare and awe-inspiring being, a Congressman, was become a common
spectacle--a spectacle so common, indeed, that he could contemplate it
without excitement, even without embarrassment; foreign ministers were
visible to the naked eye at happy intervals; he had looked upon the
President himself, and lived.  And more; this world of enchantment teemed
with speculation--the whole atmosphere was thick with hand that indeed
was Washington Hawkins' native air; none other refreshed his lungs so
gratefully.  He had found paradise at last.

The more he saw of his chief the Senator, the more he honored him, and
the more conspicuously the moral grandeur of his character appeared to
stand out.  To possess the friendship and the kindly interest of such a
man, Washington said in a letter to Louise, was a happy fortune for a
young man whose career had been so impeded and so clouded as his.

The weeks drifted by;--Harry Brierly flirted, danced, added lustre
to the brilliant Senatorial receptions, and diligently "buzzed" and
"button-holed" Congressmen in the interest of the Columbus River scheme;
meantime Senator Dilworthy labored hard in the same interest--and in
others of equal national importance.  Harry wrote frequently to Sellers,
and always encouragingly; and from these letters it was easy to see that
Harry was a pet with all Washington, and was likely to carry the thing
through; that the assistance rendered him by "old Dilworthy" was pretty
fair--pretty fair; "and every little helps, you know," said Harry.

Washington wrote Sellers officially, now and then.  In one of his letters
it appeared that whereas no member of the House committee favored the
scheme at first, there was now needed but one more vote to compass a
majority report.  Closing sentence:

     "Providence seems to further our efforts."
          (Signed,) "ABNER DILWORTHY, U. S. S.,
                         per WASHINGTON HAWKINS, P. S."

At the end of a week, Washington was able to send the happy news,
officially, as usual,--that the needed vote had been added and the bill
favorably reported from the Committee.  Other letters recorded its perils
in Committee of the whole, and by and by its victory, by just the skin of
its teeth, on third reading and final passage.  Then came letters telling
of Mr. Dilworthy's struggles with a stubborn majority in his own
Committee in the Senate; of how these gentlemen succumbed, one by one,
till a majority was secured.

Then there was a hiatus.  Washington watched every move on the board, and
he was in a good position to do this, for he was clerk of this committee,
and also one other.  He received no salary as private secretary, but
these two clerkships, procured by his benefactor, paid him an aggregate
of twelve dollars a day, without counting the twenty percent extra
compensation which would of course be voted to him on the last night of
the session.

He saw the bill go into Committee of the whole and struggle for its life
again, and finally worry through.  In the fullness of time he noted its
second reading, and by and by the day arrived when the grand ordeal came,
and it was put upon its final passage.  Washington listened with bated
breath to the "Aye!" "No!" "No!" "Aye!" of the voters, for a few dread
minutes, and then could bear the suspense no longer.  He ran down from
the gallery and hurried home to wait.

At the end of two or three hours the Senator arrived in the bosom of his
family, and dinner was waiting.  Washington sprang forward, with the
eager question on his lips, and the Senator said:

"We may rejoice freely, now, my son--Providence has crowned our efforts
with success."




CHAPTER XXV.

Washington sent grand good news to Col. Sellers that night.  To Louise he
wrote:

"It is beautiful to hear him talk when his heart is full of thankfulness
for some manifestation of the Divine favor.  You shall know him, some day
my Louise, and knowing him you will honor him, as I do."

Harry wrote:

"I pulled it through, Colonel, but it was a tough job, there is no
question about that.  There was not a friend to the measure in the House
committee when I began, and not a friend in the Senate committee except
old Dil himself, but they were all fixed for a majority report when I
hauled off my forces.  Everybody here says you can't get a thing like
this through Congress without buying committees for straight-out cash on
delivery, but I think I've taught them a thing or two--if I could only
make them believe it.  When I tell the old residenters that this thing
went through without buying a vote or making a promise, they say, 'That's
rather too thin.'  And when I say thin or not thin it's a fact, anyway,
they say, 'Come, now, but do you really believe that?' and when I say I
don't believe anything about it, I know it, they smile and say, 'Well,
you are pretty innocent, or pretty blind, one or the other--there's no
getting around that.'  Why they really do believe that votes have been
bought--they do indeed.  But let them keep on thinking so.  I have found
out that if a man knows how to talk to women, and has a little gift in
the way of argument with men, he can afford to play for an appropriation
against a money bag and give the money bag odds in the game.  We've raked
in $200,000 of Uncle Sam's money, say what they will--and there is more
where this came from, when we want it, and I rather fancy I am the person
that can go in and occupy it, too, if I do say it myself, that shouldn't,
perhaps.  I'll be with you within a week.  Scare up all the men you can,
and put them to work at once.  When I get there I propose to make things
hum."  The great news lifted Sellers into the clouds.  He went to work on
the instant.  He flew hither and thither making contracts, engaging men,
and steeping his soul in the ecstasies of business.  He was the happiest
man in Missouri.  And Louise was the happiest woman; for presently came a
letter from Washington which said:

"Rejoice with me, for the long agony is over!  We have waited patiently
and faithfully, all these years, and now at last the reward is at hand.
A man is to pay our family $40,000 for the Tennessee Land!  It is but a
little sum compared to what we could get by waiting, but I do so long to
see the day when I can call you my own, that I have said to myself,
better take this and enjoy life in a humble way than wear out our best
days in this miserable separation.  Besides, I can put this money into
operations here that will increase it a hundred fold, yes, a thousand
fold, in a few months.  The air is full of such chances, and I know our
family would consent in a moment that I should put in their shares with
mine.  Without a doubt we shall be worth half a million dollars in a year
from this time--I put it at the very lowest figure, because it is always
best to be on the safe side--half a million at the very lowest
calculation, and then your father will give his consent and we can marry
at last.  Oh, that will be a glorious day.  Tell our friends the good
news--I want all to share it."

And she did tell her father and mother, but they said, let it be kept
still for the present.  The careful father also told her to write
Washington and warn him not to speculate with the money, but to wait a
little and advise with one or two wise old heads.  She did this.  And she
managed to keep the good news to herself, though it would seem that the
most careless observer might have seen by her springing step and her
radiant countenance that some fine piece of good fortune had descended
upon her.

Harry joined the Colonel at Stone's Landing, and that dead place sprang
into sudden life.  A swarm of men were hard at work, and the dull air was
filled with the cheery music of labor.  Harry had been constituted
engineer-in-general, and he threw the full strength of his powers into
his work.  He moved among his hirelings like a king.  Authority seemed to
invest him with a new splendor.  Col. Sellers, as general superintendent
of a great public enterprise, was all that a mere human being could be
--and more.  These two grandees went at their imposing "improvement" with
the air of men who had been charged with the work of altering the
foundations of the globe.

They turned their first attention to straightening the river just above
the Landing, where it made a deep bend, and where the maps and plans
showed that the process of straightening would not only shorten distance
but increase the "fall."  They started a cut-off canal across the
peninsula formed by the bend, and such another tearing up of the earth
and slopping around in the mud as followed the order to the men, had
never been seen in that region before.  There was such a panic among the
turtles that at the end of six hours there was not one to be found within
three miles of Stone's Landing.  They took the young and the aged, the
decrepit and the sick upon their backs and left for tide-water in
disorderly procession, the tadpoles following and the bull-frogs bringing
up the rear.

Saturday night came, but the men were obliged to wait, because the
appropriation had not come.  Harry said he had written to hurry up the
money and it would be along presently.  So the work continued, on Monday.
Stone's Landing was making quite a stir in the vicinity, by this time.
Sellers threw a lot or two on the market, "as a feeler," and they sold
well.  He re-clothed his family, laid in a good stock of provisions, and
still had money left.  He started a bank account, in a small way--and
mentioned the deposit casually to friends; and to strangers, too; to
everybody, in fact; but not as a new thing--on the contrary, as a matter
of life-long standing.  He could not keep from buying trifles every day
that were not wholly necessary, it was such a gaudy thing to get out his
bank-book and draw a check, instead of using his old customary formula,
"Charge it" Harry sold a lot or two, also--and had a dinner party or two
at Hawkeye and a general good time with the money.  Both men held on
pretty strenuously for the coming big prices, however.

At the end of a month things were looking bad.  Harry had besieged the
New York headquarters of the Columbus River Slack-water Navigation
Company with demands, then commands, and finally appeals, but to no
purpose; the appropriation did not come; the letters were not even
answered.  The workmen were clamorous, now.  The Colonel and Harry
retired to consult.

"What's to be done?" said the Colonel.

"Hang'd if I know."

"Company say anything?"

"Not a word."

"You telegraphed yesterday?"

"Yes, and the day before, too."

"No answer?"

"None-confound them!"

Then there was a long pause.  Finally both spoke at once:

"I've got it!"

"I've got it!"

"What's yours?" said Harry.

"Give the boys thirty-day orders on the Company for the back pay."

"That's it-that's my own idea to a dot.  But then--but then----"

"Yes, I know," said the Colonel; "I know they can't wait for the orders
to go to New York and be cashed, but what's the reason they can't get
them discounted in Hawkeye?"

"Of course they can.  That solves the difficulty.  Everybody knows the
appropriation's been made and the Company's perfectly good."

So the orders were given and the men appeased, though they grumbled a
little at first.  The orders went well enough for groceries and such
things at a fair discount, and the work danced along gaily for a time.
Two or three purchasers put up frame houses at the Landing and moved in,
and of course a far-sighted but easy-going journeyman printer wandered
along and started the "Napoleon Weekly Telegraph and Literary
Repository"--a paper with a Latin motto from the Unabridged dictionary,
and plenty of "fat" conversational tales and double-leaded poetry--all
for two dollars a year, strictly in advance.  Of course the merchants
forwarded the orders at once to New York--and never heard of them again.

At the end of some weeks Harry's orders were a drug in the market--nobody
would take them at any discount whatever.  The second month closed with a
riot.--Sellers was absent at the time, and Harry began an active absence
himself with the mob at his heels.  But being on horseback, he had the
advantage.  He did not tarry in Hawkeye, but went on, thus missing
several appointments with creditors.  He was far on his flight eastward,
and well out of danger when the next morning dawned.  He telegraphed the
Colonel to go down and quiet the laborers--he was bound east for money
--everything would be right in a week--tell the men so--tell them to rely
on him and not be afraid.

Sellers found the mob quiet enough when he reached the Landing.
They had gutted the Navigation office, then piled the beautiful engraved
stock-books and things in the middle of the floor and enjoyed the bonfire
while it lasted.  They had a liking for the Colonel, but still they had
some idea of hanging him, as a sort of make-shift that might answer,
after a fashion, in place of more satisfactory game.

But they made the mistake of waiting to hear what he had to say first.
Within fifteen minutes his tongue had done its work and they were all
rich men.--He gave every one of them a lot in the suburbs of the city of
Stone's Landing, within a mile and a half of the future post office and
railway station, and they promised to resume work as soon as Harry got
east and started the money along.  Now things were blooming and pleasant
again, but the men had no money, and nothing to live on.  The Colonel
divided with them the money he still had in bank--an act which had
nothing surprising about it because he was generally ready to divide
whatever he had with anybody that wanted it, and it was owing to this
very trait that his family spent their days in poverty and at times were
pinched with famine.

When the men's minds had cooled and Sellers was gone, they hated
themselves for letting him beguile them with fine speeches, but it was
too late, now--they agreed to hang him another time--such time as
Providence should appoint.




CHAPTER XXVI.

Rumors of Ruth's frivolity and worldliness at Fallkill traveled to
Philadelphia in due time, and occasioned no little undertalk among the
Bolton relatives.

Hannah Shoecraft told another, cousin that, for her part, she never
believed that Ruth had so much more "mind" than other people; and Cousin
Hulda added that she always thought Ruth was fond of admiration, and that
was the reason she was unwilling to wear plain clothes and attend
Meeting.  The story that Ruth was "engaged" to a young gentleman of
fortune in Fallkill came with the other news, and helped to give point to
the little satirical remarks that went round about Ruth's desire to be a
doctor!

Margaret Bolton was too wise to be either surprised or alarmed by these
rumors.  They might be true; she knew a woman's nature too well to think
them improbable, but she also knew how steadfast Ruth was in her
purposes, and that, as a brook breaks into ripples and eddies and dances
and sports by the way, and yet keeps on to the sea, it was in Ruth's
nature to give back cheerful answer to the solicitations of friendliness
and pleasure, to appear idly delaying even, and sporting in the sunshine,
while the current of her resolution flowed steadily on.

That Ruth had this delight in the mere surface play of life that she
could, for instance, be interested in that somewhat serious by-play
called "flirtation," or take any delight in the exercise of those little
arts of pleasing and winning which are none the less genuine and charming
because they are not intellectual, Ruth, herself, had never suspected
until she went to Fallkill.  She had believed it her duty to subdue her
gaiety of temperament, and let nothing divert her from what are called
serious pursuits: In her limited experience she brought everything to the
judgment of her own conscience, and settled the affairs of all the world
in her own serene judgment hall.  Perhaps her mother saw this, and saw
also that there was nothing in the Friends' society to prevent her from
growing more and more opinionated.

When Ruth returned to Philadelphia, it must be confessed--though it would
not have been by her--that a medical career did seem a little less
necessary for her than formerly; and coming back in a glow of triumph, as
it were, and in the consciousness of the freedom and life in a lively
society and in new and sympathetic friendship, she anticipated pleasure
in an attempt to break up the stiffness and levelness of the society at
home, and infusing into it something of the motion and sparkle which were
so agreeable at Fallkill.  She expected visits from her new friends, she
would have company, the new books and the periodicals about which all the
world was talking, and, in short, she would have life.

For a little while she lived in this atmosphere which she had brought
with her.  Her mother was delighted with this change in her, with the
improvement in her health and the interest she exhibited in home affairs.
Her father enjoyed the society of his favorite daughter as he did few
things besides; he liked her mirthful and teasing ways, and not less a
keen battle over something she had read.  He had been a great reader all
his life, and a remarkable memory had stored his mind with encyclopaedic
information.  It was one of Ruth's delights to cram herself with some out
of the way subject and endeavor to catch her father; but she almost
always failed.  Mr. Bolton liked company, a house full of it, and the
mirth of young people, and he would have willingly entered into any
revolutionary plans Ruth might have suggested in relation to Friends'
society.

But custom and the fixed order are stronger than the most enthusiastic
and rebellious young lady, as Ruth very soon found.  In spite of all her
brave efforts, her frequent correspondence, and her determined animation,
her books and her music, she found herself settling into the clutches of
the old monotony, and as she realized the hopelessness of her endeavors,
the medical scheme took new hold of her, and seemed to her the only
method of escape.

"Mother, thee does not know how different it is in Fallkill, how much
more interesting the people are one meets, how much more life there is."

"But thee will find the world, child, pretty much all the same, when thee
knows it better.  I thought once as thee does now, and had as little
thought of being a Friend as thee has.  Perhaps when thee has seen more,
thee will better appreciate a quiet life."

"Thee married young.  I shall not marry young, and perhaps not at all,"
said Ruth, with a look of vast experience.

"Perhaps thee doesn't know thee own mind; I have known persons of thy
age who did not.  Did thee see anybody whom thee would like to live with
always in Fallkill?"

"Not always," replied Ruth with a little laugh.  "Mother, I think I
wouldn't say 'always' to any one until I have a profession and am as
independent as he is.  Then my love would be a free act, and not in any
way a necessity."

Margaret Bolton smiled at this new-fangled philosophy.  "Thee will find
that love, Ruth, is a thing thee won't reason about, when it comes, nor
make any bargains about.  Thee wrote that Philip Sterling was at
Fallkill."

"Yes, and Henry Brierly, a friend of his; a very amusing young fellow and
not so serious-minded as Philip, but a bit of a fop maybe."

"And thee preferred the fop to the serious-minded?"

"I didn't prefer anybody; but Henry Brierly was good company, which
Philip wasn't always."

"Did thee know thee father had been in correspondence with Philip?"

Ruth looked up surprised and with a plain question in her eyes.

"Oh, it's not about thee."

"What then?" and if there was any shade of disappointment in her tone,
probably Ruth herself did not know it.

"It's about some land up in the country.  That man Bigler has got father
into another speculation."

"That odious man!  Why will father have anything to do with him?  Is it
that railroad?"

"Yes.  Father advanced money and took land as security, and whatever has
gone with the money and the bonds, he has on his hands a large tract of
wild land."

"And what has Philip to do with that?"

"It has good timber, if it could ever be got out, and father says that
there must be coal in it; it's in a coal region.  He wants Philip to
survey it, and examine it for indications of coal."

"It's another of father's fortunes, I suppose," said Ruth.  "He has put
away so many fortunes for us that I'm afraid we never shall find them."

Ruth was interested in it nevertheless, and perhaps mainly because Philip
was to be connected with the enterprise.  Mr. Bigler came to dinner with
her father next day, and talked a great deal about Mr. Bolton's
magnificent tract of land, extolled the sagacity that led him to secure
such a property, and led the talk along to another railroad which would
open a northern communication to this very land.

"Pennybacker says it's full of coal, he's no doubt of it, and a railroad
to strike the Erie would make it a fortune."

"Suppose you take the land and work the thing up, Mr. Bigler; you may
have the tract for three dollars an acre."

"You'd throw it away, then," replied Mr. Bigler, "and I'm not the man to
take advantage of a friend.  But if you'll put a mortgage on it for the
northern road, I wouldn't mind taking an interest, if Pennybacker is
willing; but Pennybacker, you know, don't go much on land, he sticks to
the legislature."  And Mr. Bigler laughed.

When Mr. Bigler had gone, Ruth asked her father about Philip's connection
with the land scheme.

"There's nothing definite," said Mr. Bolton.  "Philip is showing aptitude
for his profession.  I hear the best reports of him in New York, though
those sharpers don't 'intend to do anything but use him.  I've written
and offered him employment in surveying and examining the land.  We want
to know what it is.  And if there is anything in it that his enterprise
can dig out, he shall have an interest.  I should be glad to give the
young fellow a lift."

All his life Eli Bolton had been giving young fellows a lift, and
shouldering the loses when things turned out unfortunately.  His ledger,
take-it-altogether, would not show a balance on the right side; but
perhaps the losses on his books will turn out to be credits in a world
where accounts are kept on a different basis.  The left hand of the
ledger will appear the right, looked at from the other side.

Philip, wrote to Ruth rather a comical account of the bursting up of the
city of Napoleon and the navigation improvement scheme, of Harry's flight
and the Colonel's discomfiture.  Harry left in such a hurry that he
hadn't even time to bid Miss Laura Hawkins good-bye, but he had no doubt
that Harry would console himself with the next pretty face he saw
--a remark which was thrown in for Ruth's benefit.  Col. Sellers had in all
probability, by this time, some other equally brilliant speculation in
his brain.

As to the railroad, Philip had made up his mind that it was merely kept
on foot for speculative purposes in Wall street, and he was about to quit
it.  Would Ruth be glad to hear, he wondered, that he was coming East?
For he was coming, in spite of a letter from Harry in New York, advising
him to hold on until he had made some arrangements in regard to
contracts, he to be a little careful about Sellers, who was somewhat
visionary, Harry said.

The summer went on without much excitement for Ruth.  She kept up a
correspondence with Alice, who promised a visit in the fall, she read,
she earnestly tried to interest herself in home affairs and such people
as came to the house; but she found herself falling more and more into
reveries, and growing weary of things as they were.  She felt that
everybody might become in time like two relatives from a Shaker
establishment in Ohio, who visited the Boltons about this time, a father
and son, clad exactly alike, and alike in manners.  The son; however,
who was not of age, was more unworldly and sanctimonious than his father;
he always addressed his parent as "Brother Plum," and bore himself,
altogether in such a superior manner that Ruth longed to put bent pins in
his chair.  Both father and son wore the long, single breasted collarless
coats of their society, without buttons, before or behind, but with a row
of hooks and eyes on either side in front.  It was Ruth's suggestion that
the coats would be improved by a single hook and eye sewed on in the
small of the back where the buttons usually are.

Amusing as this Shaker caricature of the Friends was, it oppressed Ruth
beyond measure; and increased her feeling of being stifled.

It was a most unreasonable feeling.  No home could be pleasanter than
Ruth's.  The house, a little out of the city; was one of those elegant
country residences which so much charm visitors to the suburbs of
Philadelphia.  A modern dwelling and luxurious in everything that wealth
could suggest for comfort, it stood in the midst of exquisitely kept
lawns, with groups of trees, parterres of flowers massed in colors, with
greenhouse, grapery and garden; and on one side, the garden sloped away
in undulations to a shallow brook that ran over a pebbly bottom and sang
under forest trees.  The country about teas the perfection of cultivated
landscape, dotted with cottages, and stately mansions of Revolutionary
date, and sweet as an English country-side, whether seen in the soft
bloom of May or in the mellow ripeness of late October.

It needed only the peace of the mind within, to make it a paradise.
One riding by on the Old Germantown road, and seeing a young girl
swinging in the hammock on the piazza and, intent upon some volume of old
poetry or the latest novel, would no doubt have envied a life so idyllic.
He could not have imagined that the young girl was reading a volume of
reports of clinics and longing to be elsewhere.

Ruth could not have been more discontented if all the wealth about her
had been as unsubstantial as a dream.  Perhaps she so thought it.

"I feel," she once said to her father, "as if I were living in a house of
cards."

"And thee would like to turn it into a hospital?"

"No.  But tell me father," continued Ruth, not to be put off, "is thee
still going on with that Bigler and those other men who come here and
entice thee?"

Mr. Bolton smiled, as men do when they talk with women about "business"
"Such men have their uses, Ruth.  They keep the world active, and I owe a
great many of my best operations to such men.  Who knows, Ruth, but this
new land purchase, which I confess I yielded a little too much to Bigler
in, may not turn out a fortune for thee and the rest of the children?"

"Ah, father, thee sees every thing in a rose-colored light.  I do believe
thee wouldn't have so readily allowed me to begin the study of medicine,
if it hadn't had the novelty of an experiment to thee."

"And is thee satisfied with it?"

"If thee means, if I have had enough of it, no.  I just begin to see what
I can do in it, and what a noble profession it is for a woman.  Would
thee have me sit here like a bird on a bough and wait for somebody to
come and put me in a cage?"

Mr. Bolton was not sorry to divert the talk from his own affairs, and he
did not think it worth while to tell his family of a performance that
very day which was entirely characteristic of him.

Ruth might well say that she felt as if she were living in a house of
cards, although the Bolton household had no idea of the number of perils
that hovered over them, any more than thousands of families in America
have of the business risks and contingences upon which their prosperity
and luxury hang.

A sudden call upon Mr. Bolton for a large sum of money, which must be
forthcoming at once, had found him in the midst of a dozen ventures, from
no one of which a dollar could be realized.  It was in vain that he
applied to his business acquaintances and friends; it was a period of
sudden panic and no money.  "A hundred thousand!  Mr. Bolton," said
Plumly.  "Good God, if you should ask me for ten, I shouldn't know where
to get it."

And yet that day Mr. Small (Pennybacker, Bigler and Small) came to Mr.
Bolton with a piteous story of ruin in a coal operation, if he could not
raise ten thousand dollars.  Only ten, and he was sure of a fortune.
Without it he was a beggar.  Mr. Bolton had already Small's notes for a
large amount in his safe, labeled "doubtful;" he had helped him again and
again, and always with the same result.  But Mr. Small spoke with a
faltering voice of his family, his daughter in school, his wife ignorant
of his calamity, and drew such a picture of their agony, that Mr. Bolton
put by his own more pressing necessity, and devoted the day to scraping
together, here and there, ten thousand dollars for this brazen beggar,
who had never kept a promise to him nor paid a debt.

Beautiful credit!  The foundation of modern society.  Who shall say that
this is not the golden age of mutual trust, of unlimited reliance upon
human promises?  That is a peculiar condition of society which enables a
whole nation to instantly recognize point and meaning in the familiar
newspaper anecdote, which puts into the mouth of a distinguished
speculator in lands and mines this remark:--"I wasn't worth a cent two
years ago, and now I owe two millions of dollars."




CHAPTER XXVII.

It was a hard blow to poor Sellers to see the work on his darling
enterprise stop, and the noise and bustle and confusion that had been
such refreshment to his soul, sicken and die out.  It was hard to come
down to humdrum ordinary life again after being a General Superintendent
and the most conspicuous man in the community.  It was sad to see his
name disappear from the newspapers; sadder still to see it resurrected at
intervals, shorn of its aforetime gaudy gear of compliments and clothed
on with rhetorical tar and feathers.

But his friends suffered more on his account than he did.  He was a cork
that could not be kept under the water many moments at a time.

He had to bolster up his wife's spirits every now and then.  On one of
these occasions he said:

"It's all right, my dear, all right; it will all come right in a little
while.  There's $200,000 coming, and that will set things booming again:
Harry seems to be having some difficulty, but that's to be expected--you
can't move these big operations to the tune of Fisher's Hornpipe, you
know.  But Harry will get it started along presently, and then you'll
see!  I expect the news every day now."

"But Beriah, you've been expecting it every day, all along, haven't you?"

"Well, yes; yes--I don't know but I have.  But anyway, the longer it's
delayed, the nearer it grows to the time when it will start--same as
every day you live brings you nearer to--nearer--"

"The grave?"

"Well, no--not that exactly; but you can't understand these things, Polly
dear--women haven't much head for business, you know.  You make yourself
perfectly comfortable, old lady, and you'll see how we'll trot this right
along.  Why bless you, let the appropriation lag, if it wants to--that's
no great matter--there's a bigger thing than that."

"Bigger than $200,000, Beriah?"

"Bigger, child?--why, what's $200,000?  Pocket money!  Mere pocket money!
Look at the railroad!  Did you forget the railroad?  It ain't many months
till spring; it will be coming right along, and the railroad swimming
right along behind it.  Where'll it be by the middle of summer?  Just
stop and fancy a moment--just think a little--don't anything suggest
itself?  Bless your heart, you dear women live right in the present all
the time--but a man, why a man lives----

"In the future, Beriah?  But don't we live in the future most too much,
Beriah?  We do somehow seem to manage to live on next year's crop of corn
and potatoes as a general thing while this year is still dragging along,
but sometimes it's not a robust diet,--Beriah.  But don't look that way,
dear--don't mind what I say.  I don't mean to fret, I don't mean to
worry; and I don't, once a month, do I, dear?  But when I get a little
low and feel bad, I get a bit troubled and worrisome, but it don't mean
anything in the world.  It passes right away.  I know you're doing all
you can, and I don't want to seem repining and ungrateful--for I'm not,
Beriah--you know I'm not, don't you?"

"Lord bless you, child, I know you are the very best little woman that
ever lived--that ever lived on the whole face of the Earth!  And I know
that I would be a dog not to work for you and think for you and scheme
for you with all my might.  And I'll bring things all right yet, honey
--cheer up and don't you fear.  The railroad----"

"Oh, I had forgotten the railroad, dear, but when a body gets blue, a
body forgets everything.  Yes, the railroad--tell me about the railroad."

"Aha, my girl, don't you see?  Things ain't so dark, are they?  Now I
didn't forget the railroad.  Now just think for a moment--just figure up
a little on the future dead moral certainties.  For instance, call this
waiter St. Louis.

"And we'll lay this fork (representing the railroad) from St. Louis to
this potato, which is Slouchburg:

"Then with this carving knife we'll continue the railroad from Slouchburg
to Doodleville, shown by the black pepper:

"Then we run along the--yes--the comb--to the tumbler that's Brimstone:

"Thence by the pipe to Belshazzar, which is the salt-cellar:

"Thence to, to--that quill--Catfish--hand me the pincushion, Marie
Antoinette:

"Thence right along these shears to this horse, Babylon:

"Then by the spoon to Bloody Run--thank you, the ink:

"Thence to Hail Columbia--snuffers, Polly, please move that cup and
saucer close up, that's Hail Columbia:

"Then--let me open my knife--to Hark-from-the-Tomb, where we'll put
the candle-stick--only a little distance from Hail Columbia to
Hark-from-the-Tomb--down-grade all the way.

"And there we strike Columbus River--pass me two or throe skeins of
thread to stand for the river; the sugar bowl will do for Hawkeye, and
the rat trap for Stone's Landing-Napoleon, I mean--and you can see how
much better Napoleon is located than Hawkeye.  Now here you are with your
railroad complete, and showing its continuation to Hallelujah and thence
to Corruptionville.

"Now then-them you are!  It's a beautiful road, beautiful.  Jeff Thompson
can out-engineer any civil engineer that ever sighted through an aneroid,
or a theodolite, or whatever they call it--he calls it sometimes one and
sometimes the other just whichever levels off his sentence neatest, I
reckon.  But ain't it a ripping toad, though?  I tell you, it'll make a
stir when it gets along.  Just see what a country it goes through.
There's your onions at Slouchburg--noblest onion country that graces
God's footstool; and there's your turnip country all around Doodleville
--bless my life, what fortunes are going to be made there when they get
that contrivance perfected for extracting olive oil out of turnips--if
there's any in them; and I reckon there is, because Congress has made an
appropriation of money to test the thing, and they wouldn't have done
that just on conjecture, of course.  And now we come to the Brimstone
region--cattle raised there till you can't rest--and corn, and all that
sort of thing.  Then you've got a little stretch along through Belshazzar
that don't produce anything now--at least nothing but rocks--but
irrigation will fetch it.  Then from Catfish to Babylon it's a little
swampy, but there's dead loads of peat down under there somewhere.  Next
is the Bloody Run and Hail Columbia country--tobacco enough can be raised
there to support two such railroads.  Next is the sassparilla region.
I reckon there's enough of that truck along in there on the line of the
pocket-knife, from Hail Columbia to Hark-from-the Tomb to fat up all the
consumptives in all the hospitals from Halifax to the Holy Land.  It just
grows like weeds!  I've got a little belt of sassparilla land in there
just tucked away unobstrusively waiting for my little Universal
Expectorant to get into shape in my head.  And I'll fix that, you know.
One of these days I'll have all the nations of the earth expecto--"

"But Beriah, dear--"

"Don't interrupt me; Polly--I don't want you to lose the run of the map
--well, take your toy-horse, James Fitz-James, if you must have it--and run
along with you.  Here, now--the soap will do for Babylon.  Let me see
--where was I?  Oh yes--now we run down to Stone's Lan--Napoleon--now we
run down to Napoleon.  Beautiful road.  Look at that, now.  Perfectly
straight line-straight as the way to the grave.  And see where it leaves
Hawkeye-clear out in the cold, my dear, clear out in the cold.  That
town's as bound to die as--well if I owned it I'd get its obituary ready,
now, and notify the mourners.  Polly, mark my words--in three years from
this, Hawkeye'll be a howling wilderness.  You'll see.  And just look at
that river--noblest stream that meanders over the thirsty earth!
--calmest, gentlest artery that refreshes her weary bosom!  Railroad
goes all over it and all through it--wades right along on stilts.
Seventeen bridges in three miles and a half--forty-nine bridges from
Hark-from-the-Tomb to Stone's Landing altogether--forty nine bridges, and
culverts enough to culvert creation itself!  Hadn't skeins of thread
enough to represent them all--but you get an idea--perfect trestle-work
of bridges for seventy two miles: Jeff Thompson and I fixed all that, you
know; he's to get the contracts and I'm to put them through on the
divide.  Just oceans of money in those bridges.  It's the only part of
the railroad I'm interested in,--down along the line--and it's all I
want, too.  It's enough, I should judge. Now here we are at Napoleon.
Good enough country plenty good enough--all it wants is population.
That's all right--that will come.  And it's no bad country now for
calmness and solitude, I can tell you--though there's no money in that,
of course.  No money, but a man wants rest, a man wants peace--a man
don't want to rip and tear around all the time.  And here we go, now,
just as straight as a string for Hallelujah--it's a beautiful angle
--handsome up grade all the way--and then away you go to Corruptionville,
the gaudiest country for early carrots and cauliflowers that ever--good
missionary field, too.  There ain't such another missionary field outside
the jungles of Central Africa.  And patriotic?--why they named it after
Congress itself.  Oh, I warn you, my dear, there's a good time coming,
and it'll be right along before you know what you're about, too.  That
railroad's fetching it. You see what it is as far as I've got, and if I
had enough bottles and soap and boot-jacks and such things to carry it
along to where it joins onto the Union Pacific, fourteen hundred miles
from here, I should exhibit to you in that little internal improvement a
spectacle of inconceivable sublimity.  So, don't you see?  We've got the
rail road to fall back on; and in the meantime, what are we worrying
about that $200,000 appropriation for?  That's all right.  I'd be willing
to bet anything that the very next letter that comes from Harry will--"

The eldest boy entered just in the nick of time and brought a letter,
warm from the post-office.

"Things do look bright, after all, Beriah.  I'm sorry I was blue, but it
did seem as if everything had been going against us for whole ages.  Open
the letter--open it quick, and let's know all about it before we stir out
of our places.  I am all in a fidget to know what it says."

The letter was opened, without any unnecessary delay.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

Whatever may have been the language of Harry's letter to the Colonel,
the information it conveyed was condensed or expanded, one or the other,
from the following episode of his visit to New York:

He called, with official importance in his mien, at No.-- Wall street,
where a great gilt sign betokened the presence of the head-quarters of
the "Columbus River Slack-Water Navigation Company."  He entered and
gave a dressy porter his card, and was requested to wait a moment in a
sort of ante-room.  The porter returned in a minute; and asked whom he
would like to see?

"The president of the company, of course."

"He is busy with some gentlemen, sir; says he will be done with them
directly."

That a copper-plate card with "Engineer-in-Chief" on it should be
received with such tranquility as this, annoyed Mr. Brierly not a little.
But he had to submit.  Indeed his annoyance had time to augment a good
deal; for he was allowed to cool his heels a frill half hour in the
ante-room before those gentlemen emerged and he was ushered into the
presence. He found a stately dignitary occupying a very official chair
behind a long green morocco-covered table, in a room with sumptuously
carpeted and furnished, and well garnished with pictures.

"Good morning, sir; take a seat--take a seat."

"Thank you sir," said Harry, throwing as much chill into his manner as
his ruffled dignity prompted.

"We perceive by your reports and the reports of the Chief Superintendent,
that you have been making gratifying progress with the work.--We are all
very much pleased."

"Indeed?  We did not discover it from your letters--which we have not
received; nor by the treatment our drafts have met with--which were not
honored; nor by the reception of any part of the appropriation, no part
of it having come to hand."

"Why, my dear Mr. Brierly, there must be some mistake, I am sure we wrote
you and also Mr. Sellers, recently--when my clerk comes he will show
copies--letters informing you of the ten per cent. assessment."

"Oh, certainly, we got those letters.  But what we wanted was money to
carry on the work--money to pay the men."

"Certainly, certainly--true enough--but we credited you both for a large
part of your assessments--I am sure that was in our letters."

"Of course that was in--I remember that."

"Ah, very well then.  Now we begin to understand each other."

"Well, I don't see that we do.  There's two months' wages due the men,
and----"

"How?  Haven't you paid the men?"

"Paid them!  How are we going to pay them when you don't honor our
drafts?"

"Why, my dear sir, I cannot see how you can find any fault with us.  I am
sure we have acted in a perfectly straight forward business way.--Now let
us look at the thing a moment.  You subscribed for 100 shares of the
capital stock, at $1,000 a share, I believe?"

"Yes, sir, I did."

"And Mr. Sellers took a like amount?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well.  No concern can get along without money.  We levied a ten per
cent. assessment.  It was the original understanding that you and Mr.
Sellers were to have the positions you now hold, with salaries of $600 a
month each, while in active service.  You were duly elected to these
places, and you accepted them.  Am I right?"

"Certainly."

"Very well.  You were given your instructions and put to work.  By your
reports it appears that you have expended the sum of $9,610 upon the said
work.  Two months salary to you two officers amounts altogether to
$2,400--about one-eighth of your ten per cent. assessment, you see; which
leaves you in debt to the company for the other seven-eighths of the
assessment--viz, something over $8,000 apiece.  Now instead of requiring
you to forward this aggregate of $16,000 or $17,000 to New York, the
company voted unanimously to let you pay it over to the contractors,
laborers from time to time, and give you credit on the books for it.
And they did it without a murmur, too, for they were pleased with the
progress you had made, and were glad to pay you that little compliment
--and a very neat one it was, too, I am sure.  The work you did fell short
of $10,000, a trifle.  Let me see--$9,640 from $20,000 salary $2;400
added--ah yes, the balance due the company from yourself and Mr. Sellers
is $7,960, which I will take the responsibility of allowing to stand for
the present, unless you prefer to draw a check now, and thus----"

"Confound it, do you mean to say that instead of the company owing us
$2,400, we owe the company $7,960?"

"Well, yes."

"And that we owe the men and the contractors nearly ten thousand dollars
besides?"

"Owe them!  Oh bless my soul, you can't mean that you have not paid these
people?"

"But I do mean it!"

The president rose and walked the floor like a man in bodily pain.  His
brows contracted, he put his hand up and clasped his forehead, and kept
saying, "Oh, it is, too bad, too bad, too bad!  Oh, it is bound to be
found out--nothing can prevent it--nothing!"

Then he threw himself into his chair and said:

"My dear Mr. Brierson, this is dreadful--perfectly dreadful.  It will be
found out.  It is bound to tarnish the good name of the company; our
credit will be seriously, most seriously impaired.  How could you be so
thoughtless--the men ought to have been paid though it beggared us all!"

"They ought, ought they?  Then why the devil--my name is not Bryerson, by
the way--why the mischief didn't the compa--why what in the nation ever
became of the appropriation?  Where is that appropriation?--if a
stockholder may make so bold as to ask."

"The appropriation?--that paltry $200,000, do you mean?"

"Of course--but I didn't know that $200,000 was so very paltry.  Though I
grant, of course, that it is not a large sum, strictly speaking.  But
where is it?"

"My dear sir, you surprise me.  You surely cannot have had a large
acquaintance with this sort of thing.  Otherwise you would not have
expected much of a result from a mere INITIAL appropriation like that.
It was never intended for anything but a mere nest egg for the future and
real appropriations to cluster around."

"Indeed?  Well, was it a myth, or was it a reality?  Whatever become of
it?"

"Why the--matter is simple enough.  A Congressional appropriation costs
money.  Just reflect, for instance--a majority of the House Committee,
say $10,000 apiece--$40,000; a majority of the Senate Committee, the same
each--say $40,000; a little extra to one or two chairman of one or two
such committees, say $10,000 each--$20,000; and there's $100,000 of the
money gone, to begin with.  Then, seven male lobbyists, at $3,000 each
--$21,000; one female lobbyist, $10,000; a high moral Congressman or
Senator here and there--the high moral ones cost more, because they.
give tone to a measure--say ten of these at $3,000 each, is $30,000; then
a lot of small-fry country members who won't vote for anything whatever
without pay--say twenty at $500 apiece, is $10,000; a lot of dinners to
members--say $10,000 altogether; lot of jimcracks for Congressmen's wives
and children--those go a long way--you can't sped too much money in that
line--well, those things cost in a lump, say $10,000--along there
somewhere; and then comes your printed documents--your maps, your tinted
engravings, your pamphlets, your illuminated show cards, your
advertisements in a hundred and fifty papers at ever so much a line
--because you've got to keep the papers all light or you are gone up, you
know.  Oh, my dear sir, printing bills are destruction itself.  Ours so
far amount to--let me see--10; 52; 22; 13;--and then there's 11; 14; 33
--well, never mind the details, the total in clean numbers foots up
$118,254.42 thus far!"

"What!"

"Oh, yes indeed.  Printing's no bagatelle, I can tell you.  And then
there's your contributions, as a company, to Chicago fires and Boston
fires, and orphan asylums and all that sort of thing--head the list, you
see, with the company's full name and a thousand dollars set opposite
--great card, sir--one of the finest advertisements in the world--the
preachers mention it in the pulpit when it's a religious charity--one of
the happiest advertisements in the world is your benevolent donation.
Ours have amounted to sixteen thousand dollars and some cents up to this
time."

"Good heavens!"

"Oh, yes.  Perhaps the biggest thing we've done in the advertising line
was to get an officer of the U. S. government, of perfectly Himmalayan
official altitude, to write up our little internal improvement for a
religious paper of enormous circulation--I tell you that makes our bonds
go handsomely among the pious poor.  Your religious paper is by far the
best vehicle for a thing of this kind, because they'll 'lead' your
article and put it right in the midst of the reading matter; and if it's
got a few Scripture quotations in it, and some temperance platitudes and
a bit of gush here and there about Sunday Schools, and a sentimental
snuffle now and then about 'God's precious ones, the honest hard-handed
poor,' it works the nation like a charm, my dear sir, and never a man
suspects that it is an advertisement; but your secular paper sticks you
right into the advertising columns and of course you don't take a trick.
Give me a religious paper to advertise in, every time; and if you'll just
look at their advertising pages, you'll observe that other people think a
good deal as I do--especially people who have got little financial
schemes to make everybody rich with.  Of course I mean your great big
metropolitan religious papers that know how to serve God and make money
at the same time--that's your sort, sir, that's your sort--a religious
paper that isn't run to make money is no use to us, sir, as an
advertising medium--no use to anybody--in our line of business.  I guess
our next best dodge was sending a pleasure trip of newspaper reporters
out to Napoleon.  Never paid them a cent; just filled them up with
champagne and the fat of the land, put pen, ink and paper before them
while they were red-hot, and bless your soul when you come to read their
letters you'd have supposed they'd been to heaven.  And if a sentimental
squeamishness held one or two of them back from taking a less rosy view
of Napoleon, our hospitalities tied his tongue, at least, and he said
nothing at all and so did us no harm.  Let me see--have I stated all the
expenses I've been at?  No, I was near forgetting one or two items.
There's your official salaries--you can't get good men for nothing.
Salaries cost pretty lively.  And then there's your big high-sounding
millionaire names stuck into your advertisements as stockholders--another
card, that--and they are stockholders, too, but you have to give them the
stock and non-assessable at that--so they're an expensive lot.  Very,
very expensive thing, take it all around, is a big internal improvement
concern--but you see that yourself, Mr. Bryerman--you see that, yourself,
sir."

"But look here.  I think you are a little mistaken about it's ever having
cost anything for Congressional votes.  I happen to know something about
that.  I've let you say your say--now let me say mine.  I don't wish to
seem to throw any suspicion on anybody's statements, because we are all
liable to be mistaken.  But how would it strike you if I were to say that
I was in Washington all the time this bill was pending? and what if I
added that I put the measure through myself?  Yes, sir, I did that little
thing.  And moreover, I never paid a dollar for any man's vote and never
promised one.  There are some ways of doing a thing that are as good as
others which other people don't happen to think about, or don't have the
knack of succeeding in, if they do happen to think of them.  My dear sir,
I am obliged to knock some of your expenses in the head--for never a cent
was paid a Congressman or Senator on the part of this Navigation Company."

The president smiled blandly, even sweetly, all through this harangue,
and then said:

"Is that so?"

"Every word of it."

"Well it does seem to alter the complexion of things a little.  You are
acquainted with the members down there, of course, else you could not
have worked to such advantage?"

"I know them all, sir.  I know their wives, their children, their babies
--I even made it a point to be on good terms with their lackeys.  I know
every Congressman well--even familiarly."

"Very good.  Do you know any of their signatures?  Do you know their
handwriting?"

"Why I know their handwriting as well as I know my own--have had
correspondence enough with them, I should think.  And their signatures
--why I can tell their initials, even."

The president went to a private safe, unlocked it and got out some
letters and certain slips of paper.  Then he said:

"Now here, for instance; do you believe that that is a genuine letter?
Do you know this signature here?--and this one?  Do you know who those
initials represent--and are they forgeries?"

Harry was stupefied.  There were things there that made his brain swim.
Presently, at the bottom of one of the letters he saw a signature that
restored his equilibrium; it even brought the sunshine of a smile to his
face.

The president said:

"That one amuses you.  You never suspected him?"

"Of course I ought to have suspected him, but I don't believe it ever
really occurred to me.  Well, well, well--how did you ever have the nerve
to approach him, of all others?"

"Why my friend, we never think of accomplishing anything without his
help.  He is our mainstay.  But how do those letters strike you?"

"They strike me dumb!  What a stone-blind idiot I have been!"

"Well, take it all around, I suppose you had a pleasant time in
Washington," said the president, gathering up the letters; "of course you
must have had.  Very few men could go there and get a money bill through
without buying a single--"

"Come, now, Mr. President, that's plenty of that!  I take back everything
I said on that head.  I'm a wiser man to-day than I was yesterday, I can
tell you."

"I think you are.  In fact I am satisfied you are.  But now I showed you
these things in confidence, you understand.  Mention facts as much as you
want to, but don't mention names to anybody.  I can depend on you for
that, can't I?"

"Oh, of course.  I understand the necessity of that.  I will not betray
the names.  But to go back a bit, it begins to look as if you never saw
any of that appropriation at all?"

"We saw nearly ten thousand dollars of it--and that was all.  Several of
us took turns at log-rolling in Washington, and if we had charged
anything for that service, none of that $10,000 would ever have reached
New York."

"If you hadn't levied the assessment you would have been in a close place
I judge?"

"Close?  Have you figured up the total of the disbursements I told you
of?"

"No, I didn't think of that."

"Well, lets see:

Spent in Washington, say, ........... $191,000
Printing, advertising, etc., say .... $118,000
Charity, say, .......................  $16,000

               Total, ............... $325,000

The money to do that with, comes from
--Appropriation, ...................... $200,000

Ten per cent. assessment on capital of
     $1,000,000 ..................... $100,000

               Total, ............... $300,000

"Which leaves us in debt some $25,000 at this moment.  Salaries of home
officers are still going on; also printing and advertising.  Next month
will show a state of things!"

"And then--burst up, I suppose?"

"By no means.  Levy another assessment"

"Oh, I see.  That's dismal."

"By no means."

"Why isn't it?  What's the road out?"

"Another appropriation, don't you see?"

"Bother the appropriations.  They cost more than they come to."

"Not the next one.  We'll call for half a million--get it and go for a
million the very next month."

"Yes, but the cost of it!"

The president smiled, and patted his secret letters affectionately.  He
said:

"All these people are in the next Congress.  We shan't have to pay them a
cent.  And what is more, they will work like beavers for us--perhaps it
might be to their advantage."

Harry reflected profoundly a while.  Then he said:

"We send many missionaries to lift up the benighted races of other lands.
How much cheaper and better it would be if those people could only come
here and drink of our civilization at its fountain head."

"I perfectly agree with you, Mr. Beverly.  Must you go?  Well, good
morning.  Look in, when you are passing; and whenever I can give you any
information about our affairs and pro'spects, I shall be glad to do it."

Harry's letter was not a long one, but it contained at least the
calamitous figures that came out in the above conversation.  The Colonel
found himself in a rather uncomfortable place--no $1,200 salary
forthcoming; and himself held responsible for half of the $9,640 due the
workmen, to say nothing of being in debt to the company to the extent of
nearly $4,000.  Polly's heart was nearly broken; the "blues" returned in
fearful force, and she had to go out of the room to hide the tears that
nothing could keep back now.

There was mourning in another quarter, too, for Louise had a letter.
Washington had refused, at the last moment, to take $40,000 for the
Tennessee Land, and had demanded $150,000!  So the trade fell through,
and now Washington was wailing because he had been so foolish.  But he
wrote that his man might probably return to the city soon, and then he
meant to sell to him, sure, even if he had to take $10,000.  Louise had a
good cry-several of them, indeed--and the family charitably forebore to
make any comments that would increase her grief.

Spring blossomed, summer came, dragged its hot weeks by, and the
Colonel's spirits rose, day by day, for the railroad was making good
progress.  But by and by something happened.  Hawkeye had always declined
to subscribe anything toward the railway, imagining that her large
business would be a sufficient compulsory influence; but now Hawkeye was
frightened; and before Col. Sellers knew what he was about, Hawkeye, in a
panic, had rushed to the front and subscribed such a sum that Napoleon's
attractions suddenly sank into insignificance and the railroad concluded
to follow a comparatively straight coarse instead of going miles out of
its way to build up a metropolis in the muddy desert of Stone's Landing.

The thunderbolt fell.  After all the Colonel's deep planning; after all
his brain work and tongue work in drawing public attention to his pet
project and enlisting interest in it; after all his faithful hard toil
with his hands, and running hither and thither on his busy feet; after
all his high hopes and splendid prophecies, the fates had turned their
backs on him at last, and all in a moment his air-castles crumbled to
ruins abort him.  Hawkeye rose from her fright triumphant and rejoicing,
and down went Stone's Landing!  One by one its meagre parcel of
inhabitants packed up and moved away, as the summer waned and fall
approached.  Town lots were no longer salable, traffic ceased, a deadly
lethargy fell upon the place once more, the "Weekly Telegraph" faded into
an early grave, the wary tadpole returned from exile, the bullfrog
resumed his ancient song, the tranquil turtle sunned his back upon bank
and log and drowsed his grateful life away as in the old sweet days of
yore.




CHAPTER XXIX.

Philip Sterling was on his way to Ilium, in the state of Pennsylvania.
Ilium was the railway station nearest to the tract of wild land which
Mr. Bolton had commissioned him to examine.

On the last day of the journey as the railway train Philip was on was
leaving a large city, a lady timidly entered the drawing-room car, and
hesitatingly took a chair that was at the moment unoccupied.  Philip saw
from the window that a gentleman had put her upon the car just as it was
starting.  In a few moments the conductor entered, and without waiting an
explanation, said roughly to the lady,

"Now you can't sit there.  That seat's taken.  Go into the other car."

"I did not intend to take the seat," said the lady rising, "I only sat
down a moment till the conductor should come and give me a seat."

"There aint any.  Car's full.  You'll have to leave."

"But, sir," said the lady, appealingly, "I thought--"

"Can't help what you thought--you must go into the other car."

"The train is going very fast, let me stand here till we stop."

"The lady can have my seat," cried Philip, springing up.

The conductor turned towards Philip, and coolly and deliberately surveyed
him from head to foot, with contempt in every line of his face, turned
his back upon him without a word, and said to the lady,

"Come, I've got no time to talk.  You must go now."

The lady, entirely disconcerted by such rudeness, and frightened, moved
towards the door, opened it and stepped out.  The train was swinging
along at a rapid rate, jarring from side to side; the step was a long one
between the cars and there was no protecting grating.  The lady attempted
it, but lost her balance, in the wind and the motion of the car, and
fell!  She would inevitably have gone down under the wheels, if Philip,
who had swiftly followed her, had not caught her arm and drawn her up.
He then assisted her across, found her a seat, received her bewildered
thanks, and returned to his car.

The conductor was still there, taking his tickets, and growling something
about imposition.  Philip marched up to him, and burst out with,

"You are a brute, an infernal brute, to treat a woman that way."

"Perhaps you'd like to make a fuss about it," sneered the conductor.

Philip's reply was a blow, given so suddenly and planted so squarely in
the conductor's face, that it sent him reeling over a fat passenger, who
was looking up in mild wonder that any one should dare to dispute with a
conductor, and against the side of the car.

He recovered himself, reached the bell rope, "Damn you, I'll learn you,"
stepped to the door and called a couple of brakemen, and then, as the
speed slackened; roared out,

"Get off this train."

"I shall not get off.  I have as much right here as you."

"We'll see," said the conductor, advancing with the brakemen.  The
passengers protested, and some of them said to each other, "That's too
bad," as they always do in such cases, but none of them offered to take a
hand with Philip.  The men seized him, wrenched him from his seat,
dragged him along the aisle, tearing his clothes, thrust him from the
car, and, then flung his carpet-bag, overcoat and umbrella after him.
And the train went on.

The conductor, red in the face and puffing from his exertion, swaggered
through the car, muttering "Puppy, I'll learn him."  The passengers, when
he had gone, were loud in their indignation, and talked about signing a
protest, but they did nothing more than talk.

The next morning the Hooverville Patriot and Clarion had this "item":--

                          SLIGHTUALLY OVERBOARD.

     "We learn that as the down noon express was leaving H---- yesterday
     a lady! (God save the mark) attempted to force herself into the
     already full palatial car.  Conductor Slum, who is too old a bird to
     be caught with chaff, courteously informed her that the car was
     full, and when she insisted on remaining, he persuaded her to go
     into the car where she belonged.  Thereupon a young sprig, from the
     East, blustered like a Shanghai rooster, and began to sass the
     conductor with his chin music.  That gentleman delivered the young
     aspirant for a muss one of his elegant little left-handers, which so
     astonished him that he began to feel for his shooter.  Whereupon Mr.
     Slum gently raised the youth, carried him forth, and set him down
     just outside the car to cool off.  Whether the young blood has yet
     made his way out of Bascom's swamp, we have not learned.  Conductor
     Slum is one of the most gentlemanly and efficient officers on the
     road; but he ain't trifled with, not much.  We learn that the
     company have put a new engine on the seven o'clock train, and newly
     upholstered the drawing-room car throughout.  It spares no effort
     for the comfort of the traveling public."

Philip never had been before in Bascom's swamp, and there was nothing
inviting in it to detain him.  After the train got out of the way he
crawled out of the briars and the mud, and got upon the track.  He was
somewhat bruised, but he was too angry to mind that.  He plodded along
over the ties in a very hot condition of mind and body.  In the scuffle,
his railway check had disappeared, and he grimly wondered, as he noticed
the loss, if the company would permit him to walk over their track if
they should know he hadn't a ticket.

Philip had to walk some five miles before he reached a little station,
where he could wait for a train, and he had ample time for reflection.
At first he was full of vengeance on the company.  He would sue it.  He
would make it pay roundly.  But then it occurred to him that he did not
know the name of a witness he could summon, and that a personal fight
against a railway corporation was about the most hopeless in the world.
He then thought he would seek out that conductor, lie in wait for him at
some station, and thrash him, or get thrashed himself.

But as he got cooler, that did not seem to him a project worthy of a
gentleman exactly.  Was it possible for a gentleman to get even with such
a fellow as that conductor on the letter's own plane?  And when he came
to this point, he began to ask himself, if he had not acted very much
like a fool.  He didn't regret striking the fellow--he hoped he had left
a mark on him.  But, after all, was that the best way?  Here was he,
Philip Sterling, calling himself a gentleman, in a brawl with a vulgar
conductor, about a woman he had never seen before.  Why should he have
put himself in such a ridiculous position?  Wasn't it enough to have
offered the lady his seat, to have rescued her from an accident, perhaps
from death?  Suppose he had simply said to the conductor, "Sir, your
conduct is brutal, I shall report you."  The passengers, who saw the
affair, might have joined in a report against the conductor, and he might
really have accomplished something.  And, now!  Philip looked at leis
torn clothes, and thought with disgust of his haste in getting into a
fight with such an autocrat.

At the little station where Philip waited for the next train, he met a
man--who turned out to be a justice of the peace in that neighborhood,
and told him his adventure.  He was a kindly sort of man, and seemed very
much interested.

"Dum 'em," said he, when he had heard the story.

"Do you think any thing can be done, sir?"

"Wal, I guess tain't no use.  I hain't a mite of doubt of every word you
say.  But suin's no use.  The railroad company owns all these people
along here, and the judges on the bench too.  Spiled your clothes!  Wal,
'least said's soonest mended.'  You haint no chance with the company."

When next morning, he read the humorous account in the Patriot and
Clarion, he saw still more clearly what chance he would have had before
the public in a fight with the railroad company.

Still Philip's conscience told him that it was his plain duty to carry
the matter into the courts, even with the certainty of defeat.
He confessed that neither he nor any citizen had a right to consult his
own feelings or conscience in a case where a law of the land had been
violated before his own eyes.  He confessed that every citizen's first
duty in such case is to put aside his own business and devote his time
and his best efforts to seeing that the infraction is promptly punished;
and he knew that no country can be well governed unless its citizens as
a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians
of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its
execution, nothing more.  As a finality he was obliged to confess that he
was a bad citizen, and also that the general laxity of the time, and the
absence of a sense of duty toward any part of the community but the
individual himself were ingrained in him, am he was no better than the
rest of the people.

The result of this little adventure was that Philip did not reach Ilium
till daylight the next morning, when he descended sleepy and sore, from a
way train, and looked about him.  Ilium was in a narrow mountain gorge,
through which a rapid stream ran.  It consisted of the plank platform on
which he stood, a wooden house, half painted, with a dirty piazza
(unroofed) in front, and a sign board hung on a slanting pole--bearing
the legend, "Hotel. P. Dusenheimer," a sawmill further down the stream,
a blacksmith-shop, and a store, and three or four unpainted dwellings of
the slab variety.

As Philip approached the hotel he saw what appeared to be a wild beast
crouching on the piazza.  It did not stir, however, and he soon found
that it was only a stuffed skin.  This cheerful invitation to the tavern
was the remains of a huge panther which had been killed in the region a
few weeks before.  Philip examined his ugly visage and strong crooked
fore-arm, as he was waiting admittance, having pounded upon the door.

"Yait a bit.  I'll shoost--put on my trowsers," shouted a voice from the
window, and the door was soon opened by the yawning landlord.

"Morgen!  Didn't hear d' drain oncet.  Dem boys geeps me up zo spate.
Gom right in."

Philip was shown into a dirty bar-room.  It was a small room, with a
stove in the middle, set in a long shallow box of sand, for the benefit
of the "spitters," a bar across one end--a mere counter with a sliding
glass-case behind it containing a few bottles having ambitious labels,
and a wash-sink in one corner.  On the walls were the bright yellow and
black handbills of a traveling circus, with pictures of acrobats in human
pyramids, horses flying in long leaps through the air, and sylph-like
women in a paradisaic costume, balancing themselves upon the tips of
their toes on the bare backs of frantic and plunging steeds, and kissing
their hands to the spectators meanwhile.

As Philip did not desire a room at that hour, he was invited to wash
himself at the nasty sink, a feat somewhat easier than drying his face,
for the towel that hung in a roller over the sink was evidently as much a
fixture as the sink itself, and belonged, like the suspended brush and
comb, to the traveling public.  Philip managed to complete his toilet by
the use of his pocket-handkerchief, and declining the hospitality of the
landlord, implied in the remark, "You won'd dake notin'?" he went into
the open air to wait for breakfast.

The country he saw was wild but not picturesque.  The mountain before him
might be eight hundred feet high, and was only a portion of a long
unbroken range, savagely wooded, which followed the stream.  Behind the
hotel, and across the brawling brook, was another level-topped, wooded
range exactly like it.  Ilium itself, seen at a glance, was old enough to
be dilapidated, and if it had gained anything by being made a wood and
water station of the new railroad, it was only a new sort of grime and
rawness.  P. Dusenheimer, standing in the door of his uninviting
groggery, when the trains stopped for water; never received from the
traveling public any patronage except facetious remarks upon his personal
appearance.  Perhaps a thousand times he had heard the remark, "Ilium
fuit," followed in most instances by a hail to himself as "AEneas," with
the inquiry "Where is old Anchises?"  At first he had replied, "Dere
ain't no such man;" but irritated by its senseless repetition, he had
latterly dropped into the formula of, "You be dam."

Philip was recalled from the contemplation of Ilium by the rolling and
growling of the gong within the hotel, the din and clamor increasing till
the house was apparently unable to contain it; when it burst out of the
front door and informed the world that breakfast was on the table.

The dining room was long, low and narrow, and a narrow table extended its
whole length.  Upon this was spread a cloth which from appearance might
have been as long in use as the towel in the barroom.  Upon the table was
the usual service, the heavy, much nicked stone ware, the row of plated
and rusty castors, the sugar bowls with the zinc tea-spoons sticking up
in them, the piles of yellow biscuits, the discouraged-looking plates of
butter.  The landlord waited, and Philip was pleased to observe the
change in his manner.  In the barroom he was the conciliatory landlord.
Standing behind his guests at table, he had an air of peremptory
patronage, and the voice in which he shot out the inquiry, as he seized
Philip's plate, "Beefsteak or liver?" quite took away Philip's power of
choice.  He begged for a glass of milk, after trying that green hued
compound called coffee, and made his breakfast out of that and some hard
crackers which seemed to have been imported into Ilium before the
introduction of the iron horse, and to have withstood a ten years siege
of regular boarders, Greeks and others.

The land that Philip had come to look at was at least five miles distant
from Ilium station.  A corner of it touched the railroad, but the rest
was pretty much an unbroken wilderness, eight or ten thousand acres of
rough country, most of it such a mountain range as he saw at Ilium.

His first step was to hire three woodsmen to accompany him.  By their
help he built a log hut, and established a camp on the land, and then
began his explorations, mapping down his survey as he went along, noting
the timber, and the lay of the land, and making superficial observations
as to the prospect of coal.

The landlord at Ilium endeavored to persuade Philip to hire the services
of a witch-hazel professor of that region, who could walk over the land
with his wand and tell him infallibly whether it contained coal, and
exactly where the strata ran.  But Philip preferred to trust to his own
study of the country, and his knowledge of the geological formation.
He spent a month in traveling over the land and making calculations;
and made up his mind that a fine vein of coal ran through the mountain
about a mile from the railroad, and that the place to run in a tunnel was
half way towards its summit.

Acting with his usual promptness, Philip, with the consent of Mr. Bolton,
broke ground there at once, and, before snow came, had some rude
buildings up, and was ready for active operations in the spring.  It was
true that there were no outcroppings of coal at the place, and the people
at Ilium said he "mought as well dig for plug terbaccer there;" but
Philip had great faith in the uniformity of nature's operations in ages
past, and he had no doubt that he should strike at this spot the rich
vein that had made the fortune of the Golden Briar Company.




CHAPTER XXX.

Once more Louise had good news from her Washington--Senator Dilworthy was
going to sell the Tennessee Land to the government!  Louise told Laura in
confidence.  She had told her parents, too, and also several bosom
friends; but all of these people had simply looked sad when they heard
the news, except Laura.  Laura's face suddenly brightened under it--only
for an instant, it is true, but poor Louise was grateful for even that
fleeting ray of encouragement.  When next Laura was alone, she fell into
a train of thought something like this:

"If the Senator has really taken hold of this matter, I may look for that
invitation to his house at, any moment.  I am perishing to go!  I do long
to know whether I am only simply a large-sized pigmy among these pigmies
here, who tumble over so easily when one strikes them, or whether I am
really--."  Her thoughts drifted into other channels, for a season.
Then she continued:--"He said I could be useful in the great cause of
philanthropy, and help in the blessed work of uplifting the poor and the
ignorant, if he found it feasible to take hold of our Land.  Well, that
is neither here nor there; what I want, is to go to Washington and find
out what I am.  I want money, too; and if one may judge by what she
hears, there are chances there for a--."  For a fascinating woman, she
was going to say, perhaps, but she did not.

Along in the fall the invitation came, sure enough.  It came officially
through brother Washington, the private Secretary, who appended a
postscript that was brimming with delight over the prospect of seeing the
Duchess again.  He said it would be happiness enough to look upon her
face once more--it would be almost too much happiness when to it was
added the fact that she would bring messages with her that were fresh
from Louise's lips.

In Washington's letter were several important enclosures.  For instance,
there was the Senator's check for $2,000--"to buy suitable clothing in
New York with!"  It was a loan to be refunded when the Land was sold.
Two thousand--this was fine indeed.  Louise's father was called rich, but
Laura doubted if Louise had ever had $400 worth of new clothing at one
time in her life.  With the check came two through tickets--good on the
railroad from Hawkeye to Washington via New York--and they were
"dead-head" tickets, too, which had been given to Senator Dilworthy by
the railway companies.  Senators and representatives were paid thousands
of dollars by the government for traveling expenses, but they always
traveled "deadhead" both ways, and then did as any honorable, high-minded
men would naturally do--declined to receive the mileage tendered them by
the government.  The Senator had plenty of railway passes, and could.
easily spare two to Laura--one for herself and one for a male escort.
Washington suggested that she get some old friend of the family to come
with her, and said the Senator would "deadhead" him home again as soon as
he had grown tired, of the sights of the capital.  Laura thought the
thing over.  At first she was pleased with the idea, but presently she
began to feel differently about it.  Finally she said, "No, our staid,
steady-going Hawkeye friends' notions and mine differ about some things
--they respect me, now, and I respect them--better leave it so--I will go
alone; I am not afraid to travel by myself."  And so communing with
herself, she left the house for an afternoon walk.

Almost at the door she met Col. Sellers.  She told him about her
invitation to Washington.

"Bless me!" said the Colonel.  "I have about made up my mind to go there
myself.  You see we've got to get another appropriation through, and the
Company want me to come east and put it through Congress.  Harry's there,
and he'll do what he can, of course; and Harry's a good fellow and always
does the very best he knows how, but then he's young--rather young for
some parts of such work, you know--and besides he talks too much, talks a
good deal too much; and sometimes he appears to be a little bit
visionary, too, I think the worst thing in the world for a business man.
A man like that always exposes his cards, sooner or later.  This sort of
thing wants an old, quiet, steady hand--wants an old cool head, you know,
that knows men, through and through, and is used to large operations.
I'm expecting my salary, and also some dividends from the company, and if
they get along in time, I'll go along with you Laura--take you under my
wing--you mustn't travel alone.  Lord I wish I had the money right now.
--But there'll be plenty soon--plenty."

Laura reasoned with herself that if the kindly, simple-hearted Colonel
was going anyhow, what could she gain by traveling alone and throwing
away his company?  So she told him she accepted his offer gladly,
gratefully.  She said it would be the greatest of favors if he would go
with her and protect her--not at his own expense as far as railway fares
were concerned, of course; she could not expect him to put himself to so
much trouble for her and pay his fare besides.  But he wouldn't hear of
her paying his fare--it would be only a pleasure to him to serve her.
Laura insisted on furnishing the tickets; and finally, when argument
failed, she said the tickets cost neither her nor any one else a cent
--she had two of them--she needed but one--and if he would not take the
other she would not go with him.  That settled the matter.  He took the
ticket.  Laura was glad that she had the check for new clothing, for she
felt very certain of being able to get the Colonel to borrow a little of
the money to pay hotel bills with, here and there.

She wrote Washington to look for her and Col. Sellers toward the end of
November; and at about the time set the two travelers arrived safe in the
capital of the nation, sure enough.




CHAPTER XXXI


               She, the gracious lady, yet no paines did spare
               To doe him ease, or doe him remedy:
               Many restoratives of vertues rare
               And costly cordialles she did apply,
               To mitigate his stubborne malady.
                                        Spenser's Faerie Queens.

Mr. Henry Brierly was exceedingly busy in New York, so he wrote Col.
Sellers, but he would drop everything and go to Washington.

The Colonel believed that Harry was the prince of lobbyists, a little too
sanguine, may be, and given to speculation, but, then, he knew everybody;
the Columbus River navigation scheme was, got through almost entirely by
his aid.  He was needed now to help through another scheme, a benevolent
scheme in which Col. Sellers, through the Hawkinses, had a deep interest.

"I don't care, you know," he wrote to Harry, "so much about the niggroes.
But if the government will buy this land, it will set up the Hawkins
family--make Laura an heiress--and I shouldn't wonder if Beriah Sellers
would set up his carriage again.  Dilworthy looks at it different,
of course.  He's all for philanthropy, for benefiting the colored race.
There's old Balsam, was in the Interior--used to be the Rev. Orson Balsam
of Iowa--he's made the riffle on the Injun; great Injun pacificator and
land dealer.  Balaam'a got the Injun to himself, and I suppose that
Senator Dilworthy feels that there is nothing left him but the colored
man.  I do reckon he is the best friend the colored man has got in
Washington."

Though Harry was in a hurry to reach Washington, he stopped in
Philadelphia; and prolonged his visit day after day, greatly to the
detriment of his business both in New York and Washington.  The society
at the Bolton's might have been a valid excuse for neglecting business
much more important than his.  Philip was there; he was a partner with
Mr. Bolton now in the new coal venture, concerning which there was much
to be arranged in preparation for the Spring work, and Philip lingered
week after week in the hospitable house.  Alice was making a winter
visit.  Ruth only went to town twice a week to attend lectures, and the
household was quite to Mr. Bolton's taste, for he liked the cheer of
company and something going on evenings.  Harry was cordially asked to
bring his traveling-bag there, and he did not need urging to do so.
Not even the thought of seeing Laura at the capital made him restless in
the society of the two young ladies; two birds in hand are worth one in
the bush certainly.

Philip was at home--he sometimes wished he were not so much so.  He felt
that too much or not enough was taken for granted.  Ruth had met him,
when he first came, with a cordial frankness, and her manner continued
entirely unrestrained.  She neither sought his company nor avoided it,
and this perfectly level treatment irritated him more than any other
could have done.  It was impossible to advance much in love-making with
one who offered no obstacles, had no concealments and no embarrassments,
and whom any approach to sentimentality would be quite likely to set into
a fit of laughter.

"Why, Phil," she would say, "what puts you in the dumps to day?  You are
as solemn as the upper bench in Meeting.  I shall have to call Alice to
raise your spirits; my presence seems to depress you."

"It's not your presence, but your absence when you are present," began
Philip, dolefully, with the idea that he was saying a rather deep thing.
"But you won't understand me."

"No, I confess I cannot.  If you really are so low, as to think I am
absent when I am present, it's a frightful case of aberration; I shall
ask father to bring out Dr. Jackson.  Does Alice appear to be present
when she is absent?"

"Alice has some human feeling, anyway.  She cares for something besides
musty books and dry bones.  I think, Ruth, when I die," said Philip,
intending to be very grim and sarcastic, "I'll leave you my skeleton.
You might like that."

"It might be more cheerful than you are at times," Ruth replied with a
laugh.  "But you mustn't do it without consulting Alice.  She might not.
like it."

"I don't know why you should bring Alice up on every occasion.  Do you
think I am in love with her?"

"Bless you, no.  It never entered my head.  Are you?  The thought of
Philip Sterling in love is too comical.  I thought you were only in love
with the Ilium coal mine, which you and father talk about half the time."

This is a specimen of Philip's wooing.  Confound the girl, he would say
to himself, why does she never tease Harry and that young Shepley who
comes here?

How differently Alice treated him.  She at least never mocked him, and it
was a relief to talk with one who had some sympathy with him.  And he did
talk to her, by the hour, about Ruth.  The blundering fellow poured all
his doubts and anxieties into her ear, as if she had been the impassive
occupant of one of those little wooden confessionals in the Cathedral on
Logan Square.  Has, a confessor, if she is young and pretty, any feeling?
Does it mend the matter by calling her your sister?

Philip called Alice his good sister, and talked to her about love and
marriage, meaning Ruth, as if sisters could by no possibility have any
personal concern in such things.  Did Ruth ever speak of him?  Did she
think Ruth cared for him?  Did Ruth care for anybody at Fallkill?  Did
she care for anything except her profession?  And so on.

Alice was loyal to Ruth, and if she knew anything she did not betray her
friend.  She did not, at any rate, give Philip too much encouragement.
What woman, under the circumstances, would?

"I can tell you one thing, Philip," she said, "if ever Ruth Bolton loves,
it will be with her whole soul, in a depth of passion that will sweep
everything before it and surprise even herself."

A remark that did not much console Philip, who imagined that only some
grand heroism could unlock the sweetness of such a heart; and Philip
feared that he wasn't a hero.  He did not know out of what materials a
woman can construct a hero, when she is in the creative mood.

Harry skipped into this society with his usual lightness and gaiety.
His good nature was inexhaustible, and though he liked to relate his own
exploits, he had a little tact in adapting himself to the tastes of his
hearers.  He was not long in finding out that Alice liked to hear about
Philip, and Harry launched out into the career of his friend in the West,
with a prodigality of invention that would have astonished the chief
actor.  He was the most generous fellow in the world, and picturesque
conversation was the one thing in which he never was bankrupt.  With Mr.
Bolton he was the serious man of business, enjoying the confidence of
many of the monied men in New York, whom Mr. Bolton knew, and engaged
with them in railway schemes and government contracts.  Philip, who had
so long known Harry, never could make up his mind that Harry did not
himself believe that he was a chief actor in all these large operations
of which he talked so much.

Harry did not neglect to endeavor to make himself agreeable to Mrs.
Bolton, by paying great attention to the children, and by professing the
warmest interest in the Friends' faith.  It always seemed to him the most
peaceful religion; he thought it must be much easier to live by an
internal light than by a lot of outward rules; he had a dear Quaker aunt
in Providence of whom Mrs. Bolton constantly reminded him.  He insisted
upon going with Mrs. Bolton and the children to the Friends Meeting on
First Day, when Ruth and Alice and Philip, "world's people," went to a
church in town, and he sat through the hour of silence with his hat on,
in most exemplary patience.  In short, this amazing actor succeeded so
well with Mrs. Bolton, that she said to Philip one day,

"Thy friend, Henry Brierly, appears to be a very worldly minded young
man.  Does he believe in anything?"

"Oh, yes," said Philip laughing, "he believes in more things than any
other person I ever saw."

To Ruth, Harry seemed to be very congenial.  He was never moody for one
thing, but lent himself with alacrity to whatever her fancy was.  He was
gay or grave as the need might be.  No one apparently could enter more
fully into her plans for an independent career.

"My father," said Harry, "was bred a physician, and practiced a little
before he went into Wall street.  I always had a leaning to the study.
There was a skeleton hanging in the closet of my father's study when I
was a boy, that I used to dress up in old clothes.  Oh, I got quite
familiar with the human frame."

"You must have," said Philip.  "Was that where you learned to play the
bones?  He is a master of those musical instruments, Ruth; he plays well
enough to go on the stage."

"Philip hates science of any kind, and steady application," retorted
Harry.  He didn't fancy Philip's banter, and when the latter had gone
out, and Ruth asked,

"Why don't you take up medicine, Mr. Brierly?"

Harry said, "I have it in mind.  I believe I would begin attending
lectures this winter if it weren't for being wanted in Washington.  But
medicine is particularly women's province."

"Why so?" asked Ruth, rather amused.

"Well, the treatment of disease is a good deal a matter of sympathy.
A woman's intuition is better than a man's.  Nobody knows anything,
really, you know, and a woman can guess a good deal nearer than a man."

"You are very complimentary to my sex."

"But," said Harry frankly; "I should want to choose my doctor; an ugly
woman would ruin me, the disease would be sure to strike in and kill me
at sight of her.  I think a pretty physician, with engaging manners,
would coax a fellow to live through almost anything."

"I am afraid you are a scoffer, Mr. Brierly."

"On the contrary, I am quite sincere.  Wasn't it old what's his name?
that said only the beautiful is useful?"

Whether Ruth was anything more than diverted with Harry's company; Philip
could not determine.  He scorned at any rate to advance his own interest
by any disparaging communications about Harry, both because he could not
help liking the fellow himself, and because he may have known that he
could not more surely create a sympathy for him in Ruth's mind.  That
Ruth was in no danger of any serious impression he felt pretty sure,
felt certain of it when he reflected upon her severe occupation with her
profession.  Hang it, he would say to himself, she is nothing but pure
intellect anyway.  And he only felt uncertain of it when she was in one
of her moods of raillery, with mocking mischief in her eyes.  At such
times she seemed to prefer Harry's society to his.  When Philip was
miserable about this, he always took refuge with Alice, who was never
moody, and who generally laughed him out of his sentimental nonsense.
He felt at his ease with Alice, and was never in want of something to
talk about; and he could not account for the fact that he was so often
dull with Ruth, with whom, of all persons in the world, he wanted to
appear at his best.

Harry was entirely satisfied with his own situation.  A bird of passage
is always at its ease, having no house to build, and no responsibility.
He talked freely with Philip about Ruth, an almighty fine girl, he said,
but what the deuce she wanted to study medicine for, he couldn't see.

There was a concert one night at the Musical Fund Hall and the four had
arranged to go in and return by the Germantown cars.  It was Philip's
plan, who had engaged the seats, and promised himself an evening with
Ruth, walking with her, sitting by her in the hall, and enjoying the
feeling of protecting that a man always has of a woman in a public place.
He was fond of music, too, in a sympathetic way; at least, he knew that
Ruth's delight in it would be enough for him.

Perhaps he meant to take advantage of the occasion to say some very
serious things.  His love for Ruth was no secret to Mrs. Bolton, and he
felt almost sure that he should have no opposition in the family.  Mrs.
Bolton had been cautious in what she said, but Philip inferred everything
from her reply to his own questions, one day, "Has thee ever spoken thy
mind to Ruth?"

Why shouldn't he speak his mind, and end his doubts?  Ruth had been more
tricksy than usual that day, and in a flow of spirits quite inconsistent,
it would seem, in a young lady devoted to grave studies.

Had Ruth a premonition of Philip's intention, in his manner?  It may be,
for when the girls came down stairs, ready to walk to the cars; and met
Philip and Harry in the hall, Ruth said, laughing,

"The two tallest must walk together" and before Philip knew how it
happened Ruth had taken Harry's arm, and his evening was spoiled.  He had
too much politeness and good sense and kindness to show in his manner
that he was hit.  So he said to Harry,

"That's your disadvantage in being short."  And he gave Alice no reason
to feel during the evening that she would not have been his first choice
for the excursion.  But he was none the less chagrined, and not a little
angry at the turn the affair took.

The Hall was crowded with the fashion of the town.  The concert was one
of those fragmentary drearinesses that people endure because they are
fashionable; tours de force on the piano, and fragments from operas,
which have no meaning without the setting, with weary pauses of waiting
between; there is the comic basso who is so amusing and on such familiar
terms with the audience, and always sings the Barber; the attitudinizing
tenor, with his languishing "Oh, Summer Night;" the soprano with her
"Batti Batti," who warbles and trills and runs and fetches her breath,
and ends with a noble scream that brings down a tempest of applause in
the midst of which she backs off the stage smiling and bowing.  It was
this sort of concert, and Philip was thinking that it was the most stupid
one he ever sat through, when just as the soprano was in the midst of
that touching ballad, "Comin' thro' the Rye" (the soprano always sings
"Comin' thro' the Rye" on an encore)--the Black Swan used to make it
irresistible, Philip remembered, with her arch, "If a body kiss a body"
there was a cry of "Fire!"

The hall is long and narrow, and there is only one place of egress.
Instantly the audience was on its feet, and a rush began for the door.
Men shouted, women screamed, and panic seized the swaying mass.
A second's thought would have convinced every one that getting out was
impossible, and that the only effect of a rush would be to crash people
to death.  But a second's thought was not given.  A few cried:

"Sit down, sit down," but the mass was turned towards the door.  Women
were down and trampled on in the aisles, and stout men, utterly lost to
self-control, were mounting the benches, as if to run a race over the
mass to the entrance.

Philip who had forced the girls to keep their seats saw, in a flash, the
new danger, and sprang to avert it.  In a second more those infuriated
men would be over the benches and crushing Ruth and Alice under their
boots.  He leaped upon the bench in front of them and struck out before
him with all his might, felling one man who was rushing on him, and
checking for an instant the movement, or rather parting it, and causing
it to flow on either side of him.  But it was only for an instant; the
pressure behind was too great, and, the next Philip was  dashed backwards
over the seat.

And yet that instant of arrest had probably saved the girls, for as
Philip fell, the orchestra struck up "Yankee Doodle" in the liveliest
manner.  The familiar tune caught the ear of the mass, which paused in
wonder, and gave the conductor's voice a chance to be heard--"It's a
false alarm!"

The tumult was over in a minute, and the next, laughter was heard, and
not a few said, "I knew it wasn't anything."  "What fools people are at
such a time."

The concert was over, however.  A good many people were hurt, some of
them seriously, and among them Philip Sterling was found bent across the
seat, insensible, with his left arm hanging limp and a bleeding wound on
his head.

When he was carried into the air he revived, and said it was nothing.
A surgeon was called, and it was thought best to drive at once to the
Bolton's, the surgeon supporting Philip, who did not speak the whole way.
His arm was set and his head dressed, and the surgeon said he would come
round all right in his mind by morning; he was very weak.  Alice who was
not much frightened while the panic lasted in the hall, was very much
unnerved by seeing Philip so pale and bloody.  Ruth assisted the surgeon
with the utmost coolness and with skillful hands helped to dress Philip's
wounds.  And there was a certain intentness and fierce energy in what she
did that might have revealed something to Philip if he had been in his
senses.

But he was not, or he would not have murmured "Let Alice do it, she is
not too tall."

It was Ruth's first case.




CHAPTER, XXXII.

Washington's delight in his beautiful sister was measureless.  He said
that she had always been the queenliest creature in the land, but that
she was only commonplace before, compared to what she was now, so
extraordinary was the improvement wrought by rich fashionable attire.

"But your criticisms are too full of brotherly partiality to be depended
on, Washington.  Other people will judge differently."

"Indeed they won't.  You'll see.  There will never be a woman in
Washington that can compare with you.  You'll be famous within a
fortnight, Laura.  Everybody will want to know you.  You wait--you'll
see."

Laura wished in her heart that the prophecy might come true; and
privately she even believed it might--for she had brought all the women
whom she had seen since she left home under sharp inspection, and the
result had not been unsatisfactory to her.

During a week or two Washington drove about the city every day with her
and familiarized her with all of its salient features.  She was beginning
to feel very much at home with the town itself, and she was also fast
acquiring ease with the distinguished people she met at the Dilworthy
table, and losing what little of country timidity she had brought with
her from Hawkeye.  She noticed with secret pleasure the little start of
admiration that always manifested itself in the faces of the guests when
she entered the drawing-room arrayed in evening costume: she took
comforting note of the fact that these guests directed a very liberal
share of their conversation toward her; she observed with surprise, that
famous statesmen and soldiers did not talk like gods, as a general thing,
but said rather commonplace things for the most part; and she was filled
with gratification to discover that she, on the contrary, was making a
good many shrewd speeches and now and then a really brilliant one, and
furthermore, that they were beginning to be repeated in social circles
about the town.

Congress began its sittings, and every day or two Washington escorted her
to the galleries set apart for lady members of the households of Senators
and Representatives.  Here was a larger field and a wider competition,
but still she saw that many eyes were uplifted toward her face, and that
first one person and then another called a neighbor's attention to her;
she was not too dull to perceive that the speeches of some of the younger
statesmen were delivered about as much and perhaps more at her than to
the presiding officer; and she was not sorry to see that the dapper young
Senator from Iowa came at once and stood in the open space before the
president's desk to exhibit his feet as soon as she entered the gallery,
whereas she had early learned from common report that his usual custom
was to prop them on his desk and enjoy them himself with a selfish
disregard of other people's longings.

Invitations began to flow in upon her and soon she was fairly "in
society."  "The season" was now in full bloom, and the first select
reception was at hand that is to say, a reception confined to invited
guests.  Senator Dilworthy had become well convinced; by this time, that
his judgment of the country-bred Missouri girl had not deceived him--it
was plain that she was going to be a peerless missionary in the field of
labor he designed her for, and therefore it would be perfectly safe and
likewise judicious to send her forth well panoplied for her work.--So he
had added new and still richer costumes to her wardrobe, and assisted
their attractions with costly jewelry-loans on the future land sale.

This first select reception took place at a cabinet minister's--or rather
a cabinet secretary's mansion.  When Laura and the Senator arrived, about
half past nine or ten in the evening, the place was already pretty well
crowded, and the white-gloved negro servant at the door was still
receiving streams of guests.--The drawing-rooms were brilliant with
gaslight, and as hot as ovens.  The host and hostess stood just within
the door of entrance; Laura was presented, and then she passed on into
the maelstrom of be-jeweled and richly attired low-necked ladies and
white-kid-gloved and steel pen-coated gentlemen and wherever she moved
she was followed by a buzz of admiration that was grateful to all her
senses--so grateful, indeed, that her white face was tinged and its
beauty heightened by a perceptible suffusion of color.  She caught such
remarks as, "Who is she?"  "Superb woman!"  "That is the new beauty from
the west," etc., etc.

Whenever she halted, she was presently surrounded by Ministers, Generals,
Congressmen, and all manner of aristocratic, people.  Introductions
followed, and then the usual original question, "How do you like
Washington, Miss Hawkins?" supplemented by that other usual original
question, "Is this your first visit?"

These two exciting topics being exhausted, conversation generally drifted
into calmer channels, only to be interrupted at frequent intervals by new
introductions and new inquiries as to how Laura liked the capital and
whether it was her first visit or not.  And thus for an hour or more the
Duchess moved through the crush in a rapture of happiness, for her doubts
were dead and gone, now she knew she could conquer here.  A familiar face
appeared in the midst of the multitude and Harry Brierly fought his
difficult way to her side, his eyes shouting their gratification, so to
speak:

"Oh, this is a happiness!  Tell me, my dear Miss Hawkins--"

"Sh!  I know what you are going to ask.  I do like Washington--I like it
ever so much!"

"No, but I was going to ask--"

"Yes, I am coming to it, coming to it as fast as I can.  It is my first
visit.  I think you should know that yourself."

And straightway a wave of the crowd swept her beyond his reach.

"Now what can the girl mean?  Of course she likes Washington--I'm not
such a dummy as to have to ask her that.  And as to its being her first
visit, why bang it, she knows that I knew it was.  Does she think I have
turned idiot?  Curious girl, anyway.  But how they do swarm about her!
She is the reigning belle of Washington after this night.  She'll know
five hundred of the heaviest guns in the town before this night's
nonsense is over.  And this isn't even the beginning.  Just as I used to
say--she'll be a card in the matter of--yes sir!  She shall turn the
men's heads and I'll turn the women's!  What a team that will be in
politics here.  I wouldn't take a quarter of a million for what I can do
in this present session--no indeed I wouldn't.  Now, here--I don't
altogether like this.  That insignificant secretary of legation is--why,
she's smiling on him as if he--and now on the Admiral!  Now she's
illuminating that, stuffy Congressman from Massachusetts--vulgar
ungrammatcal shovel-maker--greasy knave of spades.  I don't like this
sort of thing.  She doesn't appear to be much distressed about me--she
hasn't looked this way once.  All right, my bird of Paradise, if it suits
you, go on.  But I think I know your sex.  I'll go to smiling around a
little, too, and see what effect that will have on you."

And he did "smile around a little," and got as near to her as he could to
watch the effect, but the scheme was a failure--he could not get her
attention.  She seemed wholly unconscious of him, and so he could not
flirt with any spirit; he could only talk disjointedly; he could not keep
his eyes on the charmers he talked to; he grew irritable, jealous, and
very, unhappy.  He gave up his enterprise, leaned his shoulder against a
fluted pilaster and pouted while he kept watch upon Laura's every
movement.  His other shoulder stole the bloom from many a lovely cheek
that brushed him in the surging crush, but he noted it not.  He was too
busy cursing himself inwardly for being an egotistical imbecile.  An hour
ago he had thought to take this country lass under his protection and
show her "life" and enjoy her wonder and delight--and here she was,
immersed in the marvel up to her eyes, and just a trifle more at home in
it than he was himself.  And now his angry comments ran on again:

"Now she's sweetening old Brother Balaam; and he--well he is inviting her
to the Congressional prayer-meeting, no doubt--better let old Dilworthy
alone to see that she doesn't overlook that.  And now its Splurge, of New
York; and now its Batters of New Hampshire--and now the Vice President!
Well I may as well adjourn.  I've got enough."

But he hadn't.  He got as far as the door--and then struggled back to
take one more look, hating himself all the while for his weakness.

Toward midnight, when supper was announced, the crowd thronged to the
supper room where a long table was decked out with what seemed a rare
repast, but which consisted of things better calculated to feast the eye
than the appetite.  The ladies were soon seated in files along the wall,
and in groups here and there, and the colored waiters filled the plates
and glasses and the male guests moved hither and thither conveying them
to the privileged sex.

Harry took an ice and stood up by the table with other gentlemen, and
listened to the buzz of conversation while he ate.

From these remarks he learned a good deal about Laura that was news to
him.  For instance, that she was of a distinguished western family; that
she was highly educated; that she was very rich and a great landed
heiress; that she was not a professor of religion, and yet was a
Christian in the truest and best sense of the word, for her whole heart
was devoted to the accomplishment of a great and noble enterprise--none
other than the sacrificing of her landed estates to the uplifting of the
down-trodden negro and the turning of his erring feet into the way of
light and righteousness.  Harry observed that as soon as one listener had
absorbed the story, he turned about and delivered it to his next neighbor
and the latter individual straightway passed it on.  And thus he saw it
travel the round of the gentlemen and overflow rearward among the ladies.
He could not trace it backward to its fountain head, and so he could not
tell who it was that started it.

One thing annoyed Harry a great deal; and that was the reflection that he
might have been in Washington days and days ago and thrown his
fascinations about Laura with permanent effect while she was new and
strange to the capital, instead of dawdling in Philadelphia to no
purpose.  He feared he had "missed a trick," as he expressed it.

He only found one little opportunity of speaking again with Laura before
the evening's festivities ended, and then, for the first time in years,
his airy self-complacency failed him, his tongue's easy confidence
forsook it in a great measure, and he was conscious of an unheroic
timidity.  He was glad to get away and find a place where he could
despise himself in private and try to grow his clipped plumes again.

When Laura reached home she was tired but exultant, and Senator Dilworthy
was pleased and satisfied.  He called Laura "my daughter," next morning,
and gave her some "pin money," as he termed it, and she sent a hundred
and fifty dollars of it to her mother and loaned a trifle to Col.
Sellers.  Then the Senator had a long private conference with Laura, and
unfolded certain plans of his for the good of the country, and religion,
and the poor, and temperance, and showed her how she could assist him in
developing these worthy and noble enterprises.




CHAPTER XXXIII.

Laura soon discovered that there were three distinct aristocracies in
Washington.  One of these, (nick-named the Antiques,) consisted of
cultivated, high-bred old families who looked back with pride upon an
ancestry that had been always great in the nation's councils and its wars
from the birth of the republic downward.  Into this select circle it was
difficult to gain admission.  No. 2 was the aristocracy of the middle
ground--of which, more anon.  No. 3 lay beyond; of it we will say a word
here.  We will call it the Aristocracy of the Parvenus--as, indeed, the
general public did.  Official position, no matter how obtained, entitled
a man to a place in it, and carried his family with him, no matter whence
they sprang.  Great wealth gave a man a still higher and nobler place in
it than did official position.  If this wealth had been acquired by
conspicuous ingenuity, with just a pleasant little spice of illegality
about it, all the better.  This aristocracy was "fast," and not averse to
ostentation.

The aristocracy of the Antiques ignored the aristocracy of the Parvenus;
the Parvenus laughed at the Antiques, (and secretly envied them.)

There were certain important "society" customs which one in Laura's
position needed to understand.  For instance, when a lady of any
prominence comes to one of our cities and takes up her residence, all the
ladies of her grade favor her in turn with an initial call, giving their
cards to the servant at the door by way of introduction.  They come
singly, sometimes; sometimes in couples; and always in elaborate full
dress.  They talk two minutes and a quarter and then go.  If the lady
receiving the call desires a further acquaintance, she must return the
visit within two weeks; to neglect it beyond that time means "let the
matter drop."  But if she does return the visit within two weeks, it then
becomes the other party's privilege to continue the acquaintance or drop
it.  She signifies her willingness to continue it by calling again any
time within twelve-months; after that, if the parties go on calling upon
each other once a year, in our large cities, that is sufficient, and the
acquaintanceship holds good.  The thing goes along smoothly, now.
The annual visits are made and returned with peaceful regularity and
bland satisfaction, although it is not necessary that the two ladies
shall actually see each other oftener than once every few years.  Their
cards preserve the intimacy and keep the acquaintanceship intact.

For instance, Mrs. A.  pays her annual visit, sits in her carriage and
sends in her card with the lower right hand corner turned down, which
signifies that she has "called in person;" Mrs. B: sends down word that
she is "engaged" or "wishes to be excused"--or if she is a Parvenu and
low-bred, she perhaps sends word that she is "not at home."  Very good;
Mrs. A.  drives, on happy and content.  If Mrs. A.'s daughter marries,
or a child is born to the family, Mrs. B. calls, sends in her card with
the upper left hand corner turned down, and then goes along about her
affairs--for that inverted corner means "Congratulations."  If Mrs. B.'s
husband falls downstairs and breaks his neck, Mrs. A. calls, leaves her
card with the upper right hand corner turned down, and then takes her
departure; this corner means "Condolence."  It is very necessary to get
the corners right, else one may unintentionally condole with a friend on
a wedding or congratulate her upon a funeral.  If either lady is about to
leave the city, she goes to the other's house and leaves her card with
"P. P. C." engraved under the name--which signifies, "Pay Parting Call."
But enough of etiquette.  Laura was early instructed in the mysteries of
society life by a competent mentor, and thus was preserved from
troublesome mistakes.

The first fashionable call she received from a member of the ancient
nobility, otherwise the Antiques, was of a pattern with all she received
from that limb of the aristocracy afterward.  This call was paid by Mrs.
Major-General Fulke-Fulkerson and daughter.  They drove up at one in the
afternoon in a rather antiquated vehicle with a faded coat of arms on the
panels, an aged white-wooled negro coachman on the box and a younger
darkey beside him--the footman.  Both of these servants were dressed in
dull brown livery that had seen considerable service.

The ladies entered the drawing-room in full character; that is to say,
with Elizabethan stateliness on the part of the dowager, and an easy
grace and dignity on the part of the young lady that had a nameless
something about it that suggested conscious superiority.  The dresses of
both ladies were exceedingly rich, as to material, but as notably modest
as to color and ornament.  All parties having seated themselves, the
dowager delivered herself of a remark that was not unusual in its form,
and yet it came from her lips with the impressiveness of Scripture:

"The weather has been unpropitious of late, Miss Hawkins."

"It has indeed," said Laura.  "The climate seems to be variable."

"It is its nature of old, here," said the daughter--stating it apparently
as a fact, only, and by her manner waving aside all personal
responsibility on account of it.  "Is it not so, mamma?"

"Quite so, my child.  Do you like winter, Miss Hawkins?"  She said "like"
as if she had, an idea that its dictionary meaning was "approve of."

"Not as well as summer--though I think all seasons have their charms."

"It is a very just remark.  The general held similar views.  He
considered snow in winter proper; sultriness in summer legitimate; frosts
in the autumn the same, and rains in spring not objectionable.  He was
not an exacting man.  And I call to mind now that he always admired
thunder.  You remember, child, your father always admired thunder?"

"He adored it."

"No doubt it reminded him of battle," said Laura.

"Yes, I think perhaps it did.  He had a great respect for Nature.
He often said there was something striking about the ocean.  You remember
his saying that, daughter?"

"Yes, often, Mother.  I remember it very well."

"And hurricanes...  He took a great interest in hurricanes.  And animals.
Dogs, especially--hunting dogs.  Also comets.  I think we all have our
predilections.  I think it is this that gives variety to our tastes."

Laura coincided with this view.

"Do you find it hard and lonely to be so far from your home and friends,
Miss Hawkins?"

"I do find it depressing sometimes, but then there is so much about me
here that is novel and interesting that my days are made up more of
sunshine than shadow."

"Washington is not a dull city in the season," said the young lady.
"We have some very good society indeed, and one need not be at a loss for
means to pass the time pleasantly.  Are you fond of watering-places, Miss
Hawkins?"

"I have really had no experience of them, but I have always felt a strong
desire to see something of fashionable watering-place life."

"We of Washington are unfortunately situated in that respect," said the
dowager.  "It is a tedious distance to Newport.  But there is no help for
it."

Laura said to herself, "Long Branch and Cape May are nearer than Newport;
doubtless these places are low; I'll feel my way a little and see."  Then
she said aloud:

"Why I thought that Long Branch--"

There was no need to "feel" any further--there was that in both faces
before her which made that truth apparent.  The dowager said:

"Nobody goes there, Miss Hawkins--at least only persons of no position in
society.  And the President."  She added that with tranquility.

"Newport is damp, and cold, and windy and excessively disagreeable," said
the daughter, "but it is very select.  One cannot be fastidious about
minor matters when one has no choice."

The visit had spun out nearly three minutes, now.  Both ladies rose with
grave dignity, conferred upon Laura a formal invitation to call, aid then
retired from the conference.  Laura remained in the drawing-room and left
them to pilot themselves out of the house--an inhospitable thing,
it seemed to her, but then she was following her instructions.  She
stood, steeped in reverie, a while, and then she said:

"I think I could always enjoy icebergs--as scenery but not as company."

Still, she knew these two people by reputation, and was aware that they
were not ice-bergs when they were in their own waters and amid their
legitimate surroundings, but on the contrary were people to be respected
for their stainless characters and esteemed for their social virtues and
their benevolent impulses.  She thought it a pity that they had to be
such changed and dreary creatures on occasions of state.

The first call Laura received from the other extremity of the Washington
aristocracy followed close upon the heels of the one we have just been
describing.  The callers this time were the Hon. Mrs. Oliver Higgins,
the Hon. Mrs. Patrique Oreille (pronounced O-relay,) Miss Bridget
(pronounced Breezhay) Oreille, Mrs. Peter Gashly, Miss Gashly, and Miss
Emmeline Gashly.

The three carriages arrived at the same moment from different directions.
They were new and wonderfully shiny, and the brasses on the harness were
highly polished and bore complicated monograms.  There were showy coats
of arms, too, with Latin mottoes.  The coachmen and footmen were clad in
bright new livery, of striking colors, and they had black rosettes with
shaving-brushes projecting above them, on the sides of their stove-pipe
hats.

When the visitors swept into the drawing-room they filled the place with
a suffocating sweetness procured at the perfumer's.  Their costumes,
as to architecture, were the latest fashion intensified; they were
rainbow-hued; they were hung with jewels--chiefly diamonds.  It would
have been plain to any eye that it had cost something to upholster these
women.

The Hon. Mrs. Oliver Higgins was the wife of a delegate from a distant
territory--a gentleman who had kept the principal "saloon," and sold the
best whiskey in the principal village in his wilderness, and so, of
course, was recognized as the first man of his commonwealth and its
fittest representative.

He was a man of paramount influence at home, for he was public spirited,
he was chief of the fire department, he had an admirable command of
profane language, and had killed several "parties."  His shirt fronts
were always immaculate; his boots daintily polished, and no man could
lift a foot and fire a dead shot at a stray speck of dirt on it with a
white handkerchief with a finer grace than he; his watch chain weighed a
pound; the gold in his finger ring was worth forty five dollars; he wore
a diamond cluster-pin and he parted his hair behind.  He had always been,
regarded as the most elegant gentleman in his territory, and it was
conceded by all that no man thereabouts was anywhere near his equal in
the telling of an obscene story except the venerable white-haired
governor himself.  The Hon. Higgins had not come to serve his country in
Washington for nothing.  The appropriation which he had engineered
through Congress for the maintenance, of the Indians in his Territory
would have made all those savages rich if it had ever got to them.

The Hon. Mrs. Higgins was a picturesque woman, and a fluent talker, and
she held a tolerably high station among the Parvenus.  Her English was
fair enough, as a general thing--though, being of New York origin, she
had the fashion peculiar to many natives of that city of pronouncing saw
and law as if they were spelt sawr and lawr.

Petroleum was the agent that had suddenly transformed the Gashlys from
modest hard-working country village folk into "loud" aristocrats and
ornaments of the city.

The Hon. Patrique Oreille was a wealthy Frenchman from Cork.  Not that he
was wealthy when he first came from Cork, but just the reverse.  When he
first landed in New York with his wife, he had only halted at Castle
Garden for a few minutes to receive and exhibit papers showing that he
had resided in this country two years--and then he voted the democratic
ticket and went up town to hunt a house.  He found one and then went to
work as assistant to an architect and builder, carrying a hod all day and
studying politics evenings.  Industry and economy soon enabled him to
start a low rum shop in a foul locality, and this gave him political
influence.  In our country it is always our first care to see that our
people have the opportunity of voting for their choice of men to
represent and govern them--we do not permit our great officials to
appoint the little officials.  We prefer to have so tremendous a power as
that in our own hands.  We hold it safest to elect our judges and
everybody else.  In our cities, the ward meetings elect delegates to the
nominating conventions and instruct them whom to nominate.  The publicans
and their retainers rule the ward meetings (for every body else hates the
worry of politics and stays at home); the delegates from the ward
meetings organize as a nominating convention and make up a list of
candidates--one convention offering a democratic and another a republican
list of incorruptibles; and then the great meek public come forward at
the proper time and make unhampered choice and bless Heaven that they
live in a free land where no form of despotism can ever intrude.

Patrick O'Riley (as his name then stood) created friends and influence
very, fast, for he was always on hand at the police courts to give straw
bail for his customers or establish an alibi for them in case they had
been beating anybody to death on his premises.  Consequently he presently
became a political leader, and was elected to a petty office under the
city government.  Out of a meager salary he soon saved money enough to
open quite a stylish liquor saloon higher up town, with a faro bank
attached and plenty of capital to conduct it with.  This gave him fame
and great respectability.  The position of alderman was forced upon him,
and it was just the same as presenting him a gold mine.  He had fine
horses and carriages, now, and closed up his whiskey mill.

By and by he became a large contractor for city work, and was a bosom
friend of the great and good Wm. M. Weed himself, who had stolen
$20,600,000 from the city and was a man so envied, so honored,--so
adored, indeed, that when the sheriff went to his office to arrest him as
a felon, that sheriff blushed and apologized, and one of the illustrated
papers made a picture of the scene and spoke of the matter in such a way
as to show that the editor regretted that the offense of an arrest had
been offered to so exalted a personage as Mr. Weed.

Mr. O'Riley furnished shingle nails to, the new Court House at three
thousand dollars a keg, and eighteen gross of 60-cent thermometers at
fifteen hundred dollars a dozen; the controller and the board of audit
passed the bills, and a mayor, who was simply ignorant but not criminal,
signed them.  When they were paid, Mr. O'Riley's admirers gave him a
solitaire diamond pin of the size of a filbert, in imitation of the
liberality of Mr. Weed's friends, and then Mr. O'Riley retired from
active service and amused himself with buying real estate at enormous
figures and holding it in other people's names.  By and by the newspapers
came out with exposures and called Weed and O'Riley "thieves,"--whereupon
the people rose as one man (voting repeatedly) and elected the two
gentlemen to their proper theatre of action, the New York legislature.
The newspapers clamored, and the courts proceeded to try the new
legislators for their small irregularities.  Our admirable jury system
enabled the persecuted ex-officials to secure a jury of nine gentlemen
from a neighboring asylum and three graduates from Sing-Sing, and
presently they walked forth with characters vindicated.  The legislature
was called upon to spew them forth--a thing which the legislature
declined to do.  It was like asking children to repudiate their own
father.  It was a legislature of the modern pattern.

Being now wealthy and distinguished, Mr. O'Riley, still bearing the
legislative "Hon." attached to his name (for titles never die in America,
although we do take a republican pride in poking fun at such trifles),
sailed for Europe with his family.  They traveled all about, turning
their noses up at every thing, and not finding it a difficult thing to
do, either, because nature had originally given those features a cast in
that direction; and finally they established themselves in Paris, that
Paradise of Americans of their sort.--They staid there two years and
learned to speak English with a foreign accent--not that it hadn't always
had a foreign accent (which was indeed the case) but now the nature of it
was changed.  Finally they returned home and became ultra fashionables.
They landed here as the Hon.  Patrique Oreille and family, and so are
known unto this day.

Laura provided seats for her visitors and they immediately launched forth
into a breezy, sparkling conversation with that easy confidence which is
to be found only among persons accustomed to high life.

"I've been intending to call sooner, Miss Hawkins," said the Hon. Mrs.
Oreille, "but the weather's been so horrid.  How do you like Washington?"

Laura liked it very well indeed.

Mrs. Gashly--"Is it your first visit?"

Yea, it was her first.

All--"Indeed?"

Mrs. Oreille--"I'm afraid you'll despise the weather, Miss Hawkins.
It's perfectly awful.  It always is.  I tell Mr. Oreille I can't and
I won't put up with any such a climate.  If we were obliged to do it,
I wouldn't mind it; but we are not obliged to, and so I don't see the use
of it.  Sometimes its real pitiful the way the childern pine for Parry
--don't look so sad, Bridget, 'ma chere'--poor child, she can't hear Parry
mentioned without getting the blues."

Mrs. Gashly--"Well I should think so, Mrs. Oreille.  A body lives in
Paris, but a body, only stays here.  I dote on Paris; I'd druther scrimp
along on ten thousand dollars a year there, than suffer and worry here on
a real decent income."

Miss Gashly--"Well then, I wish you'd take us back, mother; I'm sure I
hate this stoopid country enough, even if it is our dear native land."

Miss Emmeline Gashly--"What and leave poor Johnny Peterson behind?" [An
airy genial laugh applauded this sally].

Miss Gashly--"Sister, I should think you'd be ashamed of yourself!"

Miss Emmeline--"Oh, you needn't ruffle your feathers so: I was only
joking.  He don't mean anything by coming to, the house every evening
--only comes to see mother.  Of course that's all!" [General laughter].

Miss G. prettily confused--"Emmeline, how can you!"

Mrs. G.--"Let your sister alone, Emmeline.  I never saw such a tease!"

Mrs. Oreille--"What lovely corals you have, Miss Hawkins!  Just look at
them, Bridget, dear.  I've a great passion for corals--it's a pity
they're getting a little common.  I have some elegant ones--not as
elegant as yours, though--but of course I don't wear them now."

Laura--"I suppose they are rather common, but still I have a great
affection for these, because they were given to me by a dear old friend
of our family named Murphy.  He was a very charming man, but very
eccentric.  We always supposed he was an Irishman, but after he got rich
he went abroad for a year or two, and when he came back you would have
been amused to see how interested he was in a potato.  He asked what it
was!  Now you know that when Providence shapes a mouth especially for the
accommodation of a potato you can detect that fact at a glance when that
mouth is in repose--foreign travel can never remove that sign.  But he
was a very delightful gentleman, and his little foible did not hurt him
at all.  We all have our shams--I suppose there is a sham somewhere about
every individual, if we could manage to ferret it out.  I would so like
to go to France.  I suppose our society here compares very favorably with
French society does it not, Mrs. Oreille?"

Mrs. O.--"Not by any means, Miss Hawkins!  French society is much more
elegant--much more so."

Laura--"I am sorry to hear that.  I suppose ours has deteriorated of
late."

Mrs. O.--"Very much indeed.  There are people in society here that have
really no more money to live on than what some of us pay for servant
hire.  Still I won't say but what some of them are very good people--and
respectable, too."

Laura--"The old families seem to be holding themselves aloof, from what I
hear.  I suppose you seldom meet in society now, the people you used to
be familiar with twelve or fifteen years ago?"

Mrs. O.--"Oh, no-hardly ever."

Mr. O'Riley kept his first rum-mill and protected his customers from the
law in those days, and this turn of the conversation was rather
uncomfortable to madame than otherwise.

Hon. Mrs. Higgins--"Is Francois' health good now, Mrs. Oreille?"

Mrs. O.--(Thankful for the intervention)--"Not very.  A body couldn't
expect it.  He was always delicate--especially his lungs--and this odious
climate tells on him strong, now, after Parry, which is so mild."

Mrs. H:--"I should think so.  Husband says Percy'll die if he don't have
a change; and so I'm going to swap round a little and see what can be
done.  I saw a lady from Florida last week, and she recommended Key West.
I told her Percy couldn't abide winds, as he was threatened with a
pulmonary affection, and then she said try St. Augustine.  It's an awful
distance--ten or twelve hundred mile, they say but then in a case of this
kind--a body can't stand back for trouble, you know."

Mrs. O.--"No, of course that's off.  If Francois don't get better soon
we've got to look out for some other place, or else Europe.  We've
thought some of the Hot Springs, but I don't know.  It's a great
responsibility and a body wants to go cautious.  Is Hildebrand about
again, Mrs. Gashly?"

Mrs. G.--"Yes, but that's about all.  It was indigestion, you know, and
it looks as if it was chronic.  And you know I do dread dyspepsia.  We've
all been worried a good deal about him.  The doctor recommended baked
apple and spoiled meat, and I think it done him good.  It's about the
only thing that will stay on his stomach now-a-days.  We have Dr. Shovel
now.  Who's your doctor, Mrs. Higgins?"

Mrs. H.--"Well, we had Dr. Spooner a good while, but he runs so much to
emetics, which I think are weakening, that we changed off and took Dr.
Leathers.  We like him very much.  He has a fine European reputation,
too.  The first thing he suggested for Percy was to have him taken out in
the back yard for an airing, every afternoon, with nothing at all on."

Mrs. O. and Mrs. G.--"What!"

Mrs. H.--"As true as I'm sitting here.  And it actually helped him for
two or three days; it did indeed.  But after that the doctor said it
seemed to be too severe and so he has fell back on hot foot-baths at
night and cold showers in the morning.  But I don't think there, can be
any good sound help for him in such a climate as this.  I believe we are
going to lose him if we don't make a change."

Mrs. O.  "I suppose you heard of the fright we had two weeks ago last
Saturday?  No?  Why that is strange--but come to remember, you've all
been away to Richmond.  Francois tumbled from the sky light--in the
second-story hall clean down to the first floor--"

Everybody--"Mercy!"

Mrs.  O.--"Yes indeed--and broke two of his ribs--"

Everybody--"What!"

Mrs. O.  "Just as true as you live.  First we thought he must be injured
internally.  It was fifteen minutes past 8 in the evening.  Of course we
were all distracted in a moment--everybody was flying everywhere, and
nobody doing anything worth anything.  By and by I flung out next door
and dragged in Dr. Sprague; President of the Medical University no time
to go for our own doctor of course--and the minute he saw Francois he
said, 'Send for your own physician, madam;' said it as cross as a bear,
too, and turned right on his heel, and cleared out without doing a
thing!"

Everybody--"The mean, contemptible brute!"

Mrs. O--"Well you may say it.  I was nearly out of my wits by this time.
But we hurried off the servants after our own doctor and telegraphed
mother--she was in New York and rushed down on the first train; and when
the doctor got there, lo and behold you he found Francois had broke one
of his legs, too!"

Everybody--"Goodness!"

Mrs. O.--"Yes.  So he set his leg and bandaged it up, and fixed his ribs
and gave him a dose of something to quiet down his excitement and put him
to sleep--poor thing he was trembling and frightened to death and it was
pitiful to see him.  We had him in my bed--Mr. Oreille slept in the guest
room and I laid down beside Francois--but not to sleep bless you no.
Bridget and I set up all night, and the doctor staid till two in the
morning, bless his old heart.--When mother got there she was so used up
with anxiety, that she had to go to bed and have the doctor; but when she
found that Francois was not in immediate danger she rallied, and by night
she was able to take a watch herself.  Well for three days and nights we
three never left that bedside only to take an hour's nap at a time.
And then the doctor said Francois was out of danger and if ever there was
a thankful set, in this world, it was us."

Laura's respect for these, women had augmented during this conversation,
naturally enough; affection and devotion are qualities that are able to
adorn and render beautiful a character that is otherwise unattractive,
and even repulsive.

Mrs. Gashly--"I do believe I would a died if I had been in your place,
Mrs. Oreille.  The time Hildebrand was so low with the pneumonia Emmeline
and me were all, alone with him most of the time and we never took a
minute's sleep for as much as two days, and nights.  It was at Newport
and we wouldn't trust hired nurses.  One afternoon he had a fit, and
jumped up and run out on the portico of the hotel with nothing in the
world on and the wind a blowing liken ice and we after him scared to
death; and when the ladies and gentlemen saw that he had a fit, every
lady scattered for her room and not a gentleman lifted his hand to help,
the wretches!  Well after that his life hung by a thread for as much as
ten days, and the minute he was out of danger Emmeline and me just went
to bed sick and worn out.  I never want to pass through such a time
again.  Poor dear Francois--which leg did he break, Mrs. Oreille!"

Mrs. O.--"It was his right hand hind leg.  Jump down, Francois dear, and
show the ladies what a cruel limp you've got yet."

Francois demurred, but being coaxed and delivered gently upon the floor,
he performed very satisfactorily, with his "right hand hind leg" in the
air.  All were affected--even Laura--but hers was an affection of the
stomach.  The country-bred girl had not suspected that the little whining
ten-ounce black and tan reptile, clad in a red embroidered pigmy blanket
and reposing in Mrs. Oreille's lap all through the visit was the
individual whose sufferings had been stirring the dormant generosities of
her nature.  She said:

"Poor little creature!  You might have lost him!"

Mrs. O.--"O pray don't mention it, Miss Hawkins--it gives me such a
turn!"

Laura--"And Hildebrand and Percy--are they-are they like this one?"

Mrs. G.--"No, Hilly has considerable Skye blood in him, I believe."

Mrs. H.--"Percy's the same, only he is two months and ten days older and
has his ears cropped.  His father, Martin Farquhar Tupper, was sickly,
and died young, but he was the sweetest disposition.--His mother had
heart disease but was very gentle and resigned, and a wonderful ratter."
--[** As impossible and exasperating as this conversation may sound to a
person who is not an idiot, it is scarcely in any respect an exaggeration
of one which one of us actually listened to in an American drawing room
--otherwise we could not venture to put such a chapter into a book which,
professes to deal with social possibilities.--THE AUTHORS.]

So carried away had the visitors become by their interest attaching to
this discussion of family matters, that their stay had been prolonged to
a very improper and unfashionable length; but they suddenly recollected
themselves now and took their departure.

Laura's scorn was boundless.  The more she thought of these people and
their extraordinary talk, the more offensive they seemed to her; and yet
she confessed that if one must choose between the two extreme
aristocracies it might be best, on the whole, looking at things from a
strictly business point of view, to herd with the Parvenus; she was in
Washington solely to compass a certain matter and to do it at any cost,
and these people might be useful to her, while it was plain that her
purposes and her schemes for pushing them would not find favor in the
eyes of the Antiques.  If it came to choice--and it might come to that,
sooner or later--she believed she could come to a decision without much
difficulty or many pangs.

But the best aristocracy of the three Washington castes, and really the
most powerful, by far, was that of the Middle Ground: It was made up of
the families of public men from nearly every state in the Union--men who
held positions in both the executive and legislative branches of the
government, and whose characters had been for years blemishless, both at
home and at the capital.  These gentlemen and their households were
unostentatious people; they were educated and refined; they troubled
themselves but little about the two other orders of nobility, but moved
serenely in their wide orbit, confident in their own strength and well
aware of the potency of their influence.  They had no troublesome
appearances to keep up, no rivalries which they cared to distress
themselves about, no jealousies to fret over.  They could afford to mind
their own affairs and leave other combinations to do the same or do
otherwise, just as they chose.  They were people who were beyond
reproach, and that was sufficient.

Senator Dilworthy never came into collision with any of these factions.
He labored for them all and with them all.  He said that all men were
brethren and all were entitled to the honest unselfish help and
countenance of a Christian laborer in the public vineyard.

Laura concluded, after reflection, to let circumstances determine the
course it might be best for her to pursue as regarded the several
aristocracies.

Now it might occur to the reader that perhaps Laura had been somewhat
rudely suggestive in her remarks to Mrs. Oreille when the subject of
corals was under discussion, but it did not occur to Laura herself.
She was not a person of exaggerated refinement; indeed, the society and
the influences that had formed her character had not been of a nature
calculated to make her so; she thought that "give and take was fair
play," and that to parry an offensive thrust with a sarcasm was a neat
and legitimate thing to do.  She some times talked to people in a way
which some ladies would consider, actually shocking; but Laura rather
prided herself upon some of her exploits of that character.  We are sorry
we cannot make her a faultless heroine; but we cannot, for the reason
that she was human.

She considered herself a superior conversationist.  Long ago, when the
possibility had first been brought before her mind that some day she
might move in Washington society, she had recognized the fact that
practiced conversational powers would be a necessary weapon in that
field; she had also recognized the fact that since her dealings there
must be mainly with men, and men whom she supposed to be exceptionally
cultivated and able, she would need heavier shot in her magazine than
mere brilliant "society" nothings; whereupon she had at once entered upon
a tireless and elaborate course of reading, and had never since ceased to
devote every unoccupied moment to this sort of preparation.  Having now
acquired a happy smattering of various information, she used it with good
effect--she passed for a singularly well informed woman in Washington.
The quality of her literary tastes had necessarily undergone constant
improvement under this regimen, and as necessarily, also; the duality of
her language had improved, though it cannot be denied that now and then
her former condition of life betrayed itself in just perceptible
inelegancies of expression and lapses of grammar.




CHAPTER XXXIV.

When Laura had been in Washington three months, she was still the same
person, in one respect, that she was when she first arrived there--that
is to say, she still bore the name of Laura Hawkins.  Otherwise she was
perceptibly changed.--

She had arrived in a state of grievous uncertainty as to what manner of
woman she was, physically and intellectually, as compared with eastern
women; she was well satisfied, now, that her beauty was confessed, her
mind a grade above the average, and her powers of fascination rather
extraordinary.  So she, was at ease upon those points.  When she arrived,
she was possessed of habits of economy and not possessed of money; now
she dressed elaborately, gave but little thought to the cost of things,
and was very well fortified financially.  She kept her mother and
Washington freely supplied with money, and did the same by Col. Sellers
--who always insisted upon giving his note for loans--with interest; he was
rigid upon that; she must take interest; and one of the Colonel's
greatest satisfactions was to go over his accounts and note what a
handsome sum this accruing interest amounted to, and what a comfortable
though modest support it would yield Laura in case reverses should
overtake her.

In truth he could not help feeling that he was an efficient shield for
her against poverty; and so, if her expensive ways ever troubled him for
a brief moment, he presently dismissed the thought and said to himself,
"Let her go on--even if she loses everything she is still safe--this
interest will always afford her a good easy income."

Laura was on excellent terms with a great many members of Congress, and
there was an undercurrent of suspicion in some quarters that she was one
of that detested class known as "lobbyists;" but what belle could escape
slander in such a city?  Fairminded people declined to condemn her on
mere suspicion, and so the injurious talk made no very damaging headway.
She was very gay, now, and very celebrated, and she might well expect to
be assailed by many kinds of gossip.  She was growing used to celebrity,
and could already sit calm and seemingly unconscious, under the fire of
fifty lorgnettes in a theatre, or even overhear the low voice "That's
she!" as she passed along the street without betraying annoyance.

The whole air was full of a vague vast scheme which was to eventuate in
filling Laura's pockets with millions of money; some had one idea of the
scheme, and some another, but nobody had any exact knowledge upon the
subject.  All that any one felt sure about, was that Laura's landed
estates were princely in value and extent, and that the government was
anxious to get hold of them for public purposes, and that Laura was
willing to make the sale but not at all anxious about the matter and not
at all in a hurry.  It was whispered that Senator Dilworthy was a
stumbling block in the way of an immediate sale, because he was resolved
that the government should not have the lands except with the
understanding that they should be devoted to the uplifting of the negro
race; Laura did not care what they were devoted to, it was said, (a world
of very different gossip to the contrary notwithstanding,) but there were
several other heirs and they would be guided entirely by the Senator's
wishes; and finally, many people averred that while it would be easy to
sell the lands to the government for the benefit of the negro, by
resorting to the usual methods of influencing votes, Senator Dilworthy
was unwilling to have so noble a charity sullied by any taint of
corruption--he was resolved that not a vote should be bought.  Nobody
could get anything definite from Laura about these matters, and so gossip
had to feed itself chiefly upon guesses.  But the effect of it all was,
that Laura was considered to be very wealthy and likely to be vastly more
so in a little while.  Consequently she was much courted and as much
envied: Her wealth attracted many suitors.  Perhaps they came to worship
her riches, but they remained to worship her.  Some of the noblest men of
the time succumbed to her fascinations.  She frowned upon no lover when
he made his first advances, but by and by when she was hopelessly
enthralled, he learned from her own lips that she had formed a resolution
never to marry.  Then he would go away hating and cursing the whole sex,
and she would calmly add his scalp to her string, while she mused upon
the bitter day that Col. Selby trampled her love and her pride in the
dust.  In time it came to be said that her way was paved with broken
hearts.

Poor Washington gradually woke up to the fact that he too was an
intellectual marvel as well as his gifted sister.  He could not conceive
how it had come about (it did not occur to him that the gossip about his
family's great wealth had any thing to do with it). He could not account
for it by any process of reasoning, and was simply obliged to accept the
fact and give up trying to solve the riddle.  He found himself dragged
into society and courted, wondered at and envied very much as if he were
one of those foreign barbers who flit over here now and then with a
self-conferred title of nobility and marry some rich fool's absurd
daughter. Sometimes at a dinner party or a reception he would find
himself the centre of interest, and feel unutterably uncomfortable in the
discovery. Being obliged to say something, he would mine his brain and
put in a blast and when the smoke and flying debris had cleared away the
result would be what seemed to him but a poor little intellectual clod of
dirt or two, and then he would be astonished to see everybody as lost in
admiration as if he had brought up a ton or two of virgin gold.  Every
remark he made delighted his hearers and compelled their applause; he
overheard people say he was exceedingly bright--they were chiefly mammas
and marriageable young ladies.  He found that some of his good things
were being repeated about the town.  Whenever he heard of an instance of
this kind, he would keep that particular remark in mind and analyze it at
home in private.  At first he could not see that the remark was anything
better than a parrot might originate; but by and by he began to feel that
perhaps he underrated his powers; and after that he used to analyze his
good things with a deal of comfort, and find in them a brilliancy which
would have been unapparent to him in earlier days--and then he would make
a note, of that good thing and say it again the first time he found
himself in a new company.  Presently he had saved up quite a repertoire
of brilliancies; and after that he confined himself to repeating these
and ceased to originate any more, lest he might injure his reputation by
an unlucky effort.

He was constantly having young ladies thrust upon his notice at
receptions, or left upon his hands at parties, and in time he began to
feel that he was being deliberately persecuted in this way; and after
that he could not enjoy society because of his constant dread of these
female ambushes and surprises.  He was distressed to find that nearly
every time he showed a young lady a polite attention he was straightway
reported to be engaged to her; and as some of these reports got into the
newspapers occasionally, he had to keep writing to Louise that they were
lies and she must believe in him and not mind them or allow them to
grieve her.

Washington was as much in the dark as anybody with regard to the great
wealth that was hovering in the air and seemingly on the point of
tumbling into the family pocket.  Laura would give him no satisfaction.
All she would say, was:

"Wait.  Be patient.  You will see."

"But will it be soon, Laura?"

"It will not be very long, I think."

"But what makes you think so?"

"I have reasons--and good ones.  Just wait, and be patient."

"But is it going to be as much as people say it is?"

"What do they say it is?"

"Oh, ever so much.  Millions!"

"Yes, it will be a great sum."

"But how great, Laura?  Will it be millions?"

"Yes, you may call it that.  Yes, it will be millions.  There, now--does
that satisfy you?"

"Splendid!  I can wait.  I can wait patiently--ever so patiently.  Once I
was near selling the land for twenty thousand dollars; once for thirty
thousand dollars; once after that for seven thousand dollars; and once
for forty thousand dollars--but something always told me not to do it.
What a fool I would have been to sell it for such a beggarly trifle!  It
is the land that's to bring the money, isn't it Laura?  You can tell me
that much, can't you?"

"Yes, I don't mind saying that much.  It is the land.

"But mind--don't ever hint that you got it from me.  Don't mention me in
the matter at all, Washington."

"All right--I won't.  Millions!  Isn't it splendid!  I mean to look
around for a building lot; a lot with fine ornamental shrubbery and all
that sort of thing.  I will do it to-day.  And I might as well see an
architect, too, and get him to go to work at a plan for a house.  I don't
intend to spare and expense; I mean to have the noblest house that money
can build."  Then after a pause--he did not notice Laura's smiles "Laura,
would you lay the main hall in encaustic tiles, or just in fancy patterns
of hard wood?"

Laura laughed a good old-fashioned laugh that had more of her former
natural self about it than any sound that had issued from her mouth in
many weeks.  She said:

"You don't change, Washington.  You still begin to squander a fortune
right and left the instant you hear of it in the distance; you never wait
till the foremost dollar of it arrives within a hundred miles of you,"
--and she kissed her brother good bye and left him weltering in his dreams,
so to speak.

He got up and walked the floor feverishly during two hours; and when he
sat down he had married Louise, built a house, reared a family, married
them off, spent upwards of eight hundred thousand dollars on mere
luxuries, and died worth twelve millions.




CHAPTER XXXV.


Laura went down stairs, knocked at/the study door, and entered, scarcely
waiting for the response.  Senator Dilworthy was alone--with an open
Bible in his hand, upside down.  Laura smiled, and said, forgetting her
acquired correctness of speech,

"It is only me."

"Ah, come in, sit down," and the Senator closed the book and laid it
down.  "I wanted to see you.  Time to report progress from the committee
of the whole," and the Senator beamed with his own congressional wit.

"In the committee of the whole things are working very well.  We have
made ever so much progress in a week.  I believe that you and I together
could run this government beautifully, uncle."

The Senator beamed again.  He liked to be called "uncle" by this
beautiful woman.

"Did you see Hopperson last night after the congressional prayer
meeting?"

"Yes.  He came.  He's a kind of--"

"Eh? he is one of my friends, Laura.  He's a fine man, a very fine man.
I don't know any man in congress I'd sooner go to for help in any
Christian work.  What did he say?"

"Oh, he beat around a little.  He said he should like to help the negro,
his heart went out to the negro, and all that--plenty of them say that
but he was a little afraid of the Tennessee Land bill; if Senator
Dilworthy wasn't in it, he should suspect there was a fraud on the
government."

"He said that, did he?"

"Yes.  And he said he felt he couldn't vote for it.  He was shy."

"Not shy, child, cautious.  He's a very cautious man.  I have been with
him a great deal on conference committees.  He wants reasons, good ones.
Didn't you show him he was in error about the bill?"

"I did.  I went over the whole thing.  I had to tell him some of the side
arrangements, some of the--"

"You didn't mention me?"

"Oh, no.  I told him you were daft about the negro and the philanthropy
part of it, as you are."

"Daft is a little strong, Laura.  But you know that I wouldn't touch this
bill if it were not for the public good, and for the good of the colored
race; much as I am interested in the heirs of this property, and would
like to have them succeed."

Laura looked a little incredulous, and the Senator proceeded.

"Don't misunderstand me, I don't deny that it is for the interest of all
of us that this bill should go through, and it will.  I have no
concealments from you.  But I have one principle in my public life, which
I should like you to keep in mind; it has always been my guide.  I never
push a private interest if it is not Justified and ennobled by some
larger public good.  I doubt Christian would be justified in working for
his own salvation if it was not to aid in the salvation of his fellow
men."

The Senator spoke with feeling, and then added,

"I hope you showed Hopperson that our motives were pure?"

"Yes, and he seemed to have a new light on the measure: I think will vote
for it."

"I hope so; his name will give tone and strength to it.  I knew you would
only have to show him that it was just and pure, in order to secure his
cordial support."

"I think I convinced him.  Yes, I am perfectly sure he will vote right
now."

"That's good, that's good," said the Senator; smiling, and rubbing his
hands.  "Is there anything more?"

"You'll find some changes in that I guess," handing the Senator a printed
list of names.  "Those checked off are all right."

"Ah--'m--'m," running his eye down the list.  "That's encouraging.  What
is the 'C' before some of the names, and the 'B. B.'?"

"Those are my private marks.  That 'C' stands for 'convinced,' with
argument.  The 'B. B.' is a general sign for a relative.  You see it
stands before three of the Hon. Committee.  I expect to see the chairman
of the committee to-day, Mr. Buckstone."

"So, you must, he ought to be seen without any delay.  Buckstone is a
worldly sort of a fellow, but he has charitable impulses.  If we secure
him we shall have a favorable report by the committee, and it will be a
great thing to be able to state that fact quietly where it will do good."

"Oh, I saw Senator Balloon"

"He will help us, I suppose?  Balloon is a whole-hearted fellow.  I can't
help loving that man, for all his drollery and waggishness.  He puts on
an air of levity sometimes, but there aint a man in the senate knows the
scriptures as he does.  He did not make any objections?"

"Not exactly, he said--shall I tell you what he said?" asked Laura
glancing furtively at him.

"Certainly."

"He said he had no doubt it was a good thing; if Senator Dilworthy was in
it, it would pay to look into it."

The Senator laughed, but rather feebly, and said, "Balloon is always full
of his jokes."

"I explained it to him.  He said it was all right, he only wanted a word
with you,", continued Laura.  "He is a handsome old gentleman, and he is
gallant for an old man."

"My daughter," said the Senator, with a grave look, "I trust there was
nothing free in his manner?"

"Free?" repeated Laura, with indignation in her face.  "With me!"

"There, there, child.  I meant nothing, Balloon talks a little freely
sometimes, with men.  But he is right at heart.  His term expires next
year and I fear we shall lose him."

"He seemed to be packing the day I was there.  His rooms were full of dry
goods boxes, into which his servant was crowding all manner of old
clothes and stuff: I suppose he will paint 'Pub. Docs' on them and frank
them home.  That's good economy, isn't it?"

"Yes, yes, but child, all Congressmen do that.  It may not be strictly
honest, indeed it is not unless he had some public documents mixed in
with the clothes."

"It's a funny world.  Good-bye, uncle.  I'm going to see that chairman."

And humming a cheery opera air, she departed to her room to dress for
going out.  Before she did that, however, she took out her note book and
was soon deep in its contents; marking, dashing, erasing, figuring, and
talking to herself.

"Free!  I wonder what Dilworthy does think of me anyway?  One .  .  .
two .  .  . eight .  .  .  seventeen .  .  .  twenty-one . .  .  'm'm
it takes a heap for a majority.  Wouldn't Dilworthy open his eyes if he
. . . knew some of the things Balloon did say to me.  There .  .  .
Hopperson's influence ought to count twenty .  .  .  the sanctimonious
old curmudgeon.  Son-in-law .  .  . sinecure in the negro institution.
.  .  . That about gauges him .  .  . The three committeemen .  .  .
sons-in-law.  Nothing like a son-in-law here in Washington or a brother-
in-law .  .  . And everybody has 'em .  .  .  Let's see: .  .  .  sixty-
one .  .  .  with places .  .  .  twenty-five .  .  .  persuaded--it is
getting on; .  .  . we'll have two-thirds of Congress in time .  .  .
Dilworthy must surely know I understand him.  Uncle Dilworthy .  .  .
Uncle Balloon!--Tells very amusing stories .  .  .  when ladies are not
present .  .  . I should think so .  .  . 'm .  .  . 'm.  Eighty-five.
There.  I must find that chairman.  Queer.  .  .  .  Buckstone
acts .  .  .  . Seemed to be in love .  .  .  . I was sure of it.
He promised to come here .  .  . and he hasn't .  .  . Strange.  Very
strange .  .  .  . I must chance to meet him to-day."

Laura dressed and went out, thinking she was perhaps too early for Mr.
Buckstone to come from the house, but as he lodged near the bookstore she
would drop in there and keep a look out for him.

While Laura is on her errand to find Mr. Buckstone, it may not be out of
the way to remark that she knew quite as much of Washington life as
Senator Dilworthy gave her credit for, and more than she thought proper
to tell him.  She was acquainted by this time with a good many of the
young fellows of Newspaper Row; and exchanged gossip with them to their
mutual advantage.

They were always talking in the Row, everlastingly gossiping, bantering
and sarcastically praising things, and going on in a style which was a
curious commingling of earnest and persiflage.  Col. Sellers liked this
talk amazingly, though he was sometimes a little at sea in it--and
perhaps that didn't lessen the relish of the conversation to the
correspondents.

It seems that they had got hold of the dry-goods box packing story about
Balloon, one day, and were talking it over when the Colonel came in.
The Colonel wanted to know all about it, and Hicks told him.  And then
Hicks went on, with a serious air,

"Colonel, if you register a letter, it means that it is of value, doesn't
it?  And if you pay fifteen cents for registering it, the government will
have to take extra care of it and even pay you back its full value if it
is lost.  Isn't that so?"

"Yes.  I suppose it's so.".

"Well Senator Balloon put fifteen cents worth of stamps on each of those
seven huge boxes of old clothes, and shipped that ton of second-hand
rubbish, old boots and pantaloons and what not through the mails as
registered matter!  It was an ingenious thing and it had a genuine touch
of humor about it, too.  I think there is more real: talent among our
public men of to-day than there was among those of old times--a far more
fertile fancy, a much happier ingenuity.  Now, Colonel, can you picture
Jefferson, or Washington or John Adams franking their wardrobes through
the mails and adding the facetious idea of making the government
responsible for the cargo for the sum of one dollar and five cents?
Statesmen were dull creatures in those days.  I have a much greater
admiration for Senator Balloon."

"Yes, Balloon is a man of parts, there is no denying it"

"I think so.  He is spoken of for the post of Minister to China, or
Austria, and I hope will be appointed.  What we want abroad is good
examples of the national character.

"John Jay and Benjamin Franklin were well enough in their day, but the
nation has made progress since then.  Balloon is a man we know and can
depend on to be true to himself."

"Yes, and Balloon has had a good deal of public experience.  He is an old
friend of mine.  He was governor of one of the territories a while, and
was very satisfactory."

"Indeed he was.  He was ex-officio Indian agent, too.  Many a man would
have taken the Indian appropriation and devoted the money to feeding and
clothing the helpless savages, whose land had been taken from them by the
white man in the interests of civilization; but Balloon knew their needs
better.  He built a government saw-mill on the reservation with the
money, and the lumber sold for enormous prices--a relative of his did all
the work free of charge--that is to say he charged nothing more than the
lumber world bring."  "But the poor Injuns--not that I care much for
Injuns--what did he do for them?"

"Gave them the outside slabs to fence in the reservation with.  Governor
Balloon was nothing less than a father to the poor Indians.  But Balloon
is not alone, we have many truly noble statesmen in our country's service
like Balloon.  The Senate is full of them.  Don't you think so Colonel?"

"Well, I dunno.  I honor my country's public servants as much as any one
can.  I meet them, Sir, every day, and the more I see of them the more I
esteem them and the more grateful I am that our institutions give us the
opportunity of securing their services.  Few lands are so blest."

"That is true, Colonel.  To be sure you can buy now and then a Senator or
a Representative but they do not know it is wrong, and so they are not
ashamed of it.  They are gentle, and confiding and childlike, and in my
opinion these are qualities that ennoble them far more than any amount of
sinful sagacity could.  I quite agree with you, Col. Sellers."

"Well"--hesitated the Colonel--"I am afraid some of them do buy their
seats--yes, I am afraid they do--but as Senator Dilworthy himself said to
me, it is sinful,--it is very wrong--it is shameful; Heaven protect me
from such a charge.  That is what Dilworthy said.  And yet when you come
to look at it you cannot deny that we would have to go without the
services of some of our ablest men, sir, if the country were opposed to
--to--bribery.  It is a harsh term.  I do not like to use it."

The Colonel interrupted himself at this point to meet an engagement with
the Austrian minister, and took his leave with his usual courtly bow.




CHAPTER XXXVI.


In due time Laura alighted at the book store, and began to look at the
titles of the handsome array of books on the counter.  A dapper clerk of
perhaps nineteen or twenty years, with hair accurately parted and
surprisingly slick, came bustling up and leaned over with a pretty smile
and an affable--

"Can I--was there any particular book you wished to see?"

"Have you Taine's England?"

"Beg pardon?"

"Taine's Notes on England."

The young gentleman scratched the side of his nose with a cedar pencil
which he took down from its bracket on the side of his head, and
reflected a moment:

"Ah--I see," [with a bright smile]--"Train, you mean--not Taine.  George
Francis Train.  No, ma'm we--"

"I mean Taine--if I may take the liberty."

The clerk reflected again--then:

"Taine .  .  .  .  Taine .  .  .  . Is it hymns?"

"No, it isn't hymns.  It is a volume that is making a deal of talk just
now, and is very widely known--except among parties who sell it."

The clerk glanced at her face to see if a sarcasm might not lurk
somewhere in that obscure speech, but the gentle simplicity of the
beautiful eyes that met his, banished that suspicion.  He went away and
conferred with the proprietor.  Both appeared to be non-plussed.  They
thought and talked, and talked and thought by turns.  Then both came
forward and the proprietor said:

"Is it an American book, ma'm?"

"No, it is an American reprint of an English translation."

"Oh!  Yes--yes--I remember, now.  We are expecting it every day.  It
isn't out yet."

"I think you must be mistaken, because you advertised it a week ago."

"Why no--can that be so?"

"Yes, I am sure of it.  And besides, here is the book itself, on the
counter."

She bought it and the proprietor retired from the field.  Then she asked
the clerk for the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table--and was pained to see
the admiration her beauty had inspired in him fade out of his face.
He said with cold dignity, that cook books were somewhat out of their
line, but he would order it if she desired it.  She said, no, never mind.
Then she fell to conning the titles again, finding a delight in the
inspection of the Hawthornes, the Longfellows, the Tennysons, and other
favorites of her idle hours.  Meantime the clerk's eyes were busy, and no
doubt his admiration was returning again--or may be he was only gauging
her probable literary tastes by some sagacious system of admeasurement
only known to his guild.  Now he began to "assist" her in making a
selection; but his efforts met with no success--indeed they only annoyed
her and unpleasantly interrupted her meditations.  Presently, while she
was holding a copy of "Venetian Life" in her hand and running over a
familiar passage here and there, the clerk said, briskly, snatching up a
paper-covered volume and striking the counter a smart blow with it to
dislodge the dust:

"Now here is a work that we've sold a lot of.  Everybody that's read it
likes it"--and he intruded it under her nose; "it's a book that I can
recommend--'The Pirate's Doom, or the Last of the Buccaneers.'  I think
it's one of the best things that's come out this season."

Laura pushed it gently aside her hand and went on and went on filching
from "Venetian Life."

"I believe I do not want it," she said.

The clerk hunted around awhile, glancing at one title and then another,
but apparently not finding what he wanted.

However, he succeeded at last.  Said he:

"Have you ever read this, ma'm?  I am sure you'll like it.  It's by the
author of 'The Hooligans of Hackensack.' It is full of love troubles and
mysteries and all sorts of such things.  The heroine strangles her own
mother.  Just glance at the title please,--'Gonderil the Vampire, or The
Dance of Death.'  And here is 'The Jokist's Own Treasury, or, The Phunny
Phellow's Bosom Phriend.'  The funniest thing!--I've read it four times,
ma'm, and I can laugh at the very sight of it yet.  And 'Gonderil,'
--I assure you it is the most splendid book I ever read.  I know you will
like these books, ma'm, because I've read them myself and I know what
they are."

"Oh, I was perplexed--but I see how it is, now.  You must have thought
I asked you to tell me what sort of books I wanted--for I am apt to say
things which I don't really mean, when I am absent minded.  I suppose I
did ask you, didn't I?"

"No ma'm,--but I--"

"Yes, I must have done it, else you would not have offered your services,
for fear it might be rude.  But don't be troubled--it was all my fault.
I ought not to have been so heedless--I ought not to have asked you."

"But you didn't ask me, ma'm.  We always help customers all we can.
You see our experience--living right among books all the time--that sort
of thing makes us able to help a customer make a selection, you know."

"Now does it, indeed?  It is part of your business, then?"

"Yes'm, we always help."

"How good it is of you.  Some people would think it rather obtrusive,
perhaps, but I don't--I think it is real kindness--even charity.  Some
people jump to conclusions without any thought--you have noticed that?"

"O yes," said the clerk, a little perplexed as to whether to feel
comfortable or the reverse; "Oh yes, indeed, I've often noticed that,
ma'm."

"Yes, they jump to conclusions with an absurd heedlessness.  Now some
people would think it odd that because you, with the budding tastes and
the innocent enthusiasms natural to your time of life, enjoyed the
Vampires and the volume of nursery jokes, you should imagine that an
older person would delight in them too--but I do not think it odd at all.
I think it natural--perfectly natural in you.  And kind, too.  You look
like a person who not only finds a deep pleasure in any little thing in
the way of literature that strikes you forcibly, but is willing and glad
to share that pleasure with others--and that, I think, is noble and
admirable--very noble and admirable.  I think we ought all--to share our
pleasures with others, and do what we can to make each other happy, do
not you?"

"Oh, yes.  Oh, yes, indeed.  Yes, you are quite right, ma'm."

But he was getting unmistakably uncomfortable, now, notwithstanding
Laura's confiding sociability and almost affectionate tone.

"Yes, indeed.  Many people would think that what a bookseller--or perhaps
his clerk--knows about literature as literature, in contradistinction to
its character as merchandise, would hardly, be of much assistance to a
person--that is, to an adult, of course--in the selection of food for the
mind--except of course wrapping paper, or twine, or wafers, or something
like that--but I never feel that way.  I feel that whatever service you
offer me, you offer with a good heart, and I am as grateful for it as if
it were the greatest boon to me.  And it is useful to me--it is bound to
be so.  It cannot be otherwise.  If you show me a book which you have
read--not skimmed over or merely glanced at, but read--and you tell me
that you enjoyed it and that you could read it three or four times, then
I know what book I want--"

"Thank you!--th--"

--"to avoid.  Yes indeed.  I think that no information ever comes amiss
in this world.  Once or twice I have traveled in the cars--and there you
know, the peanut boy always measures you with his eye, and hands you out
a book of murders if you are fond of theology; or Tupper or a dictionary
or T. S. Arthur if you are fond of poetry; or he hands you a volume of
distressing jokes or a copy of the American Miscellany if you
particularly dislike that sort of literary fatty degeneration of the
heart--just for the world like a pleasant spoken well-meaning gentleman
in any, bookstore.  But here I am running on as if business men had
nothing to do but listen to women talk.  You must pardon me, for I was
not thinking.--And you must let me thank you again for helping me.
I read a good deal, and shall be in nearly every day and I would be sorry
to have you think me a customer who talks too much and buys too little.
Might I ask you to give me the time?  Ah-two-twenty-two.  Thank you
very much.  I will set mine while I have the opportunity."

But she could not get her watch open, apparently.  She tried, and tried
again.  Then the clerk, trembling at his own audacity, begged to be
allowed to assist.  She allowed him.  He succeeded, and was radiant under
the sweet influences of her pleased face and her seductively worded
acknowledgements with gratification.  Then he gave her the exact time
again, and anxiously watched her turn the hands slowly till they reached
the precise spot without accident or loss of life, and then he looked as
happy as a man who had helped a fellow being through a momentous
undertaking, and was grateful to know that he had not lived in vain.
Laura thanked him once more.  The words were music to his ear; but what
were they compared to the ravishing smile with which she flooded his
whole system?  When she bowed her adieu and turned away, he was no longer
suffering torture in the pillory where she had had him trussed up during
so many distressing moments, but he belonged to the list of her conquests
and was a flattered and happy thrall, with the dawn-light of love
breaking over the eastern elevations of his heart.

It was about the hour, now, for the chairman of the House Committee on
Benevolent Appropriations to make his appearance, and Laura stepped to
the door to reconnoiter.  She glanced up the street, and sure enough--



CHAPTER XXXVII.


That Chairman was nowhere in sight.  Such disappointments seldom occur in
novels, but are always happening in real life.

She was obliged to make a new plan.  She sent him a note, and asked him
to call in the evening--which he did.

She received the Hon. Mr. Buckstone with a sunny smile, and said:

"I don't know how I ever dared to send you a note, Mr. Buckstone, for you
have the reputation of not being very partial to our sex."

"Why I am sure my reputation does me wrong, then, Miss Hawkins.  I have
been married once--is that nothing in my favor?"

"Oh, yes--that is, it may be and it may not be.  If you have known what
perfection is in woman, it is fair to argue that inferiority cannot
interest you now."

"Even if that were the case it could not affect you, Miss Hawkins," said
the chairman gallantly.  "Fame does not place you in the list of ladies
who rank below perfection."  This happy speech delighted Mr. Buckstone as
much as it seemed to delight Laura.  But it did not confuse him as much
as it apparently did her.

"I wish in all sincerity that I could be worthy of such a felicitous
compliment as that.  But I am a woman, and so I am gratified for it just
as it is, and would not have it altered."

"But it is not merely a compliment--that is, an empty complement--it is
the truth.  All men will endorse that."

Laura looked pleased, and said:

"It is very kind of you to say it.  It is a distinction indeed, for a
country-bred girl like me to be so spoken of by people of brains and
culture.  You are so kind that I know you will pardon my putting you to
the trouble to come this evening."

"Indeed it was no trouble.  It was a pleasure.  I am alone in the world
since I lost my wife, and I often long for the society of your sex, Miss
Hawkins, notwithstanding what people may say to the contrary."

"It is pleasant to hear you say that.  I am sure it must be so.  If I
feel lonely at times, because of my exile from old friends, although
surrounded by new ones who are already very dear to me, how much more
lonely must you feel, bereft as you are, and with no wholesome relief
from the cares of state that weigh you down.  For your own sake, as well
as for the sake of others, you ought to go into society oftener.
I seldom see you at a reception, and when I do you do not usually give me
very, much of your attention."

"I never imagined that you wished it or I would have been very glad to
make myself happy in that way.--But one seldom gets an opportunity to say
more than a sentence to you in a place like that.  You are always the
centre of a group--a fact which you may have noticed yourself.  But if
one might come here--"

"Indeed you would always find a hearty welcome, Mr. Buckstone.  I have
often wished you would come and tell me more about Cairo and the
Pyramids, as you once promised me you would."

"Why, do you remember that yet, Miss Hawkins?  I thought ladies' memories
were more fickle than that."

"Oh, they are not so fickle as gentlemen's promises.  And besides, if I
had been inclined to forget, I--did you not give me something by way of a
remembrancer?"

"Did I?"

"Think."

"It does seem to me that I did; but I have forgotten what it was now."

"Never, never call a lady's memory fickle again!  Do you recognize this?"

"A little spray of box!  I am beaten--I surrender.  But have you kept
that all this time?"

Laura's confusion was very, pretty.  She tried to hide it, but the more
she tried the more manifest it became and withal the more captivating to
look upon.  Presently she threw the spray of box from her with an annoyed
air, and said:

"I forgot myself.  I have been very foolish.  I beg that you will forget
this absurd thing."

Mr. Buckstone picked up the spray, and sitting down by Laura's side on
the sofa, said:

"Please let me keep it, Miss Hawkins.  I set a very high value upon it
now."

"Give it to me, Mr. Buckstone, and do not speak so.  I have been
sufficiently punished for my thoughtlessness.  You cannot take pleasure
in adding to my distress.  Please give it to me."

"Indeed I do not wish to distress you.  But do not consider the matter so
gravely; you have done yourself no wrong.  You probably forgot that you
had it; but if you had given it to me I would have kept it--and not
forgotten it."

"Do not talk so, Mr. Buckstone.  Give it to me, please, and forget the
matter."

"It would not be kind to refuse, since it troubles you so, and so I
restore it.  But if you would give me part of it and keep the rest--"

"So that you might have something to remind you of me when you wished to
laugh at my foolishness?"

"Oh, by no means, no!  Simply that I might remember that I had once
assisted to discomfort you, and be reminded to do so no more."

Laura looked up, and scanned his face a moment.  She was about to break
the twig, but she hesitated and said:

"If I were sure that you--"  She threw the spray away, and continued:
"This is silly!  We will change the subject.  No, do not insist--I must
have my way in this."

Then Mr. Buckstone drew off his forces and proceeded to make a wily
advance upon the fortress under cover of carefully--contrived artifices
and stratagems of war.  But he contended with an alert and suspicious
enemy; and so at the end of two hours it was manifest to him that he had
made but little progress.  Still, he had made some; he was sure of that.

Laura sat alone and communed with herself;

"He is fairly hooked, poor thing.  I can play him at my leisure and land
him when I choose.  He was all ready to be caught, days and days ago
--I saw that, very well.  He will vote for our bill--no fear about that;
and moreover he will work for it, too, before I am done with him.  If he
had a woman's eyes he would have noticed that the spray of box had grown
three inches since he first gave it to me, but a man never sees anything
and never suspects.  If I had shown him a whole bush he would have
thought it was the same.  Well, it is a good night's work: the committee
is safe.  But this is a desperate game I am playing in these days
--a wearing, sordid, heartless game.  If I lose, I lose everything--even
myself.  And if I win the game, will it be worth its cost after all?
I do not know.  Sometimes I doubt.  Sometimes I half wish I had not
begun.  But no matter; I have begun, and I will never turn back; never
while I live."

Mr. Buckstone indulged in a reverie as he walked homeward:

"She is shrewd and deep, and plays her cards with considerable
discretion--but she will lose, for all that.  There is no hurry; I shall
come out winner, all in good time.  She is the most beautiful woman in
the world; and she surpassed herself to-night.  I suppose I must vote for
that bill, in the end maybe; but that is not a matter of much consequence
the government can stand it.  She is bent on capturing me, that is plain;
but she will find by and by that what she took for a sleeping garrison
was an ambuscade."




CHAPTER XXXVIII.

          Now this surprising news caus'd her fall in 'a trance,
          Life as she were dead, no limbs she could advance,
          Then her dear brother came, her from the ground he took
          And she spake up and said, O my poor heart is broke.

                              The Barnardcastle Tragedy.

"Don't you think he is distinguished looking?"

"What! That gawky looking person, with Miss Hawkins?"

"There.  He's just speaking to Mrs. Schoonmaker.  Such high-bred
negligence and unconsciousness.  Nothing studied.  See his fine eyes."

"Very.  They are moving this way now.  Maybe he is coming here.  But he
looks as helpless as a rag baby.  Who is he, Blanche?"

"Who is he?  And you've been here a week, Grace, and don't know?  He's
the catch of the season.  That's Washington Hawkins--her brother."

"No, is it?"

"Very old family, old Kentucky family I believe.  He's got enormous
landed property in Tennessee, I think.  The family lost everything,
slaves and that sort of thing, you know, in the war.  But they have a
great deal of land, minerals, mines and all that.  Mr. Hawkins and his
sister too are very much interested in the amelioration of the condition
of the colored race; they have some plan, with Senator Dilworthy, to
convert a large part of their property to something another for the
freedmen."

"You don't say so?  I thought he was some guy from Pennsylvania.  But he
is different from others.  Probably he has lived all his life on his
plantation."

It was a day reception of Mrs. Representative Schoonmaker, a sweet woman,
of simple and sincere manners.  Her house was one of the most popular in
Washington.  There was less ostentation there than in some others, and
people liked to go where the atmosphere reminded them of the peace and
purity of home.  Mrs. Schoonmaker was as natural and unaffected in
Washington society as she was in her own New York house, and kept up the
spirit of home-life there, with her husband and children.  And that was
the reason, probably, why people of refinement liked to go there.

Washington is a microcosm, and one can suit himself with any sort of
society within a radius of a mile.  To a large portion of the people who
frequent Washington or dwell where, the ultra fashion, the shoddy, the
jobbery are as utterly distasteful as they would be in a refined New
England City.  Schoonmaker was not exactly a leader in the House, but he
was greatly respected for his fine talents and his honesty.  No one would
have thought of offering to carry National Improvement Directors Relief
stock for him.

These day receptions were attended by more women than men, and those
interested in the problem might have studied the costumes of the ladies
present, in view of this fact, to discover whether women dress more for
the eyes of women or for effect upon men.  It is a very important
problem, and has been a good deal discussed, and its solution would form
one fixed, philosophical basis, upon which to estimate woman's character.
We are inclined to take a medium ground, and aver that woman dresses to
please herself, and in obedience to a law of her own nature.

"They are coming this way," said Blanche.  People who made way for them
to pass, turned to look at them.  Washington began to feel that the eyes
of the public were on him also, and his eyes rolled about, now towards
the ceiling, now towards the floor, in an effort to look unconscious.

"Good morning, Miss Hawkins.  Delighted.  Mr. Hawkins.  My friend, Miss
Medlar."

Mr. Hawkins, who was endeavoring to square himself for a bow, put his
foot through the train of Mrs. Senator Poplin, who looked round with a
scowl, which turned into a smile as she saw who it was.  In extricating
himself, Mr. Hawkins, who had the care of his hat as well as the
introduction on his mind, shambled against Miss Blanche, who said pardon,
with the prettiest accent, as if the awkwardness were her own.  And Mr.
Hawkins righted himself.

"Don't you find it very warm to-day, Mr. Hawkins?" said Blanche, by way
of a remark.

"It's awful hot," said Washington.

"It's warm for the season," continued Blanche pleasantly.  "But I suppose
you are accustomed to it," she added, with a general idea that the
thermometer always stands at 90 deg. in all parts of the late slave
states.  "Washington weather generally cannot be very congenial to you?"

"It's congenial," said Washington brightening up, "when it's not
congealed."

"That's very good.  Did you hear, Grace, Mr. Hawkins says it's congenial
when it's not congealed."

"What is, dear?" said Grace, who was talking with Laura.

The conversation was now finely under way.  Washington launched out an
observation of his own.

"Did you see those Japs, Miss Leavitt?"

"Oh, yes, aren't they queer.  But so high-bred, so picturesque.  Do you
think that color makes any difference, Mr. Hawkins?  I used to be so
prejudiced against color."

"Did you?  I never was.  I used to think my old mammy was handsome."

"How interesting your life must have been!  I should like to hear about
it."

Washington was about settling himself into his narrative style,
when Mrs. Gen. McFingal caught his eye.

"Have you been at the Capitol to-day, Mr. Hawkins?"

Washington had not.  "Is anything uncommon going on?"

"They say it was very exciting.  The Alabama business you know.
Gen.  Sutler, of Massachusetts, defied England, and they say he wants
war."

"He wants to make himself conspicuous more like," said Laura.
"He always, you have noticed, talks with one eye on the gallery, while
the other is on the speaker."

"Well, my husband says, its nonsense to talk of war, and wicked.
He knows what war is.  If we do have war, I hope it will be for the
patriots of Cuba.  Don't you think we want Cuba, Mr. Hawkins?"

"I think we want it bad," said Washington.  "And Santo Domingo.  Senator
Dilworthy says, we are bound to extend our religion over the isles of the
sea.  We've got to round out our territory, and--"

Washington's further observations were broken off by Laura, who whisked
him off to another part of the room, and reminded him that they must make
their adieux.

"How stupid and tiresome these people are," she said.  "Let's go."

They were turning to say good-by to the hostess, when Laura's attention
was arrested by the sight of a gentleman  who was just speaking to Mrs.
Schoonmaker.  For a second her heart stopped beating.  He was a handsome
man of forty and perhaps more, with grayish hair and whiskers, and he
walked with a cane, as if he were slightly lame.  He might be less than
forty, for his face was worn into hard lines, and he was pale.

No.  It could not be, she said to herself.  It is only a resemblance.
But as the gentleman turned and she saw his full face, Laura put out her
hand and clutched Washington's arm to prevent herself from falling.

Washington, who was not minding anything, as usual, looked 'round in
wonder.  Laura's eyes were blazing fire and hatred; he had never seen her
look so before; and her face, was livid.

"Why, what is it, sis?  Your face is as white as paper."

"It's he, it's he.  Come, come," and she dragged him away.

"It's who?" asked Washington, when they had gained the carriage.

"It's nobody, it's nothing.  Did I say he?  I was faint with the heat.
Don't mention it.  Don't you speak of it," she added earnestly, grasping
his arm.

When she had gained her room she went to the glass and saw a pallid and
haggard face.

"My God," she cried, "this will never do.  I should have killed him, if I
could.  The scoundrel still lives, and dares to come here.  I ought to
kill him.  He has no right to live.  How I hate him.  And yet I loved
him.  Oh heavens, how I did love that man.  And why didn't he kill me?
He might better.  He did kill all that was good in me.  Oh, but he shall
not escape.  He shall not escape this time.  He may have forgotten.  He
will find that a woman's hate doesn't forget.  The law?  What would the
law do but protect him and make me an outcast?  How all Washington would
gather up its virtuous skirts and avoid me, if it knew.  I wonder if he
hates me as I do him?"

So Laura raved, in tears and in rage by turns, tossed in a tumult of
passion, which she gave way to with little effort to control.

A servant came to summon her to dinner.  She had a headache.  The hour
came for the President's reception.  She had a raving headache, and the
Senator must go without her.

That night of agony was like another night she recalled.  How vividly it
all came back to her.  And at that time she remembered she thought she
might be mistaken.  He might come back to her.  Perhaps he loved her,
a little, after all.  Now, she knew he did not.  Now, she knew he was a
cold-blooded scoundrel, without pity.  Never a word in all these years.
She had hoped he was dead.  Did his wife live, she wondered.  She caught
at that--and it gave a new current to her thoughts.  Perhaps, after all
--she must see him.  She could not live without seeing him.  Would he smile
as in the old days when she loved him so; or would he sneer as when she
last saw him?  If he looked so, she hated him.  If he should call her
"Laura, darling," and look SO!  She must find him.  She must end her
doubts.

Laura kept her room for two days, on one excuse and another--a nervous
headache, a cold--to the great anxiety of the Senator's household.
Callers, who went away, said she had been too gay--they did not say
"fast," though some of them may have thought it.  One so conspicuous and
successful in society as Laura could not be out of the way two days,
without remarks being made, and not all of them complimentary.

When she came down she appeared as usual, a little pale may be, but
unchanged in manner.  If there were any deepened lines about the eyes
they had been concealed.  Her course of action was quite determined.

At breakfast she asked if any one had heard any unusual noise during the
night?  Nobody had.  Washington never heard any noise of any kind after
his eyes were shut.  Some people thought he never did when they were open
either.

Senator Dilworthy said he had come in late.  He was detained in a little
consultation after the Congressional prayer meeting.  Perhaps it was his
entrance.

No, Laura said.  She heard that.  It was later.  She might have been
nervous, but she fancied somebody was trying to get into the house.

Mr. Brierly humorously suggested that it might be, as none of the members
were occupied in night session.

The Senator frowned, and said he did not like to hear that kind of
newspaper slang.  There might be burglars about.

Laura said that very likely it was only her nervousness.  But she thought
she world feel safer if Washington would let her take one of his pistols.
Washington brought her one of his revolvers, and instructed her in the
art of loading and firing it.

During the morning Laura drove down to Mrs. Schoonmaker's to pay a
friendly call.

"Your receptions are always delightful," she said to that lady, "the
pleasant people all seem to come here."

"It's pleasant to hear you say so, Miss Hawkins.  I believe my friends
like to come here.  Though society in Washington is mixed; we have a
little of everything."

"I suppose, though, you don't see much of the old rebel element?" said
Laura with a smile.

If this seemed to Mrs. Schoonmaker a singular remark for a lady to make,
who was meeting "rebels" in society every day, she did not express it in
any way, but only said,

"You know we don't say 'rebel' anymore.  Before we came to Washington I
thought rebels would look unlike other people.  I find we are very much
alike, and that kindness and good nature wear away prejudice.  And then
you know there are all sorts of common interests.  My husband sometimes
says that he doesn't see but confederates are just as eager to get at the
treasury as Unionists.  You know that Mr. Schoonmaker is on the
appropriations."

"Does he know many Southerners?"

"Oh, yes.  There were several at my reception the other day.  Among
others a confederate Colonel--a stranger--handsome man with gray hair,
probably you didn't notice him, uses a cane in walking.  A very agreeable
man.  I wondered why he called.  When my husband came home and looked
over the cards, he said he had a cotton claim.  A real southerner.
Perhaps you might know him if I could think of his name.  Yes, here's his
card--Louisiana."

Laura took the card, looked at it intently till she was sure of the
address, and then laid it down, with,

"No, he is no friend of ours."

That afternoon, Laura wrote and dispatched the following note.  It was in
a round hand, unlike her flowing style, and it was directed to a number
and street in Georgetown:--

     "A Lady at Senator Dilworthy's would like to see Col. George Selby,
     on business connected with the Cotton Claims.  Can he call Wednesday
     at three o'clock P. M.?"

On Wednesday at 3 P. M, no one of the family was likely to be in the
house except Laura.




CHAPTER XXXIX.

Col. Selby had just come to Washington, and taken lodgings in Georgetown.
His business was to get pay for some cotton that was destroyed during the
war.  There were many others in Washington on the same errand, some of
them with claims as difficult to establish as his.  A concert of action
was necessary, and he was not, therefore, at all surprised to receive the
note from a lady asking him to call at Senator Dilworthy's.

At a little after three on Wednesday he rang the bell of the Senator's
residence.  It was a handsome mansion on the Square opposite the
President's house.  The owner must be a man of great wealth, the Colonel
thought; perhaps, who knows, said he with a smile, he may have got some
of my cotton in exchange for salt and quinine after the capture of New
Orleans.  As this thought passed through his mind he was looking at the
remarkable figure of the Hero of New Orleans, holding itself by main
strength from sliding off the back of the rearing bronze horse, and
lifting its hat in the manner of one who acknowledges the playing of that
martial air: "See, the Conquering Hero Comes!"  "Gad," said the Colonel
to himself, "Old Hickory ought to get down and give his seat to Gen.
Sutler--but they'd have to tie him on."

Laura was in the drawing room.  She heard the bell, she heard the steps
in the hall, and the emphatic thud of the supporting cane.  She had risen
from her chair and was leaning against the piano, pressing her left hand
against the violent beating of her heart.  The door opened and the
Colonel entered, standing in the full light of the opposite window.
Laura was more in the shadow and stood for an instant, long enough for
the Colonel to make the inward observation that she was a magnificent
Woman.  She then advanced a step.

"Col. Selby, is it not?"

The Colonel staggered back, caught himself by a chair, and turned towards
her a look of terror.

"Laura?  My God!"

"Yes, your wife!"

"Oh, no, it can't be.  How came you here?  I thought you were--"

"You thought I was dead?  You thought you were rid of me?  Not so long as
you live, Col. Selby, not so long as you live;" Laura in her passion was
hurried on to say.

No man had ever accused Col. Selby of cowardice.  But he was a coward
before this woman.  May be he was not the man he once was.  Where was his
coolness?  Where was his sneering, imperturbable manner, with which he
could have met, and would have met, any woman he had wronged, if he had
only been forewarned.  He felt now that he must temporize, that he must
gain time.  There was danger in Laura's tone.  There was something
frightful in her calmness.  Her steady eyes seemed to devour him.

"You have ruined my life," she said; "and I was so young, so ignorant,
and loved you so.  You betrayed me, and left me mocking me and trampling
me into the dust, a soiled cast-off.  You might better have killed me
then.  Then I should not have hated you."

"Laura," said the Colonel, nerving himself, but still pale, and speaking
appealingly, "don't say that.  Reproach me.  I deserve it.  I was a
scoundrel.  I was everything monstrous.  But your beauty made me crazy.
You are right.  I was a brute in leaving you as I did.  But what could I
do?  I was married, and--"

"And your wife still lives?" asked Laura, bending a little forward in her
eagerness.

The Colonel noticed the action, and he almost said "no," but he thought
of the folly of attempting concealment.

"Yes.  She is here."

What little color had wandered back into Laura's face forsook it again.
Her heart stood still, her strength seemed going from her limbs.  Her
last hope was gone.  The room swam before her for a moment, and the
Colonel stepped towards her, but she waved him back, as hot anger again
coursed through her veins, and said,

"And you dare come with her, here, and tell me of it, here and mock me
with it!  And you think I will have it; George?  You think I will let you
live with that woman?  You think I am as powerless as that day I fell
dead at your feet?"

She raged now.  She was in a tempest of excitement.  And she advanced
towards him with a threatening mien.  She would kill me if she could,
thought the Colonel; but he thought at the same moment, how beautiful she
is.  He had recovered his head now.  She was lovely when he knew her,
then a simple country girl, Now she was dazzling, in the fullness of ripe
womanhood, a superb creature, with all the fascination that a woman of
the world has for such a man as Col. Selby.  Nothing of this was lost on
him.  He stepped quickly to her, grasped both her hands in his, and said,

"Laura, stop!  think!  Suppose I loved you yet!  Suppose I hated my fate!
What can I do?  I am broken by the war.  I have lost everything almost.
I had as lief be dead and done with it."

The Colonel spoke with a low remembered voice that thrilled through
Laura.  He was looking into her eyes as he had looked  in those old days,
when no birds of all those that sang in the groves where they walked sang
a note of warning.  He was wounded.  He had been punished.  Her strength
forsook her with her rage, and she sank upon a chair, sobbing,

"Oh!  my God, I thought I hated him!"

The Colonel knelt beside her.  He took her hand and she let him keep it.
She, looked down into his face, with a pitiable tenderness, and said in a
weak voice.

"And you do love me a little?"

The Colonel vowed and protested.  He kissed her hand and her lips.  He
swore his false soul into perdition.

She wanted love, this woman.  Was not her love for George Selby deeper
than any other woman's could be?  Had she not a right to him?  Did he
not belong to her by virtue of her overmastering passion?  His wife--she
was not his wife, except by the law.  She could not be.  Even with the
law she could have no right to stand between two souls that were one.
It was an infamous condition in society that George should be tied to
her.

Laura thought this, believed it; because she desired to believe it.  She
came to it as an original propositions founded an the requirements of her
own nature.  She may have heard, doubtless she had, similar theories that
were prevalent at that day, theories of the tyranny of marriage and of
the freedom of marriage.  She had even heard women lecturers say, that
marriage should only continue so long as it pleased either party to it
--for a year, or a month, or a day.  She had not given much heed to this,
but she saw its justice now in a dash of revealing desire.  It must be
right.  God would not have permitted her to love George Selby as she did,
and him to love her, if it was right for society to raise up a barrier
between them.  He belonged to her.  Had he not confessed it himself?

Not even the religious atmosphere of Senator Dilworthy's house had been
sufficient to instill into Laura that deep Christian principle which had
been somehow omitted in her training.  Indeed in that very house had she
not heard women, prominent before the country and besieging Congress,
utter sentiments that fully justified the course she was marking out for
herself.

They were seated now, side by side, talking with more calmness.  Laura
was happy, or thought she was.  But it was that feverish sort of
happiness which is snatched out of the black shadow of falsehood, and is
at the moment recognized as fleeting and perilous, and indulged
tremblingly.  She loved.  She was loved.  That is happiness certainly.
And the black past and the troubled present and the uncertain future
could not snatch that from her.

What did they say as they sat there?  What nothings do people usually say
in such circumstances, even if they are three-score and ten?  It was
enough for Laura to hear his voice and be near him.  It was enough for
him to be near her, and avoid committing himself as much as he could.
Enough for him was the present also.  Had there not always been some way
out of such scrapes?

And yet Laura could not be quite content without prying into tomorrow.
How could the Colonel manage to free himself from his wife?  Would it be
long?  Could he not go into some State where it would not take much time?
He could not say exactly.  That they must think of.  That they must talk
over.  And so on.  Did this seem like a damnable plot to Laura against
the life, maybe, of a sister, a woman like herself?  Probably not.
It was right that this man should be hers, and there were some obstacles
in the way.  That was all.  There are as good reasons for bad actions as
for good ones,--to those who commit them.  When one has broken the tenth
commandment, the others are not of much account.

Was it unnatural, therefore, that when George Selby departed, Laura
should watch him from the window, with an almost joyful heart as he went
down the sunny square?  "I shall see him to-morrow," she said, "and the
next day, and the next.  He is mine now."

"Damn the woman," said the Colonel as he picked his way down the steps.
"Or," he added, as his thoughts took a new turn, "I wish my wife was in
New Orleans."




CHAPTER XL.

          Open your ears; for which of you will stop,
          The vent of hearing when loud Rumor speaks?
          I, from the orient to the drooping west,
          Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
          The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
          Upon my tongues continual slanders ride;
          The which in every language I pronounce,
          Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.

                                             King Henry IV.

As may be readily believed, Col. Beriah Sellers was by this time one of
the best known men in Washington.  For the first time in his life his
talents had a fair field.

He was now at the centre of the manufacture of gigantic schemes,
of speculations of all sorts, of political and social gossip.
The atmosphere was full of little and big rumors and of vast, undefined
expectations.  Everybody was in haste, too, to push on his private plan,
and feverish in his haste, as if in constant apprehension that tomorrow
would be Judgment Day.  Work while Congress is in session, said the
uneasy spirit, for in the recess there is no work and no device.

The Colonel enjoyed this bustle and confusion amazingly; he thrived in
the air of-indefinite expectation.  All his own schemes took larger shape
and more misty and majestic proportions; and in this congenial air, the
Colonel seemed even to himself to expand into something large and
mysterious.  If he respected himself before, he almost worshipped Beriah
Sellers now, as a superior being.  If he could have chosen an official
position out of the highest, he would have been embarrassed in the
selection.  The presidency of the republic seemed too limited and cramped
in the constitutional restrictions.  If he could have been Grand Llama of
the United States, that might have come the nearest to his idea of a
position.  And next to that he would have luxuriated in the irresponsible
omniscience of the Special Correspondent.

Col. Sellers knew the President very well, and had access to his presence
when officials were kept cooling their heels in the Waiting-room.  The
President liked to hear the Colonel talk, his voluble ease was a
refreshment after the decorous dullness of men who only talked business
and government, and everlastingly expounded their notions of justice and
the distribution of patronage.  The Colonel was as much a lover of
farming and of horses as Thomas Jefferson was.  He talked to the
President by the hour about his magnificent stud, and his plantation at
Hawkeye, a kind of principality--he represented it.  He urged the
President to pay him a visit during the recess, and see his stock farm.

"The President's table is well enough," he used to say, to the loafers
who gathered about him at Willard's, "well enough for a man on a salary,
but God bless my soul, I should like him to see a little old-fashioned
hospitality--open house, you know.  A person seeing me at home might
think I paid no attention to what was in the house, just let things flow
in and out.  He'd be mistaken.  What I look to is quality, sir.  The
President has variety enough, but the quality!  Vegetables of course you
can't expect here.  I'm very particular about mine.  Take celery, now
--there's only one spot in this country where celery will grow.  But I an
surprised about the wines.  I should think they were manufactured in the
New York Custom House.  I must send the President some from my cellar.
I was really mortified the other day at dinner to see Blacque Bey leave
his standing in the glasses."

When the Colonel first came to Washington he had thoughts of taking the
mission to Constantinople, in order to be on the spot to look after the
dissemination, of his Eye Water, but as that invention; was not yet quite
ready, the project shrank a little in the presence of vaster schemes.
Besides he felt that he could do the country more good by remaining at
home.  He was one of the Southerners who were constantly quoted as
heartily "accepting the situation."

"I'm whipped," he used to say with a jolly laugh, "the government was too
many for me; I'm cleaned out, done for, except my plantation and private
mansion.  We played for a big thing, and lost it, and I don't whine, for
one.  I go for putting the old flag on all the vacant lots.  I said to
the President, says I, 'Grant, why don't you take Santo Domingo, annex
the whole thing, and settle the bill afterwards.  That's my way.  I'd,
take the job to manage Congress.  The South would come into it.  You've
got to conciliate the South, consolidate the two debts, pay 'em off in
greenbacks, and go ahead.  That's my notion.  Boutwell's got the right
notion about the value of paper, but he lacks courage. I should like to
run the treasury department about six months.  I'd make things plenty,
and business look up.'"

The Colonel had access to the departments.  He knew all the senators and
representatives, and especially, the lobby.  He was consequently a great
favorite in Newspaper Row, and was often lounging in the offices there,
dropping bits of private, official information, which were immediately,
caught up and telegraphed all over the country.  But it need to surprise
even the Colonel when he read it, it was embellished to that degree that
he hardly recognized it, and the hint was not lost on him.  He began to
exaggerate his heretofore simple conversation to suit the newspaper
demand.

People used to wonder in the winters of 187- and 187-, where the
"Specials" got that remarkable information with which they every morning
surprised the country, revealing the most secret intentions of the
President and his cabinet, the private thoughts of political leaders,
the hidden meaning of every movement.  This information was furnished by
Col. Sellers.

When he was asked, afterwards, about the stolen copy of the Alabama
Treaty which got into the "New York Tribune," he only looked mysterious,
and said that neither he nor Senator Dilworthy knew anything about it.
But those whom he was in the habit of meeting occasionally felt almost
certain that he did know.

It must not be supposed that the Colonel in his general patriotic labors
neglected his own affairs.  The Columbus River Navigation Scheme absorbed
only a part of his time, so he was enabled to throw quite a strong
reserve force of energy into the Tennessee Land plan, a vast enterprise
commensurate with his abilities, and in the prosecution of which he was
greatly aided by Mr. Henry Brierly, who was buzzing about the capitol and
the hotels day and night, and making capital for it in some mysterious
way.

"We must create, a public opinion," said Senator Dilworthy.  "My only
interest in it is a public one, and if the country wants the institution,
Congress will have to yield."

It may have been after a conversation between the Colonel and Senator
Dilworthy that the following special despatch was sent to a New York
newspaper:

     "We understand that a philanthropic plan is on foot in relation to
     the colored race that will, if successful, revolutionize the whole
     character of southern industry.  An experimental institution is in
     contemplation in Tennessee which will do for that state what the
     Industrial School at Zurich did for Switzerland.  We learn that
     approaches have been made to the heirs of the late Hon. Silas
     Hawkins of Missouri, in reference to a lease of a portion of their
     valuable property in East Tennessee.  Senator Dilworthy, it is
     understood, is inflexibly opposed to any arrangement that will not
     give the government absolute control.  Private interests must give
     way to the public good.  It is to be hoped that Col. Sellers, who
     represents the heirs, will be led to see the matter in this light."

When Washington Hawkins read this despatch, he went to the Colonel in
some anxiety.  He was for a lease, he didn't want to surrender anything.
What did he think the government would offer?  Two millions?

"May be three, may be four," said the Colonel, "it's worth more than the
bank of England."

"If they will not lease," said Washington, "let 'em make it two millions
for an undivided half.  I'm not going to throw it away, not the whole of
it."

Harry told the Colonel that they must drive the thing through, he
couldn't be dallying round Washington when Spring opened.  Phil wanted
him, Phil had a great thing on hand up in Pennsylvania.

"What is that?" inquired the Colonel, always ready to interest himself in
anything large.

"A mountain of coal; that's all.  He's going to run a tunnel into it in
the Spring."

"Does he want any capital?", asked the Colonel, in the tone of a man who
is given to calculating carefully before he makes an investment.

"No.  Old man Bolton's behind him.  He has capital, but I judged that he
wanted my experience in starting."

"If he wants me, tell him I'll come, after Congress adjourns.  I should
like to give him a little lift.  He lacks enterprise--now, about that
Columbus River.  He doesn't see his chances.  But he's a good fellow, and
you can tell him that Sellers won't go back on him."

"By the way," asked Harry, "who is that rather handsome party that's
hanging 'round Laura?  I see him with her everywhere, at the Capitol, in
the horse cars, and he comes to Dilworthy's.  If he weren't lame, I
should think he was going to run off with her."

"Oh, that's nothing.  Laura knows her business.  He has a cotton claim.
Used to be at Hawkeye during the war.

"Selby's his name, was a Colonel.  Got a wife and family.
Very respectable people, the Selby's."

"Well, that's all right," said Harry, "if it's business.  But if a woman
looked at me as I've seen her at Selby, I should understand it.  And it's
talked about, I can tell you."

Jealousy had no doubt sharpened this young gentleman's observation.
Laura could not have treated him with more lofty condescension if she had
been the Queen of Sheba, on a royal visit to the great republic.  And he
resented it, and was "huffy" when he was with her, and ran her errands,
and brought her gossip, and bragged of his intimacy with the lovely
creature among the fellows at Newspaper Row.

Laura's life was rushing on now in the full stream of intrigue and
fashionable dissipation.  She was conspicuous at the balls of the fastest
set, and was suspected of being present at those doubtful suppers that
began late and ended early.  If Senator Dilworthy remonstrated about
appearances, she had a way of silencing him.  Perhaps she had some hold
on him, perhaps she was necessary to his plan for ameliorating the
condition the tube colored race.

She saw Col. Selby, when the public knew and when it did not know.
She would see him, whatever excuses he made, and however he avoided her.
She was urged on by a fever of love and hatred and jealousy, which
alternately possessed her.  Sometimes she petted him, and coaxed him and
tried all her fascinations.  And again she threatened him and reproached
him.  What was he doing?  Why had he taken no steps to free himself?
Why didn't he send his wife home?  She should have money soon.
They could go to Europe--anywhere.  What did she care for talk?

And he promised, and lied, and invented fresh excuses for delay, like a
cowardly gambler and roue as he was, fearing to break with her, and half
the time unwilling to give her up.

"That woman doesn't know what fear is," he said to himself, "and she
watches me like a hawk."

He told his wife that this woman was a lobbyist, whom he had to tolerate
and use in getting through his claims, and that he should pay her and
have done with her, when he succeeded.




CHAPTER XLI.

Henry Brierly was at the Dilworthy's constantly and on such terms of
intimacy that he came and went without question.  The Senator was not an
inhospitable man, he liked to have guests in his house, and Harry's gay
humor and rattling way entertained him; for even the most devout men and
busy statesmen must have hours of relaxation.

Harry himself believed that he was of great service in the University
business, and that the success of the scheme depended upon him to a great
degree.  He spent many hours in talking it over with the Senator after
dinner.  He went so far as to consider whether it would be worth his
while to take the professorship of civil engineering in the new
institution.

But it was not the Senator's society nor his dinners--at which this
scapegrace remarked that there was too much grace and too little wine
--which attracted him to the horse.  The fact was the poor fellow hung
around there day after day for the chance of seeing Laura for five
minutes at a time.  For her presence at dinner he would endure the long
bore of the Senator's talk afterwards, while Laura was off at some
assembly, or excused herself on the plea of fatigue.  Now and then he
accompanied her to some reception, and rarely, on off nights, he was
blessed with her company in the parlor, when he sang, and was chatty and
vivacious and performed a hundred little tricks of imitation and
ventriloquism, and made himself as entertaining as a man could be.

It puzzled him not a little that all his fascinations seemed to go for so
little with Laura; it was beyond his experience with women.  Sometimes
Laura was exceedingly kind and petted him a little, and took the trouble
to exert her powers of pleasing, and to entangle him deeper and deeper.
But this, it angered him afterwards to think, was in private; in public
she was beyond his reach, and never gave occasion to the suspicion that
she had any affair with him.  He was never permitted to achieve the
dignity of a serious flirtation with her in public.

"Why do you treat me so?" he once said, reproachfully.

"Treat you how?" asked Laura in a sweet voice, lifting her eyebrows.

"You know well enough.  You let other fellows monopolize you in society,
and you are as indifferent to me as if we were strangers."

"Can I help it if they are attentive, can I be rude?  But we are such old
friends, Mr. Brierly, that I didn't suppose you would be jealous."

"I think I must be a very old friend, then, by your conduct towards me.
By the same rule I should judge that Col. Selby must be very new."

Laura looked up quickly, as if about to return an indignant answer to
such impertinence, but she only said, "Well, what of Col. Selby,
sauce-box?"

"Nothing, probably, you'll care for.  Your being with him so much is the
town talk, that's all?"

"What do people say?" asked Laura calmly.

"Oh, they say a good many things.  You are offended, though, to have me
speak of it?"

"Not in the least.  You are my true friend.  I feel that I can trust you.
You wouldn't deceive me, Harry?"  throwing into her eyes a look of trust
and tenderness that melted away all his petulance and distrust.  "What do
they say?"

"Some say that you've lost your head about him; others that you don't
care any more for him than you do for a dozen others, but that he is
completely fascinated with you and about to desert his wife; and others
say it is nonsense to suppose you would entangle yourself with a married
man, and that your intimacy only arises from the matter of the cotton,
claims, for which he wants your influence with Dilworthy.  But you know
everybody is talked about more or less in Washington.  I shouldn't care;
but I wish you wouldn't have so much to do with Selby, Laura," continued
Harry, fancying that he was now upon such terms that his, advice, would
be heeded.

"And you believed these slanders?"

"I don't believe anything against you, Laura, but Col. Selby does not
mean you any good.  I know you wouldn't be seen with him if you knew his
reputation."

"Do you know him?"  Laura asked, as indifferently as she could.

"Only a little.  I was at his lodgings' in Georgetown a day or two ago,
with Col. Sellers.  Sellers wanted to talk with him about some patent
remedy he has, Eye Water, or something of that sort, which he wants to
introduce into Europe.  Selby is going abroad very soon."

Laura started; in spite of her self-control.

"And his wife!--Does he take his family?  Did you see his wife?"

"Yes.  A dark little woman, rather worn--must have been pretty once
though.  Has three or four children, one of them a baby.  They'll all
go of course.  She said she should be glad enough to get away from
Washington.  You know Selby has got his claim allowed, and they say he
has had a run, of luck lately at Morrissey's."

Laura heard all this in a kind of stupor, looking straight at Harry,
without seeing him.  Is it possible, she was thinking, that this base
wretch, after, all his promises, will take his wife and children and
leave me?  Is it possible the town is saying all these things about me?
And a look of bitterness coming into her face--does the fool think he can
escape so?

"You are angry with me, Laura," said Harry, not comprehending in the
least what was going on in her mind.

"Angry?" she said, forcing herself to come back to his presence.
"With you?  Oh no.  I'm angry with the cruel world, which, pursues an
independent woman as it never does a man.  I'm grateful to you Harry;
I'm grateful to you for telling me of that odious man."

And she rose from her chair and gave him her pretty hand, which the silly
fellow took, and kissed and clung to.  And he said many silly things,
before she disengaged herself gently, and left him, saying it was time to
dress, for dinner.

And Harry went away, excited, and a little hopeful, but only a little.
The happiness was only a gleam, which departed and left him thoroughly,
miserable.  She never would love him, and she was going to the devil,
besides.  He couldn't shut his eyes to what he saw, nor his ears to what
he heard of her.

What had come over this thrilling young lady-killer?  It was a pity to see
such a gay butterfly broken on a wheel.  Was there something good in him,
after all, that had been touched?  He was in fact madly in love with this
woman.

It is not for us to analyze the passion and say whether it was a worthy
one.  It absorbed his whole nature and made him wretched enough.  If he
deserved punishment, what more would you have?  Perhaps this love was
kindling a new heroism in him.

He saw the road on which Laura was going clearly enough, though he did
not believe the worst he heard of her.  He  loved her too passionately to
credit that for a moment.  And it seemed to him that if he could compel
her to recognize her position, and his own devotion, she might love him,
and  that he could save her.  His love was so far ennobled, and become a
very different thing from its beginning in Hawkeye.  Whether he ever
thought that if he could save her from ruin, he could give her up
himself, is doubtful.  Such a pitch of virtue does not occur often in
real life, especially in such natures as Harry's, whose generosity and
unselfishness were matters of temperament rather than habits or
principles.

He wrote a long letter to Laura, an incoherent, passionate letter,
pouring out his love as he could not do in her presence, and warning her
as plainly as he dared of the dangers that surrounded her, and the risks
she ran of compromising herself in many ways.

Laura read the letter, with a little sigh may be, as she thought of other
days, but with contempt also, and she put it into the fire with the
thought, "They are all alike."

Harry was in the habit of writing to Philip freely, and boasting also
about his doings, as he could not help doing and remain himself.
Mixed up with his own exploits, and his daily triumphs as a lobbyist,
especially in the matter of the new University, in which Harry was to
have something handsome, were amusing sketches of Washington society,
hints about Dilworthy, stories about Col. Sellers, who had become a
well-known character, and wise remarks upon the machinery of private
legislation for the public-good, which greatly entertained Philip in his
convalescence.

Laura's name occurred very often in these letters, at first in casual
mention as the belle of the season, carrying everything before her with
her wit and beauty, and then more seriously, as if Harry did not exactly
like so much general admiration of her, and was a little nettled by her
treatment of him.

This was so different from Harry's usual tone about women, that Philip
wondered a good deal over it.  Could it be possible that he was seriously
affected?  Then came stories about Laura, town talk, gossip which Harry
denied the truth of indignantly; but he was evidently uneasy, and at
length wrote in such miserable spirits that Philip asked him squarely
what the trouble was; was he in love?

Upon this, Harry made a clean breast of it, and told Philip all he knew
about the Selby affair, and Laura's treatment of him, sometimes
encouraging him--and then throwing him off, and finally his belief that
she would go, to the bad if something was not done to arouse her from her
infatuation.  He wished Philip was in Washington.  He knew Laura, and she
had a great respect for his character, his opinions, his judgment.
Perhaps he, as an uninterested person whom she would have some
confidence, and as one of the public, could say some thing to her that
would show her where she stood.

Philip saw the situation clearly enough.  Of Laura he knew not much,
except that she was a woman of uncommon fascination, and he thought from
what he had seen of her in Hawkeye, her conduct towards him and towards
Harry, of not too much principle.  Of course he knew nothing of her
history; he knew nothing seriously against her, and if Harry was
desperately enamored of her, why should he not win her if he could.
If, however, she had already become what Harry uneasily felt she might
become, was it not his duty to go to the rescue of his friend and try to
save him from any rash act on account of a woman that might prove to be
entirely unworthy of him; for trifler and visionary as he was, Harry
deserved a better fate than this.

Philip determined to go to Washington and see for himself.  He had other
reasons also.  He began to know enough of Mr. Bolton's affairs to be
uneasy.  Pennybacker had been there several times during the winter, and
he suspected that he was involving Mr. Bolton in some doubtful scheme.
Pennybacker was in Washington, and Philip thought he might perhaps find
out something about him, and his plans, that would be of service to Mr.
Bolton.

Philip had enjoyed his winter very well, for a man with his arm broken
and his head smashed.  With two such nurses as Ruth and Alice, illness
seemed to him rather a nice holiday, and every moment of his
convalescence had been precious and all too fleeting.  With a young
fellow of the habits of Philip, such injuries cannot be counted on to
tarry long, even for the purpose of love-making, and Philip found himself
getting strong with even disagreeable rapidity.

During his first weeks of pain and weakness, Ruth was unceasing in her
ministrations; she quietly took charge of him, and with a gentle firmness
resisted all attempts of Alice or any one else to share to any great
extent the burden with her.  She was clear, decisive and peremptory in
whatever she did; but often when Philip, opened his eyes in those first
days of suffering and found her standing by his bedside, he saw a look of
tenderness in her anxious face that quickened his already feverish pulse,
a look that, remained in his heart long after he closed his eyes.
Sometimes he felt her hand on his forehead, and did not open his eyes for
fear she world take it away.  He watched for her coming to his chamber;
he could distinguish her light footstep from all others.  If this is what
is meant by women practicing medicine, thought Philip to himself, I like
it.

"Ruth," said he one day when he was getting to be quite himself,
"I believe in it?"

"Believe in what?"

"Why, in women physicians."

"Then, I'd better call in Mrs. Dr. Longstreet."

"Oh, no.  One will do, one at a time.  I think I should be well tomorrow,
if I thought I should never have any other."

"Thy physician thinks thee mustn't talk, Philip," said Ruth putting her
finger on his lips.

"But, Ruth, I want to tell you that I should wish I never had got well
if--"

"There, there, thee must not talk.  Thee is wandering again," and Ruth
closed his lips, with a smile on her own that broadened into a merry
laugh as she ran away.

Philip was not weary, however, of making these attempts, he rather
enjoyed it.  But whenever he inclined to be sentimental, Ruth would cut
him off, with some such gravely conceived speech as, "Does thee think
that thy physician will take advantage of the condition of a man who is
as weak as thee is?  I will call Alice, if thee has any dying confessions
to make."

As Philip convalesced, Alice more and more took Ruth's place as his
entertainer, and read to him by the hour, when he did not want to talk
--to talk about Ruth, as he did a good deal of the time.  Nor was this
altogether unsatisfactory to Philip.  He was always happy and contented
with Alice.  She was the most restful person he knew.  Better informed
than Ruth and with a much more varied culture, and bright and
sympathetic, he was never weary of her company, if he was not greatly
excited by it.  She had upon his mind that peaceful influence that Mrs.
Bolton had when, occasionally, she sat by his bedside with her work.
Some people have this influence, which is like an emanation.  They bring
peace to a house, they diffuse serene content in a room full of mixed
company, though they may say very little, and are apparently, unconscious
of their own power.

Not that Philip did not long for Ruth's presence all the same.  Since he
was well enough to be about the house, she was busy again with her
studies.  Now and then her teasing humor came again.  She always had a
playful shield against his sentiment.  Philip used sometimes to declare
that she had no sentiment; and then he doubted if he should be pleased
with her after all if she were at all sentimental; and he rejoiced that
she had, in such matters what he called the airy grace of sanity.  She
was the most gay serious person he ever saw.

Perhaps he waw not so much at rest or so contented with her as with
Alice.  But then he loved her.  And what have rest and contentment to do
with love?




CHAPTER XLII

Mr. Buckstone's campaign was brief--much briefer than he supposed it
would be.  He began it purposing to win Laura without being won himself;
but his experience was that of all who had fought on that field before
him; he diligently continued his effort to win her, but he presently
found that while as yet he could not feel entirely certain of having won
her, it was very manifest that she had won him.  He had made an able
fight, brief as it was, and that at least was to his credit.  He was in
good company, now; he walked in a leash of conspicuous captives.  These
unfortunates followed Laura helplessly, for whenever she took a prisoner
he remained her slave henceforth.  Sometimes they chafed in their
bondage; sometimes they tore themselves free and said their serfdom was
ended; but sooner or later they always came back penitent and worshiping.
Laura pursued her usual course: she encouraged Mr. Buckstone by turns,
and by turns she harassed him; she exalted him to the clouds at one time,
and at another she dragged him down again.  She constituted him chief
champion of the Knobs University bill, and he accepted the position, at
first reluctantly, but later as a valued means of serving her--he even
came to look upon it as a piece of great good fortune, since it brought
him into such frequent contact with her.

Through him she learned that the Hon. Mr. Trollop was a bitter enemy of
her bill.  He urged her not to attempt to influence Mr. Trollop in any
way, and explained that whatever she might attempt in that direction
would surely be used against her and with damaging effect.

She at first said she knew Mr. Trollop, "and was aware that he had a
Blank-Blank;"--[**Her private figure of speech for Brother--or
Son-in-law]--but Mr. Buckstone said that he was not able to conceive what
so curious a phrase as Blank-Blank might mean, and had no wish to pry
into the matter, since it was probably private, he "would nevertheless
venture the blind assertion that nothing would answer in this particular
case and during this particular session but to be exceedingly wary and
keep clear away from Mr. Trollop; any other course would be fatal."

It seemed that nothing could be done.  Laura was seriously troubled.
Everything was looking well, and yet it was plain that one vigorous and
determined enemy might eventually succeed in overthrowing all her plans.
A suggestion came into her mind presently and she said:

"Can't you fight against his great Pension bill and, bring him to terms?"

"Oh, never; he and I are sworn brothers on that measure; we work in
harness and are very loving--I do everything I possibly can for him
there.  But I work with might and main against his Immigration bill,
--as pertinaciously and as vindictively, indeed, as he works against our
University.  We hate each other through half a conversation and are all
affection through the other half.  We understand each other.  He is an
admirable worker outside the capitol; he will do more for the Pension
bill than any other man could do; I wish he would make the great speech
on it which he wants to make--and then I would make another and we would
be safe."

"Well if he wants to make a great speech why doesn't he do it?"

Visitors interrupted the conversation and Mr. Buckstone took his leave.
It was not of the least moment to Laura that her question had not been
answered, inasmuch as it concerned a thing which did not interest her;
and yet, human being like, she thought she would have liked to know.
An opportunity occurring presently, she put the same question to another
person and got an answer that satisfied her.  She pondered a good while
that night, after she had gone to bed, and when she finally turned over,
to, go to sleep, she had thought out a new scheme.  The next evening at
Mrs. Gloverson's party, she said to Mr. Buckstone:

"I want Mr. Trollop to make his great speech on the Pension bill."

"Do you?  But you remember I was interrupted, and did not explain
to you--"

"Never mind, I know.  You must' make him make that speech.  I very
particularly desire, it."

"Oh, it is easy, to say make him do it, but how am I to make him!"

"It is perfectly easy; I have thought it all out."

She then went into the details.  At length Mr. Buckstone said:

"I see now.  I can manage it, I am sure.  Indeed I wonder he never
thought of it himself--there are no end of precedents.  But how is this
going to benefit you, after I have managed it?  There is where the
mystery lies."

"But I will take care of that.  It will benefit me a great deal."

"I only wish I could see how; it is the oddest freak.  You seem to go the
furthest around to get at a thing--but you are in earnest, aren't you?"

"Yes I am, indeed."

"Very well, I will do it--but why not tell me how you imagine it is going
to help you?"

"I will, by and by.--Now there is nobody talking to him.  Go straight and
do it, there's a good fellow."

A moment or two later the two sworn friends of the Pension bill were
talking together, earnestly, and seemingly unconscious of the moving
throng about them.  They talked an hour, and then Mr. Buckstone came back
and said:

"He hardly fancied it at first, but he fell in love with it after a bit.
And we have made a compact, too.  I am to keep his secret and he is to
spare me, in future, when he gets ready to denounce the supporters of the
University bill--and I can easily believe he will keep his word on this
occasion."

A fortnight elapsed, and the University bill had gathered to itself many
friends, meantime.  Senator Dilworthy began to think the harvest was
ripe.  He conferred with Laura privately.  She was able to tell him
exactly how the House would vote.  There was a majority--the bill would
pass, unless weak members got frightened at the last, and deserted--a
thing pretty likely to occur.  The Senator said:

"I wish we had one more good strong man.  Now Trollop ought to be on our
side, for he is a friend of the negro.  But he is against us, and is our
bitterest opponent.  If he would simply vote No, but keep quiet and not
molest us, I would feel perfectly cheerful and content.  But perhaps
there is no use in thinking of that."

"Why I laid a little plan for his benefit two weeks ago.  I think he will
be tractable, maybe.  He is to come here tonight."

"Look out for him, my child!  He means mischief, sure.  It is said that
he claims to know of improper practices having been used in the interest
of this bill, and he thinks he sees a chance to make a great sensation
when the bill comes up.  Be wary.  Be very, very careful, my dear.
Do your very-ablest talking, now.  You can convince a man of anything,
when you try.  You must convince him that if anything improper has been
done, you at least are ignorant of it and sorry for it.  And if you could
only persuade him out of his hostility to the bill, too--but don't overdo
the thing; don't seem too anxious, dear."

"I won't; I'll be ever so careful.  I'll talk as sweetly to him as if he
were my own child!  You may trust me--indeed you may."

The door-bell rang.

"That is the gentleman now," said Laura.  Senator Dilworthy retired to
his study.

Laura welcomed Mr. Trollop, a grave, carefully dressed and very
respectable looking man, with a bald head, standing collar and old
fashioned watch seals.

"Promptness is a virtue, Mr. Trollop, and I perceive that you have it.
You are always prompt with me."

"I always meet my engagements, of every kind, Miss Hawkins."

"It is a quality which is rarer in the world than it has been, I believe.
I wished to see you on business, Mr. Trollop."

"I judged so.  What can I do for you?"

"You know my bill--the Knobs University bill?"

"Ah, I believe it is your bill.  I had forgotten.  Yes, I know the bill."

"Well, would you mind telling me your opinion of it?"

"Indeed, since you seem to ask it without reserve, I am obliged to say
that I do not regard it favorably.  I have not seen the bill itself, but
from what I can hear, it--it--well, it has a bad look about it.  It--"

"Speak it out--never fear."

"Well, it--they say it contemplates a fraud upon the government."

"Well?" said Laura tranquilly.

"Well!  I say 'Well?' too."

"Well, suppose it were a fraud--which I feel able to deny--would it be
the first one?"

"You take a body's breath away!  Would you--did you wish me to vote for
it?  Was that what you wanted to see me about?"

"Your instinct is correct.  I did want you--I do want you to vote for
it."

"Vote for a fr--for a measure which is generally believed to be at least
questionable?  I am afraid we cannot come to an understanding, Miss
Hawkins."

"No, I am afraid not--if you have resumed your principles, Mr. Trollop."

"Did you send for we merely to insult me?  It is time for me to take my
leave, Miss Hawkins."

"No-wait a moment.  Don't be offended at a trifle.  Do not be offish and
unsociable.  The Steamship Subsidy bill was a fraud on the government.
You voted for it, Mr. Trollop, though you always opposed the measure
until after you had an interview one evening with a certain Mrs. McCarter
at her house.  She was my agent.  She was acting for me.  Ah, that is
right--sit down again.  You can be sociable, easily enough if you have a
mind to.  Well?  I am waiting.  Have you nothing to say?"

"Miss Hawkins, I voted for that bill because when I came to examine into
it--"

"Ah yes.  When you came to examine into it.  Well, I only want you to
examine into my bill.  Mr. Trollop, you would not sell your vote on that
subsidy bill--which was perfectly right--but you accepted of some
of the stock, with the understanding that it was to stand in your
brother-in-law's name."

"There is no pr--I mean, this is, utterly groundless, Miss Hawkins."  But
the gentleman seemed somewhat uneasy, nevertheless.

"Well, not entirely so, perhaps.  I and a person whom we will call Miss
Blank (never mind the real name,) were in a closet at your elbow all the
while."

Mr. Trollop winced--then he said with dignity:

"Miss Hawkins is it possible that you were capable of such a thing as
that?"

"It was bad; I confess that.  It was bad.  Almost as bad as selling one's
vote for--but I forget; you did not sell your vote--you only accepted a
little trifle, a small token of esteem, for your brother-in-law.  Oh, let
us come out and be frank with each other: I know you, Mr. Trollop.
I have met you on business three or four times; true, I never offered to
corrupt your principles--never hinted such a thing; but always when I had
finished sounding you, I manipulated you through an agent.  Let us be
frank.  Wear this comely disguise of virtue before the public--it will
count there; but here it is out of place.  My dear sir, by and by there
is going to be an investigation into that National Internal Improvement
Directors' Relief Measure of a few years ago, and you know very well that
you will be a crippled man, as likely as not, when it is completed."

"It cannot be shown that a man is a knave merely for owning that stock.
I am not distressed about the National Improvement Relief Measure."

"Oh indeed I am not trying to distress you.  I only wished, to make good
my assertion that I knew you.  Several of you gentlemen bought of that
stack (without paying a penny down) received dividends from it, (think of
the happy idea of receiving dividends, and very large ones, too, from
stock one hasn't paid for!) and all the while your names never appeared
in the transaction; if ever you took the stock at all, you took it in
other people's names.  Now you see, you had to know one of two things;
namely, you either knew that the idea of all this preposterous generosity
was to bribe you into future legislative friendship, or you didn't know
it.  That is to say, you had to be either a knave or a--well, a fool
--there was no middle ground.  You are not a fool, Mr. Trollop."

"Miss Hawking you flatter me.  But seriously, you do not forget that some
of the best and purest men in Congress took that stock in that way?"

"Did Senator Bland?"

"Well, no--I believe not."

"Of course you believe not.  Do you suppose he was ever approached, on
the subject?"

"Perhaps not."

"If you had approached him, for instance, fortified with the fact that
some of the best men in Congress, and the purest, etc., etc.; what would
have been the result?"

"Well, what WOULD have been the result?"

"He would have shown you the door!  For Mr. Blank is neither a knave nor
a fool.  There are other men in the Senate and the House whom no one
would have been hardy enough to approach with that Relief Stock in that
peculiarly generous way, but they are not of the class that you regard as
the best and purest.  No, I say I know you Mr. Trollop.  That is to say,
one may suggest a thing to Mr. Trollop which it would not do to suggest
to Mr. Blank.  Mr. Trollop, you are pledged to support the Indigent
Congressmen's Retroactive Appropriation which is to come up, either in
this or the next session.  You do not deny that, even in public.  The man
that will vote for that bill will break the eighth commandment in any
other way, sir!"

"But he will not vote for your corrupt measure, nevertheless, madam!"
exclaimed Mr. Trollop, rising from his seat in a passion.

"Ah, but he will.  Sit down again, and let me explain why.  Oh, come,
don't behave so.  It is very unpleasant.  Now be good, and you shall
have, the missing page of your great speech.  Here it is!"--and she
displayed a sheet of manuscript.

Mr. Trollop turned immediately back from the threshold.  It might have
been gladness that flashed into his face; it might have been something
else; but at any rate there was much astonishment mixed with it.

"Good!  Where did you get it?  Give it me!"

"Now there is no hurry.  Sit down; sit down and let us talk and be
friendly."

The gentleman wavered.  Then he said:

"No, this is only a subterfuge.  I will go.  It is not the missing page."

Laura tore off a couple of lines from the bottom of the sheet.

"Now," she said, "you will know whether this is the handwriting or not.
You know it is the handwriting.  Now if you will listen, you will know
that this must be the list of statistics which was to be the 'nub' of
your great effort, and the accompanying blast the beginning of the burst
of eloquence which was continued on the next page--and you will recognize
that there was where you broke down."

She read the page.  Mr. Trollop said:

"This is perfectly astounding.  Still, what is all this to me?  It is
nothing.  It does not concern me.  The speech is made, and there an end.
I did break down for a moment, and in a rather uncomfortable place, since
I had led up to those statistics with some grandeur; the hiatus was
pleasanter to the House and the galleries than it was to me.  But it is
no matter now.  A week has passed; the jests about it ceased three or
four days ago.  The whole thing is a matter of indifference to me, Miss
Hawkins."

"But you apologized; and promised the statistics for next day.  Why
didn't you keep your promise."

"The matter was not of sufficient consequence.  The time was gone by to
produce an effect with them."

"But I hear that other friends of the Soldiers' Pension Bill desire them
very much.  I think you ought to let them have them."

"Miss Hawkins, this silly blunder of my copyist evidently has more
interest for you than it has for me.  I will send my private secretary to
you and let him discuss the subject with you at length."

"Did he copy your speech for you?"

"Of course he did.  Why all these questions?  Tell me--how did you get
hold of that page of manuscript?  That is the only thing that stirs a
passing interest in my mind."

"I'm coming to that."  Then she said, much as if she were talking to
herself: "It does seem like taking a deal of unnecessary pains, for a
body to hire another body to construct a great speech for him and then go
and get still another body to copy it before it can be read in the
House."

"Miss Hawkins, what do yo mean by such talk as that?"

"Why I am sure I mean no harm--no harm to anybody in the world.  I am
certain that I overheard the Hon. Mr. Buckstone either promise to write
your great speech for you or else get some other competent person to do
it."

"This is perfectly absurd, madam, perfectly absurd!" and Mr. Trollop
affected a laugh of derision.

"Why, the thing has occurred before now.  I mean that I have heard that
Congressmen have sometimes hired literary grubs to build speeches for
them.--Now didn't I overhear a conversation like that I spoke of?"

"Pshaw!  Why of course you may have overheard some such jesting nonsense.
But would one be in earnest about so farcical a thing?"

"Well if it was only a joke, why did you make a serious matter of it?
Why did you get the speech written for you, and then read it in the House
without ever having it copied?"

Mr. Trollop did not laugh this time; he seemed seriously perplexed.  He
said:

"Come, play out your jest, Miss Hawkins.  I can't understand what you are
contriving--but it seems to entertain you--so please, go on."

"I will, I assure you; but I hope to make the matter entertaining to you,
too.  Your private secretary never copied your speech."

"Indeed?  Really you seem to know my affairs better than I do myself."

"I believe I do.  You can't name your own amanuensis, Mr. Trollop."

"That is sad, indeed.  Perhaps Miss Hawkins can?"

"Yes, I can.  I wrote your speech myself, and you read it from my
manuscript.  There, now!"

Mr. Trollop did not spring to his feet and smite his brow with his hand
while a cold sweat broke out all over him and the color forsook his face
--no, he only said, "Good God!" and looked greatly astonished.

Laura handed him her commonplace-book and called his attention to the
fact that the handwriting there and the handwriting of this speech were
the same.  He was shortly convinced.  He laid the book aside and said,
composedly:

"Well, the wonderful tragedy is done, and it transpires that I am
indebted to you for my late eloquence.  What of it?  What was all this
for and what does it amount to after all?  What do you propose to do
about it?"

"Oh nothing.  It is only a bit of pleasantry.  When I overheard that
conversation I took an early opportunity to ask Mr. Buckstone if he knew
of anybody who might want a speech written--I had a friend, and so forth
and so on.  I was the friend, myself; I thought I might do you a good
turn then and depend on you to do me one by and by.  I never let Mr.
Buckstone have the speech till the last moment, and when you hurried off
to the House with it, you did not know there was a missing page, of
course, but I did.

"And now perhaps you think that if I refuse to support your bill, you
will make a grand exposure?"

"Well I had not thought of that.  I only kept back the page for the mere
fun of the thing; but since you mention it, I don't know but I might do
something if I were angry."

"My dear Miss Hawkins, if you were to give out that you composed my
speech, you know very well that people would say it was only your
raillery, your fondness for putting a victim in the pillory and amusing
the public at his expense.  It is too flimsy, Miss Hawkins, for a person
of your fine inventive talent--contrive an abler device than that.
Come!"

"It is easily done, Mr. Trollop.  I will hire a man, and pin this page on
his breast, and label it, 'The Missing Fragment of the Hon. Mr. Trollop's
Great Speech--which speech was written and composed by Miss Laura Hawkins
under a secret understanding for one hundred dollars--and the money has
not been paid.'  And I will pin round about it notes in my handwriting,
which I will procure from prominent friends of mine for the occasion;
also your printed speech in the Globe, showing the connection between its
bracketed hiatus and my Fragment; and I give you my word of honor that I
will stand that human bulletin board in the rotunda of the capitol and
make him stay there a week!  You see you are premature, Mr. Trollop, the
wonderful tragedy is not done yet, by any means.  Come, now, doesn't it
improve?"

Mr Trollop opened his eyes rather widely at this novel aspect of the
case.  He got up and walked the floor and gave himself a moment for
reflection.  Then he stopped and studied Laura's face a while, and ended
by saying:

"Well, I am obliged to believe you would be reckless enough to do that."

"Then don't put me to the test, Mr. Trollop.  But let's drop the matter.
I have had my joke and you've borne the infliction becomingly enough.
It spoils a jest to harp on it after one has had one's laugh.  I would
much rather talk about my bill."

"So would I, now, my clandestine amanuensis.  Compared with some other
subjects, even your bill is a pleasant topic to discuss."

"Very good indeed!  I thought.  I could persuade you.  Now I am sure you
will be generous to the poor negro and vote for that bill."

"Yes, I feel more tenderly toward the oppressed colored man than I did.
Shall we bury the hatchet and be good friends and respect each other's
little secrets, on condition that I vote Aye on the measure?"

"With all my heart, Mr. Trollop.  I give you my word of that."

"It is a bargain.  But isn't there something else you could give me,
too?"

Laura looked at him inquiringly a moment, and then she comprehended.

"Oh, yes!  You may have it now.  I haven't any, more use for it."  She
picked up the page of manuscript, but she reconsidered her intention of
handing it to him, and said, "But never mind; I will keep it close; no
one shall see it; you shall have it as soon as your vote is recorded."

Mr. Trollop looked disappointed.  But presently made his adieux, and had
got as far as the hall, when something occurred to Laura.  She said to
herself, "I don't simply want his vote under compulsion--he might vote
aye, but work against the bill in secret, for revenge; that man is
unscrupulous enough to do anything.  I must have his hearty co-operation
as well as his vote.  There is only one way to get that."

She called him back, and said:

"I value your vote, Mr. Trollop, but I value your influence more.  You
are able to help a measure along in many ways, if you choose.  I want to
ask you to work for the bill as well as vote for it."

"It takes so much of one's time, Miss Hawkins--and time is money, you
know."

"Yes, I know it is--especially in Congress.  Now there is no use in you
and I dealing in pretenses and going at matters in round-about ways.
We know each other--disguises are nonsense.  Let us be plain.  I will
make it an object to you to work for the bill."

"Don't make it unnecessarily plain, please.  There are little proprieties
that are best preserved.  What do you propose?"

"Well, this."  She mentioned the names of several prominent Congressmen.

"Now," said she, "these gentlemen are to vote and work for the bill,
simply out of love for the negro--and out of pure generosity I have put
in a relative of each as a member of the University incorporation.  They
will handle a million or so of money, officially, but will receive no
salaries.  A larger number of statesmen are to, vote and work for the
bill--also out of love for the negro--gentlemen of but moderate
influence, these--and out of pure generosity I am to see that relatives
of theirs have positions in the University, with salaries, and good ones,
too.  You will vote and work for the bill, from mere affection for the
negro, and I desire to testify my gratitude becomingly.  Make free
choice.  Have you any friend whom you would like to present with a
salaried or unsalaried position in our institution?"

"Well, I have a brother-in-law--"

"That same old brother-in-law, you good unselfish provider!  I have heard
of him often, through my agents.  How regularly he does 'turn up,' to be
sure.  He could deal with those millions virtuously, and withal with
ability, too--but of course you would rather he had a salaried position?"

"Oh, no," said the gentleman, facetiously, "we are very humble, very
humble in our desires; we want no money; we labor solely, for our country
and require no reward but the luxury of an applauding conscience.  Make
him one of those poor hard working unsalaried corporators and let him do
every body good with those millions--and go hungry himself!  I will try
to exert a little influence in favor of the bill."

Arrived at home, Mr. Trollop sat down and thought it all over--something
after this fashion: it is about the shape it might have taken if he had
spoken it aloud.

"My reputation is getting a little damaged, and I meant to clear it up
brilliantly with an exposure of this bill at the supreme moment, and ride
back into Congress on the eclat of it; and if I had that bit of
manuscript, I would do it yet.  It would be more money in my pocket in
the end, than my brother-in-law will get out of that incorporatorship,
fat as it is.  But that sheet of paper is out of my reach--she will never
let that get out of her hands.  And what a mountain it is!  It blocks up
my road, completely.  She was going to hand it to me, once.  Why didn't
she!  Must be a deep woman.  Deep devil!  That is what she is;
a beautiful devil--and perfectly fearless, too.  The idea of her pinning
that paper on a man and standing him up in the rotunda looks absurd at a
first glance.  But she would do it!  She is capable of doing anything.
I went there hoping she would try to bribe me--good solid capital that
would be in the exposure.  Well, my prayer was answered; she did try to
bribe me; and I made the best of a bad bargain and let her.  I am
check-mated.  I must contrive something fresh to get back to Congress on.
Very well; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; I will work for
the bill--the incorporatorship will be a very good thing."

As soon as Mr. Trollop had taken his leave, Laura ran to Senator
Dilworthy and began to speak, but he interrupted her and said
distressfully, without even turning from his writing to look at her:

"Only half an hour!  You gave it up early, child.  However, it was best,
it was best--I'm sure it was best--and safest."

"Give it up!  I!"

The Senator sprang up, all aglow:

"My child, you can't mean that you--"

"I've made him promise on honor to think about a compromise tonight and
come and tell me his decision in the morning."

"Good!  There's hope yet that--"

"Nonsense, uncle.  I've made him engage to let the Tennessee Land bill
utterly alone!"

"Impossible!  You--"

"I've made him promise to vote with us!"

"INCREDIBLE!  Abso--"

"I've made him swear that he'll work for us!"

"PRE - - - POSTEROUS!--Utterly pre--break a window, child, before I
suffocate!"

"No matter, it's true anyway.  Now we can march into Congress with drums
beating and colors flying!"

"Well--well--well.  I'm sadly bewildered, sadly bewildered.  I can't
understand it at all--the most extraordinary woman that ever--it's a
great day, it's a great day.  There--there--let me put my hand in
benediction on this precious head.  Ah, my child, the poor negro will
bless--"

"Oh bother the poor negro, uncle!  Put it in your speech.  Good-night,
good-bye--we'll marshal our forces and march with the dawn!"

Laura reflected a while, when she was alone, and then fell to laughing,
peacefully.

"Everybody works for me,"--so ran her thought.  "It was a good idea to
make Buckstone lead Mr. Trollop on to get a great speech written for him;
and it was a happy part of the same idea for me to copy the speech after
Mr. Buckstone had written it, and then keep back a page.  Mr. B.  was
very complimentary to me when Trollop's break-down in the House showed
him the object of my mysterious scheme; I think he will say, still finer
things when I tell him the triumph the sequel to it has gained for us.

"But what a coward the man was, to believe I would have exposed that page
in the rotunda, and so exposed myself.  However, I don't know--I don't
know.  I will think a moment.  Suppose he voted no; suppose the bill
failed; that is to suppose this stupendous game lost forever, that I have
played so desperately for; suppose people came around pitying me--odious!
And he could have saved me by his single voice.  Yes, I would have
exposed him!  What would I care for the talk that that would have made
about me when I was gone to Europe with Selby and all the world was busy
with my history and my dishonor?  It would be almost happiness to spite
somebody at such a time."




CHAPTER XLIII.

The very next day, sure enough, the campaign opened.  In due course, the
Speaker of the House reached that Order of Business which is termed
"Notices of Bills," and then the Hon. Mr. Buckstone rose in his place and
gave notice of a bill "To Found and Incorporate the Knobs Industrial
University," and then sat down without saying anything further.  The busy
gentlemen in the reporters' gallery jotted a line in their note-books,
ran to the telegraphic desk in a room which communicated with their own
writing-parlor, and then hurried back to their places in the gallery; and
by the time they had resumed their seats, the line which they had
delivered to the operator had been read in telegraphic offices in towns
and cities hundreds of miles away.  It was distinguished by frankness of
language as well as by brevity:

"The child is born.  Buckstone gives notice of the thieving Knobs
University job.  It is said the noses have been counted and enough votes
have been bought to pass it."

For some time the correspondents had been posting their several journals
upon the alleged disreputable nature of the bill, and furnishing daily
reports of the Washington gossip concerning it.  So the next morning,
nearly every newspaper of character in the land assailed the measure and
hurled broadsides of invective at Mr. Buckstone.  The Washington papers
were more respectful, as usual--and conciliatory, also, as usual.  They
generally supported measures, when it was possible; but when they could
not they "deprecated" violent expressions of opinion in other
journalistic quarters.

They always deprecated, when there was trouble ahead.  However, 'The
Washington Daily Love-Feast' hailed the bill with warm approbation.  This
was Senator Balaam's paper--or rather, "Brother" Balaam, as he was
popularly called, for he had been a clergyman, in his day; and he himself
and all that he did still emitted an odor of sanctity now that he had
diverged into journalism and politics.  He was a power in the
Congressional prayer meeting, and in all movements that looked to the
spread of religion and temperance.

His paper supported the new bill with gushing affection; it was a noble
measure; it was a just measure; it was a generous measure; it was a pure
measure, and that surely should recommend it in these corrupt times; and
finally, if the nature of the bill were not known at all, the 'Love
Feast' would support it anyway, and unhesitatingly, for the fact that
Senator Dilworthy was the originator of the measure was a guaranty that
it contemplated a worthy and righteous work.

Senator Dilworthy was so anxious to know what the New York papers would
say about the bill; that he had arranged to have synopses of their
editorials telegraphed to him; he could not wait for the papers
themselves to crawl along down to Washington by a mail train which has
never run over a cow since the road was built; for the reason that it has
never been able to overtake one.  It carries the usual "cow-catcher" in
front of the locomotive, but this is mere ostentation.  It ought to be
attached to the rear car, where it could do some good; but instead, no
provision is made there for the protection of the traveling public, and
hence it is not a matter of surprise that cows so frequently climb aboard
that train and among the passengers.

The Senator read his dispatches aloud at the breakfast table.  Laura was
troubled beyond measure at their tone, and said that that sort of comment
would defeat the bill; but the Senator said:

"Oh, not at all, not at all, my child.  It is just what we want.
Persecution is the one thing needful, now--all the other forces are
secured.  Give us newspaper persecution enough, and we are safe.
Vigorous persecution will alone carry a bill sometimes, dear; and when
you start with a strong vote in the first place, persecution comes in
with double effect.  It scares off some of the weak supporters, true,
but it soon turns strong ones into stubborn ones.  And then, presently,
it changes the tide of public opinion.  The great public is weak-minded;
the great public is sentimental; the great public always turns around and
weeps for an odious murderer, and prays for-him, and carries flowers to
his prison and besieges the governor with appeals to his clemency, as
soon as the papers begin to howl for that man's blood.--In a word, the
great putty-hearted public loves to 'gush,' and there is no such darling
opportunity to gush as a case of persecution affords."

"Well, uncle, dear; if your theory is right, let us go into raptures,
for nobody can ask a heartier persecution than these editorials are
furnishing."

"I am not so sure of that, my daughter.  I don't entirely like the tone
of some of these remarks.  They lack vim, they lack venom.  Here is one
calls it a 'questionable measure.'  Bah, there is no strength in that.
This one is better; it calls it 'highway robbery.'  That sounds something
like.  But now this one seems satisfied to call it an 'iniquitous
scheme'.  'Iniquitous' does not exasperate anybody; it is weak--puerile.
The ignorant will imagine it to be intended for a compliment.  But this
other one--the one I read last--has the true ring: 'This vile, dirty
effort to rob the public treasury, by the kites and vultures that now
infest the filthy den called Congress'--that is admirable, admirable!
We must have more of that sort.  But it will come--no fear of that;
they're not warmed up, yet.  A week from now you'll see."

"Uncle, you and Brother Balaam are bosom friends--why don't you get his
paper to persecute us, too?"

"It isn't worth while, my daughter.  His support doesn't hurt a bill.
Nobody reads his editorials but himself.  But I wish the New York papers
would talk a little plainer.  It is annoying to have to wait a week for
them to warm up.  I expected better things at their hands--and time is
precious, now."

At the proper hour, according to his previous notice, Mr. Buckstone duly
introduced his bill entitled "An Act to Found and Incorporate the Knobs
Industrial University," moved its proper reference, and sat down.

The Speaker of the House rattled off this observation:

"'Fnobjectionbilltakuzhlcoixrssoreferred!'"

Habitues of the House comprehended that this long, lightning-heeled word
signified that if there was no objection, the bill would take the
customary course of a measure of its nature, and be referred to the
Committee on Benevolent Appropriations, and that it was accordingly so
referred.  Strangers merely supposed that the Speaker was taking a gargle
for some affection of the throat.

The reporters immediately telegraphed the introduction of the bill.--And
they added:

     "The assertion that the bill will pass was premature.  It is said
     that many favorers of it will desert when the storm breaks upon them
     from the public press."

The storm came, and during ten days it waxed more and more violent day by
day.  The great "Negro University Swindle" became the one absorbing topic
of conversation throughout the Union.  Individuals denounced it, journals
denounced it, public meetings denounced it, the pictorial papers
caricatured its friends, the whole nation seemed to be growing frantic
over it.  Meantime the Washington correspondents were sending such
telegrams as these abroad in the land; Under date of--

SATURDAY.  "Congressmen Jex and Fluke are wavering; it is believed they
will desert the execrable bill."

MONDAY.  "Jex and Fluke have deserted!"

THURSDAY.  "Tubbs and Huffy left the sinking ship last night"

Later on:

"Three desertions.  The University thieves are getting scared, though
they will not own it."

Later:

"The leaders are growing stubborn--they swear they can carry it, but it
is now almost certain that they no longer have a majority!"

After a day or two of reluctant and ambiguous telegrams:

"Public sentiment seems changing, a trifle in favor of the bill
--but only a trifle."

And still later:

"It is whispered that the Hon. Mr. Trollop has gone over to the pirates.
It is probably a canard.  Mr. Trollop has all along been the bravest and
most efficient champion of virtue and the people against the bill, and
the report is without doubt a shameless invention."

Next day:

"With characteristic treachery, the truckling and pusillanimous reptile,
Crippled-Speech Trollop, has gone over to the enemy.  It is contended,
now, that he has been a friend to the bill, in secret, since the day it
was introduced, and has had bankable reasons for being so; but he himself
declares that he has gone over because the malignant persecution of the
bill by the newspapers caused him to study its provisions with more care
than he had previously done, and this close examination revealed the fact
that the measure is one in every way worthy of support.  (Pretty thin!)
It cannot be denied that this desertion has had a damaging effect.  Jex
and Fluke have returned to their iniquitous allegiance, with six or eight
others of lesser calibre, and it is reported and believed that Tubbs and
Huffy are ready to go back.  It is feared that the University swindle is
stronger to-day than it has ever been before."

Later-midnight:

"It is said that the committee will report the bill back to-morrow.  Both
sides are marshaling their forces, and the fight on this bill is
evidently going to be the hottest of the session.--All Washington is
boiling."




CHAPTER XLIV.

"It's easy enough for another fellow to talk," said Harry, despondingly,
after he had put Philip in possession of his view of the case.  "It's
easy enough to say 'give her up,' if you don't care for her.  What am I
going to do to give her up?"

It seemed to Harry that it was a situation requiring some active
measures.  He couldn't realize that he had fallen hopelessly in love
without some rights accruing to him for the possession of the object of
his passion.  Quiet resignation under relinquishment of any thing he
wanted was not in his line.  And when it appeared to him that his
surrender of Laura would be the withdrawal of the one barrier that kept
her from ruin, it was unreasonable to expect that he could see how to
give her up.

Harry had the most buoyant confidence in his own projects always; he saw
everything connected with himself in a large way and in rosy lines.  This
predominance of the imagination over the judgment gave that appearance of
exaggeration to his conversation and to his communications with regard to
himself, which sometimes conveyed the impression that he was not speaking
the truth.  His acquaintances had been known to say that they invariably
allowed a half for shrinkage in his statements, and held the other half
under advisement for confirmation.

Philip in this case could not tell from Harry's story exactly how much
encouragement Laura had given him, nor what hopes he might justly have of
winning her.  He had never seen him desponding before.  The "brag"
appeared to be all taken out of him, and his airy manner only asserted
itself now and then in a comical imitation of its old self.

Philip wanted time to look about him before he decided what to do.
He was not familiar with Washington, and it was difficult to adjust his
feelings and perceptions to its peculiarities.  Coming out of the sweet
sanity of the Bolton household, this was by contrast the maddest Vanity
Fair one could conceive.  It seemed to him a feverish, unhealthy
atmosphere in which lunacy would be easily developed.  He fancied that
everybody attached to himself an exaggerated importance, from the fact of
being at the national capital, the center of political influence, the
fountain of patronage, preferment, jobs and opportunities.

People were introduced to each other as from this or that state, not from
cities or towns, and this gave a largeness to their representative
feeling.  All the women talked politics as naturally and glibly as they
talk fashion or literature elsewhere.  There was always some exciting
topic at the Capitol, or some huge slander was rising up like a miasmatic
exhalation from the Potomac, threatening to settle no one knew exactly
where.  Every other person was an aspirant for a place, or, if he had
one, for a better place, or more pay; almost every other one had some
claim or interest or remedy to urge; even the women were all advocates
for the advancement of some person, and they violently espoused or
denounced this or that measure as it would affect some relative,
acquaintance or friend.

Love, travel, even death itself, waited on the chances of the dies daily
thrown in the two Houses, and the committee rooms there.  If the measure
went through, love could afford to ripen into marriage, and longing for
foreign travel would have fruition; and it must have been only eternal
hope springing in the breast that kept alive numerous old claimants who
for years and years had besieged the doors of Congress, and who looked as
if they needed not so much an appropriation of money as six feet of
ground.  And those who stood so long waiting for success to bring them
death were usually those who had a just claim.

Representing states and talking of national and even international
affairs, as familiarly as neighbors at home talk of poor crops and the
extravagance of their ministers, was likely at first to impose upon
Philip as to the importance of the people gathered here.

There was a little newspaper editor from Phil's native town, the
assistant on a Peddletonian weekly, who made his little annual joke about
the "first egg laid on our table," and who was the menial of every
tradesman in the village and under bonds to him for frequent "puffs,"
except the undertaker, about whose employment he was recklessly
facetious.  In Washington he was an important man, correspondent, and
clerk of two house committees, a "worker" in politics, and a confident
critic of every woman and every man in Washington.  He would be a consul
no doubt by and by, at some foreign port, of the language of which he was
ignorant--though if ignorance of language were a qualification he might
have been a consul at home.  His easy familiarity with great men was
beautiful to see, and when Philip learned what a tremendous underground
influence this little ignoramus had, he no longer wondered at the queer
appointments and the queerer legislation.

Philip was not long in discovering that people in Washington did not
differ much from other people; they had the same meannesses,
generosities, and tastes: A Washington boarding house had the odor of a
boarding house the world over.

Col. Sellers was as unchanged as any one Philip saw whom he had known
elsewhere.  Washington appeared to be the native element of this man.
His pretentions were equal to any he encountered there.  He saw nothing
in its society that equalled that of Hawkeye, he sat down to no table
that could not be unfavorably contrasted with his own at home; the most
airy scheme inflated in the hot air of the capital only reached in
magnitude some of his lesser fancies, the by-play of his constructive
imagination.

"The country is getting along very well," he said to Philip, "but our
public men are too timid.  What we want is more money.  I've told
Boutwell so.  Talk about basing the currency on gold; you might as well
base it on pork.  Gold is only one product.  Base it on everything!
You've got to do something for the West.  How am I to move my crops?
We must have improvements.  Grant's got the idea.  We want a canal from
the James River to the Mississippi.  Government ought to build it."

It was difficult to get the Colonel off from these large themes when he
was once started, but Philip brought the conversation round to Laura and
her reputation in the City.

"No," he said, "I haven't noticed much.  We've been so busy about this
University.  It will make Laura rich with the rest of us, and she has
done nearly as much as if she were a man.  She has great talent, and will
make a big match.  I see the foreign ministers and that sort after her.
Yes, there is talk, always will be about a pretty woman so much in public
as she is.  Tough stories come to me, but I put'em away.  'Taint likely
one of Si Hawkins's children would do that--for she is the same as a
child of his.  I told her, though, to go slow," added the Colonel, as if
that mysterious admonition from him would set everything right.

"Do you know anything about a Col. Selby?"

"Know all about him.  Fine fellow.  But he's got a wife; and I told him,
as a friend, he'd better sheer off from Laura.  I reckon he thought
better of it and did."

But Philip was not long in learning the truth.  Courted as Laura was by a
certain class and still admitted into society, that, nevertheless, buzzed
with disreputable stories about her, she had lost character with the best
people.  Her intimacy with Selby was open gossip, and there were winks
and thrustings of the tongue in any group of men when she passed by.
It was clear enough that Harry's delusion must be broken up, and that no
such feeble obstacle as his passion could interpose would turn Laura from
her fate.  Philip determined to see her, and put himself in possession of
the truth, as he suspected it, in order to show Harry his folly.

Laura, after her last conversation with Harry, had a new sense of her
position.  She had noticed before the signs of a change in manner towards
her, a little less respect perhaps from men, and an avoidance by women.
She had attributed this latter partly to jealousy of her, for no one is
willing to acknowledge a fault in himself when a more agreeable motive
can be found for the estrangement of his acquaintances.  But now, if
society had turned on her, she would defy it.  It was not in her nature
to shrink.  She knew she had been wronged, and she knew that she had no
remedy.

What she heard of Col. Selby's proposed departure alarmed her more than
anything else, and she calmly determined that if he was deceiving her the
second time it should be the last.  Let society finish the tragedy if it
liked; she was indifferent what came after.  At the first opportunity,
she charged Selby with his intention to abandon her.  He unblushingly
denied it.

He had not thought of going to Europe.  He had only been amusing himself
with Sellers' schemes.  He swore that as soon as she succeeded with her
bill, he would fly with her to any part of the world.

She did not quite believe him, for she saw that he feared her, and she
began to suspect that his were the protestations of a coward to gain
time.  But she showed him no doubts.

She only watched his movements day by day, and always held herself ready
to act promptly.

When Philip came into the presence of this attractive woman, he could not
realize that she was the subject of all the scandal he had heard.  She
received him with quite the old Hawkeye openness and cordiality, and fell
to talking at once of their little acquaintance there; and it seemed
impossible that he could ever say to her what he had come determined to
say.  Such a man as Philip has only one standard by which to judge women.

Laura recognized that fact no doubt.  The better part of her woman's
nature saw it.  Such a man might, years ago, not now, have changed her
nature, and made the issue of her life so different, even after her cruel
abandonment.  She had a dim feeling of this, and she would like now to
stand well with him.  The spark of truth and honor that was left in her
was elicited by his presence.  It was this influence that governed her
conduct in this interview.

"I have come," said Philip in his direct manner, "from my friend
Mr. Brierly.  You are not ignorant of his feeling towards you?"

"Perhaps not."

"But perhaps you do not know, you who have so much admiration, how
sincere and overmastering his love is for you?"  Philip would not have
spoken so plainly, if he had in mind anything except to draw from Laura
something that would end Harry's passion.

"And is sincere love so rare, Mr. Sterling?" asked Laura, moving her foot
a little, and speaking with a shade of sarcasm.

"Perhaps not in Washington," replied Philip,--tempted into a similar
tone.  "Excuse my bluntness," he continued, "but would the knowledge of
his love; would his devotion, make any difference to you in your
Washington life?"

"In respect to what?" asked Laura quickly.

"Well, to others.  I won't equivocate--to Col. Selby?"

Laura's face flushed with anger, or shame; she looked steadily at Philip
and began,

"By what right, sir,--"

"By the right of friendship," interrupted Philip stoutly.  "It may matter
little to you.  It is everything to him.  He has a Quixotic notion that
you would turn back from what is before you for his sake.  You cannot be
ignorant of what all the city is talking of."  Philip said this
determinedly and with some bitterness.

It was a full minute before Laura spoke.  Both had risen, Philip as if to
go, and Laura in suppressed excitement.  When she spoke her voice was
very unsteady, and she looked down.

"Yes, I know.  I perfectly understand what you mean.  Mr. Brierly is
nothing--simply nothing.  He is a moth singed, that is all--the trifler
with women thought he was a wasp.  I have no pity for him, not the least.
You may tell him not to make a fool of himself, and to keep away.  I say
this on your account, not his.  You are not like him.  It is enough for
me that you want it so.  Mr. Sterling," she continued, looking up; and
there were tears in her eyes that contradicted the hardness of her
language, "you might not pity him if you knew my history; perhaps you
would not wonder at some things you hear.  No; it is useless to ask me
why it must be so.  You can't make a life over--society wouldn't let you
if you would--and mine must be lived as it is.  There, sir, I'm not
offended; but it is useless for you to say anything more."

Philip went away with his heart lightened about Harry, but profoundly
saddened by the glimpse of what this woman might have been.  He told
Harry all that was necessary of the conversation--she was bent on going
her own way, he had not the ghost of a chance--he was a fool, she had
said, for thinking he had.

And Harry accepted it meekly, and made up his own mind that Philip didn't
know much about women.




CHAPTER XLV.

The galleries of the House were packed, on the momentous day, not because
the reporting of an important bill back by a committee was a thing to be
excited about, if the bill were going to take the ordinary course
afterward; it would be like getting excited over the empaneling of a
coroner's jury in a murder case, instead of saving up one's emotions for
the grander occasion of the hanging of the accused, two years later,
after all the tedious forms of law had been gone through with.

But suppose you understand that this coroner's jury is going to turn out
to be a vigilance committee in disguise, who will hear testimony for an
hour and then hang the murderer on the spot?  That puts a different
aspect upon the matter.  Now it was whispered that the legitimate forms
of procedure usual in the House, and which keep a bill hanging along for
days and even weeks, before it is finally passed upon, were going to be
overruled, in this case, and short work made of the measure; and so,
what was beginning as a mere inquest might, torn out to be something very
different.

In the course of the day's business the Order of "Reports of Committees"
was finally reached and when the weary crowds heard that glad
announcement issue from the Speaker's lips they ceased to fret at the
dragging delay, and plucked up spirit.  The Chairman of the Committee on
Benevolent Appropriations rose and made his report, and just then a
blue-uniformed brass-mounted little page put a note into his hand.

It was from Senator Dilworthy, who had appeared upon the floor of the
House for a moment and flitted away again:

     "Everybody expects a grand assault in force; no doubt you believe,
     as I certainly do, that it is the thing to do; we are strong, and
     everything is hot for the contest.  Trollop's espousal of our cause
     has immensely helped us and we grow in power constantly.  Ten of the
     opposition were called away from town about noon,(but--so it is
     said--only for one day).  Six others are sick, but expect to be
     about again tomorrow or next day, a friend tells me.  A bold
     onslaught is worth trying.  Go for a suspension of the rules!  You
     will find we can swing a two-thirds vote--I am perfectly satisfied
     of it.  The Lord's truth will prevail.
                                                  "DILWORTHY."

Mr. Buckstone had reported the bills from his committee, one by one,
leaving the bill to the last.  When the House had voted upon the
acceptance or rejection of the report upon all but it, and the question
now being upon its disposal--Mr. Buckstone begged that the House would
give its attention to a few remarks which he desired to make.  His
committee had instructed him to report the bill favorably; he wished to
explain the nature of the measure, and thus justify the committee's
action; the hostility roused by the press would then disappear, and the
bill would shine forth in its true and noble character.  He said that its
provisions were simple.  It incorporated the Knobs Industrial University,
locating it in East Tennessee, declaring it open to all persons without
distinction of sex, color or religion, and committing its management to a
board of perpetual trustees, with power to fill vacancies in their own
number.  It provided for the erection of certain buildings for the
University, dormitories, lecture-halls, museums, libraries, laboratories,
work-shops, furnaces, and mills.  It provided also for the purchase of
sixty-five thousand acres of land, (fully described) for the purposes of
the University, in the Knobs of East Tennessee.  And it appropriated
[blank] dollars for the purchase of the Land, which should be the
property of the national trustees in trust for the uses named.

Every effort had been made to secure the refusal of the whole amount of
the property of the Hawkins heirs in the Knobs, some seventy-five
thousand acres Mr. Buckstone said.  But Mr. Washington Hawkins (one of
the heirs) objected.  He was, indeed, very reluctant to sell any part of
the land at any price; and indeed--this reluctance was justifiable when
one considers how constantly and how greatly the property is rising in
value.

What the South needed, continued Mr. Buckstone, was skilled labor.
Without that it would be unable to develop its mines, build its roads,
work to advantage and without great waste its fruitful land, establish
manufactures or enter upon a prosperous industrial career.  Its laborers
were almost altogether unskilled.  Change them into intelligent, trained
workmen, and you increased at once the capital, the resources of the
entire south, which would enter upon a prosperity hitherto unknown.
In five years the increase in local wealth would not only reimburse the
government for the outlay in this appropriation, but pour untold wealth
into the treasury.

This was the material view, and the least important in the honorable
gentleman's opinion.  [Here he referred to some notes furnished him by
Senator Dilworthy, and then continued.] God had given us the care of
these colored millions.  What account should we render to Him of our
stewardship?  We had made them free.  Should we leave them ignorant?
We had cast them upon their own resources.  Should we leave them without
tools?  We could not tell what the intentions of Providence are in regard
to these peculiar people, but our duty was plain.  The Knobs Industrial
University would be a vast school of modern science and practice, worthy
of a great nation.  It would combine the advantages of Zurich, Freiburg,
Creuzot and the Sheffield Scientific.  Providence had apparently reserved
and set apart the Knobs of East Tennessee for this purpose.  What else
were they for?  Was it not wonderful that for more than thirty years,
over a generation, the choicest portion of them had remained in one
family, untouched, as if, separated for some great use!

It might be asked why the government should buy this land, when it had
millions of yes, more than the railroad companies desired, which, it
might devote to this purpose?  He answered, that the government had no
such tract of land as this.  It had nothing comparable to it for the
purposes of the University: This was to be a school of mining, of
engineering, of the working of metals, of chemistry, zoology, botany,
manufactures, agriculture, in short of all the complicated industries
that make a state great.  There was no place for the location of such a
school like the Knobs of East Tennessee.  The hills abounded in metals of
all sorts, iron in all its combinations, copper, bismuth, gold and silver
in small quantities, platinum he--believed, tin, aluminium; it was
covered with forests and strange plants; in the woods were found the
coon, the opossum, the fox, the deer and many other animals who roamed in
the domain of natural history; coal existed in enormous quantity and no
doubt oil; it was such a place for the practice of agricultural
experiments that any student who had been successful there would have an
easy task in any other portion of the country.

No place offered equal facilities for experiments in mining, metallurgy,
engineering.  He expected to live to see the day, when the youth of the
south would resort to its mines, its workshops, its laboratories, its
furnaces and factories for practical instruction in all the great
industrial pursuits.

A noisy and rather ill-natured debate followed, now, and lasted hour
after hour.  The friends of the bill were instructed by the leaders to
make no effort to check it; it was deemed better strategy to tire out the
opposition; it was decided to vote down every proposition to adjourn, and
so continue the sitting into the night; opponents might desert, then, one
by one and weaken their party, for they had no personal stake in the
bill.

Sunset came, and still the fight went on; the gas was lit, the crowd in
the galleries began to thin, but the contest continued; the crowd
returned, by and by, with hunger and thirst appeased, and aggravated the
hungry and thirsty House by looking contented and comfortable; but still
the wrangle lost nothing of its bitterness.  Recesses were moved
plaintively by the opposition, and invariably voted down by the
University army.

At midnight the House presented a spectacle calculated to interest a
stranger.  The great galleries were still thronged--though only with men,
now; the bright colors that had made them look like hanging gardens were
gone, with the ladies.  The reporters' gallery, was merely occupied by
one or two watchful sentinels of the quill-driving guild; the main body
cared nothing for a debate that had dwindled to a mere vaporing of dull
speakers and now and then a brief quarrel over a point of order; but
there was an unusually large attendance of journalists in the reporters'
waiting-room, chatting, smoking, and keeping on the 'qui vive' for the
general irruption of the Congressional volcano that must come when the
time was ripe for it.  Senator Dilworthy and Philip were in the
Diplomatic Gallery; Washington sat in the public gallery, and Col.
Sellers was, not far away.  The Colonel had been flying about the
corridors and button-holing Congressmen all the evening, and believed
that he had accomplished a world of valuable service; but fatigue was
telling upon him, now, and he was quiet and speechless--for once.  Below,
a few Senators lounged upon the sofas set apart for visitors, and talked
with idle Congressmen.  A dreary member was speaking; the presiding
officer was nodding; here and there little knots of members stood in the
aisles, whispering together; all about the House others sat in all the
various attitudes that express weariness; some, tilted back, had one or
more legs disposed upon their desks; some sharpened pencils indolently;
some scribbled aimlessly; some yawned and stretched; a great many lay
upon their breasts upon the desks, sound asleep and gently snoring.
The flooding gaslight from the fancifully wrought roof poured down upon
the tranquil scene.  Hardly a sound disturbed the stillness, save the
monotonous eloquence of the gentleman who occupied the floor.  Now and
then a warrior of the opposition broke down under the pressure, gave it
up, and went home.

Mr. Buckstone began to think it might be safe, now, to "proceed to
business."  He consulted with Trollop and one or two others.  Senator
Dilworthy descended to the floor of the House and they went to meet him.
After a brief comparison of notes, the Congressmen sought their seats and
sent pages about the House with messages to friends.  These latter
instantly roused up, yawned, and began to look alert.  The moment the
floor was unoccupied, Mr. Buckstone rose, with an injured look, and said
it was evident that the opponents of the bill were merely talking against
time, hoping in this unbecoming way to tire out the friends of the
measure and so defeat it.  Such conduct might be respectable enough in a
village debating society, but it was trivial among statesmen, it was out
of place in so august an assemblage as the House of Representatives of
the United States.  The friends of the bill had been not only willing
that its opponents should express their opinions, but had strongly
desired it.  They courted the fullest and freest discussion; but it
seemed to him that this fairness was but illy appreciated, since
gentlemen were capable of taking advantage of it for selfish and unworthy
ends.  This trifling had gone far enough.  He called for the question.

The instant Mr. Buckstone sat down, the storm burst forth.  A dozen
gentlemen sprang to their feet.

"Mr. Speaker!"

"Mr. Speaker!"

"Mr. Speaker!"

"Order!  Order!  Order!  Question!  Question!"

The sharp blows of the Speaker's gavel rose above the din.

The "previous question," that hated gag, was moved and carried.  All
debate came to a sudden end, of course.  Triumph No. 1.

Then the vote was taken on the adoption of the report and it carried by a
surprising majority.

Mr. Buckstone got the floor again and moved that the rules be suspended
and the bill read a first time.

Mr. Trollop--"Second the motion!"

The Speaker--"It is moved and--"

Clamor of Voices.  "Move we adjourn!  Second the motion!  Adjourn!
Adjourn!  Order!  Order!"

The Speaker, (after using his gavel vigorously)--"It is moved and
seconded that the House do now adjourn.  All those in favor--"

Voices--"Division!  Division!  Ayes and nays!  Ayes and nays!"

It was decided to vote upon the adjournment by ayes and nays.  This was
in earnest.  The excitement was furious.  The galleries were in commotion
in an instant, the reporters swarmed to their places. Idling members of
the House flocked to their seats, nervous gentlemen sprang to their feet,
pages flew hither and thither, life and animation were visible
everywhere, all the long ranks of faces in the building were kindled.

"This thing decides it!" thought Mr. Buckstone; "but let the fight
proceed."

The voting began, and every sound ceased but the calling if the names
and the "Aye!"  "No!"  "No!"  "Aye!" of the responses.  There was not a
movement in the House; the people seemed to hold their breath.

The voting ceased, and then there was an interval of dead silence while
the clerk made up his count.  There was a two-thirds vote on the
University side--and two over.

The Speaker--"The rules are suspended, the motion is carried--first
reading of the bill!"

By one impulse the galleries broke forth into stormy applause, and even
some of the members of the House were not wholly able to restrain their
feelings.  The Speaker's gavel came to the rescue and his clear voice
followed:

"Order, gentlemen--!  The House will come to order!  If spectators offend
again, the Sergeant-at-arms will clear the galleries!"

Then he cast his eyes aloft and gazed at some object attentively for a
moment.  All eyes followed the direction of the Speaker's, and then there
was a general titter.  The Speaker said:

"Let the Sergeant-at Arms inform the gentleman that his conduct is an
infringement of the dignity of the House--and one which is not warranted
by the state of the weather."  Poor Sellers was the culprit.  He sat in
the front seat of the gallery, with his arms and his tired body
overflowing the balustrade--sound asleep, dead to all excitements, all
disturbances.  The fluctuations of the Washington weather had influenced
his dreams, perhaps, for during the recent tempest of applause he had
hoisted his gingham umbrella, and calmly gone on with his slumbers.
Washington Hawkins had seen the act, but was not near enough at hand to
save his friend, and no one who was near enough desired to spoil the
effect.  But a neighbor stirred up the Colonel, now that the House had
its eye upon him, and the great speculator furled his tent like the Arab.
He said:

"Bless my soul, I'm so absent-minded when I, get to thinking!  I never
wear an umbrella in the house--did anybody 'notice it'?  What-asleep?
Indeed?  And did you wake me sir?  Thank you--thank you very much indeed.
It might have fallen out of my hands and been injured.  Admirable
article, sir--present from a friend in Hong Kong; one doesn't come across
silk like that in this country--it's the real--Young Hyson, I'm told."

By this time the incident was forgotten, for the House was at war again.
Victory was almost in sight, now, and the friends of the bill threw
themselves into their work with enthusiasm.  They soon moved and carried
its second reading, and after a strong, sharp fight, carried a motion to
go into Committee of the whole.  The Speaker left his place, of course,
and a chairman was appointed.

Now the contest raged hotter than ever--for the authority that compels
order when the House sits as a House, is greatly diminished when it sits
as Committee.  The main fight came upon the filling of the blanks with
the sum to be appropriated for the purchase of the land, of course.

Buckstone--"Mr. Chairman, I move you, sir, that the words 'three millions
of' be inserted."

Mr. Hadley--"Mr. Chairman, I move that the words two and a half dollars
be inserted."

Mr. Clawson--"Mr. Chairman, I move the insertion of the words five and
twenty cents, as representing the true value of this barren and isolated
tract of desolation."

The question, according to rule, was taken upon the smallest sum first.
It was lost.

Then upon the nest smallest sum.  Lost, also.

And then upon the three millions.  After a vigorous battle that lasted a
considerable time, this motion was carried.

Then, clause by clause the bill was read, discussed, and amended in
trifling particulars, and now the Committee rose and reported.

The moment the House had resumed its functions and received the report,
Mr. Buckstone moved and carried the third reading of the bill.

The same bitter war over the sum to be paid was fought over again, and
now that the ayes and nays could be called and placed on record, every
man was compelled to vote by name on the three millions, and indeed on
every paragraph of the bill from the enacting clause straight through.
But as before, the friends of the measure stood firm and voted in a solid
body every time, and so did its enemies.

The supreme moment was come, now, but so sure was the result that not
even a voice was raised to interpose an adjournment.  The enemy were
totally demoralized.  The bill was put upon its final passage almost
without dissent, and the calling of the ayes and nays began.  When it was
ended the triumph was complete--the two-thirds vote held good, and a veto
was impossible, as far as the House was concerned!

Mr. Buckstone resolved that now that the nail was driven home, he would
clinch it on the other side and make it stay forever.  He moved a
reconsideration of the vote by which the bill had passed.  The motion was
lost, of course, and the great Industrial University act was an
accomplished fact as far as it was in the power of the House of
Representatives to make it so.

There was no need to move an adjournment.  The instant the last motion
was decided, the enemies of the University rose and flocked out of the
Hall, talking angrily, and its friends flocked after them jubilant and
congratulatory.  The galleries disgorged their burden, and presently the
house was silent and deserted.

When Col. Sellers and Washington stepped out of the building they were
surprised to find that the daylight was old and the sun well up.  Said
the Colonel:

"Give me your hand, my boy!  You're all right at last!  You're a
millionaire!  At least you're going to be.  The thing is dead sure.
Don't you bother about the Senate.  Leave me and Dilworthy to take care
of that.  Run along home, now, and tell Laura.  Lord, it's magnificent
news--perfectly magnificent!  Run, now.  I'll telegraph my wife.  She
must come here and help me build a house.  Everything's all right now!"

Washington was so dazed by his good fortune and so bewildered by the
gaudy pageant of dreams that was already trailing its long ranks through
his brain, that he wandered he knew not where, and so loitered by the way
that when at last he reached home he woke to a sudden annoyance in the
fact that his news must be old to Laura, now, for of course Senator
Dilworthy must have already been home and told her an hour before.  He
knocked at her door, but there was no answer.

"That is like the Duchess," said he.  "Always cool; a body can't excite
her-can't keep her excited, anyway.  Now she has gone off to sleep again,
as comfortably as if she were used to picking up a million dollars every
day or two."

Then he vent to bed.  But he could not sleep; so he got up and wrote a
long, rapturous letter to Louise, and another to his mother.  And he
closed both to much the same effect:

     "Laura will be queen of America, now, and she will be applauded, and
     honored and petted by the whole nation.  Her name will be in every
     one's mouth more than ever, and how they will court her and quote
     her bright speeches.  And mine, too, I suppose; though they do that
     more already, than they really seem to deserve.  Oh, the world is so
     bright, now, and so cheery; the clouds are all gone, our long
     struggle is ended, our troubles are all over.  Nothing can ever
     make us unhappy any more.  You dear faithful ones will have the
     reward of your patient waiting now.  How father's Wisdom is proven
     at last!  And how I repent me, that there have been times when I
     lost faith and said, the blessing he stored up for us a tedious
     generation ago was but a long-drawn curse, a blight upon us all.
     But everything is well, now--we are done with poverty, sad toil,
     weariness and heart-break; all the world is filled with sunshine."




CHAPTER XLVI.

Philip left the capitol and walked up Pennsylvania Avenue in company with
Senator Dilworthy.  It was a bright spring morning, the air was soft and
inspiring; in the deepening wayside green, the pink flush of the
blossoming peach trees, the soft suffusion on the heights of Arlington,
and the breath of the warm south wind was apparent, the annual miracle of
the resurrection of the earth.

The Senator took off his hat and seemed to open his soul to the sweet
influences of the morning.  After the heat and noise of the chamber,
under its dull gas-illuminated glass canopy, and the all night struggle
of passion and feverish excitement there, the open, tranquil world seemed
like Heaven.  The Senator was not in an exultant mood, but rather in a
condition of holy joy, befitting a Christian statesman whose benevolent
plans Providence has made its own and stamped with approval.  The great
battle had been fought, but the measure had still to encounter the
scrutiny of the Senate, and Providence sometimes acts differently in the
two Houses.  Still the Senator was tranquil, for he knew that there is an
esprit de corps in the Senate which does not exist in the House, the
effect of which is to make the members complaisant towards the projects
of each other, and to extend a mutual aid which in a more vulgar body
would be called "log-rolling."

"It is, under Providence, a good night's work, Mr. Sterling.  The
government has founded an institution which will remove half the
difficulty from the southern problem.  And it is a good thing for the
Hawkins heirs, a very good thing.  Laura will be almost a millionaire."

"Do you think, Mr. Dilworthy, that the Hawkinses will get much of the
money?" asked Philip innocently, remembering the fate of the Columbus
River appropriation.

The Senator looked at his companion scrutinizingly for a moment to see if
he meant anything personal, and then replied,

"Undoubtedly, undoubtedly.  I have had their interests greatly at heart.
There will of course be a few expenses, but the widow and orphans will
realize all that Mr. Hawkins, dreamed of for them."

The birds were singing as they crossed the Presidential Square, now
bright with its green turf and tender foliage.  After the two had gained
the steps of the Senator's house they stood a moment, looking upon the
lovely prospect:

"It is like the peace of God," said the Senator devoutly.

Entering the house, the Senator called a servant and said, "Tell Miss
Laura that we are waiting to see her.  I ought to have sent a messenger
on horseback half an hour ago," he added to Philip, "she will be
transported with our victory.  You must stop to breakfast, and see the
excitement."  The servant soon came back, with a wondering look and
reported,

"Miss Laura ain't dah, sah.  I reckon she hain't been dah all night!"

The Senator and Philip both started up.  In Laura's room there were the
marks of a confused and hasty departure, drawers half open, little
articles strewn on the floor.  The bed had not been disturbed.  Upon
inquiry it appeared that Laura had not been at dinner, excusing herself
to Mrs. Dilworthy on the plea of a violent headache; that she made a
request to the servants that she might not be disturbed.

The Senator was astounded.  Philip thought at once of Col. Selby.  Could
Laura have run away with him?  The Senator thought not.  In fact it could
not be.  Gen. Leffenwell, the member from New Orleans, had casually told
him at the house last night that Selby and his family went to New York
yesterday morning and were to sail for Europe to-day.

Philip had another idea which, he did not mention.  He seized his hat,
and saying that he would go and see what he could learn, ran to the
lodgings of Harry; whom he had not seen since yesterday afternoon, when
he left him to go to the House.

Harry was not in.  He had gone out with a hand-bag before six o'clock
yesterday, saying that he had to go to New York, but should return next
day.  In Harry's-room on the table Philip found this note:

          "Dear Mr. Brierly:--Can you meet me at the six o'clock train,
          and be my escort to New York?  I have to go about this
          University bill, the vote of an absent member we must have
          here, Senator Dilworthy cannot go.
                                             Yours,  L.  H."

"Confound it," said Phillip, "the noodle has fallen into her trap.  And
she promised she would let him alone."

He only stopped to send a note to Senator Dilworthy, telling him what he
had found, and that he should go at once to New York, and then hastened
to the railway station.  He had to wait an hour for a train, and when it
did start it seemed to go at a snail's pace.

Philip was devoured with anxiety.  Where could they, have gone?  What was
Laura's object in taking Harry?  Had the flight anything to do with
Selby?  Would Harry be such a fool as to be dragged into some public
scandal?

It seemed as if the train would never reach Baltimore.  Then there was a
long delay at Havre de Grace.  A hot box had to be cooled at Wilmington.
Would it never get on?  Only in passing around the city of Philadelphia
did the train not seem to go slow.  Philip stood upon the platform and
watched for the Boltons' house, fancied he could distinguish its roof
among the trees, and wondered how Ruth would feel if she knew he was so
near her.

Then came Jersey, everlasting Jersey, stupid irritating Jersey, where the
passengers are always asking which line they are on, and where they are
to come out, and whether they have yet reached Elizabeth.  Launched into
Jersey, one has a vague notion that he is on many lines and no one in
particular, and that he is liable at any moment to come to Elizabeth.
He has no notion what Elizabeth is, and always resolves that the next
time he goes that way, he will look out of the window and see what it is
like; but he never does.  Or if he does, he probably finds that it is
Princeton or something of that sort.  He gets annoyed, and never can see
the use of having different names for stations in Jersey.  By and by.
there is Newark, three or four Newarks apparently; then marshes; then
long rock cuttings devoted to the advertisements of 'patent medicines and
ready-made, clothing, and New York tonics for Jersey agues, and Jersey
City is reached.

On the ferry-boat Philip bought an evening paper from a boy crying
"'Ere's the Evening Gram, all about the murder," and with breathless
haste--ran his eyes over the following:

                            SHOCKING MURDER!!!

     TRAGEDY IN HIGH LIFE!!  A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN SHOOTS A DISTINGUISHED
     CONFEDERATE SOLDIER AT THE SOUTHERN HOTEL!!!  JEALOUSY THE CAUSE!!!

     This morning occurred another of those shocking murders which have
     become the almost daily food of the newspapers, the direct result of
     the socialistic doctrines and woman's rights agitations, which have
     made every woman the avenger of her own wrongs, and all society the
     hunting ground for her victims.

     About nine o'clock a lady deliberately shot a man dead in the public
     parlor of the Southern Hotel, coolly remarking, as she threw down
     her revolver and permitted herself to be taken into custody, "He
     brought it on himself."  Our reporters were immediately dispatched
     to the scene of the tragedy, and gathered the following particulars.

     Yesterday afternoon arrived at the hotel from Washington, Col.
     George Selby and family, who had taken passage and were to sail at
     noon to-day in the steamer Scotia for England.  The Colonel was a
     handsome man about forty, a gentleman Of wealth and high social
     position, a resident of New Orleans.  He served with distinction in
     the confederate army, and received a wound in the leg from which he
     has never entirely recovered, being obliged to use a cane in
     locomotion.

     This morning at about nine o'clock, a lady, accompanied by a
     gentleman, called at the office Of the hotel and asked for Col.
     Selby.  The Colonel was at breakfast.  Would the clerk tell him that
     a lady and gentleman wished to see him for a moment in the parlor?
     The clerk says that the gentleman asked her, "What do you want to
     see him for?" and that she replied, "He is going to Europe, and I
     ought to just say good by."

     Col. Selby was informed; and the lady and gentleman were shown to
     the parlor, in which were at the time three or four other persons.
     Five minutes after two shots were fired in quick succession, and
     there was a rush to the parlor from which the reports came.

     Col. Selby was found lying on the floor, bleeding, but not dead.
     Two gentlemen, who had just come in, had seized the lady, who made
     no resistance, and she was at once given in charge of a police
     officer who arrived.  The persons who were in the parlor agree
     substantially as to what occurred.  They had happened to be looking
     towards the door when the man--Col. Selby--entered with his cane,
     and they looked at him, because he stopped as if surprised and
     frightened, and made a backward movement. At the same moment the
     lady in the bonnet advanced towards him and said something like,
     "George, will you go with me?"  He replied, throwing up his hand and
     retreating, "My God I can't, don't fire," and the next instants two
     shots were heard and he fell.  The lady appeared to be beside
     herself with rage or excitement, and trembled very much when the
     gentlemen took hold of her; it was to them she said, "He brought it
     on himself."

     Col. Selby was carried at once to his room and Dr. Puffer, the
     eminent surgeon was sent for.  It was found that he was shot through
     the breast and through the abdomen.  Other aid was summoned, but the
     wounds were mortal, and Col Selby expired in an hour, in pain, but
     his mind was clear to the last and he made a full deposition.  The
     substance of it was that his murderess is a Miss Laura Hawkins, whom
     he had known at Washington as a lobbyist and had some business with
     her.  She had followed him with her attentions and solicitations,
     and had endeavored to make him desert his wife and go to Europe with
     her.  When he resisted and avoided her she had threatened him.  Only
     the day before he left Washington she had declared that he should
     never go out of the city alive without her.

     It seems to have been a deliberate and premeditated murder, the
     woman following him to Washington on purpose to commit it.

     We learn that the murderess, who is a woman of dazzling and
     transcendent beauty and about twenty six or seven, is a niece of
     Senator Dilworthy at whose house she has been spending the winter.
     She belongs to a high Southern family, and has the reputation of
     being an heiress. Like some other great beauties and belles in
     Washington however there have been whispers that she had something
     to do with the lobby.  If we mistake not we have heard her name
     mentioned in connection with the sale of the Tennessee Lands to the
     Knobs University, the bill for which passed the House last night.

     Her companion is Mr. Harry Brierly, a New York dandy, who has been
     in Washington. His connection with her and with this tragedy is not
     known, but he was also taken into custody, and will be detained at
     least as a witness.

     P. S.  One of the persons present in the parlor says that after
     Laura Hawkins had fired twice, she turned the pistol towards
     herself, but that Brierly sprung and caught it from her hand, and
     that it was he who threw it on the floor.

     Further particulars with full biographies of all the parties in our
     next edition.

Philip hastened at once to the Southern Hotel, where he found still a
great state of excitement, and a thousand different and exaggerated
stories passing from mouth to mouth.  The witnesses of the event had told
it over so many time that they had worked it up into a most dramatic
scene, and embellished it with whatever could heighten its awfulness.
Outsiders had taken up invention also.  The Colonel's wife had gone
insane, they said.  The children had rushed into the parlor and rolled
themselves in their father's blood.  The hotel clerk said that he noticed
there was murder in the woman's eye when he saw her.  A person who had
met the woman on the stairs felt a creeping sensation.  Some thought
Brierly was an accomplice, and that he had set the woman on to kill his
rival.  Some said the woman showed the calmness and indifference of
insanity.

Philip learned that Harry and Laura had both been taken to the city
prison, and he went there; but he was not admitted.  Not being a
newspaper reporter, he could not see either of them that night; but the
officer questioned him suspiciously and asked him who he was.  He might
perhaps see Brierly in the morning.

The latest editions of the evening papers had the result of the inquest.
It was a plain enough case for the jury, but they sat over it a long
time, listening to the wrangling of the physicians.  Dr. Puffer insisted
that the man died from the effects of the wound in the chest.  Dr. Dobb
as strongly insisted that the wound in the abdomen caused death.  Dr.
Golightly suggested that in his opinion death ensued from a complication
of the two wounds and perhaps other causes.  He examined the table
waiter, as to whether Col. Selby ate any breakfast, and what he ate, and
if he had any appetite.

The jury finally threw themselves back upon the indisputable fact that
Selby was dead, that either wound would have killed him (admitted by the
doctors), and rendered a verdict that he died from pistol-shot wounds
inflicted by a pistol in the hands of Laura Hawkins.

The morning papers blazed with big type, and overflowed with details of
the murder.  The accounts in the evening papers were only the premonitory
drops to this mighty shower.  The scene was dramatically worked up in
column after column.  There were sketches, biographical and historical.
There were long "specials" from Washington, giving a full history of
Laura's career there, with the names of men with whom she was said to be
intimate, a description of Senator Dilworthy's residence and of his
family, and of Laura's room in his house, and a sketch of the Senator's
appearance and what he said.  There was a great deal about her beauty,
her accomplishments and her brilliant position in society, and her
doubtful position in society.  There was also an interview with Col.
Sellers and another with Washington Hawkins, the brother of the
murderess.  One journal had a long dispatch from Hawkeye, reporting the
excitement in that quiet village and the reception of the awful
intelligence.

All the parties had been "interviewed."  There were reports of
conversations with the clerk at the hotel; with the call-boy; with the
waiter at table with all the witnesses, with the policeman, with the
landlord (who wanted it understood that nothing of that sort had ever
happened in his house before, although it had always been frequented by
the best Southern society,) and with Mrs. Col. Selby.  There were
diagrams illustrating the scene of the shooting, and views of the hotel
and street, and portraits of the parties.  There were three minute and
different statements from the doctors about the wounds, so technically
worded that nobody could understand them.  Harry and Laura had also been
"interviewed" and there was a statement from Philip himself, which a
reporter had knocked him up out of bed at midnight to give, though how he
found him, Philip never could conjecture.

What some of the journals lacked in suitable length for the occasion,
they made up in encyclopaedic information about other similar murders and
shootings.

The statement from Laura was not full, in fact it was fragmentary, and
consisted of nine parts of, the reporter's valuable observations to one
of Laura's, and it was, as the reporter significantly remarked,
"incoherent", but it appeared that Laura claimed to be Selby's wife,
or to have been his wife, that he had deserted her and betrayed her, and
that she was going to follow him to Europe.  When the reporter asked:

"What made you shoot him Miss. Hawkins?"

Laura's only reply was, very simply,

"Did I shoot him?  Do they say I shot him?".  And she would say no more.

The news of the murder was made the excitement of the day. Talk of it
filled the town.  The facts reported were scrutinized, the standing of
the parties was discussed, the dozen different theories of the motive,
broached in the newspapers, were disputed over.

During the night subtle electricity had carried the tale over all the
wires of the continent and under the sea; and in all villages and towns
of the Union, from the Atlantic to the territories, and away up and
down the Pacific slope, and as far as London and Paris and Berlin, that
morning the name of Laura Hawkins was spoken by millions and millions of
people, while the owner of it--the sweet child of years ago, the
beautiful queen of Washington drawing rooms--sat shivering on her cot-bed
in the darkness of a damp cell in the Tombs.




CHAPTER XLVII.

Philip's first effort was to get Harry out of the Tombs.  He gained
permission to see him, in the presence of an officer, during the day,
and he found that hero very much cast down.

"I never intended to come to such a place as this, old fellow," he said
to Philip; "it's no place for a gentleman, they've no idea how to treat a
gentleman.  Look at that provender," pointing to his uneaten prison
ration.  "They tell me I am detained as a witness, and I passed the night
among a lot of cut-throats and dirty rascals--a pretty witness I'd be in
a month spent in such company."

"But what under heavens," asked Philip, "induced you to come to New York
with Laura!  What was it for?"

"What for?  Why, she wanted me to come.  I didn't know anything about
that cursed Selby.  She said it was lobby business for the University.
I'd no idea what she was dragging me into that confounded hotel for.
I suppose she knew that the Southerners all go there, and thought she'd
find her man.  Oh!  Lord, I wish I'd taken your advice.  You might as
well murder somebody and have the credit of it, as get into the
newspapers the way I have.  She's pure devil, that girl.  You ought to
have seen how sweet she was on me; what an ass I am."

"Well, I'm not going to dispute a poor, prisoner.  But the first thing is
to get you out of this.  I've brought the note Laura wrote you, for one
thing, and I've seen your uncle, and explained the truth of the case to
him.  He will be here soon."

Harry's uncle came, with; other friends, and in the course of the day
made such a showing to the authorities that Harry was released, on giving
bonds to appear as a witness when wanted.  His spirits rose with their
usual elasticity as soon as he was out of Centre Street, and he insisted
on giving Philip and his friends a royal supper at Delmonico's, an excess
which was perhaps excusable in the rebound of his feelings, and which was
committed with his usual reckless generosity.  Harry ordered, the supper,
and it is perhaps needless to say, that Philip paid the bill.

Neither of the young men felt like attempting to see Laura that day,
and she saw no company except the newspaper reporters, until the arrival
of  Col. Sellers and Washington Hawkins, who had hastened to New York
with all speed.

They found Laura in a cell in the upper tier of the women's department.
The cell was somewhat larger than those in the men's department, and
might be eight feet by ten square, perhaps a little longer.  It was of
stone, floor and all, and tile roof was oven shaped.  A narrow slit in
the roof admitted sufficient light, and was the only means of
ventilation; when the window was opened there was nothing to prevent the
rain coming in.  The only means of heating being from the corridor, when
the door was ajar, the cell was chilly and at this time damp.  It was
whitewashed and clean, but it had a slight jail odor; its only furniture
was a narrow iron bedstead, with a tick of straw and some blankets, not
too clean.

When Col. Sellers was conducted to this cell by the matron and looked
in, his emotions quite overcame him, the tears rolled down his cheeks and
his voice trembled so that he could hardly speak.  Washington was unable
to say anything; he looked from Laura to the miserable creatures who were
walking in the corridor with unutterable disgust.  Laura was alone calm
and self-contained, though she was not unmoved by the sight of the grief
of her friends.

"Are you comfortable, Laura?" was the first word the Colonel could get
out.

"You see," she replied.  "I can't say it's exactly comfortable."

"Are you cold?"

"It is pretty chilly.  The stone floor is like ice.  It chills me through
to step on it.  I have to sit on the bed."

"Poor thing, poor thing.  And can you eat any thing?"

"No, I am not hungry.  I don't know that I could eat any thing, I can't
eat that."

"Oh dear," continued the Colonel, "it's dreadful.  But cheer up, dear,
cheer up;" and the Colonel broke down entirely.

"But," he went on, "we'll stand by you.  We'll do everything for you.
I know you couldn't have meant to do it, it must have been insanity, you
know, or something of that sort.  You never did anything of the sort
before."

Laura smiled very faintly and said,

"Yes, it was something of that sort.  It's all a whirl.  He was a
villain; you don't know."

"I'd rather have killed him myself, in a duel you know, all fair.  I wish
I had.  But don't you be down.  We'll get you the best counsel, the
lawyers in New York can do anything; I've read of cases.  But you must be
comfortable now.  We've brought some of your clothes, at the hotel.  What
else, can we get for you?"

Laura suggested that she would like some sheets for her bed, a piece of
carpet to step on, and her meals sent in; and some books and writing
materials if it was allowed.  The Colonel and Washington promised to
procure all these things, and then took their sorrowful leave, a great
deal more affected than the criminal was, apparently, by her situation.

The colonel told the matron as he went away that if she would look to
Laura's comfort a little it shouldn't be the worse for her; and to the
turnkey who let them out he patronizingly said,

"You've got a big establishment here, a credit to the city.  I've got a
friend in there--I shall see you again, sir."

By the next day something more of Laura's own story began to appear in
the newspapers, colored and heightened by reporters' rhetoric.  Some of
them cast a lurid light upon the Colonel's career, and represented his
victim as a beautiful avenger of her murdered innocence; and others
pictured her as his willing paramour and pitiless slayer.  Her
communications to the reporters were stopped by her lawyers as soon as
they were retained and visited her, but this fact did not prevent--it may
have facilitated--the appearance of casual paragraphs here and there
which were likely to beget popular sympathy for the poor girl.

The occasion did not pass without "improvement" by the leading journals;
and Philip preserved the editorial comments of three or four of them
which pleased him most.  These he used to read aloud to his friends
afterwards and ask them to guess from which journal each of them had been
cut.  One began in this simple manner:--

     History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of
     the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken
     fragments of antique legends.  Washington is not Corinth, and Lais,
     the beautiful daughter of Timandra, might not have been the
     prototype of the ravishing Laura, daughter of the plebeian house of
     Hawkins; but the orators add statesmen who were the purchasers of
     the favors of the one, may have been as incorruptible as the
     Republican statesmen who learned how to love and how to vote from
     the sweet lips of the Washington lobbyist; and perhaps the modern
     Lais would never have departed from the national Capital if there
     had been there even one republican Xenocrates who resisted her
     blandishments.  But here the parallel: fails.  Lais, wandering away
     with the youth Rippostratus, is slain by the women who are jealous
     of her charms. Laura, straying into her Thessaly with the youth
     Brierly, slays her other lover and becomes the champion of the
     wrongs of her sex.

Another journal began its editorial with less lyrical beauty, but with
equal force.  It closed as follows:--

     With Laura Hawkins, fair, fascinating and fatal, and with the
     dissolute Colonel of a lost cause, who has reaped the harvest he
     sowed, we have nothing to do.  But as the curtain rises on this
     awful tragedy, we catch a glimpse of the society at the capital
     under this Administration, which we cannot contemplate without alarm
     for the fate of the Republic.

A third newspaper took up the subject in a different tone.  It said:--

     Our repeated predictions are verified.  The pernicious doctrines
     which we have announced as prevailing in American society have been
     again illustrated.  The name of the city is becoming a reproach.
     We may have done something in averting its ruin in our resolute
     exposure of the Great Frauds; we shall not be deterred from
     insisting that the outraged laws for the protection of human life
     shall be vindicated now, so that a person can walk the streets or
     enter the public houses, at least in the day-time, without the risk
     of a bullet through his brain.

A fourth journal began its remarks as follows:--

     The fullness with which we present our readers this morning the
     details of the Selby-Hawkins homicide is a miracle of modern
     journalism.  Subsequent investigation can do little to fill out the
     picture.  It is the old story.  A beautiful woman shoots her
     absconding lover in cold-blood; and we shall doubtless learn in due
     time that if she was not as mad as a hare in this month of March,
     she was at least laboring under what is termed "momentary insanity."

It would not be too much to say that upon the first publication of the
facts of the tragedy, there was an almost universal feeling of rage
against the murderess in the Tombs, and that reports of her beauty only
heightened the indignation.  It was as if she presumed upon that and upon
her sex, to defy the law; and there was a fervent, hope that the law
would take its plain course.

Yet Laura was not without friends, and some of them very influential too.
She had in keeping a great many secrets and a great many reputations,
perhaps.  Who shall set himself up to judge human motives.  Why, indeed,
might we not feel pity for a woman whose brilliant career had been so
suddenly extinguished in misfortune and crime?  Those who had known her
so well in Washington might find it impossible to believe that the
fascinating woman could have had murder in her heart, and would readily
give ear to the current sentimentality about the temporary aberration of
mind under the stress of personal calamity.

Senator Dilworthy, was greatly shocked, of course, but he was full of
charity for the erring.

"We shall all need mercy," he said.  "Laura as an inmate of my family was
a most exemplary female, amiable, affectionate and truthful, perhaps too
fond of gaiety, and neglectful of the externals of religion, but a woman
of principle.  She may have had experiences of which I am ignorant, but
she could not have gone to this extremity if she had been in her own
right mind."

To the Senator's credit be it said, he was willing to help Laura and her
family in this dreadful trial.  She, herself, was not without money, for
the Washington lobbyist is not seldom more fortunate than the Washington
claimant, and she was able to procure a good many luxuries to mitigate
the severity of her prison life.  It enabled her also to have her own
family near her, and to see some of them daily.  The tender solicitude of
her mother, her childlike grief, and her firm belief in the real
guiltlessness of her daughter, touched even the custodians of the Tombs
who are enured to scenes of pathos.

Mrs. Hawkins had hastened to her daughter as soon as she received money
for the journey.  She had no reproaches, she had only tenderness and
pity.  She could not shut out the dreadful facts of the case, but it had
been enough for her that Laura had said, in their first interview,
"mother, I did not know what I was doing."  She obtained lodgings near,
the prison and devoted her life to her daughter, as if she had been
really her own child.  She would have remained in the prison day and
night if it had been permitted.  She was aged and feeble, but this great
necessity seemed to give her new life.

The pathetic story of the old lady's ministrations, and her simplicity
and faith, also got into the newspapers in time, and probably added to
the pathos of this wrecked woman's fate, which was beginning to be felt
by the public.  It was certain that she had champions who thought that
her wrongs ought to be placed against her crime, and expressions of this
feeling came to her in various ways.  Visitors came to see her, and gifts
of fruit and flowers were sent, which brought some cheer into her hard
and gloomy cell.

Laura had declined to see either Philip or Harry, somewhat to the
former's relief, who had a notion that she would necessarily feel
humiliated by seeing him after breaking faith with him, but to the
discomfiture of Harry, who still felt her fascination, and thought her
refusal heartless.  He told Philip that of course he had got through with
such a woman, but he wanted to see her.

Philip, to keep him from some new foolishness, persuaded him to go with
him to Philadelphia; and, give his valuable services in the mining
operations at Ilium.

The law took its course with Laura.  She was indicted for murder in the
first degree and held for trial at the summer term.  The two most
distinguished criminal lawyers in the city had been retained for her
defence, and to that the resolute woman devoted her days with a courage
that rose as she consulted with her counsel and understood the methods of
criminal procedure in New York.

She was greatly depressed, however, by the news from Washington.
Congress adjourned and her bill had failed to pass the Senate.  It must
wait for the next session.




CHAPTER XLVIII

It had been a bad winter, somehow, for the firm of Pennybacker, Bigler
and Small.  These celebrated contractors usually made more money during
the session of the legislature at Harrisburg than upon all their summer
work, and this winter had been unfruitful.  It was unaccountable to
Bigler.

"You see, Mr. Bolton," he said, and Philip was present at the
conversation, "it puts us all out.  It looks as if politics was played
out.  We'd counted on the year of Simon's re-election.  And, now, he's
reelected, and I've yet to see the first man who's the better for it."

"You don't mean to say," asked Philip, "that he went in without paying
anything?"

"Not a cent, not a dash cent, as I can hear," repeated Mr. Bigler,
indignantly.  "I call it a swindle on the state.  How it was done gets
me.  I never saw such a tight time for money in Harrisburg."

"Were there no combinations, no railroad jobs, no mining schemes put
through in connection with the election?

"Not that I knew," said Bigler, shaking his head in disgust.  "In fact it
was openly said, that there was no money in the election.  It's perfectly
unheard of."

"Perhaps," suggested Philip, "it was effected on what the insurance
companies call the 'endowment,' or the 'paid up' plan, by which a policy
is secured after a certain time without further payment."

"You think then," said Mr. Bolton smiling, "that a liberal and sagacious
politician might own a legislature after a time, and not be bothered with
keeping up his payments?"

"Whatever it is," interrupted Mr. Bigler, "it's devilish ingenious and
goes ahead of my calculations; it's cleaned me out, when I thought we had
a dead sure thing.  I tell you what it is, gentlemen, I shall go in for
reform.  Things have got pretty mixed when a legislature will give away a
United States senatorship."

It was melancholy, but Mr. Bigler was not a man to be crushed by one
misfortune, or to lose his confidence in human nature, on one exhibition
of apparent honesty.  He was already on his feet again, or would be if
Mr. Bolton could tide him over shoal water for ninety days.

"We've got something with money in it," he explained to Mr. Bolton,
"got hold of it by good luck.  We've got the entire contract for Dobson's
Patent Pavement for the city of Mobile.  See here."

Mr. Bigler made some figures; contract so; much, cost of work and
materials so much, profits so much.  At the end of three months the city
would owe the company three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars-two
hundred thousand of that would be profits.  The whole job was worth at
least a million to the company--it might be more.  There could be no
mistake in these figures; here was the contract, Mr. Bolton knew what
materials were worth and what the labor would cost.

Mr. Bolton knew perfectly well from sore experience that there was always
a mistake in figures when Bigler or Small made them, and he knew that he
ought to send the fellow about his business.  Instead of that, he let him
talk.

They only wanted to raise fifty thousand dollars to carry on the
contract--that expended they would have city bonds.  Mr. Bolton said he
hadn't the money.  But Bigler could raise it on his name.  Mr. Bolton
said he had no right to put his family to that risk.  But the entire
contract could be assigned to him--the security was ample--it was a
fortune to him if it was forfeited.  Besides Mr. Bigler had been
unfortunate, he didn't know where to look for the necessaries of life for
his family.  If he could only have one more chance, he was sure he could
right himself.  He begged for it.

And Mr. Bolton yielded.  He could never refuse such appeals.  If he had
befriended a man once and been cheated by him, that man appeared to have
a claim upon him forever.  He shrank, however, from telling his wife what
he had done on this occasion, for he knew that if any person was more
odious than Small to his family it was Bigler.

"Philip tells me," Mrs. Bolton said that evening, "that the man Bigler
has been with thee again to-day.  I hope thee will have nothing more to
do with him."

"He has been very unfortunate," replied Mr. Bolton, uneasily.

"He is always unfortunate, and he is always getting thee into trouble.
But thee didn't listen to him again?"

"Well, mother, his family is in want, and I lent him my name--but I took
ample security.  The worst that can happen will be a little
inconvenience."

Mrs. Bolton looked grave and anxious, but she did not complain or
remonstrate; she knew what a "little inconvenience" meant, but she knew
there was no help for it.  If Mr. Bolton had been on his way to market to
buy a dinner for his family with the only dollar he had in the world in
his pocket, he would have given it to a chance beggar who asked him for
it.  Mrs. Bolton only asked (and the question showed that she was no mere
provident than her husband where her heart was interested),

"But has thee provided money for Philip to use in opening the coal mine?"

"Yes, I have set apart as much as it ought to cost to open the mine,
as much as we can afford to lose if no coal is found.  Philip has the
control of it, as equal partner in the venture, deducting the capital
invested.  He has great confidence in his success, and I hope for his
sake he won't be disappointed."

Philip could not but feel that he was treated very much like one of the
Bolton-family--by all except Ruth.  His mother, when he went home after
his recovery from his accident, had affected to be very jealous of Mrs.
Bolton, about whom and Ruth she asked a thousand questions
--an affectation of jealousy which no doubt concealed a real heartache,
which comes to every mother when her son goes out into the world and
forms new ties.  And to Mrs. Sterling; a widow, living on a small income
in a remote Massachusetts village, Philadelphia was a city of many
splendors.  All its inhabitants seemed highly favored, dwelling in ease
and surrounded by superior advantages.  Some of her neighbors had
relations living in Philadelphia, and it seemed to them somehow a
guarantee of respectability to have relations in Philadelphia.
Mrs. Sterling was not sorry to have Philip make his way among such
well-to-do people, and she was sure that no good fortune could be too
good for his deserts.

"So, sir," said Ruth, when Philip came from New York, "you have been
assisting in a pretty tragedy.  I saw your name in the papers.  Is this
woman a specimen of your western friends?"

"My only assistance," replied Philip, a little annoyed, "was in trying to
keep Harry out of a bad scrape, and I failed after all.  He walked into
her trap, and he has been punished for it.  I'm going to take him up to
Ilium to see if he won't work steadily at one thing, and quit his
nonsense."

"Is she as beautiful as the newspapers say she is?"

"I don't know, she has a kind of beauty--she is not like--'

"Not like Alice?"

"Well, she is brilliant; she was called the handsomest woman in
Washington--dashing, you know, and sarcastic and witty.  Ruth, do you
believe a woman ever becomes a devil?"

"Men do, and I don't know why women shouldn't.  But I never saw one."

"Well, Laura Hawkins comes very near it.  But it is dreadful to think of
her fate."

"Why, do you suppose they will hang a woman?  Do you suppose they will be
so barbarous as that?"

"I wasn't thinking of that--it's doubtful if a New York jury would find a
woman guilty of any such crime.  But to think of her life if she is
acquitted."

"It is dreadful," said Ruth, thoughtfully, "but the worst of it is that
you men do not want women educated to do anything, to be able to earn an
honest living by their own exertions.  They are educated as if they were
always to be petted and supported, and there was never to be any such
thing as misfortune.  I suppose, now, that you would all choose to have
me stay idly at home, and give up my profession."

"Oh, no," said Philip, earnestly, "I  respect your resolution.  But,
Ruth, do you think you would be happier or do more good in following your
profession than in having a home of your own?"

"What is to hinder having a home of my own?"

"Nothing, perhaps, only you never would be in it--you would be away day
and night, if you had any practice; and what sort of a home would that
make for your husband?"

"What sort of a home is it for the wife whose husband is always away
riding about in his doctor's gig?"

"Ah, you know that is not fair.  The woman makes the home."

Philip and Ruth often had this sort of discussion, to which Philip was
always trying to give a personal turn.  He was now about to go to Ilium
for the season, and he did not like to go without some assurance from
Ruth that she might perhaps love him some day; when he was worthy of it,
and when he could offer her something better than a partnership in his
poverty.

"I should work with a great deal better heart, Ruth," he said the morning
he was taking leave, "if I knew you cared for me a little."

Ruth was looking down; the color came faintly to her cheeks, and she
hesitated.  She needn't be looking down, he thought, for she was ever so
much shorter than tall Philip.

"It's not much of a place, Ilium," Philip went on, as if a little
geographical remark would fit in here as well as anything else, "and I
shall have plenty of time to think over the responsibility I have taken,
and--" his observation did not seem to be coming out any where.

But Ruth looked up, and there was a light in her eyes that quickened
Phil's pulse.  She took his hand, and said with serious sweetness:

"Thee mustn't lose heart, Philip."  And then she added, in another mood,
"Thee knows I graduate in the summer and shall have my diploma.  And if
any thing happens--mines explode sometimes--thee can send for me.
Farewell."

The opening of the Ilium coal mine was begun with energy, but without
many omens of success.  Philip was running a tunnel into the breast of
the mountain, in faith that the coal stratum ran there as it ought to.
How far he must go in he believed he knew, but no one could tell exactly.
Some of the miners said that they should probably go through the
mountain, and that the hole could be used for a railway tunnel.  The
mining camp was a busy place at any rate.  Quite a settlement of board
and log shanties had gone up, with a blacksmith shop, a small machine
shop, and a temporary store for supplying the wants of the workmen.
Philip and Harry pitched a commodious tent, and lived in the full
enjoyment of the free life.

There is no difficulty in digging a bole in the ground, if you have money
enough to pay for the digging, but those who try this sort of work are
always surprised at the large amount of money necessary to make a small
hole.  The earth is never willing to yield one product, hidden in her
bosom, without an equivalent for it.  And when a person asks of her coal,
she is quite apt to require gold in exchange.

It was exciting work for all concerned in it.  As the tunnel advanced
into the rock every day promised to be the golden day.  This very blast
might disclose the treasure.

The work went on week after week, and at length during the night as well
as the daytime.  Gangs relieved each other, and the tunnel was every
hour, inch by inch and foot by foot, crawling into the mountain.  Philip
was on the stretch of hope and excitement.  Every pay day he saw his
funds melting away, and still there was only the faintest show of what
the miners call "signs."

The life suited Harry, whose buoyant hopefulness was never disturbed.
He made endless calculations, which nobody could understand, of the
probable position of the vein.  He stood about among the workmen with the
busiest air.  When he was down at Ilium he called himself the engineer of
the works, and he used to spend hours smoking his pipe with the Dutch
landlord on the hotel porch, and astonishing the idlers there with the
stories of his railroad operations in Missouri.  He talked with the
landlord, too, about enlarging his hotel, and about buying some village
lots, in the prospect of a rise, when the mine was opened.  He taught the
Dutchman how to mix a great many cooling drinks for the summer time, and
had a bill at the hotel, the growing length of which Mr. Dusenheimer
contemplated with pleasant anticipations.  Mr. Brierly was a very useful
and cheering person wherever he went.

Midsummer arrived: Philip could report to Mr. Bolton only progress, and
this was not a cheerful message for him to send to Philadelphia in reply
to inquiries that he thought became more and more anxious.  Philip
himself was a prey to the constant fear that the money would give out
before the coal was struck.

At this time Harry was summoned to New York, to attend the trial of Laura
Hawkins.  It was possible that Philip would have to go also, her lawyer
wrote, but they hoped for a postponement.  There was important evidence
that they could not yet obtain, and he hoped the judge would not force
them to a trial unprepared.  There were many reasons for a delay, reasons
which of course are never mentioned, but which it would seem that a New
York judge sometimes must understand, when he grants a postponement upon
a motion that seems to the public altogether inadequate.

Harry went, but he soon came back.  The trial was put off.  Every week we
can gain, said the learned counsel, Braham, improves our chances.  The
popular rage never lasts long.




CHAPTER XLIX.

"We've struck it!"

This was the announcement at the tent door that woke Philip out of a
sound sleep at dead of night, and shook all the sleepiness out of him in
a trice.

"What!  Where is it?  When?  Coal?  Let me see it.  What quality is it?"
were some of the rapid questions that Philip poured out as he hurriedly
dressed.  "Harry, wake up, my boy, the coal train is coming.  Struck it,
eh?  Let's see?"

The foreman put down his lantern, and handed Philip a black lump.  There
was no mistake about it, it was the hard, shining anthracite, and its
freshly fractured surface, glistened in the light like polished steel.
Diamond never shone with such lustre in the eyes of Philip.

Harry was exuberant, but Philip's natural caution found expression in his
next remark.

"Now, Roberts, you are sure about this?"

"What--sure that it's coal?"

"O, no, sure that it's the main vein."

"Well, yes.  We took it to be that"

"Did you from the first?"

"I can't say we did at first.  No, we didn't.  Most of the indications
were there, but not all of them, not all of them.  So we thought we'd
prospect a bit."

"Well?"

"It was tolerable thick, and looked as if it might be the vein--looked as
if it ought to be the vein.  Then we went down on it a little.  Looked
better all the time."

"When did you strike it?"

"About ten o'clock."

"Then you've been prospecting about four hours."

"Yes, been sinking on it something over four hours."

"I'm afraid you couldn't go down very far in four hours--could you?"

"O yes--it's a good deal broke up, nothing but picking and gadding
stuff."

"Well, it does look encouraging, sure enough--but then the lacking
indications--"

"I'd rather we had them, Mr. Sterling, but I've seen more than one good
permanent mine struck without 'em in my time."

"Well, that is encouraging too."

"Yes, there was the Union, the Alabama and the Black Mohawk--all good,
sound mines, you know--all just exactly like this one when we first
struck them."

"Well, I begin to feel a good deal more easy.  I guess we've really got
it.  I remember hearing them tell about the Black Mohawk."

"I'm free to say that I believe it, and the men all think so too.  They
are all old hands at this business."

"Come Harry, let's go up and look at it, just for the comfort of it,"
said Philip.  They came back in the course of an hour, satisfied and
happy.

There was no more sleep for them that night.  They lit their pipes, put a
specimen of the coal on the table, and made it a kind of loadstone of
thought and conversation.

"Of course," said Harry, "there will have to be a branch track built, and
a 'switch-back' up the hill."

"Yes, there will be no trouble about getting the money for that now.  We
could sell-out tomorrow for a handsome sum.  That sort of coal doesn't go
begging within a mile of a rail-road.  I wonder if Mr. Bolton' would
rather sell out or work it?"

"Oh, work it," says Harry, "probably the whole mountain is coal now
you've got to it."

"Possibly it might not be much of a vein after all," suggested Philip.

"Possibly it is; I'll bet it's forty feet thick.  I told you.  I knew the
sort of thing as soon as I put my eyes on it."

Philip's next thought was to write to his friends and announce their good
fortune.  To Mr. Bolton he wrote a short, business letter, as calm as he
could make it.  They had found coal of excellent quality, but they could
not yet tell with absolute certainty what the vein was.  The prospecting
was still going on.  Philip also wrote to Ruth; but though this letter
may have glowed, it was not with the heat of burning anthracite.  He
needed no artificial heat to warm his pen and kindle his ardor when he
sat down to write to Ruth.  But it must be confessed that the words never
flowed so easily before, and he ran on for an hour disporting in all the
extravagance of his imagination.  When Ruth read it, she doubted if the
fellow had not gone out of his senses.  And it was not until she reached
the postscript that she discovered the cause of the exhilaration.
"P. S.--We have found coal."

The news couldn't have come to Mr. Bolton in better time.  He had never
been so sorely pressed.  A dozen schemes which he had in hand, any one
of which might turn up a fortune, all languished, and each needed just
a little more, money to save that which had been invested.  He hadn't
a piece of real estate that was not covered with mortgages, even to the
wild tract which Philip was experimenting on, and which had, no
marketable value above the incumbrance on it.

He had come home that day early, unusually dejected.

"I am afraid," he said to his wife, "that we shall have to give up our
house.  I don't care for myself, but for thee and the children."

"That will be the least of misfortunes," said Mrs. Bolton, cheerfully,
"if thee can clear thyself from debt and anxiety, which is wearing thee
out, we can live any where.  Thee knows we were never happier than when
we were in a much humbler home."

"The truth is, Margaret, that affair of Bigler and Small's has come on me
just when I couldn't stand another ounce.  They have made another failure
of it.  I might have known they would; and the sharpers, or fools, I
don't know which, have contrived to involve me for three times as much as
the first obligation.  The security is in my hands, but it is good for
nothing to me.  I have not the money to do anything with the contract."

Ruth heard this dismal news without great surprise.  She had long felt
that they were living on a volcano, that might go in to active operation
at any hour.  Inheriting from her father an active brain and the courage
to undertake new things, she had little of his sanguine temperament which
blinds one to difficulties and possible failures.  She had little
confidence in the many schemes which had been about to lift her father
out of all his embarrassments and into great wealth, ever since she was
a child; as she grew older, she rather wondered that they were as
prosperous as they seemed to be, and that they did not all go to smash
amid so many brilliant projects.  She was nothing but a woman, and did
not know how much of the business prosperity of the world is only a
bubble of credit and speculation, one scheme helping to float another
which is no better than it, and the whole liable to come to naught and
confusion as soon as the busy brain that conceived them ceases its power
to devise, or when some accident produces a sudden panic.

"Perhaps, I shall be the stay of the family, yet," said Ruth, with an
approach to gaiety; "When we move into a little house in town, will thee
let me put a little sign on the door: DR. RUTH BOLTON?"

"Mrs. Dr. Longstreet, thee knows, has a great income."

"Who will pay for the sign, Ruth?" asked Mr. Bolton.

A servant entered with the afternoon mail from the office.  Mr. Bolton
took his letters listlessly, dreading to open them.  He knew well what
they contained, new difficulties, more urgent demands fox money.

"Oh, here is one from Philip.  Poor fellow.  I shall feel his
disappointment as much as my own bad luck.  It is hard to bear when one
is young."

He opened the letter and read.  As he read his face lightened, and he
fetched such a sigh of relief, that Mrs. Bolton and Ruth both exclaimed.

"Read that," he cried, "Philip has found coal!"

The world was changed in a moment.  One little sentence had done it.
There was no more trouble.  Philip had found coal.  That meant relief.
That meant fortune.  A great weight was taken off, and the spirits of the
whole household rose magically.  Good Money! beautiful demon of Money,
what an enchanter thou art!  Ruth felt that she was of less consequence
in the household, now that Philip had found Coal, and perhaps she was not
sorry to feel so.

Mr. Bolton was ten years younger the next morning.  He went into the
city, and showed his letter on change.  It was the sort of news his
friends were quite willing to listen to.  They took a new interest in
him.  If it was confirmed, Bolton would come right up again.  There would
be no difficulty about his getting all the money he wanted.  The money
market did not seem to be half so tight as it was the day before.
Mr. Bolton spent a very pleasant day in his office, and went home
revolving some new plans, and the execution of some projects he had long
been prevented from entering upon by the lack of money.

The day had been spent by Philip in no less excitement.  By daylight,
with Philip's letters to the mail, word had gone down to Ilium that coal
had been found, and very early a crowd of eager spectators had come up to
see for themselves.

The "prospecting" continued day and night for upwards of a week, and
during the first four or five days the indications grew more and more
promising, and the telegrams and letters kept Mr. Bolton duly posted.
But at last a change came, and the promises began to fail with alarming
rapidity.  In the end it was demonstrated without the possibility of a
doubt that the great "find" was nothing but a worthless seam.

Philip was cast down, all the more so because he had been so foolish as
to send the news to Philadelphia before he knew what he was writing
about.  And now he must contradict it.  "It turns out to be only a mere
seam," he wrote, "but we look upon it as an indication of better further
in."

Alas!  Mr. Bolton's affairs could not wait for "indications."  The future
might have a great deal in store, but the present was black and hopeless.
It was doubtful if any sacrifice could save him from ruin.  Yet sacrifice
he must make, and that instantly, in the hope of saving something from
the wreck of his fortune.

His lovely country home must go.  That would bring the most ready money.
The house that he had built with loving thought for each one of his
family, as he planned its luxurious apartments and adorned it; the
grounds that he had laid out, with so much delight in following the
tastes of his wife, with whom the country, the cultivation of rare trees
and flowers, the care of garden and lawn and conservatories were a
passion almost; this home, which he had hoped his children would enjoy
long after he had done with it, must go.

The family bore the sacrifice better than he did.  They declared in fact
--women are such hypocrites--that they quite enjoyed the city (it was in
August) after living so long in the country, that it was a thousand tunes
more convenient in every respect; Mrs. Bolton said it was a relief from
the worry of a large establishment, and Ruth reminded her father that she
should have had to come to town anyway before long.

Mr. Bolton was relieved, exactly as a water-logged ship is lightened by
throwing overboard the most valuable portion of the cargo--but the leak
was not stopped.  Indeed his credit was injured instead of helped by the
prudent step he had taken.  It was regarded as a sure evidence of his
embarrassment, and it was much more difficult for him to obtain help than
if he had, instead of retrenching, launched into some new speculation.

Philip was greatly troubled, and exaggerated his own share in the
bringing about of the calamity.

"You must not look at it so!" Mr. Bolton wrote him.  "You have neither
helped nor hindered--but you know you may help by and by.  It would have
all happened just so, if we had never begun to dig that hole.  That is
only a drop.  Work away.  I still have hope that something will occur to
relieve me.  At any rate we must not give up the mine, so long as we have
any show."

Alas!  the relief did not come.  New misfortunes came instead.  When the
extent of the Bigler swindle was disclosed there was no more hope that
Mr. Bolton could extricate himself, and he had, as an honest man, no
resource except to surrender all his property for the benefit of his
creditors.

The Autumn came and found Philip working with diminished force but still
with hope.  He had again and again been encouraged by good "indications,"
but he had again and again been disappointed.  He could not go on much
longer, and almost everybody except himself had thought it was useless to
go on as long as he had been doing.

When the news came of Mr. Bolton's failure, of course the work stopped.
The men were discharged, the tools were housed, the hopeful noise of
pickman and driver ceased, and the mining camp had that desolate and
mournful aspect which always hovers over a frustrated enterprise.

Philip sat down amid the ruins, and almost wished he were buried in them.
How distant Ruth was now from him, now, when she might need him most.
How changed was all the Philadelphia world, which had hitherto stood for
the exemplification of happiness and prosperity.

He still had faith that there was coal in that mountain.  He made
a picture of himself living there a hermit in a shanty by the tunnel,
digging away with solitary pick and wheelbarrow, day after day and year
after year, until he grew gray and aged, and was known in all that region
as the old man of the mountain.  Perhaps some day--he felt it must be so
some day--he should strike coal.  But what if he did?  Who would be alive
to care for it then?  What would he care for it then?  No, a man wants
riches in his youth, when the world is fresh to him.  He wondered why
Providence could not have reversed the usual process, and let the
majority of men begin with wealth and gradually spend it, and die poor
when they no longer needed it.

Harry went back to the city.  It was evident that his services were no
longer needed.  Indeed, he had letters from his uncle, which he did not
read to Philip, desiring him to go to San Francisco to look after some
government contracts in the harbor there.

Philip had to look about him for something to do; he was like Adam;
the world was all before him whereto choose.  He made, before he went
elsewhere, a somewhat painful visit to Philadelphia, painful but yet not
without its sweetnesses.  The family had never shown him so much
affection before; they all seemed to think his disappointment of more
importance than their own misfortune.  And there was that in Ruth's
manner--in what she gave him and what she withheld--that would have made
a hero of a very much less promising character than Philip Sterling.

Among the assets of the Bolton property, the Ilium tract was sold, and
Philip bought it in at the vendue, for a song, for no one cared to even
undertake the mortgage on it except himself.  He went away the owner of
it, and had ample time before he reached home in November, to calculate
how much poorer he was by possessing it.




CHAPTER L.

It is impossible for the historian, with even the best intentions,
to control events or compel the persons of his narrative to act wisely
or to be successful.  It is easy to see how things might have been better
managed; a very little change here and there would have made a very,
different history of this one now in hand.

If Philip had adopted some regular profession, even some trade, he might
now be a prosperous editor or a conscientious plumber, or an honest
lawyer, and have borrowed money at the saving's bank and built a cottage,
and be now furnishing it for the occupancy of Ruth and himself.  Instead
of this, with only a smattering of civil engineering, he is at his
mother's house, fretting and fuming over his ill-luck, and the hardness
and, dishonesty of men, and thinking of nothing but how to get the coal
out of the Ilium hills.

If Senator Dilworthy had not made that visit to Hawkeye, the Hawkins
family and Col. Sellers would not now be dancing attendance upon
Congress, and endeavoring to tempt that immaculate body into one of those
appropriations, for the benefit of its members, which the members find it
so difficult to explain to their constituents; and Laura would not be
lying in the Tombs, awaiting her trial for murder, and doing her best,
by the help of able counsel, to corrupt the pure fountain of criminal
procedure in New York.

If Henry Brierly had been blown up on the first Mississippi steamboat he
set foot on, as the chances were that he would be, he and Col. Sellers
never would have gone into the Columbus Navigation scheme, and probably
never into the East Tennessee Land scheme, and he would not now be
detained in New York from very important business operations on the
Pacific coast, for the sole purpose of giving evidence to convict of
murder the only woman he ever loved half as much as he loves himself.
If Mr. Bolton had said the little word "no" to Mr. Bigler, Alice Montague
might now be spending the winter in Philadelphia, and Philip also
(waiting to resume his mining operations in the spring); and Ruth would
not be an assistant in a Philadelphia hospital, taxing her strength with
arduous routine duties, day by day, in order to lighten a little the
burdens that weigh upon her unfortunate family.

It is altogether a bad business.  An honest historian, who had progressed
thus far, and traced everything to such a condition of disaster and
suspension, might well be justified in ending his narrative and writing
--"after this the deluge."  His only consolation would be in the reflection
that he was not responsible for either characters or events.

And the most annoying thought is that a little money, judiciously
applied, would relieve the burdens and anxieties of most of these people;
but affairs seem to be so arranged that money is most difficult to get
when people need it most.

A little of what Mr. Bolton has weakly given to unworthy people would now
establish his family in a sort of comfort, and relieve Ruth of the
excessive toil for which she inherited no adequate physical vigor.
A little money would make a prince of Col. Sellers; and a little more
would calm the anxiety of Washington Hawkins about Laura, for however the
trial ended, he could feel sure of extricating her in the end.  And if
Philip had a little money he could unlock the stone door in the mountain
whence would issue a stream of shining riches.  It needs a golden wand to
strike that rock.  If the Knobs University bill could only go through,
what a change would be wrought in the condition of most of the persons in
this history.  Even Philip himself would feel the good effects of it;
for Harry would have something and Col. Sellers would have something;
and have not both these cautious people expressed a determination to take
an interest in the Ilium mine when they catch their larks?

Philip could not resist the inclination to pay a visit to Fallkill.  He
had not been at the Montague's since the time he saw Ruth there, and he
wanted to consult the Squire about an occupation.  He was determined now
to waste no more time in waiting on Providence, but to go to work at
something, if it were nothing better, than teaching in the Fallkill
Seminary, or digging clams on Hingham beach.  Perhaps he could read law
in Squire Montague's office while earning his bread as a teacher in the
Seminary.

It was not altogether Philip's fault, let us own, that he was in this
position.  There are many young men like him in American society, of his
age, opportunities, education and abilities, who have really been
educated for nothing and have let themselves drift, in the hope that they
will find somehow, and by some sudden turn of good luck, the golden road
to fortune.  He was not idle or lazy, he had energy and a disposition to
carve his own way.  But he was born into a time when all young men of his
age caught the fever of speculation, and expected to get on in the world
by the omission of some of the regular processes which have been
appointed from of old.  And examples were not wanting to encourage him.
He saw people, all around him, poor yesterday, rich to-day, who had come
into sudden opulence by some means which they could not have classified
among any of the regular occupations of life.  A war would give such a
fellow a career and very likely fame.  He might have been a "railroad
man," or a politician, or a land speculator, or one of those mysterious
people who travel free on all rail-roads and steamboats, and are
continually crossing and recrossing the Atlantic, driven day and night
about nobody knows what, and make a great deal of money by so doing.
Probably, at last, he sometimes thought with a whimsical smile, he should
end by being an insurance agent, and asking people to insure their lives
for his benefit.

Possibly Philip did not think how much the attractions of Fallkill were
increased by the presence of Alice there.  He had known her so long, she
had somehow grown into his life by habit, that he would expect the
pleasure of her society without thinking mach about it.  Latterly he
never thought of her without thinking of Ruth, and if he gave the subject
any attention, it was probably in an undefined consciousness that, he had
her sympathy in his love, and that she was always willing to hear him
talk about it.  If he ever wondered that Alice herself was not in love
and never spoke of the possibility of her own marriage, it was a
transient thought for love did not seem necessary, exactly, to one so
calm and evenly balanced and with so many resources in her herself.

Whatever her thoughts may have been they were unknown to Philip, as they
are to these historians; if she was seeming to be what she was not, and
carrying a burden heavier than any one else carried, because she had to
bear it alone, she was only doing what thousands of women do, with a
self-renunciation and heroism, of which men, impatient and complaining,
have no conception.  Have not these big babies with beards filled all
literature with their outcries, their griefs and their lamentations?  It
is always the gentle sex which is hard and cruel and fickle and
implacable.

"Do you think you would be contented to live in Fallkill, and attend the
county Court?" asked Alice, when Philip had opened the budget of his new
programme.

"Perhaps not always," said Philip, "I might go and practice in Boston
maybe, or go to Chicago."

"Or you might get elected to Congress."

Philip looked at Alice to see if she was in earnest and not chaffing him.
Her face was quite sober.  Alice was one of those patriotic women in the
rural districts, who think men are still selected for Congress on account
of qualifications for the office.

"No," said Philip, "the chances are that a man cannot get into congress
now without resorting to arts and means that should render hint unfit to
go there; of course there are exceptions; but do you know that I could
not go into politics if I were a lawyer, without losing standing somewhat
in my profession, and without raising at least a suspicion of my
intentions and unselfishness?  Why, it is telegraphed all over the
country and commented on as something wonderful if a congressman votes
honestly and unselfishly and refuses to take advantage of his position to
steal from the government."

"But," insisted Alice, "I should think it a noble ambition to go to
congress, if it is so bad, and help reform it.  I don't believe it is as
corrupt as the English parliament used to be, if there is any truth in
the novels, and I suppose that is reformed."

"I'm sure I don't know where the reform is to begin.  I've seen a
perfectly capable, honest man, time and again, run against an illiterate
trickster, and get beaten.  I suppose if the people wanted decent members
of congress they would elect them.  Perhaps," continued Philip with a
smile, "the women will have to vote."

"Well, I should be willing to, if it were a necessity, just as I would go
to war and do what I could, if the country couldn't be saved otherwise,"
said Alice, with a spirit that surprised Philip, well as he thought he
knew her.  "If I were a young gentleman in these times--"

Philip laughed outright.  "It's just what Ruth used to say, 'if she were
a man.' I wonder if all the young ladies are contemplating a change of
sex."

"No, only a changed sex," retorted Alice; "we contemplate for the most
part young men who don't care for anything they ought to care for."

"Well," said Philip, looking humble, "I care for some things, you and
Ruth for instance; perhaps I ought not to.  Perhaps I ought to care for
Congress and that sort of thing."

"Don't be a goose, Philip.  I heard from Ruth yesterday."

"Can I see her letter?"

"No, indeed.  But I am afraid her hard work is telling on her, together
with her anxiety about her father."

"Do you think, Alice," asked Philip with one of those selfish thoughts
that are not seldom mixed with real love, "that Ruth prefers her
profession to--to marriage?"

"Philip," exclaimed Alice, rising to quit the room, and speaking
hurriedly as if the words were forced from her, "you are as blind as a
bat; Ruth would cut off her right hand for you this minute."

Philip never noticed that Alice's face was flushed and that her voice was
unsteady; he only thought of the delicious words he had heard.  And the
poor girl, loyal to Ruth, loyal to Philip, went straight to her room,
locked the door, threw herself on the bed and sobbed as if her heart
world break.  And then she prayed that her Father in Heaven would give
her strength.  And after a time she was calm again, and went to her
bureau drawer and took from a hiding place a little piece of paper,
yellow with age.  Upon it was pinned a four-leaved clover, dry and yellow
also.  She looked long at this foolish memento.  Under the clover leaf
was written in a school-girl's hand--"Philip, June, 186-."

Squire Montague thought very well of Philip's proposal.  It would have
been better if he had begun the study of the law as soon as he left
college, but it was not too late now, and besides he had gathered some
knowledge of the world.

"But," asked the Squire, "do you mean to abandon your land in
Pennsylvania?"  This track of land seemed an immense possible fortune to
this New England lawyer-farmer.  "Hasn't it good timber, and doesn't the
railroad almost touch it?"

"I can't do anything with it now.  Perhaps I can sometime."

"What is your reason for supposing that there is coal there?"

"The opinion of the best geologist I could consult, my own observation
of the country, and the little veins of it we found.  I feel certain it
is there.  I shall find it some day.  I know it.  If I can only keep the
land till I make money enough to try again."

Philip took from his pocket a map of the anthracite coal region, and
pointed out the position of the Ilium mountain which he had begun to
tunnel.

"Doesn't it look like it?"

"It certainly does," said the Squire, very much interested.  It is not
unusual for a quiet country gentleman to be more taken with such a
venture than a speculator who, has had more experience in its
uncertainty.  It was astonishing how many New England clergymen, in the
time of the petroleum excitement, took chances in oil.  The Wall street
brokers are said to do a good deal of small business for country
clergymen, who are moved no doubt with the laudable desire of purifying
the New York stock board.

"I don't see that there is much risk," said the Squire, at length.
"The timber is worth more than the mortgage; and if that coal seam does
run there, it's a magnificent fortune.  Would you like to try it again in
the spring, Phil?"

Like to try it!  If he could have a little help, he would work himself,
with pick and barrow, and live on a crust.  Only give him one more
chance.

And this is how it came about that the cautious old Squire Montague was
drawn into this young fellow's speculation, and began to have his serene
old age disturbed by anxieties and by the hope of a great stroke of luck.

"To be sure, I only care about it for the boy," he said.  The Squire was
like everybody else; sooner or later he must "take a chance."

It is probably on account of the lack of enterprise in women that they
are not so fond of stock speculations and mine ventures as men.  It is
only when woman becomes demoralized that she takes to any sort of
gambling.  Neither Alice nor Ruth were much elated with the prospect of
Philip's renewal of his mining enterprise.

But Philip was exultant.  He wrote to Ruth as if his fortune were already
made, and as if the clouds that lowered over the house of Bolton were
already in the deep bosom of a coal mine buried.  Towards spring he went
to Philadelphia with his plans all matured for a new campaign.  His
enthusiasm was irresistible.

"Philip has come, Philip has come," cried the children, as if some great
good had again come into the household; and the refrain even sang itself
over in Ruth's heart as she went the weary hospital rounds.  Mr. Bolton
felt more courage than he had had in months, at the sight of his manly
face and the sound of his cheery voice.

Ruth's course was vindicated now, and it certainly did not become Philip,
who had nothing to offer but a future chance against the visible result
of her determination and industry, to open an argument with her.  Ruth
was never more certain that she was right and that she was sufficient
unto herself.  She, may be, did not much heed the still small voice that
sang in her maiden heart as she went about her work, and which lightened
it and made it easy, "Philip has come."

"I am glad for father's sake," she said to Philip, that thee has come.
"I can see that he depends greatly upon what thee can do.  He thinks women
won't hold out long," added Ruth with the smile that Philip never exactly
understood.

"And aren't you tired sometimes of the struggle?"

"Tired?  Yes, everybody is tired I suppose.  But it is a glorious
profession.  And would you want me to be dependent, Philip?"

"Well, yes, a little," said Philip, feeling his way towards what he
wanted to say.

"On what, for instance, just now?" asked Ruth, a little maliciously
Philip thought.

"Why, on----" he couldn't quite say it, for it occurred to him that he was
a poor stick for any body to lean on in the present state of his fortune,
and that the woman before him was at least as independent as he was.

"I don't mean depend," he began again.  "But I love you, that's all.  Am
I nothing--to you?" And Philip looked a little defiant, and as if he had
said something that ought to brush away all the sophistries of obligation
on either side, between man and woman.

Perhaps Ruth saw this.  Perhaps she saw that her own theories of a
certain equality of power, which ought to precede a union of two hearts,
might be pushed too far.  Perhaps she had felt sometimes her own weakness
and the need after all of so dear a sympathy and so tender an interest
confessed, as that which Philip could give.  Whatever moved her--the
riddle is as old as creation--she simply looked up to Philip and said in
a low voice, "Everything."

And Philip clasping both her hands in his, and looking down into her
eyes, which drank in all his tenderness with the thirst of a true woman's
nature--

"Oh! Philip, come out here," shouted young Eli, throwing the door wide
open.

And Ruth escaped away to her room, her heart singing again, and now as if
it would burst for joy, "Philip has come."

That night Philip received a dispatch from Harry--"The trial begins
tomorrow."




CHAPTER, LI

December 18--, found Washington Hawkins and Col. Sellers once more at the
capitol of the nation, standing guard over the University bill.  The
former gentleman was despondent, the latter hopeful.  Washington's
distress of mind was chiefly on Laura's account.  The court would soon
sit to try her, case, he said, and consequently a great deal of ready
money would be needed in the engineering of it.  The University bill was
sure to pass this, time, and that would make money plenty, but might not
the help come too late?  Congress had only just assembled, and delays
were to be feared.

"Well," said the Colonel, "I don't know but you are more or less right,
there.  Now let's figure up a little on, the preliminaries.  I think
Congress always tries to do as near right as it can, according to its
lights.  A man can't ask any fairer, than that.  The first preliminary it
always starts out on, is, to clean itself, so to speak.  It will arraign
two or three dozen of its members, or maybe four or five dozen, for
taking bribes to vote for this and that and the other bill last winter."

"It goes up into the dozens, does it?"

"Well, yes; in a free country likes ours, where any man can run for
Congress and anybody can vote for him, you can't expect immortal purity
all the time--it ain't in nature.  Sixty or eighty or a hundred and fifty
people are bound to get in who are not angels in disguise, as young Hicks
the correspondent says; but still it is a very good average; very good
indeed.  As long as it averages as well as that, I think we can feel very
well satisfied.  Even in these days, when people growl so much and the
newspapers are so out of patience, there is still a very respectable
minority of honest men in Congress."

"Why a respectable minority of honest men can't do any good, Colonel."

"Oh, yes it can, too"

"Why, how?"

"Oh, in many ways, many ways."

"But what are the ways?"

"Well--I don't know--it is a question that requires time; a body can't
answer every question right off-hand.  But it does do good.  I am
satisfied of that."

"All right, then; grant that it does good; go on with the preliminaries."

"That is what I am coming to.  First, as I said, they will try a lot of
members for taking money for votes.  That will take four weeks."

"Yes, that's like last year; and it is a sheer waste of the time for
which the nation pays those men to work--that is what that is.  And it
pinches when a body's got a bill waiting."

"A waste of time, to purify the fountain of public law?  Well, I never
heard anybody express an idea like that before.  But if it were, it would
still be the fault of the minority, for the majority don't institute
these proceedings.  There is where that minority becomes an obstruction
--but still one can't say it is on the wrong side.--Well, after they have
finished the bribery cases, they will take up cases of members who have
bought their seats with money.  That will take another four weeks."

"Very good; go on.  You have accounted for two-thirds of the session."

"Next they will try each other for various smaller irregularities, like
the sale of appointments to West Point cadetships, and that sort of
thing--mere trifling pocket-money enterprises that might better, be
passed over in silence, perhaps, but then one of our Congresses can never
rest easy till it has thoroughly purified itself of all blemishes--and
that is a thing to be applauded."

"How long does it take to disinfect itself of these minor impurities?"

"Well, about two weeks, generally."

"So Congress always lies helpless in quarantine ten weeks of a session.
That's encouraging.  Colonel, poor Laura will never get any benefit from
our bill.  Her trial will be over before Congress has half purified
itself.--And doesn't it occur to you that by the time it has expelled all
its impure members there, may not be enough members left to do business
legally?"

"Why I did not say Congress would expel anybody."

"Well won't it expel anybody?"

"Not necessarily.  Did it last year?  It never does.  That would not be
regular."

"Then why waste all the session in that tomfoolery of trying members?"

"It is usual; it is customary; the country requires it."

"Then the country is a fool, I think."

"Oh, no.  The country thinks somebody is going to be expelled."

"Well, when nobody is expelled, what does the country think then?"

"By that time, the thing has strung out so long that the country is sick
and tired of it and glad to have a change on any terms.  But all that
inquiry is not lost.  It has a good moral effect."

"Who does it have a good moral effect on?"

"Well--I don't know.  On foreign countries, I think.  We have always been
under the gaze of foreign countries.  There is no country in the world,
sir, that pursues corruption as inveterately as we do.  There is no
country in the world whose representatives try each other as much as ours
do, or stick to it as long on a stretch.  I think there is something
great in being a model for the whole civilized world, Washington."

"You don't mean a model; you mean an example."

"Well, it's all the same; it's just the same thing.  It shows that a man
can't be corrupt in this country without sweating for it, I can tell you
that."

"Hang it, Colonel, you just said we never punish anybody for villainous
practices."

"But good God we try them, don't we!  Is it nothing to show a disposition
to sift things and bring people to a strict account?  I tell you it has
its effect."

"Oh, bother the effect!--What is it they do do?  How do they proceed?
You know perfectly well--and it is all bosh, too.  Come, now, how do they
proceed?"

"Why they proceed right and regular--and it ain't bosh, Washington, it
ain't bosh.  They appoint a committee to investigate, and that committee
hears evidence three weeks, and all the witnesses on one side swear that
the accused took money or stock or something for his vote.  Then the
accused stands up and testifies that he may have done it, but he was
receiving and handling a good deal of money at the time and he doesn't
remember this particular circumstance--at least with sufficient
distinctness to enable him to grasp it tangibly.  So of course the thing
is not proven--and that is what they say in the verdict.  They don't
acquit, they don't condemn.  They just say, 'Charge not proven.'  It
leaves the accused is a kind of a shaky condition before the country,
it purifies Congress, it satisfies everybody, and it doesn't seriously
hurt anybody.  It has taken a long time to perfect our system, but it is
the most admirable in the world, now."

"So one of those long stupid investigations always turns out in that lame
silly way.  Yes, you are correct.  I thought maybe you viewed the matter
differently from other people.  Do you think a Congress of ours could
convict the devil of anything if he were a member?"

"My dear boy, don't let these damaging delays prejudice you against
Congress.  Don't use such strong language; you talk like a newspaper.
Congress has inflicted frightful punishments on its members--now you know
that.  When they tried Mr. Fairoaks, and a cloud of witnesses proved him
to be--well, you know what they proved him to be--and his own testimony
and his own confessions gave him the same character, what did Congress do
then?--come!"

"Well, what did Congress do?"

"You know what Congress did, Washington.  Congress intimated plainly
enough, that they considered him almost a stain upon their body; and
without waiting ten days, hardly, to think the thing over, the rose up
and hurled at him a resolution declaring that they disapproved of his
conduct!  Now you know that, Washington."

"It was a terrific thing--there is no denying that.  If he had been
proven guilty of theft, arson, licentiousness, infanticide, and defiling
graves, I believe they would have suspended him for two days."

"You can depend on it, Washington.  Congress is vindictive, Congress is
savage, sir, when it gets waked up once.  It will go to any length to
vindicate its honor at such a time."

"Ah well, we have talked the morning through, just as usual in these
tiresome days of waiting, and we have reached the same old result; that
is to say, we are no better off than when we began.  The land bill is
just as far away as ever, and the trial is closer at hand.  Let's give up
everything and die."

"Die and leave the Duchess to fight it out all alone?  Oh, no, that won't
do.  Come, now, don't talk so.  It is all going to come out right.  Now
you'll see."

"It never will, Colonel, never in the world.  Something tells me that.
I get more tired and more despondent every day.  I don't see any hope;
life is only just a trouble.  I am so miserable, these days!"

The Colonel made Washington get up and walk the floor with him, arm in
arm.  The good old speculator wanted to comfort him, but he hardly knew
how to go about it.  He made many attempts, but they were lame; they
lacked spirit; the words were encouraging; but they were only words--he
could not get any heart into them.  He could not always warm up, now,
with the old Hawkeye fervor.  By and by his lips trembled and his voice
got unsteady.  He said:

"Don't give up the ship, my boy--don't do it.  The wind's bound to fetch
around and set in our favor.  I know it."

And the prospect was so cheerful that he wept.  Then he blew a
trumpet-blast that started the meshes of his handkerchief, and said in
almost his breezy old-time way:

"Lord bless us, this is all nonsense!  Night doesn't last always; day has
got to break some time or other.  Every silver lining has a cloud behind
it, as the poet says; and that remark has always cheered me; though
--I never could see any meaning to it.  Everybody uses it, though, and
everybody gets comfort out of it.  I wish they would start something
fresh.  Come, now, let's cheer up; there's been as good fish in the sea
as there are now.  It shall never be said that Beriah Sellers
--Come in?"

It was the telegraph boy.  The Colonel reached for the message and
devoured its contents:

"I said it!  Never give up the ship!  The trial's, postponed till
February, and we'll save the child yet.  Bless my life, what lawyers
they, have in New-York!  Give them money to fight with; and the ghost of
an excuse, and they: would manage to postpone anything in this world,
unless it might be the millennium or something like that.  Now for work
again my boy.  The trial will last to the middle of March, sure; Congress
ends the fourth of March.  Within three days of the end of the session
they will be done putting through the preliminaries then they will be
ready for national business:  Our bill will go through in forty-eight
hours, then, and we'll telegraph a million dollar's to the jury--to the
lawyers, I mean--and the verdict of the jury will be 'Accidental murder
resulting from justifiable insanity'--or something to, that effect,
something to that effect.--Everything is dead sure, now.  Come, what is
the matter?  What are you wilting down like that, for?  You mustn't be a
girl, you know."

"Oh, Colonel, I am become so used to troubles, so used to failures,
disappointments, hard luck of all kinds, that a little good news breaks
me right down.  Everything has been so hopeless that now I can't stand
good news at all.  It is too good to be true, anyway.  Don't you see how
our bad luck has worked on me?  My hair is getting gray, and many nights
I don't sleep at all.  I wish it was all over and we could rest.  I wish
we could lie, down and just forget everything, and let it all be just a
dream that is done and can't come back to trouble us any more.  I am so
tired."

"Ah, poor child, don't talk like that-cheer up--there's daylight ahead.
Don't give, up.  You'll have Laura again, and--Louise, and your mother,
and oceans and oceans of money--and then you can go away, ever so far
away somewhere, if you want to, and forget all about this infernal place.
And by George I'll go with you!  I'll go with you--now there's my word on
it.  Cheer up.  I'll run out and tell the friends the news."

And he wrung Washington's hand and was about to hurry away when his
companion, in a burst of grateful admiration said:

"I think you are the best soul and the noblest I ever knew, Colonel
Sellers! and if the people only knew you as I do, you would not be
tagging around here a nameless man--you would be in Congress."

The gladness died out of the Colonel's face, and he laid his hand upon
Washington's shoulder and said gravely:

"I have always been a friend of your family, Washington, and I think I
have always tried to do right as between man and man, according to my
lights.  Now I don't think there has ever been anything in my conduct
that should make you feel Justified in saying a thing like that."

He turned, then, and walked slowly out, leaving Washington abashed and
somewhat bewildered.  When Washington had presently got his thoughts into
line again, he said to himself, "Why, honestly, I only meant to
compliment him--indeed I would not have hurt him for the world."




CHAPTER LII.

The weeks drifted by monotonously enough, now.  The "preliminaries"
continued to drag along in Congress, and life was a dull suspense to
Sellers and Washington, a weary waiting which might have broken their
hearts, maybe, but for the relieving change which they got out of am
occasional visit to New York to see Laura.  Standing guard in Washington
or anywhere else is not an exciting business in time of peace, but
standing guard was all that the two friends had to do; all that was
needed of them was that they should be on hand and ready for any
emergency that might come up.  There was no work to do; that was all
finished; this was but the second session of the last winter's Congress,
and its action on the bill could have but one result--its passage.  The
house must do its work over again, of course, but the same membership was
there to see that it did it.--The Senate was secure--Senator Dilworthy
was able to put all doubts to rest on that head.  Indeed it was no secret
in Washington that a two-thirds vote in the Senate was ready and waiting
to be cast for the University bill as soon as it should come before that
body.

Washington did not take part in the gaieties of "the season," as he had
done the previous winter.  He had lost his interest in such things; he
was oppressed with cares, now.  Senator Dilworthy said to Washington that
an humble deportment, under punishment, was best, and that there was but
one way in which the troubled heart might find perfect repose and peace.
The suggestion found a response in Washington's breast, and the Senator
saw the sign of it in his face.

From that moment one could find the youth with the Senator even oftener
than with Col. Sellers.  When the statesman presided at great temperance
meetings, he placed Washington in the front rank of impressive
dignitaries that gave tone to the occasion and pomp to the platform.
His bald headed surroundings made the youth the more conspicuous.

When the statesman made remarks in these meetings, he not infrequently
alluded with effect to the encouraging spectacle of one of the wealthiest
and most brilliant young favorites of society forsaking the light
vanities of that butterfly existence to nobly and self-sacrificingly
devote his talents and his riches to the cause of saving his hapless
fellow creatures from shame and misery here and eternal regret hereafter.
At the prayer meetings the Senator always brought Washington up the aisle
on his arm and seated him prominently; in his prayers he referred to him
in the cant terms which the Senator employed, perhaps unconsciously, and
mistook, maybe, for religion, and in other ways brought him into notice.
He had him out at gatherings for the benefit of the negro, gatherings for
the benefit of the Indian, gatherings for the benefit of the heathen in
distant lands.  He had him out time and again, before Sunday Schools,
as an example for emulation.  Upon all these occasions the Senator made
casual references to many benevolent enterprises which his ardent young
friend was planning against the day when the passage of the University
bill should make his means available for the amelioration of the
condition of the unfortunate among his fellow men of all nations and all.
climes.  Thus as the weeks rolled on Washington grew up, into an imposing
lion once more, but a lion that roamed the peaceful fields of religion
and temperance, and revisited the glittering domain of fashion no more.
A great moral influence was thus brought, to bear in favor of the bill;
the  weightiest of friends flocked to its standard; its most energetic
enemies said it was useless to fight longer; they had tacitly surrendered
while as yet the day of battle was not come.




CHAPTER LIII.

The session was drawing toward its close.  Senator Dilworthy thought he
would run out west and shake hands with his constituents and let them
look at him.  The legislature whose duty it would be to re-elect him to
the United States Senate, was already in session.  Mr. Dilworthy
considered his re-election certain, but he was a careful, painstaking
man, and if, by visiting his State he could find the opportunity to
persuade a few more legislators to vote for him, he held the journey to
be well worth taking.  The University bill was safe, now; he could leave
it without fear; it needed his presence and his watching no longer.
But there was a person in his State legislature who did need watching
--a person who, Senator Dilworthy said, was a narrow, grumbling,
uncomfortable malcontent--a person who was stolidly opposed to reform,
and progress and him,--a person who, he feared, had been bought with
money to combat him, and through him the commonwealth's welfare and its
politics' purity.

"If this person Noble," said Mr. Dilworthy, in a little speech at a
dinner party given him by some of his admirers, "merely desired to
sacrifice me.--I would willingly offer up my political life on the altar
of my dear State's weal, I would be glad and grateful to do it; but when
he makes of me but a cloak to hide his deeper designs, when he proposes
to strike through me at the heart of my beloved State, all the lion in me
is roused--and I say here I stand, solitary and alone, but unflinching,
unquailing, thrice armed with my sacred trust; and whoso passes, to do
evil to this fair domain that looks to me for protection, must do so over
my dead body."

He further said that if this Noble were a pure man, and merely misguided,
he could bear it, but that he should succeed in his wicked designs
through, a base use of money would leave a blot upon his State which
would work untold evil to the morals of the people, and that he would not
suffer; the public morals must not be contaminated.  He would seek this
man Noble; he would argue, he would persuade, he would appeal to his
honor.

When he arrived on the ground he found his friends unterrified; they were
standing firmly by him and were full of courage.  Noble was working hard,
too, but matters were against him, he was not making much progress.
Mr. Dilworthy took an early opportunity to send for Mr. Noble; he had a
midnight interview with him, and urged him to forsake his evil ways; he
begged him to come again and again, which he did.  He finally sent the
man away at 3 o'clock one morning; and when he was gone, Mr. Dilworthy
said to himself,

"I feel a good deal relieved, now, a great deal relieved."

The Senator now turned his attention to matters touching the souls of his
people.  He appeared in church; he took a leading part in prayer
meetings; he met and encouraged the temperance societies; he graced the
sewing circles of the ladies with his presence, and even took a needle
now and then and made a stitch or two upon a calico shirt for some poor
Bibleless pagan of the South Seas, and this act enchanted the ladies,
who regarded the garments thus honored as in a manner sanctified.
The Senator wrought in Bible classes, and nothing could keep him away
from the Sunday Schools--neither sickness nor storms nor weariness.
He even traveled a tedious thirty miles in a poor little rickety
stagecoach to comply with the desire of the miserable hamlet of
Cattleville that he would let its Sunday School look upon him.

All the town was assembled at the stage office when he arrived,
two bonfires were burning, and a battery of anvils was popping exultant
broadsides; for a United States Senator was a sort of god in the
understanding of these people who never had seen any creature mightier
than a county judge.  To them a United States Senator was a vast, vague
colossus, an awe inspiring unreality.

Next day everybody was at the village church a full half hour before time
for Sunday School to open; ranchmen and farmers had come with their
families from five miles around, all eager to get a glimpse of the great
man--the man who had been to Washington; the man who had seen the
President of the United States, and had even talked with him; the man who
had seen the actual Washington Monument--perhaps touched it with his
hands.

When the Senator arrived the Church was crowded, the windows were full,
the aisles were packed, so was the vestibule, and so indeed was the yard
in front of the building.  As he worked his way through to the pulpit on
the arm of the minister and followed by the envied officials of the
village, every neck was stretched and, every eye twisted around
intervening obstructions to get a glimpse.  Elderly people directed each
other's attention and, said, "There! that's him, with the grand, noble
forehead!"  Boys nudged each other and said, "Hi, Johnny, here he is,
there, that's him, with the peeled head!"

The Senator took his seat in the pulpit, with the minister' on one side
of him and the Superintendent of the Sunday School on the other.
The town dignitaries sat in an impressive row within the altar railings
below.  The Sunday School children occupied ten of the front benches.
dressed in their best and most uncomfortable clothes, and with hair
combed and faces too clean to feel natural.  So awed were they by the
presence of a living United States Senator, that during three minutes not
a "spit ball" was thrown.  After that they began to come to themselves by
degrees, and presently the spell was wholly gone and they were reciting
verses and pulling hair.

The usual Sunday School exercises were hurried through, and then the
minister, got up and bored the house with a speech built on the customary
Sunday School plan; then the Superintendent put in his oar; then the town
dignitaries had their say.  They all made complimentary reference to
"their friend the Senator," and told what a great and illustrious man he
was and what he had done for his country and for religion and temperance,
and exhorted the little boys to be good and diligent and try to become
like him some day.  The speakers won the deathless hatred of the house by
these delays, but at last there was an end and hope revived; inspiration
was about to find utterance.

Senator Dilworthy rose and beamed upon the assemblage for a full minute
in silence.  Then he smiled with an access of sweetness upon the children
and began:

"My little friends--for I hope that all these bright-faced little people
are my friends and will let me be their friend--my little friends, I have
traveled much, I have been in many cities and many States, everywhere in
our great and noble country, and by the blessing of Providence I have
been permitted to see many gatherings like this--but I am proud, I am
truly proud to say that I never have looked upon so much intelligence,
so much grace, such sweetness of disposition as I see in the charming
young countenances I see before me at this moment.  I have been asking
myself as I sat here, Where am I?  Am I in some far-off monarchy, looking
upon little princes and princesses?  No.  Am I in some populous centre of
my own country, where the choicest children of the land have been
selected and brought together as at a fair for a prize?  No.  Am I in
some strange foreign clime where the children are marvels that we know
not of?  No.  Then where am I?  Yes--where am I?  I am in a simple,
remote, unpretending settlement of my own dear State, and these are the
children of the noble and virtuous men who have made me what I am!
My soul is lost in wonder at the thought!  And I humbly thank Him to whom
we are but as worms of the dust, that he has been pleased to call me to
serve such men!  Earth has no higher, no grander position for me.  Let
kings and emperors keep their tinsel crowns, I want them not; my heart is
here!

"Again I thought, Is this a theatre?  No.  Is it a concert or a gilded
opera?  No.  Is it some other vain, brilliant, beautiful temple of
soul-staining amusement and hilarity?  No.  Then what is it?  What did
my consciousness reply?  I ask you, my little friends, What did my
consciousness reply?  It replied, It is the temple of the Lord!  Ah,
think of that, now.  I could hardly keep the tears back, I was so
grateful.  Oh, how beautiful it is to see these ranks of sunny little
faces assembled here to learn the way of life; to learn to be good; to
learn to be useful; to learn to be pious; to learn to be great and
glorious men and women; to learn to be props and pillars of the State and
shining lights in the councils and the households of the nation; to be
bearers of the banner and soldiers of the cross in the rude campaigns of
life, and raptured souls in the happy fields of Paradise hereafter.

"Children, honor your parents and be grateful to them for providing for
you the precious privileges of a Sunday School.

"Now my dear little friends, sit up straight and pretty--there, that's
it--and give me your attention and let me tell you about a poor little
Sunday School scholar I once knew.--He lived in the far west, and his
parents were poor.  They could not give him a costly education; but they
were good and wise and they sent him to the Sunday School.  He loved the
Sunday School.  I hope you love your Sunday School--ah, I see by your
faces that you do!  That is right!

"Well, this poor little boy was always in his place when the bell rang,
and he always knew his lesson; for his teachers wanted him to learn and
he loved his teachers dearly.  Always love your teachers, my children,
for they love you more than you can know, now.  He would not let bad boys
persuade him to go to play on Sunday.  There was one little bad boy who
was always trying to persuade him, but he never could.

"So this poor little boy grew up to be a man, and had to go out in the
world, far from home and friends to earn his living.  Temptations lay all
about him, and sometimes he was about to yield, but he would think of
some precious lesson he learned in his Sunday School a long time ago, and
that would save him.  By and by he was elected to the legislature--Then
he did everything he could for Sunday Schools.  He got laws passed for
them; he got Sunday Schools established wherever he could.

"And by and by the people made him governor--and he said it was all owing
to the Sunday School.

"After a while the people elected him a Representative to the Congress of
the United States, and he grew very famous.--Now temptations assailed him
on every hand.  People tried to get him to drink wine; to dance, to go to
theatres; they even tried to buy his vote; but no, the memory of his
Sunday School saved him from all harm; he remembered the fate of the bad
little boy who used to try to get him to play on Sunday, and who grew up
and became a drunkard and was hanged.  He remembered that, and was glad
he never yielded and played on Sunday.

"Well, at last, what do you think happened?  Why the people gave him a
towering, illustrious position, a grand, imposing position.  And what do
you think it was?  What should you say it was, children?  It was Senator
of the United States!  That poor little boy that loved his Sunday School
became that man.  That man stands before you!  All that he is, he owes to
the Sunday School.

"My precious children, love your parents, love your teachers, love your
Sunday School, be pious, be obedient, be honest, be diligent, and then
you will succeed in life and be honored of all men.  Above all things,
my children, be honest.  Above all things be pure-minded as the snow.
Let us join in prayer."

When Senator Dilworthy departed from Cattleville, he left three dozen
boys behind him arranging a campaign of life whose objective point was
the United States Senate.

When he arrived at the State capital at midnight Mr. Noble came and held
a three-hours' conference with him, and then as he was about leaving
said:

"I've worked hard, and I've got them at last.  Six of them haven't got
quite back-bone enough to slew around and come right out for you on the
first ballot to-morrow; but they're going to vote against you on the
first for the sake of appearances, and then come out for you all in a
body on the second--I've fixed all that!  By supper time to-morrow you'll
be re-elected.  You can go to bed and sleep easy on that."

After Mr. Noble was gone, the Senator said:

"Well, to bring about a complexion of things like this was worth coming
West for."




CHAPTER LIV.

The case of the State of New York against Laura Hawkins was finally set
down for trial on the 15th day of February, less than a year after the
shooting of George Selby.

If the public had almost forgotten the existence of Laura and her crime,
they were reminded of all the details of the murder by the newspapers,
which for some days had been announcing the approaching trial.  But they
had not forgotten.  The sex, the age, the beauty of the prisoner; her
high social position in Washington, the unparalleled calmness with which
the crime was committed had all conspired to fix the event in the public
mind, although nearly three hundred and sixty-five subsequent murders had
occurred to vary the monotony of metropolitan life.

No, the public read from time to time of the lovely prisoner, languishing
in the city prison, the tortured victim of the law's delay; and as the
months went by it was natural that the horror of her crime should become
a little indistinct in memory, while the heroine of it should be invested
with a sort of sentimental interest.  Perhaps her counsel had calculated
on this.  Perhaps it was by their advice that Laura had interested
herself in the unfortunate criminals who shared her prison confinement,
and had done not a little to relieve, from her own purse, the necessities
of some of the poor creatures.  That she had done this, the public read
in the journals of the day, and the simple announcement cast a softening
light upon her character.

The court room was crowded at an early hour, before the arrival of
judges, lawyers and prisoner.  There is no enjoyment so keen to certain
minds as that of looking upon the slow torture of a human being on trial
for life, except it be an execution; there is no display of human
ingenuity, wit and power so fascinating as that made by trained lawyers
in the trial of an important case, nowhere else is exhibited such
subtlety, acumen, address, eloquence.

All the conditions of intense excitement meet in a murder trial.  The
awful issue at stake gives significance to the lightest word or look.
How the quick eyes of the spectators rove from the stolid jury to the
keen lawyers, the impassive judge, the anxious prisoner.  Nothing is
lost of the sharp wrangle of the counsel on points of law, the measured
decision's of the bench; the duels between the attorneys and the
witnesses.  The crowd sways with the rise and fall of the shifting,
testimony, in sympathetic interest, and hangs upon the dicta of the
judge in breathless silence.  It speedily takes sides for or against
the accused, and recognizes as quickly its favorites among the lawyers.
Nothing delights it more than the sharp retort of a witness and the
discomfiture of an obnoxious attorney.  A joke, even if it be a lame,
one, is no where so keenly relished or quickly applauded as in a murder
trial.

Within the bar the young lawyers and the privileged hangers-on filled all
the chairs except those reserved at the table for those engaged in the
case.  Without, the throng occupied all the seats, the window ledges and
the standing room.  The atmosphere was already something horrible.
It was the peculiar odor of a criminal court, as if it were tainted by
the presence, in different persons, of all the crimes that men and women
can commit.

There was a little stir when the Prosecuting Attorney, with two
assistants, made his way in, seated himself at the table, and spread his
papers before him.  There was more stir when the counsel of the defense
appeared.  They were Mr. Braham, the senior, and Mr. Quiggle and Mr.
O'Keefe, the juniors.

Everybody in the court room knew Mr. Braham, the great criminal lawyer,
and he was not unaware that he was the object of all eyes as he moved to
his place, bowing to his friends in the bar.  A large but rather spare
man, with broad shoulders and a massive head, covered with chestnut curls
which fell down upon his coat collar and which he had a habit of shaking
as a lion is supposed to shake his mane.  His face was clean shaven,
and he had a wide mouth and rather small dark eyes, set quite too near
together: Mr. Braham wore a brown frock coat buttoned across his breast,
with a rose-bud in the upper buttonhole, and light pantaloons.
A diamond stud was seen to flash from his bosom; and as he seated himself
and drew off his gloves a heavy seal ring was displayed upon his white
left hand.  Mr. Braham having seated himself, deliberately surveyed the
entire house, made a remark to one of his assistants, and then taking an
ivory-handled knife from his pocket began to pare his finger nails,
rocking his chair backwards and forwards slowly.

A moment later Judge O'Shaunnessy entered at the rear door and took his
seat in one of the chairs behind the bench; a gentleman in black
broadcloth, with sandy hair, inclined to curl, a round; reddish and
rather jovial face, sharp rather than intellectual, and with a
self-sufficient air.  His career had nothing remarkable in it.  He was
descended from a long line of Irish Kings, and he was the first one of
them who had ever come into his kingdom--the kingdom of such being the
city of New York.  He had, in fact, descended so far and so low that he
found himself, when a boy, a sort of street Arab in that city; but he had
ambition and native shrewdness, and he speedily took to boot-polishing,
and newspaper hawking, became the office and errand boy of a law firm,
picked up knowledge enough to get some employment in police courts, was
admitted to the bar, became a rising young politician, went to the
legislature, and was finally elected to the bench which he now honored.
In this democratic country he was obliged to conceal his royalty under
a plebeian aspect.  Judge O'Shaunnessy never had a lucrative practice nor
a large salary but he had prudently laid away money-believing that
a dependant judge can never be impartial--and he had lands and houses
to the value of three or four hundred thousand dollars.  Had he not
helped to build and furnish this very Court House?  Did he not know that
the very "spittoon" which his judgeship used cost the city the sum of one
thousand dollars?

As soon as the judge was seated, the court was opened with the "oi yis,
oi yis" of the officer in his native language, the case called, and the
sheriff was directed to bring in the prisoner.  In the midst of a
profound hush Laura entered, leaning on the arm of the officer, and was
conducted to a seat by her counsel.  She was followed by her mother and
by Washington Hawkins, who were given seats near her.

Laura was very pale, but this pallor heightened the lustre of her large
eyes and gave a touching sadness to her expressive face.  She was dressed
in simple black, with exquisite taste, and without an ornament.  The thin
lace vail which partially covered her face did not so much conceal as
heighten her beauty.  She would not have entered a drawing room with more
self-poise, nor a church with more haughty humility.  There was in her
manner or face neither shame nor boldness, and when she took her seat in
fall view of half the spectators, her eyes were downcast.  A murmur of
admiration ran through the room.  The newspaper reporters made their
pencils fly.  Mr. Braham again swept his eyes over the house as if in
approval.  When Laura at length raised her eyes a little, she saw Philip
and Harry within the bar, but she gave no token of recognition.

The clerk then read the indictment, which was in the usual form.  It
charged Laura Hawkins, in effect, with the premeditated murder of George
Selby, by shooting him with a pistol, with a revolver, shotgun, rifle,
repeater, breech-loader, cannon, six-shooter, with a gun, or some other,
weapon; with killing him with a slung-shot, a bludgeon, carving knife,
bowie knife, pen knife, rolling pin, car, hook, dagger, hair pin, with a
hammer, with a screw-driver; with a nail, and with all other weapons and
utensils whatsoever, at the Southern hotel and in all other hotels and
places wheresoever, on the thirteenth day of March and all other days of
the Christian era wheresoever.

Laura stood while the long indictment was read; and at the end, in
response to the inquiry, of the judge, she said in a clear, low voice;
"Not guilty."  She sat down and the court proceeded to impanel a jury.

The first man called was Michael Lanigan, saloon keeper.

"Have you formed or expressed any opinion on this case, and do you know
any of the parties?"

"Not any," said Mr. Lanigan.

"Have you any conscientious objections to capital punishment?"

"No, sir, not to my knowledge."

"Have you read anything about this case?"

"To be sure, I read the papers, y'r Honor."

Objected to by Mr. Braham, for cause, and discharged.

Patrick Coughlin.

"What is your business?"

"Well--I haven't got any particular business."

"Haven't any particular business, eh?  Well, what's your general
business?  What do you do for a living?"

"I own some terriers, sir."

"Own some terriers, eh?  Keep a rat pit?"

"Gentlemen comes there to have a little sport.  I never fit 'em, sir."

"Oh, I see--you are probably the amusement committee of the city council.
Have you ever heard of this case?"

"Not till this morning, sir."

"Can you read?"

"Not fine print, y'r Honor."

The man was about to be sworn, when Mr. Braham asked,

"Could your father read?"

"The old gentleman was mighty handy at that, sir."

Mr. Braham submitted that the man was disqualified Judge thought not.
Point argued.  Challenged peremptorily, and set aside.

Ethan Dobb, cart-driver.

"Can you read?"

"Yes, but haven't a habit of it."

"Have you heard of this case?"

"I think so--but it might be another.  I have no opinion about it."

Dist. A.  "Tha--tha--there!  Hold on a bit?  Did anybody tell you to say
you had no opinion about it?"

"N--n--o, sir."

"Take care now, take care.  Then what suggested it to you to volunteer
that remark?"

"They've always asked that, when I was on juries."

"All right, then.  Have you any conscientious scruples about capital
punishment?"

"Any which?"

"Would you object to finding a person guilty--of murder on evidence?"

"I might, sir, if I thought he wan't guilty."

The district attorney thought he saw a point.

"Would this feeling rather incline you against a capital conviction?"

The juror said he hadn't any feeling, and didn't know any of the parties.
Accepted and sworn.

Dennis Lafin, laborer.  Have neither formed nor expressed an opinion.
Never had heard of the case.  Believed in hangin' for them that deserved
it.  Could read if it was necessary.

Mr. Braham objected.  The man was evidently bloody minded.  Challenged
peremptorily.

Larry O'Toole, contractor.  A showily dressed man of the style known as
"vulgar genteel," had a sharp eye and a ready tongue.  Had read the
newspaper reports of the case, but they made no impression on him.
Should be governed by the evidence.  Knew no reason why he could not be
an impartial juror.

Question by District Attorney.

"How is it that the reports made no impression on you?"

"Never believe anything I see in the newspapers."

(Laughter from the crowd, approving smiles from his Honor and Mr.
Braham.) Juror sworn in.  Mr. Braham whispered to O'Keefe, "that's the
man."

Avery Hicks, pea-nut peddler.  Did he ever hear of this case?  The man
shook his head.

"Can you read?"

"No."  "Any scruples about capital punishment?"

"No."

He was about to be sworn, when the district attorney turning to him
carelessly, remarked,

"Understand the nature of an oath?"

"Outside," said the man, pointing to the door.

"I say, do you know what an oath is?"

"Five cents," explained the man.

"Do you mean to insult me?" roared the prosecuting officer. "Are you an
idiot?"

"Fresh baked.  I'm deefe.  I don't hear a word you say."

The man was discharged.  "He wouldn't have made a bad juror, though,"
whispered Braham.  "I saw him looking at the prisoner sympathizingly.
That's a point you want to watch for."

The result of the whole day's work was the selection of only two jurors.
These however were satisfactory to Mr. Braham.  He had kept off all those
he did not know.  No one knew better than this great criminal lawyer that
the battle was fought on the selection of the jury.  The subsequent
examination of witnesses, the eloquence expended on the jury are all for
effect outside.  At least that is the theory of Mr. Braham.  But human
nature is a queer thing, he admits; sometimes jurors are unaccountably
swayed, be as careful as you can in choosing them.

It was four weary days before this jury was made up, but when it was
finally complete, it did great credit to the counsel for the defence.
So far as Mr. Braham knew, only two could read, one of whom was the
foreman, Mr. Braham's friend, the showy contractor.  Low foreheads and
heavy faces they all had; some had a look of animal cunning, while the
most were only stupid.  The entire panel formed that boasted heritage
commonly described as the "bulwark of our liberties."

The District Attorney, Mr. McFlinn, opened the case for the state.  He
spoke with only the slightest accent, one that had been inherited but not
cultivated.  He contented himself with a brief statement of the case.
The state would prove that Laura Hawkins, the prisoner at the bar, a
fiend in the form of a beautiful woman, shot dead George Selby, a
Southern gentleman, at the time and place described.  That the murder
was in cold blood, deliberate and without provocation; that it had been
long premeditated and threatened; that she had followed the deceased from
Washington to commit it.  All this would be proved by unimpeachable
witnesses.  The attorney added that the duty of the jury, however painful
it might be, would be plain and simple.  They were citizens, husbands,
perhaps fathers.  They knew how insecure life had become in the
metropolis.  Tomorrow our own wives might be widows, their own children
orphans, like the bereaved family in yonder hotel, deprived of husband
and father by the jealous hand of some murderous female.  The attorney
sat down, and the clerk called?

"Henry Brierly."




CHAPTER LV.

Henry Brierly took the stand.  Requested by the District Attorney to tell
the jury all he knew about the killing, he narrated the circumstances
substantially as the reader already knows them.

He accompanied Miss Hawkins to New York at her request, supposing she was
coming in relation to a bill then pending in Congress, to secure the
attendance of absent members.  Her note to him was here shown.  She
appeared to be very much excited at the Washington station.  After she
had asked the conductor several questions, he heard her say, "He can't
escape."  Witness asked her "Who?" and she replied "Nobody."  Did not see
her during the night.  They traveled in a sleeping car.  In the morning
she appeared not to have slept, said she had a headache.  In crossing the
ferry she asked him about the shipping in sight; he pointed out where the
Cunarders lay when in port.  They took a cup of coffee that morning at a
restaurant.  She said she was anxious to reach the Southern Hotel where
Mr. Simons, one of the absent members, was staying, before he went out.
She was entirely self-possessed, and beyond unusual excitement did not
act unnaturally.  After she had fired twice at Col. Selby, she turned the
pistol towards her own breast, and witness snatched it from her.  She had
seen a great deal with Selby in Washington, appeared to be infatuated
with him.

(Cross-examined by Mr. Braham.) "Mist-er.....er Brierly!" (Mr. Braham had
in perfection this lawyer's trick of annoying a witness, by drawling out
the "Mister," as if unable to recall the name, until the witness is
sufficiently aggravated, and then suddenly, with a rising inflection,
flinging his name at him with startling unexpectedness.) "Mist-er.....er
Brierly!  What is your occupation?"

"Civil Engineer, sir."

"Ah, civil engineer, (with a glance at the jury).  Following that
occupation with Miss Hawkins?" (Smiles by the jury).

"No, sir," said Harry, reddening.

"How long have you known the prisoner?"

"Two years, sir.  I made her acquaintance in Hawkeye, Missouri."

"M.....m...m.  Mist-er.....er Brierly!  Were you not a lover of Miss
Hawkins?"

Objected to.  "I submit, your Honor, that I have the right to establish
the relation of this unwilling witness to the prisoner."  Admitted.

"Well, sir," said Harry hesitatingly, "we were friends."

"You act like a friend!" (sarcastically.) The jury were beginning to hate
this neatly dressed young sprig.  "Mister......er....Brierly!  Didn't
Miss Hawkins refuse you?"

Harry blushed and stammered and looked at the judge.  "You must answer,
sir," said His Honor.

"She--she--didn't accept me."

"No.  I should think not.  Brierly do you dare tell the jury that you had
not an interest in the removal of your rival, Col. Selby?" roared Mr.
Braham in a voice of thunder.

"Nothing like this, sir, nothing like this," protested the witness.

"That's all, sir," said Mr. Braham severely.

"One word," said the District Attorney.  "Had you the least suspicion of
the prisoner's intention, up to the moment of the shooting?"

"Not the least," answered Harry earnestly.

"Of course not, of course-not," nodded Mr. Braham to the jury.

The prosecution then put upon the stand the other witnesses of the
shooting at the hotel, and the clerk and the attending physicians.  The
fact of the homicide was clearly established.  Nothing new was elicited,
except from the clerk, in reply to a question by Mr. Braham, the fact
that when the prisoner enquired for Col. Selby she appeared excited and
there was a wild look in her eyes.

The dying deposition of Col. Selby was then produced.  It set forth
Laura's threats, but there was a significant addition to it, which the
newspaper report did not have.  It seemed that after the deposition was
taken as reported, the Colonel was told for the first time by his
physicians that his wounds were mortal.  He appeared to be in great
mental agony and fear; and said he had not finished his deposition.
He added, with great difficulty and long pauses these words.  "I--have
--not--told--all.  I must tell--put--it--down--I--wronged--her.  Years
--ago--I--can't see--O--God--I--deserved----"  That was all.  He fainted
and did not revive again.

The Washington railway conductor testified that the prisoner had asked
him if a gentleman and his family went out on the evening train,
describing the persons he had since learned were Col. Selby and family.

Susan Cullum, colored servant at Senator Dilworthy's, was sworn.  Knew
Col. Selby.  Had seen him come to the house often, and be alone in the
parlor with Miss Hawkins.  He came the day but one before he was shot.
She let him in.  He appeared flustered like.  She heard talking in the
parlor, I peared like it was quarrelin'.  Was afeared sumfin' was wrong:
Just put her ear to--the--keyhole of the back parlor-door.  Heard a man's
voice, "I--can't--I can't, Good God," quite beggin' like.  Heard--young
Miss' voice, "Take your choice, then.  If you 'bandon me, you knows what
to 'spect."  Then he rushes outen the house, I goes in--and I says,
"Missis did you ring?"  She was a standin' like a tiger, her eyes
flashin'.  I come right out.

This was the substance of Susan's testimony, which was not shaken in the
least by severe cross-examination.  In reply to Mr. Braham's question, if
the prisoner did not look insane, Susan said, "Lord; no, sir, just mad as
a hawnet."

Washington Hawkins was sworn.  The pistol, identified by the officer as
the one used in the homicide, was produced Washington admitted that it
was his.  She had asked him for it one morning, saying she thought she
had heard burglars the night before.  Admitted that he never had heard
burglars in the house.  Had anything unusual happened just before that.

Nothing that he remembered.  Did he accompany her to a reception at Mrs.
Shoonmaker's a day or two before?  Yes.  What occurred?  Little by little
it was dragged out of the witness that Laura had behaved strangely there,
appeared to be sick, and he had taken her home.  Upon being pushed he
admitted that she had afterwards confessed that she saw Selby there.
And Washington volunteered the statement that Selby, was a black-hearted
villain.

The District Attorney said, with some annoyance; "There--there! That will
do."

The defence declined to examine Mr. Hawkins at present.  The case for the
prosecution was closed.  Of the murder there could not be the least
doubt, or that the prisoner followed the deceased to New York with a
murderous intent:  On the evidence the jury must convict, and might do so
without leaving their seats.  This was the condition of the case
two days after the jury had been selected.  A week had passed since the
trial opened; and a Sunday had intervened.

The public who read the reports of the evidence saw no chance for the
prisoner's escape.  The crowd of spectators who had watched the trial
were moved with the most profound sympathy for Laura.

Mr. Braham opened the case for the defence.  His manner was subdued, and
he spoke in so low a voice that it was only by reason of perfect silence
in the court room that he could be heard.  He spoke very distinctly,
however, and if his nationality could be discovered in his speech it was
only in a certain richness and breadth of tone.

He began by saying that he trembled at the responsibility he had
undertaken; and he should, altogether despair, if he did not see before
him a jury of twelve men of rare intelligence, whose acute minds would
unravel all the sophistries of the prosecution, men with a sense, of
honor, which would revolt at the remorseless persecution of this hunted
woman by the state, men with hearts to feel for the wrongs of which she
was the victim.  Far be it from him to cast any suspicion upon the
motives of the able, eloquent and ingenious lawyers of the state; they
act officially; their business is to convict.  It is our business,
gentlemen, to see that justice is done.

"It is my duty, gentlemen, to untold to you one of the most affecting
dramas in all, the history of misfortune.  I shall have to show you a
life, the sport of fate and circumstances, hurried along through shifting
storm and sun, bright with trusting innocence and anon black with
heartless villainy, a career which moves on in love and desertion and
anguish, always hovered over by the dark spectre of INSANITY--an insanity
hereditary and induced by mental torture,--until it ends, if end it must
in your verdict, by one of those fearful accidents, which are inscrutable
to men and of which God alone knows the secret.

"Gentlemen, I, shall ask you to go with me away from this court room and
its minions of the law, away from the scene of this tragedy, to a
distant, I wish I could say a happier day.  The story I have to tell is
of a lovely little girl, with sunny hair and laughing eyes, traveling
with her parents, evidently people of wealth and refinement, upon a
Mississippi steamboat.  There is an explosion, one of those terrible
catastrophes which leave the imprint of an unsettled mind upon the
survivors.  Hundreds of mangled remains are sent into eternity.  When the
wreck is cleared away this sweet little girl is found among the panic
stricken survivors in the midst of a scene of horror enough to turn the
steadiest brain.  Her parents have disappeared.  Search even for their
bodies is in vain.  The bewildered, stricken child--who can say what
changes the fearful event wrought in her tender brain--clings to the
first person who shows her sympathy.  It is Mrs. Hawkins, this good lady
who is still her loving friend.  Laura is adopted into the Hawkins
family.  Perhaps she forgets in time that she is not their child.  She is
an orphan.  No, gentlemen, I will not deceive you, she is not an orphan.
Worse than that.  There comes another day of agony.  She knows that her
father lives.  Who is he, where is he?  Alas, I cannot tell you.  Through
the scenes of this painful history he flits here and there a lunatic!
If he, seeks his daughter, it is the purposeless search of a lunatic, as
one who wanders bereft of reason, crying where is my child?  Laura seeks
her father.  In vain just as she is about to find him, again and again-he
disappears, he is gone, he vanishes.

"But this is only the prologue to the tragedy.  Bear with me while I
relate it.  (Mr. Braham takes out a handkerchief, unfolds it slowly;
crashes it in his nervous hand, and throws it on the table).  Laura grew
up in her humble southern home, a beautiful creature, the joy, of the
house, the pride of the neighborhood, the loveliest flower in all the
sunny south.  She might yet have been happy; she was happy.  But the
destroyer came into this paradise.  He plucked the sweetest bud that grew
there, and having enjoyed its odor, trampled it in the mire beneath his
feet.  George Selby, the deceased, a handsome, accomplished Confederate
Colonel, was this human fiend.  He deceived her with a mock marriage;
after some months he brutally, abandoned her, and spurned her as if she
were a contemptible thing; all the time he had a wife in New Orleans.
Laura was crushed.  For weeks, as I shall show you by the testimony of
her adopted mother and brother, she hovered over death in delirium.
Gentlemen, did she ever emerge from this delirium?  I shall show you that
when she recovered her health, her mind was changed, she was not what she
had been.  You can judge yourselves whether the tottering reason ever
recovered its throne.

"Years pass.  She is in Washington, apparently the happy favorite of a
brilliant society.  Her family have become enormously rich by one of
those sudden turns, in fortune that the inhabitants of America are
familiar with--the discovery of immense mineral wealth in some wild lands
owned by them.  She is engaged in a vast philanthropic scheme for the
benefit of the poor, by, the use of this wealth.  But, alas, even here
and now, the same, relentless fate pursued her.  The villain Selby
appears again upon the scene, as if on purpose to complete the ruin of
her life.  He appeared to taunt her with her dishonor, he threatened
exposure if she did not become again the mistress of his passion.
Gentlemen, do you wonder if this woman, thus pursued, lost her reason,
was beside herself with fear, and that her wrongs preyed upon her mind
until she was no longer responsible for her acts?  I turn away my head as
one who would not willingly look even upon the just vengeance of Heaven.
(Mr. Braham paused as if overcome by his emotions.  Mrs. Hawkins and
Washington were in tears, as were many of the spectators also.  The jury
looked scared.)

"Gentlemen, in this condition of affairs it needed but a spark--I do not
say a suggestion, I do not say a hint--from this butterfly Brierly; this
rejected rival, to cause the explosion.  I make no charges, but if this
woman was in her right mind when she fled from Washington and reached
this city in company--with Brierly, then I do not know what insanity is."

When Mr. Braham sat down, he felt that he had the jury with him.  A burst
of applause followed, which the officer promptly, suppressed.  Laura,
with tears in her eyes, turned a grateful look upon her counsel.  All the
women among the spectators saw the tears and wept also.  They thought as
they also looked at Mr. Braham; how handsome he is!

Mrs. Hawkins took the stand.  She was somewhat confused to be the target
of so many, eyes, but her honest and good face at once told in Laura's
favor.

"Mrs. Hawkins," said Mr. Braham, "will you' be kind enough to state the
circumstances of your finding Laura?"

"I object," said Mr. McFlinn; rising to his feet.  "This has nothing
whatever to do with the case, your honor.  I am surprised at it, even
after the extraordinary speech of my learned friend."

"How do you propose to connect it, Mr. Braham?" asked the judge.

"If it please the court," said Mr. Braham, rising impressively, "your
Honor has permitted the prosecution, and I have submitted without a word;
to go into the most extraordinary testimony to establish a motive.  Are
we to be shut out from showing that the motive attributed to us could not
by reason of certain mental conditions exist?  I purpose, may, it please
your Honor, to show the cause and the origin of an aberration of mind,
to follow it up, with other like evidence, connecting it with the very
moment of the homicide, showing a condition of the intellect, of the
prisoner that precludes responsibility."

"The State must insist upon its objections," said the District Attorney.
"The purpose evidently is to open the door to a mass of irrelevant
testimony, the object of which is to produce an effect upon the jury your
Honor well understands."

"Perhaps," suggested the judge, "the court ought to hear the testimony,
and exclude it afterwards, if it is irrelevant."

"Will your honor hear argument on that!"

"Certainly."

And argument his honor did hear, or pretend to, for two whole days,
from all the counsel in turn, in the course of which the lawyers read
contradictory decisions enough to perfectly establish both sides, from
volume after volume, whole libraries in fact, until no mortal man could
say what the rules were.  The question of insanity in all its legal
aspects was of course drawn into the discussion, and its application
affirmed and denied.  The case was felt to turn upon the admission or
rejection of this evidence.  It was a sort of test trial of strength
between the lawyers.  At the end the judge decided to admit the
testimony, as the judge usually does in such cases, after a sufficient
waste of time in what are called arguments.

Mrs. Hawkins was allowed to go on.




CHAPTER LVI.

Mrs. Hawkins slowly and conscientiously, as if every detail of her family
history was important, told the story of the steamboat explosion, of the
finding and adoption of Laura.  Silas, that its Mr. Hawkins, and she
always loved Laura, as if she had been their own, child.

She then narrated the circumstances of Laura's supposed marriage, her
abandonment and long illness, in a manner that touched all hearts.  Laura
had been a different woman since then.

Cross-examined.  At the time of first finding Laura on the steamboat,
did she notice that Laura's mind was at all deranged?  She couldn't say
that she did.  After the recovery of Laura from her long illness, did
Mrs. Hawkins think there, were any signs of insanity about her?  Witness
confessed that she did not think of it then.

Re-Direct examination.  "But she was different after that?"

"O, yes, sir."

Washington Hawkins corroborated his mother's testimony as to Laura's
connection with Col. Selby.  He was at Harding during the time of her
living there with him.  After Col. Selby's desertion she was almost dead,
never appeared to know anything rightly for weeks.  He added that he
never saw such a scoundrel as Selby.  (Checked by District attorney.)
Had he noticed any change in, Laura after her illness?  Oh, yes.
Whenever, any allusion was made that might recall Selby to mind, she
looked awful--as if she could kill him.

"You mean," said Mr. Braham, "that there was an unnatural, insane gleam
in her eyes?"

"Yes, certainly," said Washington in confusion.

All this was objected to by the district attorney, but it was got before
the jury, and Mr. Braham did not care how much it was ruled out after
that.

"Beriah Sellers was the next witness called.  The Colonel made his way to
the stand with majestic, yet bland deliberation.  Having taken the oath
and kissed the Bible with a smack intended to show his great respect for
that book, he bowed to his Honor with dignity, to the jury with
familiarity, and then turned to the lawyers and stood in an attitude of
superior attention.

"Mr. Sellers, I believe?" began Mr. Braham.

"Beriah Sellers, Missouri," was the courteous acknowledgment that the
lawyer was correct.

"Mr. Sellers; you know the parties here, you are a friend of the family?"

"Know them all, from infancy, sir.  It was me, sir, that induced Silas
Hawkins, Judge Hawkins, to come to Missouri, and make his fortune.
It was by my advice and in company with me, sir, that he went into the
operation of--"

"Yes, yes.  Mr. Sellers, did you know a Major Lackland?"

"Knew him, well, sir, knew him and honored him, sir.  He was one of the
most remarkable men of our country, sir.  A member of congress.  He was
often at my mansion sir, for weeks.  He used to say to me, 'Col. Sellers,
if you would go into politics, if I had you for a colleague, we should
show Calhoun and Webster that the brain of the country didn't lie east of
the Alleganies.  But I said--"

"Yes, yes.  I believe Major Lackland is not living, Colonel?"

There was an almost imperceptible sense of pleasure betrayed in the
Colonel's face at this prompt acknowledgment of his title.

"Bless you, no.  Died years ago, a miserable death, sir, a ruined man,
a poor sot.  He was suspected of selling his vote in Congress, and
probably he did; the disgrace killed' him, he was an outcast, sir,
loathed by himself and by his constituents.  And I think; sir"----

The Judge.  "You will confine yourself, Col. Sellers to the questions of
the counsel."

"Of course, your honor.  This," continued the Colonel in confidential
explanation, "was twenty years ago.  I shouldn't have thought of referring
to such a trifling circumstance now.  If I remember rightly, sir"--

A bundle of letters was here handed to the witness.

"Do you recognize, that hand-writing?"

"As if it was my own, sir. It's Major Lackland's. I was knowing to these
letters when Judge Hawkins received them.  [The Colonel's memory was a
little at fault here.  Mr. Hawkins had never gone into detail's with him
on this subject.]  He used to show them to me, and say, 'Col, Sellers
you've a mind to untangle this sort of thing.'  Lord, how everything
comes back to me.  Laura was a little thing then. 'The Judge and I were
just laying our plans to buy the Pilot Knob, and--"

"Colonel, one moment.  Your Honor, we put these letters in evidence."

The letters were a portion of the correspondence of Major Lackland with
Silas Hawkins; parts of them were missing and important letters were
referred to that were not here.  They related, as the reader knows, to
Laura's father.  Lackland had come upon the track of a man who was
searching for a lost child in a Mississippi steamboat explosion years
before.  The man was lame in one leg, and appeared to be flitting from
place to place.  It seemed that Major Lackland got so close track of him
that he was able to describe his personal appearance and learn his name.
But the letter containing these particulars was lost.  Once he heard of
him at a hotel in Washington; but the man departed, leaving an empty
trunk, the day before the major went there.  There was something very
mysterious in all his movements.

Col. Sellers, continuing his testimony, said that he saw this lost
letter, but could not now recall the name.  Search for the supposed
father had been continued by Lackland, Hawkins and himself for several
years, but Laura was not informed of it till after the death of Hawkins,
for fear of raising false hopes in her mind.

Here the Distract Attorney arose and said,

"Your Honor, I must positively object to letting the witness wander off
into all these irrelevant details."

Mr. Braham.  "I submit your honor, that we cannot be interrupted in this
manner we have suffered the state to have full swing.  Now here is a
witness, who has known the prisoner from infancy, and is competent to
testify upon the one point vital to her safety.  Evidently he is a
gentleman of character, and his knowledge of the case cannot be shut out
without increasing the aspect of persecution which the State's attitude
towards the prisoner already has assumed."

The wrangle continued, waxing hotter and hotter.  The Colonel seeing the
attention of the counsel and Court entirely withdrawn from him, thought
he perceived here his opportunity, turning and beaming upon the jury, he
began simply to talk, but as the grandeur of his position grew upon him
--talk broadened unconsciously into an oratorical vein.

"You see how she was situated, gentlemen; poor child, it might have
broken her, heart to let her mind get to running on such a thing as that.
You see, from what we could make out her father was lame in the left leg
and had a deep scar on his left forehead.  And so ever since the day she
found out she had another father, she never could, run across a lame
stranger without being taken all over with a shiver, and almost fainting
where she, stood. And the next minute she would go right after that man.
Once she stumbled on a stranger with a game leg; and she was the most
grateful thing in this world--but it was the wrong leg, and it was days
and days before she could leave her bed. Once she found a man with a scar
on his forehead and she was just going to throw herself into his arms,`
but he stepped out just then, and there wasn't anything the matter with
his legs.  Time and time again, gentlemen of the jury, has this poor
suffering orphan flung herself on her knees with all her heart's
gratitude in her eyes before some scarred and crippled veteran, but
always, always to be disappointed, always to be plunged into new
despair--if his legs were right his scar was wrong, if his scar was right
his legs were wrong.  Never could find a man that would fill the bill.
Gentlemen of the jury; you have hearts, you have feelings, you have warm
human sympathies; you can feel for this poor suffering child. Gentlemen
of the jury, if I had time, if I had the opportunity, if I might be
permitted to go on and tell you the thousands and thousands and thousands
of mutilated strangers this poor girl has started out of cover, and
hunted from city to city, from state to state, from continent to
continent, till she has run them down and found they wan't the ones; I
know your hearts--"

By this time the Colonel had become so warmed up, that his voice, had
reached a pitch above that of the contending counsel; the lawyers
suddenly stopped, and they and the Judge turned towards the Colonel and
remained far several seconds too surprised at this novel exhibition to
speak.  In this interval of silence, an appreciation of the situation
gradually stole over the audience, and an explosion of laughter
followed, in which even the Court and the bar could hardly keep from
joining.

Sheriff.  "Order in the Court."

The Judge.  "The witness will confine his remarks to answers to
questions."

The Colonel turned courteously to the Judge and said,

"Certainly, your Honor--certainly.  I am not well acquainted with the
forms of procedure in the courts of New York, but in the West, sir, in
the West--"

The Judge.  "There, there, that will do, that will do!"

"You see, your Honor, there were no questions asked me, and I thought I
would take advantage of the lull in the proceedings to explain to the
jury a very significant train of--"

The Judge.  "That will DO sir!  Proceed Mr. Braham."

"Col. Sellers, have you any, reason to suppose that this man is still
living?"

"Every reason, sir, every reason.

"State why"

"I have never heard of his death, sir.  It has never come to my
knowledge.  In fact, sir, as I once said to Governor--"

"Will you state to the jury what has been the effect of the knowledge of
this wandering and evidently unsettled being, supposed to be her father,
upon the mind of Miss Hawkins for so many years!"

Question objected to.  Question ruled out.

Cross-examined.  "Major Sellers, what is your occupation?"

The Colonel looked about him loftily, as if casting in his mind what
would be the proper occupation of a person of such multifarious interests
and then said with dignity:

"A gentleman, sir.  My father used to always say, sir"--

"Capt. Sellers, did you; ever see this man, this supposed father?"

"No, Sir. But upon one occasion, old Senator Thompson said to me, its my
opinion, Colonel Sellers"--

"Did you ever see any body who had seen him?"

"No, sir: It was reported around at one time, that"--

"That is all."

The defense then sent a day in the examination of medical experts in
insanity who testified, on the evidence heard, that sufficient causes had
occurred to produce an insane mind in the prisoner.  Numerous cases were
cited to sustain this opinion.  There was such a thing as momentary
insanity, in which the person, otherwise rational to all appearances,
was for the time actually bereft of reason, and not responsible for his
acts.  The causes of this momentary possession could often be found in
the person's life.  [It afterwards came out that the chief expert for the
defense, was paid a thousand dollars for looking into the case.]

The prosecution consumed another day in the examination of experts
refuting the notion of insanity. These causes might have produced
insanity, but there was no evidence that they have produced it in this
case, or that the prisoner was not at the time of the commission of the
crime in full possession of her ordinary faculties.

The trial had now lasted two weeks. It required four days now for the
lawyers to "sum up." These arguments of the counsel were very important
to their friends, and greatly enhanced their reputation at the bar but
they have small interest to us.  Mr. Braham in his closing speech
surpassed himself; his effort is still remembered as the greatest in the
criminal annals of New York.

Mr. Braham re-drew for the jury the picture, of Laura's early life; he
dwelt long upon that painful episode of the pretended marriage and the
desertion.  Col. Selby, he said, belonged, gentlemen; to what is called
the "upper classes:"  It is the privilege of the "upper classes" to prey
upon the sons and daughters of the people.  The Hawkins family, though
allied to the best blood of the South, were at the time in humble
circumstances.  He commented upon her parentage.  Perhaps her agonized
father, in his intervals of sanity, was still searching for his lost
daughter.  Would he one day hear that she had died a felon's death?
Society had pursued her, fate had pursued her, and in a moment of
delirium she had turned and defied fate and society.  He dwelt upon the
admission of base wrong in Col. Selby's dying statement.  He drew a
vivid, picture of the villain at last overtaken by the vengeance of
Heaven.  Would the jury say that this retributive justice, inflicted by
an outraged, and deluded woman, rendered irrational by the most cruel
wrongs, was in the nature of a foul, premeditated murder?  "Gentlemen;
it is enough for me to look upon the life of this most beautiful and
accomplished of her sex, blasted by the heartless villainy of man,
without seeing, at the-end of it; the horrible spectacle of a gibbet.
Gentlemen, we are all human, we have all sinned, we all have need of
mercy.  But I do not ask mercy of you who are the guardians of society
and of the poor waifs, its sometimes wronged victims; I ask only that
justice which you and I shall need in that last, dreadful hour, when
death will be robbed of half its terrors if we can reflect that we have
never wronged a human being.  Gentlemen, the life of this lovely and once
happy girl, this now stricken woman, is in your hands."

The jury were risibly affected. Half the court room was in tears.  If a
vote of both spectators and jury could have been taken then, the verdict
would have been, "let her go, she has suffered enough."

But the district attorney had the closing argument.  Calmly and without
malice or excitement he reviewed the testimony.  As the cold facts were
unrolled, fear settled upon the listeners.  There was no escape from the
murder or its premeditation.  Laura's character as a lobbyist in
Washington which had been made to appear incidentally in the evidence was
also against her: the whole body of the testimony of the defense was
shown to be irrelevant, introduced only to excite sympathy, and not
giving a color of probability to the absurd supposition of insanity.
The attorney then dwelt upon, the insecurity of life in the city, and the
growing immunity with which women committed murders.  Mr. McFlinn made a
very able speech; convincing the reason without touching the feelings.

The Judge in his charge reviewed the testimony with great show of
impartiality.  He ended by saying that the verdict must be acquittal or
murder in the first, degree.  If you find that the prisoner committed a
homicide, in possession of her reason and with premeditation, your
verdict will be accordingly.  If you find she was not in her right mind,
that she was the victim of insanity, hereditary or momentary, as it has
been explained, your verdict will take that into account.

As the Judge finished his charge, the spectators anxiously watched the
faces of the jury.  It was not a remunerative study.  In the court room
the general feeling was in favor of Laura, but whether this feeling
extended to the jury, their stolid faces did not reveal.  The public
outside hoped for a conviction, as it always does; it wanted an example;
the newspapers trusted the jury would have the courage to do its duty.
When Laura was convicted, then the public would tern around and abuse the
governor if he did; not pardon her.

The jury went out.  Mr. Braham preserved his serene confidence, but
Laura's friends were dispirited.  Washington and Col. Sellers had been
obliged to go to Washington, and they had departed under the unspoken
fear the verdict would be unfavorable, a disagreement was the best they
could hope for, and money was needed.  The necessity of the passage of
the University bill was now imperative.

The Court waited, for, some time, but the jury gave no signs of coming
in.  Mr. Braham said it was extraordinary.  The Court then took a recess
for a couple of hours.  Upon again coming in, word was brought that the
jury had not yet agreed.

But the jury, had a question.  The point upon which, they wanted
instruction was this.  They wanted to know if Col. Sellers was related to
the Hawkins family.  The court then adjourned till morning.

Mr. Braham, who was in something of a pet, remarked to Mr. O'Toole that
they must have been deceived, that juryman with the broken nose could
read!




CHAPTER LVII.

The momentous day was at hand--a day that promised to make or mar the
fortunes of  Hawkins family for all time.  Washington Hawkins and Col.
Sellers were both up early, for neither of them could sleep.  Congress
was expiring, and was passing bill after bill as if they were gasps and
each likely to be its last.  The University was on file for its third
reading this day, and to-morrow Washington would be a millionaire and
Sellers no longer, impecunious but this day, also, or at farthest the
next, the jury  in Laura's Case would come to a decision of some kind or
other--they would find her guilty, Washington secretly feared, and then
the care and the trouble would all come back again, and these would be
wearing months of besieging judges for new trials; on this day, also, the
re-election of Mr. Dilworthy to the Senate would take place.  So
Washington's mind was in a state of turmoil; there were more interests at
stake than it could handle with serenity. He exulted when he thought of
his millions; he was filled with dread when he thought of Laura. But
Sellers was excited and happy. He said:

"Everything is going right, everything's going perfectly right.  Pretty
soon the telegrams will begin to rattle in, and then you'll see, my boy.
Let the jury do what they please; what difference is it going to make?
To-morrow we can send a million to New York and set the lawyers at work
on the judges; bless your heart they will go before judge after judge and
exhort and beseech and pray and shed tears.  They always do; and they
always win, too.  And they will win this time.  They will get a writ of
habeas corpus, and a stay of proceedings, and a supersedeas, and a new
trial and a nolle prosequi, and there you are!  That's the routine, and
it's no trick at all to a New York lawyer.  That's the regular routine
--everything's red tape and routine in the law, you see; it's all Greek
to you, of course, but to a man who is acquainted with those things it's
mere--I'll explain it to you sometime.  Everything's going to glide right
along easy and comfortable now.  You'll see, Washington, you'll see how
it will be.  And then, let me think ..... Dilwortby will be elected
to-day, and by day, after to-morrow night he will be in New York ready to
put in his shovel--and you haven't lived in Washington all this time not
to know that the people who walk right by a Senator whose term is up
without hardly seeing him will be down at the deepo to say 'Welcome back
and God bless you; Senator, I'm glad to see you, sir!' when he comes
along back re-elected, you know.  Well, you see, his influence was
naturally running low when he left here, but now he has got a new
six-years' start, and his suggestions will simply just weigh a couple of
tons a-piece day after tomorrow.  Lord bless you he could rattle through
that habeas corpus and supersedeas and all those things for Laura all by
himself if he wanted to, when he gets back."

"I hadn't thought of that," said Washington, brightening, "but it is so.
A newly-elected Senator is a power, I know that."

"Yes indeed he is.--Why it, is just human nature.  Look at me. When we
first came here, I was Mr. Sellers, and Major Sellers, Captain Sellers,
but nobody could ever get it right, somehow; but the minute our bill
went, through the House, I was Col. Sellers every time.  And nobody could
do enough for me, and whatever I said was wonderful, Sir, it was always
wonderful; I never seemed to say any flat things at all. It was Colonel,
won't you come and dine with us; and Colonel why don't we ever see you at
our house; and the Colonel says this; and the Colonel says that; and we
know such-and-such is so-and-so because my husband heard Col. Sellers say
so. Don't you see?  Well, the Senate adjourned and left our bill high,
and dry, and I'll be hanged if I warn't Old Sellers from that day, till
our bill passed the House again last week.  Now I'm the Colonel again;
and if I were to eat all the dinners I am invited to, I reckon I'd wear
my teeth down level with my gums in a couple of weeks."

"Well I do wonder what you will be to-morrow; Colonel, after the
President signs the bill!"

"General, sir?--General, without a doubt. Yes, sir, tomorrow it will be
General, let me congratulate you, sir; General, you've done a great work,
sir;--you've done a great work for the niggro; Gentlemen allow me the
honor to introduce my friend General Sellers, the humane friend of the
niggro.  Lord bless me; you'll' see the newspapers say, General Sellers
and servants arrived in the city last night and is stopping at the Fifth
Avenue; and General Sellers has accepted a reception and banquet by the
Cosmopolitan Club; you'll see the General's opinions quoted, too
--and what the General has to say about the propriety of a new trial and
a habeas corpus for the unfortunate Miss Hawkins will not be without
weight in influential quarters, I can tell you."

"And I want to be the first to shake your faithful old hand and salute
you with your new honors, and I want to do it now--General!" said
Washington, suiting the action to the word, and accompanying it with all
the meaning that a cordial grasp and eloquent eyes could give it.

The Colonel was touched; he was pleased and proud, too; his face answered
for that.

Not very long after breakfast the telegrams began to arrive.  The first
was from Braham, and ran thus:

     "We feel certain that the verdict will be rendered to-day.  Be it
     good or bad, let it find us ready to make the next move instantly,
     whatever it may be:"

"That's the right talk," said Sellers.  "That Graham's a wonderful man.
He was the only man there that really understood me; he told me so
himself, afterwards."

The next telegram was from Mr. Dilworthy:

     "I have not only brought over the Great Invincible, but through him
     a dozen more of the opposition.  Shall be re-elected to-day by an
     overwhelming majority."

"Good again!" said the Colonel.  "That man's talent for organization is
something marvelous. He wanted me to go out there and engineer that
thing, but I said, No, Dilworthy, I must be on hand here,--both on
Laura's account and the bill's--but you've no trifling genius for
organization yourself, said I--and I was right.  You go ahead, said I
--you can fix it--and so he has.  But I claim no credit for that--if I
stiffened up his back-bone a little, I simply put him in the way to make
his fight--didn't undertake it myself.  He has captured Noble--.
I consider that a splendid piece of diplomacy--Splendid, Sir!"

By and by came another dispatch from New York:

"Jury still out. Laura calm and firm as a statue.  The report that the
jury have brought her in guilty is false and premature."

"Premature!" gasped Washington, turning white.  "Then they all expect
that sort of a verdict, when it comes in."

And so did he; but he had not had courage enough to put it into words.
He had been preparing himself for the worst, but after all his
preparation the bare suggestion of the possibility of such a verdict
struck him cold as death.

The friends grew impatient, now; the telegrams did not come fast enough:
even the lightning could not keep up with their anxieties.  They walked
the floor talking disjointedly and listening for the door-bell.  Telegram
after telegram came.  Still no result.  By and by there was one which
contained a single line:

"Court now coming in after brief recess to hear verdict. Jury ready."

"Oh, I wish they would finish!" said Washington. "This suspense is
killing me by inches!"

Then came another telegram:

"Another hitch somewhere. Jury want a little more time and further
instructions."

"Well, well, well, this is trying," said the Colonel.  And after a pause,
"No dispatch from Dilworthy for two hours, now.  Even a dispatch from him
would be better than nothing, just to vary this thing."

They waited twenty minutes. It seemed twenty hours.

"Come!" said Washington. "I can't wait for the telegraph boy to come all
the way up here. Let's go down to Newspaper Row--meet him on the way."

While they were passing along the Avenue, they saw someone putting up a
great display-sheet on the bulletin board of a newspaper office, and an
eager crowd of men was collecting abort the place. Washington and the
Colonel ran to the spot and read this:

"Tremendous Sensation! Startling news from Saint's Rest!  On first ballot
for U. S. Senator, when voting was about to begin, Mr. Noble rose in his
place and drew forth a package, walked forward and laid it on the
Speaker's desk, saying, 'This contains $7,000 in bank bills and was given
me by Senator Dilworthy in his bed-chamber at midnight last night to buy
--my vote for him--I wish the Speaker to count the money and retain it to
pay the expense of prosecuting this infamous traitor for bribery.  The
whole legislature was stricken speechless with dismay and astonishment.
Noble further said that there were fifty members present with money in
their pockets, placed there by Dilworthy to buy their votes.  Amidst
unparalleled excitement the ballot was now taken, and J. W. Smith elected
U. S. Senator; Dilworthy receiving not one vote!  Noble promises damaging
exposures concerning Dilworthy and certain measures of his now pending in
Congress.

"Good heavens and earth!" exclaimed the Colonel.

"To the Capitol!" said Washington. "Fly!"

And they did fly.  Long before they got there the newsboys were running
ahead of them with Extras, hot from the press, announcing the astounding
news.

Arrived in the gallery of the Senate, the friends saw a curious spectacle
very Senator held an Extra in his hand and looked as interested as if it
contained news of the destruction of the earth.  Not a single member was
paying the least attention to the business of the hour.

The Secretary, in a loud voice, was just beginning to read the title of a
bill:

"House-Bill--No. 4,231,--An-Act-to-Found-and-Incorporate-the Knobs-
Industrial-University!--Read-first-and-second-time-considered-in-
committee-of-the-whole-ordered-engrossed and-passed-to-third-reading-and-
final passage!"

The President--"Third reading of the bill!"

The two friends shook in their shoes.  Senators threw down their extras
and snatched a word or two with each other in whispers. Then the gavel
rapped to command silence while the names were called on the ayes and
nays.  Washington grew paler and paler, weaker and weaker while the
lagging list progressed; and when it was finished, his head fell
helplessly forward on his arms.  The fight was fought, the long struggle
was over, and he was a pauper.  Not a man had voted for the bill!

Col. Sellers was bewildered and well nigh paralyzed, himself. But no man
could long consider his own troubles in the presence of such suffering as
Washington's.  He got him up and supported him--almost carried him
indeed--out of the building and into a carriage.  All the way home
Washington lay with his face against the Colonel's shoulder and merely
groaned and wept.  The Colonel tried as well as he could under the dreary
circumstances to hearten him a little, but it was of no use.  Washington
was past all hope of cheer, now.  He only said:

"Oh, it is all over--it is all over for good, Colonel. We must beg our
bread, now.  We never can get up again.  It was our last chance, and it
is gone.  They will hang Laura!  My God they will hang her!  Nothing can
save the poor girl now.  Oh, I wish with all my soul they would hang me
instead!"

Arrived at home, Washington fell into a chair and buried his face in his
hands and gave full way to his misery.  The Colonel did not know where to
turn nor what to do.  The servant maid knocked at the door and passed in
a telegram, saying it had come while they were gone.

The Colonel tore it open and read with the voice of a man-of-war's
broadside:

"VERDICT OF JURY, NOT GUILTY AND LAURA IS FREE!"




CHAPTER LVIII.

The court room was packed on the morning on which the verdict of the jury
was expected, as it had been every day of the trial, and by the same
spectators, who had followed its progress with such intense interest.

There is a delicious moment of excitement which the frequenter of trials
well knows, and which he would not miss for the world.  It is that
instant when the foreman of the jury stands up to give the verdict,
and before he has opened his fateful lips.

The court assembled and waited.  It was an obstinate jury.

It even had another question--this intelligent jury--to ask the judge
this morning.

The question was this: "Were the doctors clear that the deceased had no
disease which might soon have carried him off, if he had not been shot?"
There was evidently one jury man who didn't want to waste life, and was
willing to stake a general average, as the jury always does in a civil
case, deciding not according to the evidence but reaching the verdict by
some occult mental process.

During the delay the spectators exhibited unexampled patience, finding
amusement and relief in the slightest movements of the court, the
prisoner and the lawyers.  Mr. Braham divided with Laura the attention
of the house.  Bets were made by the Sheriff's deputies on the verdict,
with large odds in favor of a disagreement.

It was afternoon when it was announced that the jury was coming in.
The reporters took their places and were all attention; the judge and
lawyers were in their seats; the crowd swayed and pushed in eager
expectancy, as the jury walked in and stood up in silence.

Judge.  "Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict?"

Foreman.  "We have."

Judge.  "What is it?"

Foreman.  "NOT GUILTY."

A shout went up from the entire room and a tumult of cheering which the
court in vain attempted to quell.  For a few moments all order was lost.
The spectators crowded within the bar and surrounded Laura who, calmer
than anyone else, was supporting her aged mother, who had almost fainted
from excess of joy.

And now occurred one of those beautiful incidents which no fiction-writer
would dare to imagine, a scene of touching pathos, creditable to our
fallen humanity.  In the eyes of the women of the audience Mr. Braham was
the hero of the occasion; he had saved the life of the prisoner; and
besides he was such a handsome man.  The women could not restrain their
long pent-up emotions.  They threw themselves upon Mr. Braham in a
transport of gratitude; they kissed him again and again, the young as
well as the advanced in years, the married as well as the ardent single
women; they improved the opportunity with a touching self-sacrifice; in
the words of a newspaper of the day they "lavished him with kisses."

It was something sweet to do; and it would be sweet for a woman to
remember in after years, that she had kissed Braham!  Mr. Braham himself
received these fond assaults with the gallantry of his nation, enduring
the ugly, and heartily paying back beauty in its own coin.

This beautiful scene is still known in New York as "the kissing of
Braham."

When the tumult of congratulation had a little spent itself, and order
was restored, Judge O'Shaunnessy said that it now became his duty to
provide for the proper custody and treatment of the acquitted.  The
verdict of the jury having left no doubt that the woman was of an unsound
mind, with a kind of insanity dangerous to the safety of the community,
she could not be permitted to go at large.  "In accordance with the
directions of the law in such cases," said the Judge, "and in obedience
to the dictates of a wise humanity, I hereby commit Laura Hawkins to the
care of the Superintendent of the State Hospital for Insane Criminals, to
be held in confinement until the State Commissioners on Insanity shall
order her discharge.  Mr. Sheriff, you will attend at once to the
execution of this decree."

Laura was overwhelmed and terror-stricken.  She had expected to walk
forth in freedom in a few moments.  The revulsion was terrible.  Her
mother appeared like one shaken with an ague fit.  Laura insane!  And
about to be locked up with madmen!  She had never contemplated this.
Mr. Graham said he should move at once for a writ of 'habeas corpus'.

But the judge could not do less than his duty, the law must have its way.
As in the stupor of a sudden calamity, and not fully comprehending it,
Mrs. Hawkins saw Laura led away by the officer.

With little space for thought she was, rapidly driven to the railway
station, and conveyed to the Hospital for Lunatic Criminals.  It was only
when she was within this vast and grim abode of madness that she realized
the horror of her situation.  It was only when she was received by the
kind physician and read pity in his eyes, and saw his look of hopeless
incredulity when she attempted to tell him that she was not insane; it
was only when she passed through the ward to which she was consigned and
saw the horrible creatures, the victims of a double calamity, whose
dreadful faces she was hereafter to see daily, and was locked into the
small, bare room that was to be her home, that all her fortitude forsook
her.  She sank upon the bed, as soon as she was left alone--she had been
searched by the matron--and tried to think.  But her brain was in a
whirl.  She recalled Braham's speech, she recalled the testimony
regarding her lunacy.  She wondered if she were not mad; she felt that
she soon should be among these loathsome creatures.  Better almost to
have died, than to slowly go mad in this confinement.

--We beg the reader's pardon.  This is not history, which has just been
written.  It is really what would have occurred if this were a novel.
If this were a work of fiction, we should not dare to dispose of Laura
otherwise.  True art and any attention to dramatic proprieties required
it.  The novelist who would turn loose upon society an insane murderess
could not escape condemnation.  Besides, the safety of society, the
decencies of criminal procedure, what we call our modern civilization,
all would demand that Laura should be disposed of in the manner we have
described.  Foreigners, who read this sad story, will be unable to
understand any other termination of it.

But this is history and not fiction.  There is no such law or custom as
that to which his Honor is supposed to have referred; Judge O'Shaunnessy
would not probably pay any attention to it if there were.  There is no
Hospital for Insane Criminals; there is no State commission of lunacy.
What actually occurred when the tumult in the court room had subsided the
sagacious reader will now learn.

Laura left the court room, accompanied by her mother and other friends,
amid the congratulations of those assembled, and was cheered as she
entered a carriage, and drove away.  How sweet was the sunlight, how
exhilarating the sense of freedom!  Were not these following cheers the
expression of popular approval and affection?  Was she not the heroine of
the hour?

It was with a feeling of triumph that Laura reached her hotel, a scornful
feeling of victory over society with its own weapons.

Mrs. Hawkins shared not at all in this feeling; she was broken with the
disgrace and the long anxiety.

"Thank God, Laura," she said, "it is over.  Now we will go away from this
hateful city.  Let us go home at once."

"Mother," replied Laura, speaking with some tenderness, "I cannot go with
you.  There, don't cry, I cannot go back to that life."

Mrs. Hawkins was sobbing.  This was more cruel than anything else, for
she had a dim notion of what it would be to leave Laura to herself.

"No, mother, you have been everything to me.  You know how dearly I love
you.  But I cannot go back."

A boy brought in a telegraphic despatch.  Laura took it and read:

"The bill is lost.  Dilworthy ruined.  (Signed) WASHINGTON."

For a moment the words swam before her eyes.  The next her eyes flashed
fire as she handed the dispatch to her m other and bitterly said,

"The world is against me.  Well, let it be, let it.  I am against it."

"This is a cruel disappointment," said Mrs. Hawkins, to whom one grief
more or less did not much matter now, "to you and, Washington; but we
must humbly bear it."

"Bear it;"  replied Laura scornfully, "I've all my life borne it, and fate
has thwarted me at every step."

A servant came to the door to say that there was a gentleman below who
wished to speak with Miss Hawkins.  "J. Adolphe Griller" was the name
Laura read on the card.  "I do not know such a person.  He probably comes
from Washington.  Send him up."

Mr. Griller entered.  He was a small man, slovenly in dress, his tone
confidential, his manner wholly void of animation, all his features below
the forehead protruding--particularly the apple of his throat--hair
without a kink in it, a hand with no grip, a meek, hang-dog countenance.
a falsehood done in flesh and blood; for while every visible sign about
him proclaimed him a poor, witless, useless weakling, the truth was that
he had the brains to plan great enterprises and the pluck to carry them
through.  That was his reputation, and it was a deserved one.  He softly
said:

"I called to see you on business, Miss Hawkins.  You have my card?"

Laura bowed.

Mr. Griller continued to purr, as softly as before.

"I will proceed to business.  I am a business man.  I am a lecture-agent,
Miss Hawkins, and as soon as I saw that you were acquitted, it occurred
to me that an early interview would be mutually beneficial."

"I don't understand you, sir," said Laura coldly.

"No?  You see, Miss Hawkins, this is your opportunity.  If you will enter
the lecture field under good auspices, you will carry everything before
you."

"But, sir, I never lectured, I haven't any lecture, I don't know anything
about it."

"Ah, madam, that makes no difference--no real difference.  It is not
necessary to be able to lecture in order to go into the lecture tour.
If ones name is celebrated all over the land, especially, and, if she is
also beautiful, she is certain to draw large audiences."

"But what should I lecture about?" asked Laura, beginning in spite of
herself to be a little interested as well as amused.

"Oh, why; woman--something about woman, I should say; the marriage
relation, woman's fate, anything of that sort.  Call it The Revelations
of a Woman's Life; now, there's a good title.  I wouldn't want any better
title than that.  I'm prepared to make you an offer, Miss Hawkins,
a liberal offer,--twelve thousand dollars for thirty nights."

Laura thought.  She hesitated.  Why not?  It would give her employment,
money.  She must do something.

"I will think of it, and let you know soon.  But still, there is very
little likelihood that I--however, we will not discuss it further now."

"Remember, that the sooner we get to work the better, Miss Hawkins,
public curiosity is so fickle.  Good day, madam."

The close of the trial released Mr. Harry Brierly and left him free to
depart upon his long talked of Pacific-coast mission.  He was very
mysterious about it, even to Philip.

"It's confidential, old boy," he said, "a little scheme we have hatched
up.  I don't mind telling you that it's a good deal bigger thing than
that in Missouri, and a sure thing.  I wouldn't take a half a million
just for my share.  And it will open something for you, Phil.  You will
hear from me."

Philip did hear, from Harry a few months afterward.  Everything promised
splendidly, but there was a little delay.  Could Phil let him have a
hundred, say, for ninety days?

Philip himself hastened to Philadelphia, and, as soon as the spring
opened, to the mine at Ilium, and began transforming the loan he had
received from Squire Montague into laborers' wages.  He was haunted with
many anxieties; in the first place, Ruth was overtaxing her strength in
her hospital labors, and Philip felt as if he must move heaven and earth
to save her from such toil and suffering.  His increased pecuniary
obligation oppressed him.  It seemed to him also that he had been one
cause of the misfortune to the Bolton family, and that he was dragging
into loss and ruin everybody who associated with him.  He worked on day
after day and week after week, with a feverish anxiety.

It would be wicked, thought Philip, and impious, to pray for luck; he
felt that perhaps he ought not to ask a blessing upon the sort of labor
that was only a venture; but yet in that daily petition, which this very
faulty and not very consistent young Christian gentleman put up, he
prayed earnestly enough for Ruth and for the Boltons and for those whom
he loved and who trusted in him, and that his life might not be a
misfortune to them and a failure to himself.

Since this young fellow went out into the world from his New England
home, he had done some things that he would rather his mother should not
know, things maybe that he would shrink from telling Ruth.  At a certain
green age young gentlemen are sometimes afraid of being called milksops,
and Philip's associates had not always been the most select, such as
these historians would have chosen for him, or whom at a later, period he
would have chosen for himself.  It seemed inexplicable, for instance,
that his life should have been thrown so much with his college
acquaintance, Henry Brierly.

Yet, this was true of Philip, that in whatever company he had been he had
never been ashamed to stand up for the principles he learned from his
mother, and neither raillery nor looks of wonder turned him from that
daily habit had learned at his mother's knees.--Even flippant Harry
respected this, and perhaps it was one of the reasons why Harry and all
who knew Philip trusted him implicitly.  And yet it must be confessed
that Philip did not convey the impression to the world of a very serious
young man, or of a man who might not rather easily fall into temptation.
One looking for a real hero would have to go elsewhere.

The parting between Laura and her mother was exceedingly painful to both.
It was as if two friends parted on a wide plain, the one to journey
towards the setting and the other towards the rising sun, each
comprehending that every step henceforth must separate their lives,
wider and wider.




CHAPTER LIX.

When Mr. Noble's bombshell fell, in Senator Dilworthy's camp, the
statesman was disconcerted for a moment. For a moment; that was all.
The next moment he was calmly up and doing.  From the centre of our
country to its circumference, nothing was talked of but Mr. Noble's
terrible revelation, and the people were furious.  Mind, they were not
furious because bribery was uncommon in our public life, but merely
because here was another case.  Perhaps it did not occur to the nation of
good and worthy people that while they continued to sit comfortably at
home and leave the true source of our political power (the "primaries,")
in the hands of saloon-keepers, dog-fanciers and hod-carriers, they could
go on expecting "another" case of this kind, and even dozens and hundreds
of them, and never be disappointed.  However, they may have thought that
to sit at home and grumble would some day right the evil.

Yes, the nation was excited, but Senator Dilworthy was calm--what was
left of him after the explosion of the shell.  Calm, and up and doing.
What did he do first?  What would you do first, after you had tomahawked
your mother at the breakfast table for putting too much sugar in your
coffee?  You would "ask for a suspension of public opinion."  That is
what Senator Dilworthy did.  It is the custom.  He got the usual amount
of suspension.  Far and wide he was called a thief, a briber, a promoter
of steamship subsidies, railway swindles, robberies of the government in
all possible forms and fashions.  Newspapers and everybody else called
him a pious hypocrite, a sleek, oily fraud, a reptile who manipulated
temperance movements, prayer meetings, Sunday schools, public charities,
missionary enterprises, all for his private benefit.  And as these
charges were backed up by what seemed to be good and sufficient,
evidence, they were believed with national unanimity.

Then Mr. Dilworthy made another move.  He moved instantly to Washington
and "demanded an investigation."  Even this could not pass without,
comment.  Many papers used language to this effect:

     "Senator Dilworthy's remains have demanded an investigation.  This
     sounds fine and bold and innocent; but when we reflect that they
     demand it at the hands of the Senate of the United States, it simply
     becomes matter for derision.  One might as well set the gentlemen
     detained in the public prisons to trying each other.  This
     investigation is likely to be like all other Senatorial
     investigations--amusing but not useful.  Query.  Why does the Senate
     still stick to this pompous word, 'Investigation?'  One does not
     blindfold one's self in order to investigate an object."

Mr. Dilworthy appeared in his place in the Senate and offered a
resolution appointing a committee to investigate his case.  It carried,
of course, and the committee was appointed.  Straightway the newspapers
said:

     "Under the guise of appointing a committee to investigate the late
     Mr. Dilworthy, the Senate yesterday appointed a committee to
     investigate his accuser, Mr. Noble.  This is the exact spirit and
     meaning of the resolution, and the committee cannot try anybody but
     Mr. Noble without overstepping its authority.  That Dilworthy had
     the effrontery to offer such a resolution will surprise no one, and
     that the Senate could entertain it without blushing and pass it
     without shame will surprise no one.  We are now reminded of a note
     which we have received from the notorious burglar Murphy, in which
     he finds fault with a statement of ours to the effect that he had
     served one term in the penitentiary and also one in the U. S.
     Senate.  He says, 'The latter statement is untrue and does me great
     injustice.'  After an unconscious sarcasm like that, further comment
     is unnecessary."

And yet the Senate was roused by the Dilworthy trouble.  Many speeches
were made.  One Senator (who was accused in the public prints of selling
his chances of re-election to his opponent for $50,000 and had not yet
denied the charge) said that, "the presence in the Capital of such a
creature as this man Noble, to testify against a brother member of their
body, was an insult to the Senate."

Another Senator said, "Let the investigation go on and let it make an
example of this man Noble; let it teach him and men like him that they
could not attack the reputation of a United States-Senator with
impunity."

Another said he was glad the investigation was to be had, for it was high
time that the Senate should crush some cur like this man Noble, and thus
show his kind that it was able and resolved to uphold its ancient
dignity.

A by-stander laughed, at this finely delivered peroration; and said:

"Why, this is the Senator who franked his, baggage home through the mails
last week-registered, at that.  However, perhaps he was merely engaged in
'upholding the ancient dignity of the Senate,'--then."

"No, the modern dignity of it," said another by-stander.  "It don't
resemble its ancient dignity but it fits its modern style like a glove."

There being no law against making offensive remarks about U. S.
Senators, this conversation, and others like it, continued without let or
hindrance.  But our business is with the investigating committee.

Mr. Noble appeared before the Committee of the Senate; and testified to
the following effect:

He said that he was a member of the State legislature of the
Happy-Land-of-Canaan; that on the --- day of ------ he assembled himself
together at the city of Saint's Rest, the capital of the State, along
with his brother legislators; that he was known to be a political enemy
of Mr. Dilworthy and bitterly opposed to his re-election; that Mr.
Dilworthy came to Saint's Rest and reported to be buying pledges of votes
with money; that the said Dilworthy sent for him to come to his room in
the hotel at night, and he went; was introduced to Mr. Dilworthy; called
two or three times afterward at Dilworthy's request--usually after
midnight; Mr. Dilworthy urged him to vote for him Noble declined;
Dilworthy argued; said he was bound to be elected, and could then ruin
him (Noble) if he voted no; said he had every railway and every public
office and stronghold of political power in the State under his thumb,
and could set up or pull down any man he chose; gave instances showing
where and how he had used this power; if Noble would vote for him he
would make him a Representative in Congress; Noble still declined to
vote, and said he did not believe Dilworthy was going to be elected;
Dilworthy showed a list of men who would vote for him--a majority of the
legislature; gave further proofs of his power by telling Noble everything
the opposing party had done or said in secret caucus; claimed that his
spies reported everything to him, and that--

Here a member of the Committee objected that this evidence was irrelevant
and also in opposition to the spirit of the Committee's instructions,
because if these things reflected upon any one it was upon Mr. Dilworthy.
The chairman said, let the person proceed with his statement--the
Committee could exclude evidence that did not bear upon the case.

Mr. Noble continued.  He said that his party would cast him out if he
voted for Mr. Dilworthy; Dilworthy said that that would inure to his
benefit because he would then be a recognized friend of his (Dilworthy's)
and he could consistently exalt him politically and make his fortune;
Noble said he was poor, and it was hard to tempt him so; Dilworthy said
he would fix that; he said, "Tell, me what you want, and say you will vote
for me;" Noble could not say; Dilworthy said "I will give you $5,000."

A Committee man said, impatiently, that this stuff was all outside the
case, and valuable time was being wasted; this was all, a plain
reflection upon a brother Senator.  The Chairman said it was the quickest
way to proceed, and the evidence need have no weight.

Mr. Noble continued.  He said he told Dilworthy that $5,000 was not much
to pay for a man's honor, character and everything that was worth having;
Dilworthy said he was surprised; he considered $5,000 a fortune--for some
men; asked what Noble's figure was; Noble said he could not think $10,000
too little; Dilworthy said it was a great deal too much; he would not do
it for any other man, but he had conceived a liking for Noble, and where
he liked a man his heart yearned to help him; he was aware that Noble was
poor, and had a family to support, and that he bore an unblemished
reputation at home; for such a man and such a man's influence he could do
much, and feel that to help such a man would be an act that would have
its reward; the struggles of the poor always touched him; he believed
that Noble would make a good use of this money and that it would cheer
many a sad heart and needy home; he would give the $10,000; all he
desired in return was that when the balloting began, Noble should cast
his vote for him and should explain to the legislature that upon looking
into the charges against Mr. Dilworthy of bribery, corruption, and
forwarding stealing measures in Congress he had found them to be base
calumnies upon a man whose motives were pure and whose character was
stainless; he then took from his pocket $2,000 in bank bills and handed
them to Noble, and got another package containing $5,000 out of his trunk
and gave to him also.  He----

A Committee man jumped up, and said:

"At last, Mr. Chairman, this shameless person has arrived at the point.
This is sufficient and conclusive.  By his own confession he has received
a bribe, and did it deliberately.

"This is a grave offense, and cannot be passed over in silence, sir.  By
the terms of our instructions we can now proceed to mete out to him such
punishment as is meet for one who has maliciously brought disrespect upon
a Senator of the United States.  We have no need to hear the rest of his
evidence."

The Chairman said it would be better and more regular to proceed with the
investigation according to the usual forms.  A note would be made of
Mr. Noble's admission.

Mr. Noble continued.  He said that it was now far past midnight; that he
took his leave and went straight to certain legislators, told them
everything, made them count the money, and also told them of the exposure
he would make in joint convention; he made that exposure, as all the
world knew.  The rest of the $10,000 was to be paid the day after
Dilworthy was elected.

Senator Dilworthy was now asked to take the stand and tell what he knew
about the man Noble.  The Senator wiped his mouth with his handkerchief,
adjusted his white cravat, and said that but for the fact that public
morality required an example, for the warning of future Nobles, he would
beg that in Christian charity this poor misguided creature might be
forgiven and set free.  He said that it was but too evident that this
person had approached him in the hope of obtaining a bribe; he had
intruded himself time and again, and always with moving stories of his
poverty.  Mr. Dilworthy said that his heart had bled for him--insomuch
that he had several times been on the point of trying to get some one to
do something for him.  Some instinct had told him from the beginning that
this was a bad man, an evil-minded man, but his inexperience of such had
blinded him to his real motives, and hence he had never dreamed that his
object was to undermine the purity of a United States Senator.
He regretted that it was plain, now, that such was the man's object and
that punishment could not with safety to the Senate's honor be withheld.
He grieved to say that one of those mysterious dispensations of an
inscrutable Providence which are decreed from time to time by His wisdom
and for His righteous, purposes, had given this conspirator's tale a
color of plausibility,--but this would soon disappear under the clear
light of truth which would now be thrown upon the case.

It so happened, (said the Senator,) that about the time in question, a
poor young friend of mine, living in a distant town of my State, wished
to establish a bank; he asked me to lend him the necessary money; I said
I had no, money just then, but world try to borrow it.  The day before
the election a friend said to me that my election expenses must be very
large specially my hotel bills, and offered to lend me some money.
Remembering my young, friend, I said I would like a few thousands now,
and a few more by and by; whereupon he gave me two packages of bills said
to contain $2,000 and $5,000 respectively; I did not open the packages or
count the money; I did not give any note or receipt for the same; I made
no memorandum of the transaction, and neither did my friend.  That night
this evil man Noble came troubling me again: I could not rid myself of
him, though my time was very precious.  He mentioned my young friend and
said he was very anxious to have the $7000 now to begin his banking
operations with, and could wait a while for the rest.  Noble wished to
get the money and take it to him. I finally gave him the two packages of
bills; I took no note or receipt from him, and made no memorandum of the
matter.  I no more look for duplicity and deception in another man than I
would look for it in myself.  I never thought of this man again until I
was overwhelmed the next day by learning what a shameful use he had made
of the confidence I had reposed in him and the money I had entrusted to
his care. This is all, gentlemen.  To the absolute truth of every detail
of my statement I solemnly swear, and I call Him to witness who is the
Truth and the loving Father of all whose lips abhor false speaking; I
pledge my honor as a Senator, that I have spoken but the truth.  May God
forgive this wicked man as I do.

Mr. Noble--"Senator Dilworthy, your bank account shows that up to that
day, and even on that very day, you conducted all your financial business
through the medium of checks instead of bills, and so kept careful record
of every moneyed transaction.  Why did you deal in bank bills on this
particular occasion?"

The Chairman--"The gentleman will please to remember that the Committee
is conducting this investigation."

Mr. Noble--"Then will the Committee ask the question?"

The Chairman--"The Committee will--when it desires to know."

Mr. Noble--"Which will not be daring this century perhaps."

The Chairman--"Another remark like that, sir, will procure you the
attentions of the Sergeant-at-arms."

Mr. Noble--"D--n the Sergeant-at-arms, and the Committee too!"

Several Committeemen--"Mr. Chairman, this is Contempt!"

Mr. Noble--"Contempt of whom?"

"Of the Committee!  Of the Senate of the United States!"

Mr. Noble--"Then I am become the acknowledged representative of a nation.
You know as well as I do that the whole nation hold as much as
three-fifths of the United States Senate in entire contempt.--Three-fifths
of you are Dilworthys."

The Sergeant-at-arms very soon put a quietus upon the observations of the
representative of the nation, and convinced him that he was not, in the
over-free atmosphere of his Happy-Land-of-Canaan:

The statement of Senator Dilworthy naturally carried conviction to the
minds of the committee.--It was close, logical, unanswerable; it bore
many internal evidences of its truth.  For instance, it is customary in
all countries for business men to loan large sums of money in bank bills
instead of checks.  It is customary for the lender to make no memorandum
of the transaction.  It is customary, for the borrower to receive the
money without making a memorandum of it, or giving a note or a receipt
for it's use--the borrower is not likely to die or forget about it.
It is customary to lend nearly anybody money to start a bank with
especially if you have not the money to lend him and have to borrow it
for the purpose.  It is customary to carry large sums of money in bank
bills about your person or in your trunk.  It is customary to hand a
large sure in bank bills to a man you have just been introduced to (if he
asks you to do it,) to be conveyed to a distant town and delivered to
another party.  It is not customary to make a memorandum of this
transaction; it is not customary for the conveyor to give a note or a
receipt for the money; it is not customary to require that he shall get a
note or a receipt from the man he is to convey it to in the distant town.
It would be at least singular in you to say to the proposed conveyor,
"You might be robbed; I will deposit the money in a bank and send a check
for it to my friend through the mail."

Very well.  It being plain that Senator Dilworthy's statement was rigidly
true, and this fact being strengthened by his adding to it the support of
"his honor as a Senator," the Committee rendered a verdict of "Not proven
that a bribe had been offered and accepted."  This in a manner exonerated
Noble and let him escape.

The Committee made its report to the Senate, and that body proceeded to
consider its acceptance.  One Senator indeed, several Senators--objected
that the Committee had failed of its duty; they had proved this man Noble
guilty of nothing, they had meted out no punishment to him; if the report
were accepted, he would go forth free and scathless, glorying in his
crime, and it would be a tacit admission that any blackguard could insult
the Senate of the United States and conspire against the sacred
reputation of its members with impunity; the Senate owed it to the
upholding of its ancient dignity to make an example of this man Noble
--he should be crushed.

An elderly Senator got up and took another view of the case.  This was a
Senator of the worn-out and obsolete pattern; a man still lingering among
the cobwebs of the past, and behind the spirit of the age.  He said that
there seemed to be a curious misunderstanding of the case.  Gentlemen
seemed exceedingly anxious to preserve and maintain the honor and dignity
of the Senate.

Was this to be done by trying an obscure adventurer for attempting to
trap a Senator into bribing him?  Or would not the truer way be to find
out whether the Senator was capable of being entrapped into so shameless
an act, and then try him?  Why, of course.  Now the whole idea of the
Senate seemed to be to shield the Senator and turn inquiry away from him.
The true way to uphold the honor of the Senate was to have none but
honorable men in its body.  If this Senator had yielded to temptation and
had offered a bribe, he was a soiled man and ought to be instantly
expelled; therefore he wanted the Senator tried, and not in the usual
namby-pamby way, but in good earnest.  He wanted to know the truth of
this matter.  For himself, he believed that the guilt of Senator
Dilworthy was established beyond the shadow of a doubt; and he considered
that in trifling with his case and shirking it the Senate was doing a
shameful and cowardly thing--a thing which suggested that in its
willingness to sit longer in the company of such a man, it was
acknowledging that it was itself of a kind with him and was therefore not
dishonored by his presence.  He desired that a rigid examination be made
into Senator Dilworthy's case, and that it be continued clear into the
approaching extra session if need be.  There was no dodging this thing
with the lame excuse of want of time.

In reply, an honorable Senator said that he thought it would be as well
to drop the matter and accept the Committee's report.  He said with some
jocularity that the more one agitated this thing, the worse it was for
the agitator.  He was not able to deny that he believed Senator Dilworthy
to be guilty--but what then?  Was it such an extraordinary case?  For his
part, even allowing the Senator to be guilty, he did not think his
continued presence during the few remaining days of the Session would
contaminate the Senate to a dreadful degree.  [This humorous sally was
received with smiling admiration--notwithstanding it was not wholly new,
having originated with the Massachusetts General in the House a day or
two before, upon the occasion of the proposed expulsion of a member for
selling his vote for money.]

The Senate recognized the fact that it could not be contaminated by
sitting a few days longer with Senator Dilworthy, and so it accepted the
committee's report and dropped the unimportant matter.

Mr. Dilworthy occupied his seat to the last hour of the session.  He said
that his people had reposed a trust in him, and it was not for him to
desert them.  He would remain at his post till he perished, if need be.

His voice was lifted up and his vote cast for the last time, in support
of an ingenious measure contrived by the General from Massachusetts
whereby the President's salary was proposed to be doubled and every
Congressman paid several thousand dollars extra for work previously done,
under an accepted contract, and already paid for once and receipted for.

Senator Dilworthy was offered a grand ovation by his friends at home, who
said that their affection for him and their confidence in him were in no
wise impaired by the persecutions that had pursued him, and that he was
still good enough for them.

--[The $7,000 left by Mr. Noble with his state legislature was placed in
safe keeping to await the claim of the legitimate owner.  Senator
Dilworthy made one little effort through his protege the embryo banker
to recover it, but there being no notes of hand or, other memoranda to
support the claim, it failed.  The moral of which is, that when one loans
money to start a bank with, one ought to take the party's written
acknowledgment of the fact.]




CHAPTER LX.

For some days Laura had been a free woman once more.  During this time,
she had experienced--first, two or three days of triumph, excitement,
congratulations, a sort of sunburst of gladness, after a long night of
gloom and anxiety; then two or three days of calming down, by degrees
--a receding of tides, a quieting of the storm-wash to a murmurous
surf-beat, a diminishing of devastating winds to a refrain that bore the
spirit of a truce-days given to solitude, rest, self-communion, and the
reasoning of herself into a realization of the fact that she was actually
done with bolts and bars, prison, horrors and impending, death; then came
a day whose hours filed slowly by her, each laden with some remnant,
some remaining fragment of the dreadful time so lately ended--a day
which, closing at last, left the past a fading shore behind her and
turned her eyes toward the broad sea of the future.  So speedily do we
put the dead away and come back to our place in the ranks to march in the
pilgrimage of life again.

And now the sun rose once more and ushered in the first day of what Laura
comprehended and accepted as a new life.

The past had sunk below the horizon, and existed no more for her;
she was done with it for all time.  She was gazing out over the trackless
expanses of the future, now, with troubled eyes.  Life must be begun
again--at eight and twenty years of age.  And where to begin?  The page
was blank, and waiting for its first record; so this was indeed a
momentous day.

Her thoughts drifted back, stage by stage, over her career.  As far as
the long highway receded over the plain of her life, it was lined with
the gilded and pillared splendors of her ambition all crumbled to ruin
and ivy-grown; every milestone marked a disaster; there was no green spot
remaining anywhere in memory of a hope that had found its fruition; the
unresponsive earth had uttered no voice of flowers in testimony that one
who was blest had gone that road.

Her life had been a failure.  That was plain, she said.  No more of that.
She would now look the future in the face; she would mark her course upon
the chart of life, and follow it; follow it without swerving, through
rocks and shoals, through storm and calm, to a haven of rest and peace or
shipwreck.  Let the end be what it might, she would mark her course now
--to-day--and follow it.

On her table lay six or seven notes.  They were from lovers; from some of
the prominent names in the land; men whose devotion had survived even the
grisly revealments of her character which the courts had uncurtained;
men who knew her now, just as she was, and yet pleaded as for their lives
for the dear privilege of calling the murderess wife.

As she read these passionate, these worshiping, these supplicating
missives, the woman in her nature confessed itself; a strong yearning
came upon her to lay her head upon a loyal breast and find rest from the
conflict of life, solace for her griefs, the healing of love for her
bruised heart.

With her forehead resting upon her hand, she sat thinking, thinking,
while the unheeded moments winged their flight.  It was one of those
mornings in early spring when nature seems just stirring to a half
consciousness out of a long, exhausting lethargy; when the first faint
balmy airs go wandering about, whispering the secret of the coming
change; when the abused brown grass, newly relieved of snow, seems
considering whether it can be worth the trouble and worry of contriving
its green raiment again only to fight the inevitable fight with the
implacable winter and be vanquished and buried once more; when the sun
shines out and a few birds venture forth and lift up a forgotten song;
when a strange stillness and suspense pervades the waiting air.  It is a
time when one's spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the
past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the
future but a way to death.  It is a time when one is filled with vague
longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote
solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of
struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.

It was into such a mood as this that Laura had drifted from the musings
which the letters of her lovers had called up.  Now she lifted her head
and noted with surprise how the day had wasted.  She thrust the letters
aside, rose up and went and stood at the window.  But she was soon
thinking again, and was only gazing into vacancy.

By and by she turned; her countenance had cleared; the dreamy look was
gone out of her face, all indecision had vanished; the poise of her head
and the firm set of her lips told that her resolution was formed.
She moved toward the table with all the old dignity in her carriage,
and all the old pride in her mien.  She took up each letter in its turn,
touched a match to it and watched it slowly consume to ashes.  Then she
said:

"I have landed upon a foreign shore, and burned my ships behind me.
These letters were the last thing that held me in sympathy with any
remnant or belonging of the old life.  Henceforth that life and all that
appertains to it are as dead to me and as far removed from me as if I
were become a denizen of another world."

She said that love was not for her--the time that it could have satisfied
her heart was gone by and could not return; the opportunity was lost,
nothing could restore it.  She said there could be no love without
respect, and she would only despise a man who could content himself with
a thing like her.  Love, she said, was a woman's first necessity: love
being forfeited; there was but one thing left that could give a passing
zest to a wasted life, and that was fame, admiration, the applause of the
multitude.

And so her resolution was taken.  She would turn to that final resort of
the disappointed of her sex, the lecture platform.  She would array
herself in fine attire, she would adorn herself with jewels, and stand in
her isolated magnificence before massed, audiences and enchant them with
her eloquence and amaze them with her unapproachable beauty.  She would
move from city to city like a queen of romance, leaving marveling
multitudes behind her and impatient multitudes awaiting her coming.
Her life, during one hour of each day, upon the platform, would be a
rapturous intoxication--and when the curtain fell; and the lights were
out, and the people gone, to nestle in their homes and forget her, she
would find in sleep oblivion of her homelessness, if she could, if not
she would brave out the night in solitude and wait for the next day's
hour of ecstasy.

So, to take up life and begin again was no great evil.  She saw her way.
She would be brave and strong; she would make the best of, what was left
for her among the possibilities.

She sent for the lecture agent, and matters were soon arranged.

Straightway, all the papers were filled with her name, and all the dead
walls flamed with it.  The papers called down imprecations upon her head;
they reviled her without stint; they wondered if all sense of decency was
dead in this shameless murderess, this brazen lobbyist, this heartless
seducer of the affections of weak and misguided men; they implored the
people, for the sake of their pure wives, their sinless daughters, for
the sake of decency, for the sake of public morals, to give this wretched
creature such a rebuke as should be an all-sufficient evidence to her and
to such as her, that there was a limit where the flaunting of their foul
acts and opinions before the world must stop; certain of them, with a
higher art, and to her a finer cruelty, a sharper torture, uttered no
abuse, but always spoke of her in terms of mocking eulogy and ironical
admiration.  Everybody talked about the new wonder, canvassed the theme
of her proposed discourse, and marveled how she would handle it.

Laura's few friends wrote to her or came and talked with her, and pleaded
with her to retire while it was yet time, and not attempt to face the
gathering storm.  But it was fruitless.  She was stung to the quick by
the comments of the newspapers; her spirit was roused, her ambition was
towering, now.  She was more determined than ever.  She would show these
people what a hunted and persecuted woman could do.

The eventful night came.  Laura arrived before the great lecture hall in
a close carriage within five minutes of the time set for the lecture to
begin.  When she stepped out of the vehicle her heart beat fast and her
eyes flashed with exultation: the whole street was packed with people,
and she could hardly force her way to the hall!  She reached the
ante-room, threw off her wraps and placed herself before the
dressing-glass.  She turned herself this way and that--everything was
satisfactory, her attire was perfect.  She smoothed her hair, rearranged
a jewel here and there, and all the while her heart sang within her, and
her face was radiant.  She had not been so happy for ages and ages, it
seemed to her. Oh, no, she had never been so overwhelmingly grateful and
happy in her whole life before.  The lecture agent appeared at the door.
She waved him away and said:

"Do not disturb me.  I want no introduction.  And do not fear for me; the
moment the hands point to eight I will step upon the platform."

He disappeared.  She held her watch before her.  She was so impatient
that the second-hand seemed whole tedious minutes dragging its way around
the circle.  At last the supreme moment came, and with head erect and the
bearing of an empress she swept through the door and stood upon the
stage.  Her eyes fell upon only a vast, brilliant emptiness--there were
not forty people in the house!  There were only a handful of coarse men
and ten or twelve still coarser women, lolling upon the benches and
scattered about singly and in couples.

Her pulses stood still, her limbs quaked, the gladness went out of her
face.  There was a moment of silence, and then a brutal laugh and an
explosion of cat-calls and hisses saluted her from the audience.  The
clamor grew stronger and louder, and insulting speeches were shouted at
her.  A half-intoxicated man rose up and threw something, which missed
her but bespattered a chair at her side, and this evoked an outburst of
laughter and boisterous admiration.  She was bewildered, her strength was
forsaking her.  She reeled away from the platform, reached the ante-room,
and dropped helpless upon a sofa.  The lecture agent ran in, with a
hurried question upon his lips; but she put forth her hands, and with the
tears raining from her eyes, said:

"Oh, do not speak!  Take me away-please take me away, out of this.
dreadful place!  Oh, this is like all my life--failure, disappointment,
misery--always misery, always failure.  What have I done, to be so
pursued!  Take me away, I beg of you, I implore you!"

Upon the pavement she was hustled by the mob, the surging masses roared
her name and accompanied it with every species of insulting epithet;
they thronged after the carriage, hooting, jeering, cursing, and even
assailing the vehicle with missiles.  A stone crushed through a blind,
wounding Laura's forehead, and so stunning her that she hardly knew what
further transpired during her flight.

It was long before her faculties were wholly restored, and then she found
herself lying on the floor by a sofa in her own sitting-room, and alone.
So she supposed she must have sat down upon the sofa and afterward
fallen.  She raised herself up, with difficulty, for the air was chilly
and her limbs were stiff.  She turned up the gas and sought the glass.
She hardly knew herself, so worn and old she looked, and so marred with
blood were her features.  The night was far spent, and a dead stillness
reigned.  She sat down by her table, leaned her elbows upon it and put
her face in her hands.

Her thoughts wandered back over her old life again and her tears flowed
unrestrained.  Her pride was humbled, her spirit was broken.  Her memory
found but one resting place; it lingered about her young girlhood with a
caressing regret; it dwelt upon it as the one brief interval of her life
that bore no curse.  She saw herself again in the budding grace of her
twelve years, decked in her dainty pride of ribbons, consorting with the
bees and the butterflies, believing in fairies, holding confidential
converse with the flowers, busying herself all day long with airy trifles
that were as weighty to her as the affairs that tax the brains of
diplomats and emperors.  She was without sin, then, and unacquainted with
grief; the world was full of sunshine and her heart was full of music.
From that--to this!

"If I could only die!" she said.  "If I could only go back, and be as I
was then, for one hour--and hold my father's hand in mine again, and see
all the household about me, as in that old innocent time--and then die!
My God, I am humbled, my pride is all gone, my stubborn heart repents
--have pity!"

When the spring morning dawned, the form still sat there, the elbows
resting upon the table and the face upon the hands.  All day long the
figure sat there, the sunshine enriching its costly raiment and flashing
from its jewels; twilight came, and presently the stars, but still the
figure remained; the moon found it there still, and framed the picture
with the shadow of the window sash, and flooded, it with mellow light; by
and by the darkness swallowed it up, and later the gray dawn revealed it
again; the new day grew toward its prime, and still the forlorn presence
was undisturbed.

But now the keepers of the house had become uneasy; their periodical
knockings still finding no response, they burst open the door.

The jury of inquest found that death had resulted from heart disease, and
was instant and painless.  That was all.  Merely heart disease.




CHAPTER LXI.

Clay Hawkins, years gone by, had yielded, after many a struggle, to the
migratory and speculative instinct of our age and our people, and had
wandered further and further westward upon trading ventures.  Settling
finally in Melbourne, Australia, he ceased to roam, became a steady-going
substantial merchant, and prospered greatly.  His life lay beyond the
theatre of this tale.

His remittances had supported the Hawkins family, entirely, from the time
of his father's death until latterly when Laura by her efforts in
Washington had been able to assist in this work.  Clay was away on a long
absence in some of the eastward islands when Laura's troubles began,
trying (and almost in vain,) to arrange certain interests which had
become disordered through a dishonest agent, and consequently he knew
nothing of the murder till he returned and read his letters and papers.
His natural impulse was to hurry to the States and save his sister if
possible, for he loved her with a deep and abiding affection.  His
business was so crippled now, and so deranged, that to leave it would be
ruin; therefore he sold out at a sacrifice that left him considerably
reduced in worldly possessions, and began his voyage to San Francisco.
Arrived there, he perceived by the newspapers that the trial was near its
close.  At Salt Lake later telegrams told him of the acquittal, and his
gratitude was boundless--so boundless, indeed, that sleep was driven from
his eyes by the pleasurable excitement almost as effectually as preceding
weeks of anxiety had done it.  He shaped his course straight for Hawkeye,
now, and his meeting with his mother and the rest of the household was
joyful--albeit he had been away so long that he seemed almost a stranger
in his own home.

But the greetings and congratulations were hardly finished when all the
journals in the land clamored the news of Laura's miserable death.
Mrs. Hawkins was prostrated by this last blow, and it was well that Clay
was at her side to stay her with comforting words and take upon himself
the ordering of the household with its burden of labors and cares.

Washington Hawkins had scarcely more than entered upon that decade which
carries one to the full blossom of manhood which we term the beginning:
of middle age, and yet a brief sojourn at the capital of the nation had
made him old.  His hair was already turning gray when the late session of
Congress began its sittings; it grew grayer still, and rapidly, after the
memorable day that saw Laura proclaimed a murderess; it waxed grayer and
still grayer during the lagging suspense that succeeded it and after the
crash which ruined  his last hope--the failure of his bill in the Senate
and the destruction of its champion, Dilworthy.  A few days later, when
he stood uncovered while the last prayer was pronounced over Laura's
grave, his hair was whiter and his face hardly less old than the
venerable minister's whose words were sounding in his ears.

A week after this, he was sitting in a double-bedded room in a cheap
boarding house in Washington, with Col. Sellers.  The two had been living
together lately, and this mutual cavern of theirs the Colonel sometimes
referred to as their "premises" and sometimes as their "apartments"--more
particularly when conversing with persons outside.  A canvas-covered
modern trunk, marked "G. W. H."  stood on end by the door, strapped and
ready for a journey; on it lay a small morocco satchel, also marked "G.
W. H."  There was another trunk close by--a worn, and scarred, and
ancient hair relic, with "B. S."  wrought in brass nails on its top;
on it lay a pair of saddle-bags that probably knew more about the last
century than they could tell.  Washington got up and walked the floor a
while in a restless sort of way, and finally was about to sit down on the
hair trunk.

"Stop, don't sit down on that!" exclaimed the Colonel: "There, now that's
all right--the chair's better.  I couldn't get another trunk like that
--not another like it in America, I reckon."

"I am afraid not," said Washington, with a faint attempt at a smile.

"No indeed; the man is dead that made that trunk and that saddle-bags."


"Are his great-grand-children still living?" said Washington, with levity
only in the words, not in the tone.

"Well, I don't know--I hadn't thought of that--but anyway they can't make
trunks and saddle-bags like that, if they are--no man can," said the
Colonel with honest simplicity.  "Wife didn't like to see me going off
with that trunk--she said it was nearly certain to be stolen."

"Why?"

"Why?  Why, aren't trunks always being stolen?"

"Well, yes--some kinds of trunks are."

"Very well, then; this is some kind of a trunk--and an almighty rare
kind, too."

"Yes, I believe it is."

"Well, then, why shouldn't a man want to steal it if he got a chance?"

"Indeed I don't know.--Why should he?"

"Washington, I never heard anybody talk like you.  Suppose you were a
thief, and that trunk was lying around and nobody watching--wouldn't you
steal it?  Come, now, answer fair--wouldn't you steal it?

"Well, now, since you corner me, I would take it,--but I wouldn't
consider it stealing.

"You wouldn't!  Well, that beats me.  Now what would you call stealing?"

"Why, taking property is stealing."

"Property!  Now what a way to talk that is: What do you suppose that
trunk is worth?"

"Is it in good repair?"

"Perfect.  Hair rubbed off a little, but the main structure is perfectly
sound."

"Does it leak anywhere?"

"Leak?  Do you want to carry water in it?  What do you mean by does it
leak?"

"Why--a--do the clothes fall out of it when it is--when it is
stationary?"

"Confound it, Washington, you are trying to make fun of me.  I don't know
what has got into you to-day; you act mighty curious.  What is the matter
with you?"

"Well, I'll tell you, old friend.  I am almost happy.  I am, indeed.
It wasn't Clay's telegram that hurried me up so and got me ready to start
with you.  It was a letter from Louise."

"Good!  What is it?  What does she say?"

"She says come home--her father has consented, at last."

"My boy, I want to congratulate you; I want to shake you by the hand!
It's a long turn that has no lane at the end of it, as the proverb says,
or somehow that way.  You'll be happy yet, and Beriah Sellers will be
there to see, thank God!"

"I believe it.  General Boswell is pretty nearly a poor man, now.  The
railroad that was going to build up Hawkeye made short work of him, along
with the rest.  He isn't so opposed to a son-in-law without a fortune,
now."

"Without a fortune, indeed!  Why that Tennessee Land--"

"Never mind the Tennessee Land, Colonel.  I am done with that, forever
and forever--"

"Why no!  You can't mean to say--"

"My father, away back yonder, years ago, bought it for a blessing for his
children, and--"

"Indeed he did!  Si Hawkins said to me--"

"It proved a curse to him as long as he lived, and never a curse like it
was inflicted upon any man's heirs--"

"I'm bound to say there's more or less truth--"

"It began to curse me when I was a baby, and it has cursed every hour of
my life to this day--"

"Lord, lord, but it's so!  Time and again my wife--"

"I depended on it all through my boyhood and never tried to do an honest
stroke of work for my living--"

"Right again--but then you--"

"I have chased it years and years as children chase butterflies.  We
might all have been prosperous, now; we might all have been happy, all
these heart-breaking years, if we had accepted our poverty at first and
gone contentedly to work and built up our own wealth by our own toil and
sweat--"

"It's so, it's so; bless my soul, how often I've told Si Hawkins--"

"Instead of that, we have suffered more than the damned themselves
suffer!  I loved my father, and I honor his memory and recognize his good
intentions; but I grieve for his mistaken ideas of conferring happiness
upon his children.  I am going to begin my life over again, and begin it
and end it with good solid work!  I'll leave my children no Tennessee
Land!"

"Spoken like a man, sir, spoken like a man!  Your hand, again my boy!
And always remember that when a word of advice from Beriah Sellers can
help, it is at your service.  I'm going to begin again, too!"

"Indeed!"

"Yes, sir.  I've seen enough to show me where my mistake was.  The law is
what I was born for.  I shall begin the study of the law.  Heavens and
earth, but that Brabant's a wonderful man--a wonderful man sir!  Such a
head!  And such a way with him!  But I could see that he was jealous of
me.  The little licks I got in in the course of my argument before the
jury--"

"Your argument!  Why, you were a witness."

"Oh, yes, to the popular eye, to the popular eye--but I knew when I was
dropping information and when I was letting drive at the court with an
insidious argument.  But the court knew it, bless you, and weakened every
time!  And Brabant knew it.  I just reminded him of it in a quiet way,
and its final result, and he said in a whisper, 'You did it, Colonel, you
did it, sir--but keep it mum for my sake; and I'll tell you what you do,'
says he, 'you go into the law, Col. Sellers--go into the law, sir; that's
your native element!'  And into the law the subscriber is going.  There's
worlds of money in it!--whole worlds of money!  Practice first in
Hawkeye, then in Jefferson, then in St. Louis, then in New York!  In the
metropolis of the western world!  Climb, and climb, and climb--and wind
up on the Supreme bench.  Beriah Sellers, Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States, sir!  A made man for all time and eternity!
That's the way I block it out, sir--and it's as clear as day--clear as
the rosy-morn!"

Washington had heard little of this.  The first reference to Laura's
trial had brought the old dejection to his face again, and he stood
gazing out of the window at nothing, lost in reverie.

There was a knock-the postman handed in a letter.  It was from Obedstown.
East Tennessee, and was for Washington.  He opened it.  There was a note
saying that enclosed he would please find a bill for the current year's
taxes on the 75,000 acres of Tennessee Land belonging to the estate of
Silas Hawkins, deceased, and added that the money must be paid within
sixty days or the land would be sold at public auction for the taxes, as
provided by law.  The bill was for $180--something more than twice the
market value of the land, perhaps.

Washington hesitated.  Doubts flitted through his mind.  The old instinct
came upon him to cling to the land just a little longer and give it one
more chance.  He walked the floor feverishly, his mind tortured by
indecision.  Presently he stopped, took out his pocket book and counted
his money.  Two hundred and thirty dollars--it was all he had in the
world.

"One hundred and eighty .  .  .  .  .  .  .  from two hundred and
thirty," he said to himself.  "Fifty left .  .  .  .  .  .  It is enough
to get me home .  .  .  .  .  .  .  Shall I do it, or shall I not?
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  I wish I had somebody to decide for me."

The pocket book lay open in his hand, with Louise's small letter in view.
His eye fell upon that, and it decided him.

"It shall go for taxes," he said, "and never tempt me or mine any more!"

He opened the window and stood there tearing the tax bill to bits and
watching the breeze waft them away, till all were gone.

"The spell is broken, the life-long curse is ended!" he said.  "Let us
go."

The baggage wagon had arrived; five minutes later the two friends were
mounted upon their luggage in it, and rattling off toward the station,
the Colonel endeavoring to sing "Homeward Bound," a song whose words he
knew, but whose tune, as he rendered it, was a trial to auditors.





CHAPTER LXII


Philip Sterling's circumstances were becoming straightened.  The prospect
was gloomy.  His long siege of unproductive labor was beginning to tell
upon his spirits; but what told still more upon them was the undeniable
fact that the promise of ultimate success diminished every day, now.
That is to say, the tunnel had reached a point in the hill which was
considerably beyond where the coal vein should pass (according to all his
calculations) if there were a coal vein there; and so, every foot that
the tunnel now progressed seemed to carry it further away from the object
of the search.

Sometimes he ventured to hope that he had made a mistake in estimating
the direction which the vein should naturally take after crossing the
valley and entering the hill.  Upon such occasions he would go into the
nearest mine on the vein he was hunting for, and once more get the
bearings of the deposit and mark out its probable course; but the result
was the same every time; his tunnel had manifestly pierced beyond the
natural point of junction; and then his, spirits fell a little lower.
His men had already lost faith, and he often overheard them saying it was
perfectly plain that there was no coal in the hill.

Foremen and laborers from neighboring mines, and no end of experienced
loafers from the village, visited the tunnel from time to time, and their
verdicts were always the same and always disheartening--"No coal in that
hill."  Now and then Philip would sit down and think it all over and
wonder what the mystery meant; then he would go into the tunnel and ask
the men if there were no signs yet?  None--always "none."

He would bring out a piece of rock and examine it, and say to himself,
"It is limestone--it has crinoids and corals in it--the rock is right"
Then he would throw it down with a sigh, and say, "But that is nothing;
where coal is, limestone with these fossils in it is pretty certain to
lie against its foot casing; but it does not necessarily follow that
where this peculiar rock is coal must lie above it or beyond it; this
sign is not sufficient."

The thought usually followed:--"There is one infallible sign--if I could
only strike that!"

Three or four tines in as many weeks he said to himself, "Am I a
visionary? I must be a visionary; everybody is in these days; everybody
chases butterflies: everybody seeks sudden fortune and will not lay one
up by slow toil.  This is not right, I will discharge the men and go at
some honest work.  There is no coal here.  What a fool I have been; I
will give it up."

But he never could do it.  A half hour of profound thinking always
followed; and at the end of it he was sure to get up and straighten
himself and say: "There is coal there; I will not give it up; and coal
or no coal I will drive the tunnel clear through the hill; I will not
surrender while I am alive."

He never thought of asking Mr. Montague for more money.  He said there
was now but one chance of finding coal against nine hundred and ninety
nine that he would not find it, and so it would be wrong in him to make
the request and foolish in Mr. Montague to grant it.

He had been working three shifts of men.  Finally, the settling of a
weekly account exhausted his means.  He could not afford to run in debt,
and therefore he gave the men their discharge.  They came into his cabin
presently, where he sat with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his
hands--the picture of discouragement and their spokesman said:

"Mr. Sterling, when Tim was down a week with his fall you kept him on
half-wages and it was a mighty help to his family; whenever any of us was
in trouble you've done what you could to help us out; you've acted fair
and square with us every time, and I reckon we are men and know a man
when we see him.  We haven't got any faith in that hill, but we have a
respect for a man that's got the pluck that you've showed; you've fought
a good fight, with everybody agin you and if we had grub to go on, I'm
d---d if we wouldn't stand by you till the cows come home!  That is what
the boys say.  Now we want to put in one parting blast for luck.  We want
to work three days more; if we don't find anything, we won't bring in no
bill against you.  That is what we've come to say."

Philip was touched.  If he had had money enough to buy three days' "grub"
he would have accepted the generous offer, but as it was, he could not
consent to be less magnanimous than the men, and so he declined in a
manly speech; shook hands all around and resumed his solitary communings.
The men went back to the tunnel and "put in a parting blast for luck"
anyhow.  They did a full day's work and then took their leave.  They
called at his cabin and gave him good-bye, but were not able to tell him
their day's effort had given things a mere promising look.

The next day Philip sold all the tools but two or three sets; he also
sold one of the now deserted cabins as old, lumber, together with its
domestic wares; and made up his mind that he would buy, provisions with
the trifle of money thus gained and continue his work alone.  About the
middle of the after noon he put on his roughest clothes and went to the
tunnel. He lit a candle and groped his way in.  Presently he heard the
sound of a pick or a drill, and wondered, what it meant. A spark of light
now appeared in the far end of the tunnel, and when he arrived there he
found the man Tim at work. Tim said:

"I'm to have a job in the Golden Brier mine by and by--in a week or ten
days--and I'm going to work here till then.  A man might as well be at
some thing, and besides I consider that I owe you what you paid me when I
was laid up."

Philip said,  Oh, no, he didn't owe anything; but Tim persisted, and then
Philip said he had a little provision now, and would share.  So for
several days Philip held the drill and Tim did the striking.  At first
Philip was impatient to see the result of every blast, and was always
back and peering among the smoke the moment after the explosion.  But
there was never any encouraging result; and therefore he finally lost
almost all interest, and hardly troubled himself to inspect results at
all.  He simply labored on, stubbornly and with little hope.

Tim staid with him till the last moment, and then took up his job at the
Golden Brier, apparently as depressed by the continued barrenness of
their mutual labors as Philip was himself.  After that, Philip fought his
battle alone, day after day, and slow work it was; he could scarcely see
that he made any progress.

Late one afternoon he finished drilling a hole which he had been at work
at for more than two hours; he swabbed it out, and poured in the powder
and inserted the fuse; then filled up the rest of the hole with dirt and
small fragments of stone; tamped it down firmly, touched his candle to
the fuse, and ran.  By and by the I dull report came, and he was about to
walk back mechanically and see what was accomplished; but he halted;
presently turned on his heel and thought, rather than said:

"No, this is useless, this is absurd.  If I found anything it would only
be one of those little aggravating seams of coal which doesn't mean
anything, and--"

By this time he was walking out of the tunnel.  His thought ran on:

"I am conquered .  .  .  .  .  .  I am out of provisions, out of money.
.  .  .  .  .  I have got to give it up .  .  .  .  .  .  All this hard work
lost!  But I am not conquered!  I will go and work for money, and come
back and have another fight with fate.  Ah me, it may be years, it may,
be years."

Arrived at the mouth of the tunnel, he threw his coat upon the ground,
sat down on, a stone, and his eye sought the westering sun and dwelt upon
the charming landscape which stretched its woody ridges, wave upon wave,
to the golden horizon.

Something was taking place at his feet which did not attract his
attention.

His reverie continued, and its burden grew more and more gloomy.
Presently he rose up and, cast a look far away toward the valley, and his
thoughts took a new direction:

"There it is!  How good it looks! But down there is not up here.  Well,
I will go home and pack up--there is nothing else to do."

He moved off moodily toward his cabin.  He had gone some distance before
he thought of his coat; then he was about to turn back, but he smiled at
the thought, and continued his journey--such a coat as that could be of
little use in a civilized land; a little further on, he remembered that
there were some papers of value in one of the pockets of the relic, and
then with a penitent ejaculation he turned back picked up the coat and
put it on.

He made a dozen steps, and then stopped very suddenly.  He stood still a
moment, as one who is trying to believe something and cannot.  He put a
hand up over his shoulder and felt his back, and a great thrill shot
through him.  He grasped the skirt of the coat impulsively and another
thrill followed.  He snatched the coat from his back, glanced at it,
threw it from him and flew back to the tunnel.  He sought the spot where
the coat had lain--he had to look close, for the light was waning--then
to make sure, he put his hand to the ground and a little stream of water
swept against his fingers:

"Thank God, I've struck it at last!"

He lit a candle and ran into the tunnel; he picked up a piece of rubbish
cast out by the last blast, and said:

"This clayey stuff is what I've longed for--I know what is behind it."

He swung his pick with hearty good will till long after the darkness had
gathered upon the earth, and when he trudged home at length he knew he
had a coal vein and that it was seven feet thick from wall to wall.

He found a yellow envelope lying on his rickety table, and recognized
that it was of a family sacred to the transmission of telegrams.

He opened it, read it, crushed it in his hand and threw it down.  It
simply said:

"Ruth is very ill."




CHAPTER LXIII.

It was evening when Philip took the cars at the Ilium station.  The news
of, his success had preceded him, and while he waited for the train, he
was the center of a group of eager questioners, who asked him a hundred
things about the mine, and magnified his good fortune.  There was no
mistake this time.

Philip, in luck, had become suddenly a person of consideration, whose
speech was freighted with meaning, whose looks were all significant.
The words of the proprietor of a rich coal mine have a golden sound,
and his common sayings are repeated as if they were solid wisdom.

Philip wished to be alone; his good fortune at this moment seemed an
empty mockery, one of those sarcasms of fate, such as that which spreads
a dainty banquet for the man who has no appetite.  He had longed for
success principally for Ruth's sake; and perhaps now, at this very moment
of his triumph, she was dying.

"Shust what I said, Mister Sederling," the landlord of the Ilium hotel
kept repeating.  "I dold Jake Schmidt he find him dere shust so sure as
noting."

"You ought to have taken a share, Mr.  Dusenheimer," said Philip.

"Yaas, I know.  But d'old woman, she say 'You sticks to your pisiness.
So I sticks to 'em.  Und I makes noting.  Dat Mister Prierly, he don't
never come back here no more, ain't it?"

"Why?" asked Philip.

"Vell, dere is so many peers, and so many oder dhrinks, I got 'em all set
down, ven he coomes back."

It was a long night for Philip, and a restless one.  At any other time
the swing of the cars would have lulled him to sleep, and the rattle and
clank of wheels and rails, the roar of the whirling iron would have only
been cheerful reminders of swift and safe travel.  Now they were voices
of warning and taunting; and instead of going rapidly the train seemed to
crawl at a snail's pace.  And it not only crawled, but it frequently
stopped; and when it stopped it stood dead still and there was an ominous
silence.  Was anything the matter, he wondered.  Only a station probably.
Perhaps, he thought, a telegraphic station.  And then he listened
eagerly.  Would the conductor open the door and ask for Philip Sterling,
and hand him a fatal dispatch?

How long they seemed to wait.  And then slowly beginning to move, they
were off again, shaking, pounding, screaming through the night.  He drew
his curtain from time to time and looked out.  There was the lurid sky
line of the wooded range along the base of which they were crawling.
There was the Susquehannah, gleaming in the moon-light.  There was a
stretch of level valley with silent farm houses, the occupants all at
rest, without trouble, without anxiety.  There was a church, a graveyard,
a mill, a village; and now, without pause or fear, the train had mounted
a trestle-work high in air and was creeping along the top of it while a
swift torrent foamed a hundred feet below.

What would the morning bring? Even while he was flying to her, her gentle
spirit might have gone on another flight, whither he could not follow
her.  He was full of foreboding.  He fell at length into a restless doze.
There was a noise in his ears as of a rushing torrent when a stream is
swollen by a freshet in the spring.  It was like the breaking up of life;
he was struggling in the consciousness of coming death: when Ruth stood
by his side, clothed in white, with a face like that of an angel,
radiant, smiling, pointing to the sky, and saying, "Come."  He awoke with
a cry--the train was roaring through a bridge, and it shot out into
daylight.

When morning came the train was industriously toiling along through the
fat lands of Lancaster, with its broad farms of corn and wheat, its mean
houses of stone, its vast barns and granaries, built as if, for storing
the riches of Heliogabalus.  Then came the smiling fields of Chester,
with their English green, and soon the county of Philadelphia itself, and
the increasing signs of the approach to a great city.  Long trains of
coal cars, laden and unladen, stood upon sidings; the tracks of other
roads were crossed; the smoke of other locomotives was seen on parallel
lines; factories multiplied; streets appeared; the noise of a busy city
began to fill the air;--and with a slower and slower clank on the
connecting rails and interlacing switches the train rolled into the
station and stood still.

It was a hot August morning.  The broad streets glowed in the sun, and
the white-shuttered houses stared at the hot thoroughfares like closed
bakers' ovens set along the highway.  Philip was oppressed with the heavy
air; the sweltering city lay as in a swoon.  Taking a street car, he rode
away to the northern part of the city, the newer portion, formerly the
district of Spring Garden, for in this the Boltons now lived, in a small
brick house, befitting their altered fortunes.

He could scarcely restrain his impatience when he came in sight of the
house.  The window shutters were not "bowed"; thank God, for that.  Ruth
was still living, then.  He ran up the steps and rang.  Mrs.  Bolton met
him at the door.

"Thee is very welcome, Philip."

"And Ruth?"

"She is very ill, but quieter than, she has been, and the fever is a
little abating.  The most dangerous time will be when the fever leaves
her.  The doctor fears she will not have strength enough to rally from
it.  Yes, thee can see her."

Mrs.  Bolton led the way to the little chamber where Ruth lay.  "Oh,"
said her mother, "if she were only in her cool and spacious room in our
old home.  She says that seems like heaven."

Mr. Bolton sat by Ruth's bedside, and he rose and silently pressed
Philip's hand.  The room had but one window; that was wide open to admit
the air, but the air that came in was hot and lifeless.  Upon the table
stood a vase of flowers.  Ruth's eyes were closed; her cheeks were
flushed with fever, and she moved her head restlessly as if in pain.

"Ruth," said her mother, bending over her, "Philip is here."

Ruth's eyes unclosed, there was a gleam of recognition in them, there was
an attempt at a smile upon her face, and she tried to raise her thin
hand, as Philip touched her forehead with his lips; and he heard her
murmur,

"Dear Phil."

There was nothing to be done but to watch and wait for the cruel fever to
burn itself out.  Dr. Longstreet told Philip that the fever had
undoubtedly been contracted in the hospital, but it was not malignant,
and would be little dangerous if Ruth were not so worn down with work,
or if she had a less delicate constitution.

"It is only her indomitable will that has kept her up for weeks.  And if
that should leave her now, there will be no hope.  You can do more for
her now, sir, than I can?"

"How?" asked Philip eagerly.

"Your presence, more than anything else, will inspire her with the desire
to live."

When the fever turned, Ruth was in a very critical condition.  For two
days her life was like the fluttering of a lighted candle in the wind.
Philip was constantly by her side, and she seemed to be conscious of his
presence, and to cling to him, as one borne away by a swift stream clings
to a stretched-out hand from the shore.  If he was absent a moment her
restless eyes sought something they were disappointed not to find.

Philip so yearned to bring her back to life, he willed it so strongly and
passionately, that his will appeared to affect hers and she seemed slowly
to draw life from his.

After two days of this struggle with the grasping enemy, it was evident
to Dr. Longstreet that Ruth's will was beginning to issue its orders to
her body with some force, and that strength was slowly coming back.
In another day there was a decided improvement.  As Philip sat holding
her weak hand and watching the least sign of resolution in her face, Ruth
was able to whisper,

"I so want to live, for you, Phil!"

"You will; darling, you must," said Philip in a tone of faith and courage
that carried a thrill of determination--of command--along all her nerves.

Slowly Philip drew her back to life.  Slowly she came back, as one
willing but well nigh helpless.  It was new for Ruth to feel this
dependence on another's nature, to consciously draw strength of will from
the will of another.  It was a new but a dear joy, to be lifted up and
carried back into the happy world, which was now all aglow with the light
of love; to be lifted and carried by the one she loved more than her own
life.

"Sweetheart," she said to Philip, "I would not have cared to come back
but for thy love."

"Not for thy profession?"

"Oh, thee may be glad enough of that some day, when thy coal bed is dug
out and thee and father are in the air again."

When Ruth was able to ride she was taken into the country, for the pure
air was necessary to her speedy recovery.  The family went with her.
Philip could not be spared from her side, and Mr.  Bolton had gone up to
Ilium to look into that wonderful coal mine and to make arrangements for
developing it, and bringing its wealth to market.  Philip had insisted on
re-conveying the Ilium property to Mr. Bolton, retaining only the share
originally contemplated for himself, and Mr.  Bolton, therefore, once
more found himself engaged in business and a person of some consequence
in Third street.  The mine turned out even better than was at first
hoped, and would, if judiciously managed, be a fortune to them all.
This also seemed to be the opinion of Mr. Bigler, who heard of it as soon
as anybody, and, with the impudence of his class called upon Mr. Bolton
for a little aid in a patent car-wheel he had bought an interest in.
That rascal, Small, he said, had swindled him out of all he had.

Mr. Bolton told him he was very sorry, and recommended him to sue Small.

Mr. Small also came with a similar story about Mr. Bigler; and Mr.
Bolton had the grace to give him like advice.  And he added, "If you and
Bigler will procure the indictment of each other, you may have the
satisfaction of putting each other in the penitentiary for the forgery of
my acceptances."

Bigler and Small did not quarrel however.  They both attacked Mr. Bolton
behind his back as a swindler, and circulated the story that he had made
a fortune by failing.

In the pure air of the highlands, amid the golden glories of ripening
September, Ruth rapidly came back to health.  How beautiful the world is
to an invalid, whose senses are all clarified, who has been so near the
world of spirits that she is sensitive to the finest influences, and
whose frame responds with a thrill to the subtlest ministrations of
soothing nature.  Mere life is a luxury, and the color of the grass, of
the flowers, of the sky, the wind in the trees, the outlines of the
horizon, the forms of clouds, all give a pleasure as exquisite as the
sweetest music to the ear famishing for it.  The world was all new and
fresh to Ruth, as if it had just been created for her, and love filled
it, till her heart was overflowing with happiness.

It was golden September also at Fallkill.  And Alice sat by the open
window in her room at home, looking out upon the meadows where the
laborers were cutting the second crop of clover.  The fragrance of it
floated to her nostrils.  Perhaps she did not mind it.  She was thinking.
She had just been writing to Ruth, and on the table before her was a
yellow piece of paper with a faded four-leaved clover pinned on it--only
a memory now.  In her letter to Ruth she had poured out her heartiest
blessings upon them both, with her dear love forever and forever.

"Thank God," she said, "they will never know"

They never would know.  And the world never knows how many women there
are like Alice, whose sweet but lonely lives of self-sacrifice, gentle,
faithful, loving souls, bless it continually.

"She is a dear girl," said Philip, when Ruth showed him the letter.

"Yes, Phil, and we can spare a great deal of love for her, our own lives
are so full."




APPENDIX.

Perhaps some apology to the reader is necessary in view of our failure to
find Laura's father.  We supposed, from the ease with which lost persons
are found in novels, that it would not be difficult.  But it was; indeed,
it was impossible; and therefore the portions of the narrative containing
the record of the search have been stricken out.  Not because they were
not interesting--for they were; but inasmuch as the man was not found,
after all, it did not seem wise to harass and excite the reader to no
purpose.

THE AUTHORS





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