The Project Gutenberg eBook of Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 22, September, 1878

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Title: Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 22, September, 1878

Author: Various

Release date: August 5, 2007 [eBook #22250]
Most recently updated: January 2, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by J. B. Lippincott & Co., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Transcriber's notes: Minor typos have been corrected. Table of contents has been generated for HTML version.


Books Received.

[Pg 265]



One of the most interesting and amusing episodes in our many Mediterranean and North African wanderings was a visit to the Sahara. Although we penetrated but a short distance into the Great Desert, we were there introduced to aspects of Nature and to phases of life wholly new and strange to us.

We had been spending the winter in Algiers, and were unwilling to return to Europe without seeing something more of the African continent. When, therefore, the sunny winter gave place to still more sunny spring, we set out upon our travels—first, eastward by sea to Philippeville, and then southward to the desert.

The French colony of Algeria, as every one knows, stretches along the African coast from Morocco to Tunis, and from the Mediterranean southward to the desert. It is divided into three provinces—Oran, Algiers and Constantine, the central one being the most important and that from which the whole country takes its name. From either of these provinces it is possible to penetrate inland to the Sahara, but this is done most easily from the eastern settlement, Constantine. We therefore made choice of this route, and on a bright morning early in April started from Algiers for Philippeville. The voyage along the coast affords some glimpses of fine scenery. The Bay of Bougie especially, surrounded as it is by lofty mountains, part of the Atlas range, is extremely picturesque. As the steamers, however, only remain a few hours at each of the stopping-places, there is scarcely time fully to enjoy the varied and charming views. It seemed to us as if a vast diorama had passed before us, leaving on the mind not an indelible picture, but a mere shadowy outline of headlands and bays, rocky promontories and sunny sloping shores. With the exception of the port of Algiers, there is, properly speaking, no harbor on this part of the African coast: there are only open roadsteads, where, exposed to the full roll of the sea, vessels ride uncomfortably at anchor. The journey is in consequence rather trying: nevertheless, we had not long reached terra firma before we acknowledged ourselves amply compensated for the fatigues and little unpleasant accompaniments of the sea-voyage.

Philippeville offers to the traveller no great attractions. Its situation is pretty, and it possesses some Roman remains, the examination of which may occupy pleasantly and profitably enough the unavoidable interval between the landing and the start for the South. After resting but one night, we set out for Constantine, the capital of the province of that name. There is nothing whatever of interest between the sea and the city—nothing till you arrive within sight of Constantine itself. Then, indeed, when from the plain below you get your first view of the town, perched like an eagle's nest upon its rocky height, you can at once realize the appropriateness of its singular [Pg 266]name—"the City in the Air." It is so high above you it seems midway between earth and heaven. Its situation is indeed unique and most strangely picturesque. Security must have been the chief motive for the selection of such a site, and certainly few cities present more formidable barriers to the advance of a foe. The plateau of rock upon which the town is built forms a kind of peninsula, inaccessible on all sides except one, and there the ascent is long and steep, as we found to our cost each time we descended to the level of the valley. This plateau is joined to the rest of the table-land as by an isthmus: at all other points it is surrounded by a profound chasm, through which flows the river Roumel—a chasm so deep and narrow that it is only when quite near it you become aware of its existence. For the sake of internal safety a wall has been built round the top of the precipice, and at certain points you may look over this parapet, sheer down some ten or twelve hundred feet, into an abyss fit only to be the habitation of the owls, bats, and birds of prey which frequent its solitudes. There seems no resting-place for any wingless creature: thus the strange birds which haunt the wild recesses of the rocks do so in perfect security, and their varied cries, along with the roar of the water, are the only sounds that issue from below. The mysterious gloom is indescribable, and the look down into the depths fills one with awe; and yet this singular view is obtained from the very town itself, from the courts and windows of the houses.

If, however, you would see this wonderful gorge to perfection, you must go down into it and find your way to the little path which skirts the stream along a portion of its course. First, descend to the foot of the rock, where the river rushes out of the ravine with a mighty leap, forming a cascade some four hundred feet in height, and you are at once overwhelmed by the grandeur of the scene, and all the poetry in your nature is stirred. From this point you may proceed for some distance along the water-side above the fall. Below you roars the foaming cataract, thundering downward and filling the whole air with its white[Pg 267] spray. Above, on either side, are lofty, precipitous rocks, the crests of which are crowned by buildings. This is the town as seen from beneath. No wonder it is called "the City in the Air."

As you advance the chasm narrows. You must walk with caution, stepping lightly from rock to rock, till presently you come in sight of a lofty arch, which, spanning the river from side to side, forms a gigantic natural bridge joining the opposite sides of the gorge. Nothing in Nature ever moved me more than the first view of that magnificent arch. With something of the proportions of a cathedral roof it rises above you in massive grandeur, showing beyond, through the opening, a line of sky, and then another cavern-like arch. We could not penetrate farther, and no daylight issued from this second opening. It looked like the mysterious entrance into an underground world, the portal of Hades, and in the excitement produced by the novelty of the scene our surprise could scarcely have been increased had some of the shades from the realms of darkness glided out from amid the gloom, or if Charon's boat had appeared to row us over the ferry. Overhead the hawks and eagles circled round, and with hoarse cries appeared to express their anger at the intrusion of man into these wilds sacred to them. Altogether, the scene is full of strange, awe-inspiring beauty. In the Alps and elsewhere we have, perhaps, beheld grander scenery, but never more impressive.

The town of Constantine has not much to commend it as a place of residence. It is neither clean nor well built, while sights and smells the reverse of agreeable are constantly distressing the optic and olfactory nerves. And yet there are perhaps few places where an artist could find more charming subjects for his pencil—curious bits of architecture mingling with Nature in its most beautiful and grandest aspects, fine touches of brilliant color, and quaint winding streets and bazaars,—everywhere the picturesque. Filth and confusion, indeed, but still it is the very confusion that an artist loves.

The people are a mixture of French, Arabs and Jews. Of the first nothing need be said: they are the same everywhere. The second are similar in type to the Arabs and Moors of the capital; but the last, the Jews, do not at all resemble the specimens of the favored race we have been accustomed to meet with in Europe. They are mostly handsome, many of them fair, the women being particularly gay and picturesque in costume, wearing, when in gala-dress, bright-colored, gold-bespangled scarfs hanging over their heads and shoulders. Altogether, we thought it the brightest and most graceful female attire we had ever seen. But the most charming of all are the children. We saw groups of a perfectly ideal beauty playing upon the doorsteps and dust-heaps—little rosy-cheeked, fair or auburn-haired things, a striking contrast to the sallow Arab races. In thus seeing that fair and auburn hair is not at all uncommon among the Jews of the East, we for the first time understood why the old masters gave to Christ the complexion generally found in their paintings. Certainly, the Jewish children of Constantine would make most lovely studies for the genre painter, and we all regretted that we could not carry away with us some enduring souvenir of that which had charmed us so much.

But, however picturesque the country, and however interesting the town and people, we cannot always linger here. Our destination is the desert. Thus, therefore, after a few days spent in alternate wonder and admiration, we once again set out on our southward course, resolved to indemnify ourselves on our return journey by making a longer stay amidst the beautiful and extremely singular scenery of the Roumel.

Our next resting-place was Batna, a small French town situated on the elevated ground—nearly four thousand feet above the level of the sea—between the Mediterranean and the Sahara. We had to make the journey thither by diligence and by night, and we were surprised to find how cold an African night can be even in April. There was a hard frost,[Pg 268] and just before entering Batna we passed under an aqueduct from which hung down a fringe of enormous icicles. The following day, on the still higher ground at the celebrated cedar forest, which forms an interesting excursion from Batna, we found deep snow. During the day the sun shone out bright and powerful, but the nights continued to hold the forest frost-bound.

At Batna we met with a party of gentlemen, one of whom we had known slightly in Algiers; and they, like ourselves, were bound for Biskra. This complicated matters, as it was understood that the accommodation at the oasis was of a somewhat scanty description. They were three, and we were four—altogether, a party of six gentlemen and one lady. We telegraphed from Batna to ascertain whether or not we could all get rooms. Our despair may be imagined when we received the answer: one of the little hotels was closed, and the other could only offer us two rooms. Two rooms for seven people! What was to be done? We could not—or rather would not—retrace our steps at this stage, and thus give up the very object of our journey; so we resolved to go on at all risks and take our chance.

The evening before we started on our somewhat adventurous journey, as we sat chatting round the fire, I could not help giving vent to my feelings. The desert! Was it possible? I felt myself on the eve of something momentous. It was an event in my life, a something never to be forgotten. A smile played upon the faces of my companions, and next day, when, utterly worn and weary, I could with difficulty take an interest in anything around me, they were very ready to banter me about "the event in my life."

It was not without serious misgivings that we took our places in the great lumbering vehicle which travels twice a week between Batna and the oasis. Nothing but a heavy, strongly-built conveyance could stand the jolting of such a journey; and in order to accomplish it at all within the day it is necessary to start between two and three o'clock in the morning. Now, if there is one thing more than another likely to damp one's enthusiasm, it is turning out at such an untimely hour. We all felt this as we wended our way through the cold, dark streets to the diligence-office; and as we were trundled down the steep hill leading out of the town, bumping from side to side, it was some time before we could recover our spirits or stir up again an excitement worthy of the occasion.

On the route between Batna and El Kantra—"the Mouth of the Desert"—there is little of interest. It is a weary journey, over roads either badly made or not made at all, through a bare, barren, bleak, uncultivated country. One wonders, in passing through such an inhospitable region, at finding so many remains of the Roman occupation. What could have induced such a people to penetrate so far into the wilds of Africa? There is no evidence of the land ever having been more productive or more attractive than it is at present; and yet at Lambessa, a few miles from Batna, you find the ruins of a once great and magnificent Roman city, while even as far south as Biskra itself there are still to be seen relics of this great conquering nation of antiquity.

But to return to El Kantra. Here we found a little hotel kept by French people, and here the diligence stopped for breakfast. It was about ten o'clock, and what a change! The heat was broiling, and the dry, arid rocks told of an approach to the desert. In effect, the Pass of El Kantra is the entrance to what is called "the Little Desert;" hence its name, "Mouth of the Desert."

At this point the valley seems completely shut in by a mountainous barrier of rugged rock. On advancing, however, a few steps farther, the great jagged rocks, which appeared a compact mass, divide, and, like the transformation-scene in a pantomime, the oasis of El Kantra, which is situated immediately south of the pass, lies before you. The opening is so narrow that it affords but room for the road and the stream, which is crossed by a bridge of Roman construction, restored by the late emperor Napoleon. It is therefore only when close upon it, when actually within the pass, that you become aware of the singularly beautiful scene beyond.[A]

[Pg 269]


[Pg 270]

On each side the great mountain-masses rise, picturesque, even fantastic, in outline. The heights are inaccessible to any foot but those of the goat and goatherd. We were astonished at seeing a troop of goats wending their way upward, for to our eyes there seemed not even the remotest trace of vegetation upon the rocks; and indeed the poor things looked as if with them existence were truly "a struggle," out of which little could be gained by natural selection.

Hungry as we were on arriving at El Kantra after our long ride, we could scarcely take time to breakfast, but hurried on in advance of the diligence to get our first view of the mysterious land beyond the mountain-range. The stream which here descends from the hills to the plain causes the desert, if not "to blossom like a rose," to become at this point a rich and beautiful oasis. Here, for the first time, we saw the date-palm in full luxuriance. In the neighborhood of Algiers there are many fine trees, but the fruit never thoroughly ripens there.

For upward of a mile after passing through the mountain-gorge we skirted the oasis. It is surrounded by a mud-built wall, and half hidden among the palms we could discern the mud-built cottages and mosque belonging to the Arab village. On the other side of our route we observed a forest of upright stones, rough and unhewn. This was the last resting-place of the people of the desert, and a sad and lonely sight an Arab burial-place is, dreary even amid the utter desolation around.

Now and then as we advanced we met troops of camels with their owners going north ward to the Tell, or cultivated lands, carrying with them their wives and other goods and chattels. Or, again, we would come upon the huge bleached carcass of one of those all-important beasts of burden, which had fallen on one of its weary journeys and left its bones to whiten upon the sand. Or we would see in the distance a hyena or jackal prowling about in search of more recent dead.

Everything was so novel and strange to us that for a long time pleasure and excitement prevented our yielding to, or even feeling, fatigue. As, however, the day advanced and the heat became more and more intolerable, as the glare blinded us and the dust half smothered us, again our spirits sank and the pleasure of "this event in life" assumed a doubtful hue. Even when the spirit is willing the flesh is weak, and we were beginning to feel thoroughly worn out when the diligence pulled up on the top of the range of hills which divides the Little Desert from the Sahara proper.

At last we beheld it—the Great Desert! "The sea! how like the sea!" we all exclaimed; and indeed there it lay like a vast expanse of calm ocean. The slopes of the hills upon which we stood appeared like the shore, and those distant black-gray spots surrounded by a seeming blue, so wonderfully like islands in the ocean, were the oases of the Ziban, encircled by the great sea of sand, the desert. It is a view never to be forgotten—such light! such color! such calm loveliness!

Fatigue, discomfort, difficulties, all alike were forgotten; self seemed lost in the magic of the scene; and it was with straining eyes and beating hearts that we rattled down the declivity to Biskra, the largest, richest and most important of this group of oases. But here again our troubles commenced. This journey seemed fated to be, like the journey of life itself, a series of ups and downs, calculated to fully exercise all our strength and philosophy. It was no joke to find ourselves in the desert, after a drive of fifteen hours, without a resting-place for our wearied bodies or a dinner to restore our failing strength and spirits. One hotel, we found, was indeed shut up, and in the other they had only two close, wretched-looking rooms to offer us—one with two, and one with three, beds. We[Pg 271] were very reluctant to accept these; and, after all, how could seven persons, a lady and six gentlemen, be thus accommodated? Mr. M—— and I determined to lay siege to the closed hotel and try if we could not find an "open sesame" to unclose its portals.


Monsieur and Madame Bourguignon, the landlord and landlady, were the sole occupants of the hotel. It was impossible,[Pg 272] they said: they dared not admit us, as in consequence of a quarrel with the authorities their license had been taken from them. At last our importunity triumphed. On appealing to their humanity in our most pathetic and touching French, they said if we could get a written permission from the commandant-supérieur for them to open their hotel, they would do the best they could for us. We had no resource but to beat up the officer's quarters, which, under the conduct of an Arab guide, we soon reached. The servant who answered our summons said, "Monsieur le Commandant was at dinner." Politeness, however, was at this stage of the proceedings out of the question; so we coolly replied that he must leave his dinner and come to speak with a lady. We were not long kept waiting, and were most kindly and pleasantly received, the commandant giving us at once a note to M. Bourguignon requesting him, as a personal favor, to do all he could to make us comfortable, adding, with true French politeness, that he only regretted that in his bachelor quarters he had not himself accommodation to offer us.

Thus, one more of our troubles was happily ended, and in a wonderfully short space of time we found ourselves refreshing exhausted Nature with an excellent dinner, waited upon by our jolly landlord, who constantly assured us that we should be very comfortable, "car on mange très bien à Biskra."

It is only on becoming acquainted with scenes and people which we have been in the habit of picturing to ourselves that we realize how feeble a power is the imagination. We found here everything so different from the creations of our fancy. My idea of an oasis, for example, had been a clump of trees, a spring of water and a little verdure. Here we found one several miles in length, and with sixty thousand palm trees, a considerable population, a market and a fort. Biskra is, however, the largest and finest of the group of oases which stud this part of the desert. It is the place of residence of the caid and the chief seat of Arab commerce.

By the time we had dined it was already too dark to commence explorations. It was only the next morning, when we rose refreshed and rested, that we began to take in the various details of the new and singular life to which we were being introduced.

First, as to our hotel. It consisted of a row of small, self-contained houses forming two sides of a square. One of these little dwellings was the dining-room, another the kitchen, and the others respectively the guests' sleeping-chambers, a separate house being allotted to each. In the centre of the square there was a charming garden, where roses, sweet-peas and most of our summer flowers were blooming in full luxuriance. Then, in the early season, when the springs give out their fertilizing moisture and the sun has not yet attained its full scorching power, the garden is one mass of beauty and blossom: later in the year everything becomes parched and dried up, scarcely a blade remaining. In the middle of the garden there was a bower overgrown with creepers and shaded by a thick matting. This formed our saloon and reception-room, and here we took our coffee, the gentlemen smoked their cigars and we chatted over our adventures and prospects. Our rooms, or little houses, all opened on the garden; and never can we forget the charm of unclosing our door in the early morning. What a flood of light and freshness and fragrance rushed in upon us while we dressed and prepared for the business of the day! Our apartment had a bare stone floor, its furniture consisted of two beds, two chairs and a deal table—nothing could have been more simple—yet this little nest in the desert appeared to us about the nearest imaginable approach to an earthly paradise. How we congratulated ourselves upon having had the courage to leave the dingy rooms at the other hotel to our travelling companions, and to force an entrance into this sweet spot! Our hosts, too, seemed delighted and most happy at having guests in their house once more.[Pg 273]


Every morning we rose at five, took tea in our arbor before six, and then sallied out to explore and photograph till ten, when we returned to breakfast. Then we retired either to our own apartments, or, if not too hot, to the shade of the garden, and did the dolce far niente till the sun had passed the zenith and had begun to sink in the west. Then, again, on foot or donkey-back, we visited the different parts of the oasis, returning in time for a six-o'clock dinner; after which, the room usually becoming insufferably hot, we once more sought[Pg 274] our open-air drawing-room and took our evening coffee by the light of the stars.

Mere existence in such an atmosphere is bliss. One does not seem to breathe, as at home, machine-like, just what is necessary for the maintenance of life, but, exhilarated with the pureness and freshness, one drinks in long breaths of pleasure. It would be difficult to give an idea of the charm of our morning and evening rambles—the delicious shade, the beautiful light and shadow, the sweet wafts of warm aromatic fragrance, the refreshing murmur of the numberless runlets of water—everything so calm, so full of dreamy beauty.

What the Nile is to Egypt, the stream which flows here is to Biskra. By considerable labor it has been made to meander among the palms in numerous tiny canals, thus by an elaborate system of irrigation causing the barren soil of the desert to become fertile and bring forth fruit. Everywhere the little runlets are led round the very roots of the trees, for the palm, it is said, loves to have its head in the fire and its feet in the water. Here and there even a few cereals are extracted from the unwilling soil. At the time of our visit, in April, it was harvest-time, and the husbandman was busy gathering in his little store. The date-harvest, which constitutes the chief wealth of the district, does not take place till October.

Besides the town proper and the fort, there is at Biskra a negro village, while scattered throughout the oasis there are numerous mud-built mosques and cottages, which contrast charmingly with the tropical vegetation and add greatly to the picturesque beauty of the scene. In addition to these abodes of the settled population, there are also groups of real black Arab tents, which form the habitations of the more nomadic races. These are here to-day and away to-morrow, carrying all their possessions with them. The troops of Arabs we had met en route belonged to these wandering tribes, and were going to the Tell country for summer pasturage. While we were at Biskra there was a wedding in one of these dingy black tents, and a very queer place it seemed to us to bring a bride to; nevertheless, she was conducted thither in triumph, riding upon a mule, while the Arabs in front of the tent fired feu-de-joie amid the most noisy demonstrations of welcome and rejoicing.

Within the town there are several streets, some large open places, and a covered market-hall, where a brisk trade is daily carried on, large quantities of dates, small quantities of grain, cutlery—knives and daggers with roughly-hewn wooden sheaths—primitive musical instruments, embroidered leather caps, straps, tobacco-pouches, etc., being exposed in the various stalls. Altogether, a singular medley, and quite unlike any European market.

The wild music of the tom-tom, a primitive Arab drum, seemed to us never to cease at Biskra. At night, when we retired to rest, it was drumming in our ears, and in the morning, when we awoke, its monotonous tones still floated on the air. At all hours of the day and night the cafés are frequented by pleasure-seekers. Hence the incessant drumming, as the music of the tom-tom seems to be an indispensable adjunct to Arab enjoyment.

Once or twice we made a round of the cafés, and very grim and solemn the entertainment appeared to us. In one, for example, which was crowded with tall grave men calmly puffing at their pipes and sipping their coffee, we found a danseuse performing—a tall female figure, who glided and swayed about in the mazes of a strange dance, while the musician sat cross-legged in a corner of the room playing the inevitable tom-tom. This Arab danseuse was as unlike our performers of the ballet as she well could be. Her clothing was a loose flowing drapery, which fell from her shoulders to her heels, while instead of agility of motion or sprightliness there was nothing but a dreamy gliding, a kind of somnambulistic movement, apparently without plan or purpose, but not without a certain grace. In another café two children were pulling each other about in a less graceful and equally meaningless dance; while in a third we found a professional story-teller holding forth in earnest tones to a group gathered closely round[Pg 275] him. From the looks of the spectators it was impossible to say whether or not they took pleasure in the various performances. During the time we remained we beheld not a movement of applause: not a smile relaxed the grave, stolid features; there was but a calm gazing and a quiet puffing of smoke from mouth and nostrils.

A day or two after our arrival we deemed it our duty to call upon the commandant to thank him for his politeness, and to tell him how well satisfied we were with our quarters at the Hôtel Bourguignon. Seated with him we found the great man of the district, the caid, making a morning call. It was our first introduction to a real Arab gentleman, and we regretted exceedingly that we could not converse with him in his own language, the more especially as he was a travelled man. He had been to Paris, had been received at the Tuileries by the emperor Napoleon, and had made the grand Mohammedan pilgrimage to Mecca. But as a conversation with Arabs, conducted as ours was through the medium of a French interpreter, is necessarily restricted, we had little opportunity of judging whether or not the mind of the caid corresponded with his handsome exterior.


On my mentioning that I had a great desire to try a camel-ride, the caid volunteered to send camels for our party, and to see that mine was properly caparisoned for the comfort and accommodation of a lady; and also to send his son to attend to my safety. Of course we accepted his polite offer, and the afternoon of the same day was fixed for the expedition. Never can we forget the sight which presented itself to our astonished eyes when we went to our hotel-door at the appointed hour. There was[Pg 276] the lady's camel, with a howdah on its back hung with curtains of damask and gold. There were the camels for the gentlemen, each led by its swarthy driver, while alongside a young Arab gentleman careered upon a white charger with crimson and gold saddle and trappings, followed by a mounted attendant almost equally magnificent. To crown the whole, or at least give it state, there were some two or three hundred Arab spectators. Only once before had such a scene been witnessed in Biskra, when some years previously the wife of a French general had visited the oasis.

It was not without considerable difficulty that we got started. The camels are made to kneel, and thus it is easy enough to mount, but then begins the ordeal. While the huge beast raises itself on its double-jointed limbs you undergo a series of painful jerks which nothing but the most undaunted courage enables you to endure. Determination, however, overcomes all difficulties, and at last our cortége was en route. The mounted attendant acted as outrider to clear the way, while he of the milk-white steed, the caid's son, rode gallantly by my side.

I could have fancied myself a queen of Sheba or some Eastern houri screened by silken curtains from the vulgar gaze. What extravagances my imagination in its pride might have led me into it is impossible to say, but for the bodily discomfort. The camel is called the "ship of the desert," but surely no ship ever pitched and rolled so unmercifully. The howdah too, which was loosely slung upon the creature's back, only added to the naturally uncomfortable motion. In fact, this cage-like erection was only kept in its place by ropes attached to it which were held by two men who walked one on each side. As the thing swung one way, the man opposite pulled it back, and vice versâ, altogether regardless of my feelings in the matter.

We have since found out, by experience in Egypt, that these camels were of what may be called the cart-horse breed, and there is about as much difference in riding such a one and a properly-trained dromedary as there is between a dray-horse and a thoroughbred. Thus, if we were proud of our exaltation, we paid dearly for our pride, and when we returned from our excursion it was with a feeling of every limb being out of joint. It was days before we had completely recovered from the effects of this our first and, as I devoutly hoped, our last camel-ride. From this time forward the caid's son, who spoke French tolerably well, paid us almost daily visits, and although he had never been beyond the bounds of the desert, we have never met with more pleasing, gentlemanly manners than those of this young Arab.

One afternoon he invited me to pay a visit to the ladies of his family. These poor creatures are never allowed to go out except into their high-walled garden, and no male eyes but those of near relatives are ever allowed to gaze upon them. They do not even take their meals with their husbands and sons, this being contrary to Arab ideas of propriety. Thus, while they have no outdoor life, they have no indoor social life either. There is nothing for them but to be drudges and mothers, to bear and to bring up children. It is therefore not surprising that the first question Arab women ask is, "Have you any children?" or that they should entertain the profoundest pity for those of their sisterhood who are not thus blessed. To them motherhood is the one thing worth living for: all else is denied to them by the barbarous customs of their country.

In the course of our travels we have met with one educated Arab lady, and, singular to say, both she and her husband objected to educating their daughters. Probably she felt that in the life to which she was by Arab custom condemned education did not add to her own happiness—that it was fitted, indeed, only to raise aspirations and desires which could never be realized.

The house of the caid was clean and airy, and characterized by a certain barbaric taste. There were arms suspended upon the walls, Persian rugs laid upon[Pg 277] the floors and divans placed around the rooms. The large garden was pleasant, being beautifully shaded by palms and orange and lemon trees. In it there was a summer-house, where it was the custom of the gentlemen of the family to dine and take their coffee. Everywhere there was an air of wealth and comfort, but yet to an English eye there was a want of neatness and trimness in all the arrangements, both of house and garden.

I saw only one of the ladies, the wife of the caid, the last survivor out of some five or six. She was elderly and not beautiful, her dress gay rather than tasteful, and upon the whole less rich than I expected, considering the immense wealth of her husband. We were assured he possessed four thousand camels, besides boundless wealth in date-palms, etc. Through my young Arab friend, who acted as interpreter, she told me I was welcome, and then as soon as we were seated she began an examination of my dress and ornaments. She seemed, indeed, in mind a perfect child, incapable of taking an interest in anything higher than dress and trinkets. To her, the great world without was a complete blank, a sealed book: the field of her observations was bounded by the four walls of her own abode, while books and society were alike forbidden. Certainly, if the fruit of the tree of knowledge be evil, then Arab women should be virtuous indeed, from them it is so well guarded. Taking my cue from my hostess, and supposing it Arab politeness, I also made an inspection of her dress, and especially of her earrings, which had at once attracted my attention on account of their great size. They were gold hoops of from two to three inches in diameter, thick and heavy, and set with a mass of stones and pearls. It seemed marvellous how any human ears could support such pendants. In effect, I found that they did not do so. The earrings were only sham, for in reality they were fixed to her head-dress, and were only so arranged as to appear suspended from the ears.

As a contrast to this visit, Madame Bourguignon asked me if I should like to see an Arab mènage of the humbler order. The family to whose house she conducted me were neighbors and protégés of hers. From the outside, this house, like most Arab houses, presented a dead wall broken only by a doorway. Through this we entered into an unpaved court, where the family was assembled. The owner or master of the establishment was squatted upon the dry sandy ground, with three or four young children sprawling round him, while his four wives were occupied with their respective duties. Two were suckling babies, one was weaving a kind of coarse striped material in a primitive loom, while the fourth was apparently attending to the business of housekeeping. In addition to these, there were several older children playing among the sand: the grown-up members of the family were out, I was informed, begging, working, or perhaps stealing, as they might happen to find opportunity.

The man was not bad-looking, and one or two of the children were almost pretty, notwithstanding the dirt and swarms of flies that half concealed their features; but the women! Well, most men would have thought one such wife enough. I certainly marvelled at any one choosing four, and also that a man in such circumstances should be able to support so many. On expressing my surprise to Madame Bourguignon, she exclaimed, "He does not support them: it is they who support him." Thus the smaller a man's means and the greater his wants the more wives he needs.

We had ample proof that these wretched women are often treated as little better than beasts of burden. Nearer the "Mouth of the Desert" we saw troops of women carrying enormous burdens of sticks upon their backs, which they had collected somewhere north of the mountains, while their lords and masters strutted along unencumbered at their sides, acting the part of slave-drivers. Even among the wealthy Arabs it is common for the wives to be employed in the most menial household work; and Madame Bourguignon assured me that[Pg 278] had I been behind the scenes I should probably have found some of the ladies of the caid's family thus engaged.

But to return to the house. The open court into which we entered, and where we found the family assembled, was evidently their living-room during the day. Four small apartments opened out of it. First, the kitchen, the whole furnishing of which consisted of a few fire-bricks, one or two vessels for cooking and a skin for holding water. The other three apartments were respectively the sleeping-room of the master of the house, that of the women and that of the elder children; and, literally, the only furniture of these was a piece of boarding covered with matting. There was no bedding, no bed-clothing, no attempt at comfort of any kind. It is certainly not an expensive matter to set up house at Biskra, the climate of the desert making one independent of everything except a shade from the sun and a little food to sustain life. From the court a stair led up to the flat roof which covered in the four apartments, and this upper story formed the receptacle for all the filth of the family. The scene was disgusting in the extreme. In any other climate it must have bred a pestilence. Here, no doubt, this dire result is prevented by the extreme dryness of the atmosphere. After this visit I quite appreciated our good landlady's horror of the Arabs. "You see now," said she, "how it is I cannot bear even to buy fowls fed by such people."

During the time we remained at Biskra we only twice made excursions beyond the limits of the oasis—once to some hot sulphur springs a few miles out in the desert—springs of such wonderful efficacy in all rheumatic affections that were they in Europe they would speedily make the fortune of any watering-place. Here they are little known: however, a bath has been formed and roofed in, and our gentlemen enjoyed a dip in the warm water after their ride across the desert. From this bath one of them dated the cure of a severe pain in the leg which had caused him much inconvenience during the journey. Our other excursion was to the neighboring oasis of Sidi Okba, the ecclesiastical, as Biskra is the commercial, capital of the Ziban. Judging by appearances, one would say that commerce must be a much more thriving thing than religion, for Sidi Okba is in every way inferior to Biskra. The people are more squalid, the houses more wretched: the very mosque itself is in a dirty, tumble-down condition. Here we found no Arabs who could speak French; and at one time, having lost our way among the palms, we were very much at a loss to know what to do. For some time we tried in vain to catch a glimpse of the mosque, thinking that it, beacon-like, would guide us back to the town. Equally in vain we interrogated all the Arabs we met in all the languages at our command, and it was only at last, inspired by desperation, that we hit upon the expedient of signs. Assuming the attitude of prayer, we called out, "Allah! Allah!" An Arab at once answered "Marabout! marabout!" and then we remembered that this was the name for mosque, and nodded, "Yes, marabout." He seemed delighted at having understood us at last, and soon led us to the mosque, from whence we knew our way to the place where we had left our luncheon. We had crossed the desert in the early morning, and were obliged to seek a resting-place in the shade during the hot hours of the day. This we found in a house belonging to a son of the caid of Biskra. There we ate the luncheon we had brought with us, and then we reclined upon the Persian carpets and rested till the hour arrived when we could safely undertake the return journey.

The day after our visit to Sidi Okba was our last at Biskra. We bade adieu to it with regret, and we shall always remember the time spent in this oasis of Sahara as among the white days in our calendar. J.P.


[A] [For the use of the wood-cut presenting a view of the oasis of El Kantra we are indebted to the kindness of Mr. John Murray of Albemarle street, London.—Ed.]

[Pg 279]



The topographically inclined among biblical commentators might select a great many more unlikely spots for the Garden of Eden than Kashmir. The four rivers are there—the Indus, the Jhelam, the Chenab and the Ravi. Their banks present the widest possible variety of rock, soil, vegetation and animal life. The palm and pomegranate are at home in the valleys, and the dwarf willow and birch are frozen out a long way below the summits of the mountains. The tiger and the ptarmigan are, measured vertically, close neighbors, a mile or two apart, within easy calling distance. Man is equally multiform. All his races are assembled save the African. His extremes in physiognomy, dress, government and religion are brought into close communion. Character, in this cosmopolitan district, gives place to eclecticism. Its features and its occupants represent the whole world, and might readily refurnish it were all the rest of its surface laid desolate.


Curiously enough, the idea of a garden has always associated itself with Kashmir. Eastern poets and historians speak of it as a garden collectively, and lavish their most brilliant powers of description on the gardens which make it up in detail—the gardens of the terraced hills, the gardens of the broad alluvial plain, and the floating gardens of the lakes Wúlar and Dal. These last, more fortunate than those of Babylon and Nineveh, have maintained their existence to our day, the aquatic cultivator rowing among his parterres and gathering his melons over the gunwale. Fertility has never failed. The permanence in beauty and productiveness designed for Eden has here been sustained by the harmoniously-acting forces of Nature, and Adam might, for all that the explorers tell us to the contrary, have lived in[Pg 280] Kashmir after his primitive fashion till now. He would, however, have been compelled in some degree to modify his taste in regard to clothing, unless he confined himself the year through to the valley, ninety miles by twenty, which strictly bears the name. A winter suit would have been indispensable to his excursions among the bordering mountains, which swell from an elevation of ten thousand feet above tide to twenty-two, and even, on the extreme limits of the region now officially named Kashmir, to twenty-eight thousand. As to antiquity, time is, like everything else, on a grand scale in Kashmir. Her earliest dynasty, the Pandu, runs far into the life of the first father, having come to an end twenty-five hundred years before Christ, after a duration of thirteen hundred years, if we are to believe Baron Hügel, an archæologist of the good old German type, who is daunted by no figures, and who simply "reminds the reader," as he would of what he had for dinner yesterday, of the stunning chronology here cited. To the epoch of that primeval dynasty the baron assigns the building of the great temple of Mártand, the ruins of which delight all travellers and excite to the use of such epithets as "wonderful" and "glorious" the impassive Wilson. He declares that they are quite superior to anything architectural around them, and "might yet vie with the finest remains of Greek and Roman architecture." The temple stands solitary on a stretch of table-land four hundred feet above the valley and ten leagues east of the capital. Tradition avers, partly on the strength of several ancient beaches still distinctly marked, that the whole valley was under water when the temple was built, and that it originally stood upon the immediate shore. This generally unreliable guide even goes into[Pg 281] details and grows statistical, mentioning the year 266 b.c. as the epoch of the sudden shrinking of the waters to what—or nearly what, for desiccation is said to be still going on—is seen of them now. This becomes less incredible in the light of the extraordinary oscillations of level in the streams and lakes with which the present inhabitants are familiar. In 1858 the Indus rose, at a point below its exit from the mountains, one hundred and sixty feet in twenty-four hours, its rise in the narrow defiles above having been of course greater. A single pool, temporarily formed on the slopes of the mighty Nanga Parbat by the melting of the snow in 1850, was a mile and a half long by half a mile wide and three hundred feet deep—just so much devastation "cocked and primed."


The modern state of Kashmir dates from 1846, when the Sikh empire, of which it was a part, was overthrown by the British. Golab Singh, who had made himself useful to the Indian government, was placed over it as maharajah, with a show of independence, but real subordination. He fixed his capital at Jummoo, in the extreme south of his dominions and within easy reach of Lahore. The name Jummoo is given by the natives to his whole territory, although the province of that name is, so far as geographical extent goes, a mere fragment of it. The provinces of Jummoo and Kashmir, immediately north of it, comprise together about a third of the aggregate of sixty-eight thousand square miles. Their share of the population is infinitely greater in proportion. Out of a total, in 1873, of 1,534,972 souls, the province of Jummoo contained 861,075—44,000 of them in the city of that name, the political metropolis. The government of Kashmir had 491,846, including 136,000 in the city of Srinagar.[Pg 282] The district of Punch, which boasts a rajah of its own, tributary to the maharajah, had 77,566, and the outlying governments, as they are termed, of Gilgit in the extreme north-east, Baltistán in the north, and Ladákh, or Little Tibet, in the east, 104,485 together. In the province of Kashmir the Mohammedans are in the large majority of six to one. In that of Jummoo, on the contrary, the excess is slightly in favor of the Hindús—a circumstance which accounts for the sovereign's choice of a capital, he being a Hindú and showing in his political acts a preference for his co-religionists and a corresponding distrust of his Moslem subjects. In Ladákh, Búdha is supreme, his worshippers numbering 20,254 to 260 followers of Islam and 107 adherents of the Vedas—hardly one to the square mile of all religions.


The different creeds get on very comfortably side by side, the mosque and the idol temple decorating the same street, and the praying-machines of the Lámas grinding out perpetual bliss without let or hinderance from those who believe in another way of reaching the ear of the Unknowable. This Utopian scene of universal toleration has not failed to attract the representatives of our own faith. The Moravians have long had an establishment on the south-eastern mountains, and we read of the conversion of the descendants of the last rajah of Kishtwár by an American missionary—of what sect is not stated.

Generally speaking, the lines of race coincide but vaguely with those of creed. The Hindús and Mohammedans are both of Aryan race, and Mohammedan converts are found among the Mongolian—or rather Turanian—worshippers of Búdh. The latter process would have made more headway but for the influence of the reigning dynasty, which discourages it on system. The change implied in this proselytism is greater in respect of some social practices than in the abstract principles of religious belief. The polyandry of the Tibetans is in direct contrast with the polygamy of the Moslems, and is far more strictly maintained. It is favored by the circumstance that, contrary to what usually obtains in old countries, the males in this region considerably outnumber the females; yet, while that disproportion exists throughout the provinces, polyandry is confined to the Tibetans. Their wretched lands, verging on the line of perpetual snow, devoid of fuel, and in many places unable to ripen grain, keep them poor; and they assign as a justification for the practice the necessity of repressing population and retaining property undivided. One mistress of the house and three or four masters, who are almost always brothers, is their unique remedy for the hardships of their lot, so lowly and yet (topographically) so elevated. Among their[Pg 283] Mohammedan and Hindú compatriots the "twin barbarism" of a plurality of wives appears to be confined in practice to a few of the powerful and wealthy. Until within the last few years its repulsive features were wont to be brought into more hideous relief by the cruel custom of suttee, or widow-burning. It is only within half a generation past that British interference has succeeded in putting a stop to these horrible immolations. When, in 1843, Suchet Singh, uncle of the present maharajah, Ranbir Singh, died, his home harem of a hundred and fifty wives were burned with his body at Ramnagar, and the same execution was inflicted on his branch establishment of twenty-five at Jummoo. Seven years after the beginning of British sway the thirty-two widows of a cousin of the maharajah were burned. This scene was witnessed by Mr. Drew, an English engineer of eminence who was for ten years employed in surveying and exploring the new state, and from whose narrative many of the facts given in this article are drawn. Upon another occasion he saw the forcible sacrifice of a single widow. The poor woman, shrieking fearfully, sprang from the funeral pile as the flames surrounded her, but was instantly seized and thrown back into it by the "scandalized" priests.


The guide-book and the locomotive have marked this romantic land for their own, but their progress is far from complete. The advance of the latter, indeed, has probably reached its limit, some twenty leagues outside the extreme south-western corner. The former is still fain to depend largely on Bernier, the Frenchman who visited Kashmir two centuries ago in the train of the Mogul emperor Aurengzebe. Bernier kept his eyes open, and left not only a good account of the manners and life of the Great Mogul and his court, but a fair itinerary. His description of Srinagar and its vicinity still holds good, and modern books point us to the pass of the Pir Panjal so disastrous to the imperial ladies. The foremost of fifteen elephants, each carrying four women, took fright in a narrow part of the so-called road and backed the rest over a precipice. Only three or four of the odalisques were killed by the fall, but not one elephant was saved. Bernier passed the scene of the accident two days after, and saw some of the animals still alive, but able only to trumpet mournfully for assistance.

North of Jummoo the highest type of road accommodates no longer an elephant, but at most a hill-pony. In the[Pg 284] vale of Srinagar the chief thoroughfares are sluggish rivers, lakes and canals, navigated by a remarkably sturdy race of boatmen. The chief line of traffic to that valley, the heart of Kashmir proper, from Jummoo, is hardly practicable for horses. In its length of a hundred and seventy-seven miles it crosses two ridges, each nine thousand feet above the sea, with a hollow between five thousand feet deep. The starting-point, or southern end of the path, is fifteen hundred feet above tide, and the valley of Srinagar from fifty-two hundred to sixty-five hundred. These are all trifling elevations compared to those of the Himáliya on the south-east and the Karakoram chain, to which England has pushed the maharajah's boundary, on the north; but they will do very well for Western tourists to "cut their teeth on," especially as they are interspersed with minor hills of every grade of height and surface. The varied assortment of climates also supports the idea of a general training-ground for travellers. Bernier thought the first summit he crossed, coming from the south, "the dreadful rim of the world," but the descent of it plumped him, "as if by enchantment, into the centre of France." In sheltered places with a southern exposure the tropics reappear, but the vegetation of the foothills and middle mountains is said to be, but for the deodara cedar (Pinus excelsa) and a few other trees, European in character. The resemblance of the undergrowth is less marked, and still less that of the inhabitants, the costume of the mountaineers, notably the tribe named Gaddis, reasserting Asia. These Oriental Swiss are as hardy as their Western analogues, thanks to a continual struggle for existence against Nature and a tolerably frequent one against man. Against the latter foe they are at present guaranteed by the quiet of English rule, but the avalanche and the torrent remain unquelled.


The famous vale is an emerald with a rough setting—a jewel always much sought after, and which would have been carried away long ago had it been portable. But its mightiest and most fortunate possessors were fain to come to it by a long and painful path over crags and snows, and to pass away, one after the other, and leave it in undimmed brightness, clasped tightly as ever in its frame of rocks. At the beginning of the fourteenth century its ruler was a Hindú rani, who stabbed herself rather than[Pg 285] marry her traitorous and usurping vizier. Then came the sway of a Moslem dynasty, two of whose members stand out prominently by reason of opposite traits. One earned the name of the Image-breaker by his wanton destruction of the ancient architecture and sculpture. The balance oscillated toward the good when, in the fifteenth century, Zein-ul-Abdin introduced the Tibetan goat and the weavers of Turkestan, and originated the manufacture of the famous shawls. In 1588 the country was surrendered to the emperor Akbar, who, with the most noted of his descendants, Jehángír, Shah Jehán and Aurengzebe, made it their favorite summer-retreat and lavished upon it an expenditure the fruits of which are yet conspicuous. The Afghans, from beyond the north-west mountains,[Pg 286] seized it in 1752, and were dispossessed by Ranjít Singh in 1819, who thus restored the supremacy of the ancient religion after more than four centuries of Moslem rule. The repose now enjoyed by it under the almost entirely unseen but distinctly felt influence of the English promises to reproduce something like the palmy days of the Moguls in the matter of improvement and embellishment, with a security to life and property under fixed and just laws quite unknown in their time.


A visitor familiar with all the scenic features of the happy valley would almost have us believe that artificial decoration has exhausted itself, and that the art now in demand is simply the art of letting Nature and antiquity alone:

"The valley of Kashmir, properly so called, remains, as in the seventeenth century, the largest and the most beautiful bit of landscape-gardening in the world, a park thirty leagues by ten or twelve. Everything in it seems planned with supernatural ingenuity to delight the eye—fields, orchards, dwellings, rivers and lakes sprinkled with green and flowery islets and ploughed by boats of varied form and size navigated by hanjis (boatmen) whose intelligent countenances, sculpturesque figures and graceful costumes harmonize admirably with the enchanting scenery; innumerable brooks and canals curving capriciously among lawns and rice-meadows and glittering in the sun like ribbons shot with silver."

This portrait leaves out the temples and villas, ancient and modern, the terraces and pavilions edged with the lotus and overhung with vines and plane trees, the Shalmiar Bagh, or Garden of Delight, and the Mishat Bagh, or Garden of Pleasure, where wine-loving Jehángír and his beautiful consort Núr Jahán, the Light of the World, luxuriated in the summers of long ago. This potentate declared that he would rather lose all the rest of his vast and affluent empire than Kashmir. It furnished a place of refreshing retreat for his energies and his conscience, the load of the latter being fully up to the average of an Eastern despot's. By these lulling waters and under this embowering verdure he could shut out from the sight and memory such spectacles as that to which he had treated his rebellious son Khosrou—a long row of seven hundred of the latter's accomplices seated in solemn gravity, but not returning his salute as he was led along, for the sufficient if not immediately perceptible reason that they sat upon thorns, each upon one thorn a foot or so long, of iron. We may suppose the father of Frederick the Great to have had in mind this passage of Oriental life when he forced the prince to witness the execution of his young friend Katte.

Wilson's preference is for the Garden of Pleasure, notwithstanding the elegance of that of Delight. It looks out upon Lake Dal, the Golden Island in front:

"Ten terraces, bounded by magnificent trees and with a stream of water falling over them, lead up to the latticed pavilion at the end of this garden. Between the double stories of this pavilion the stream flows through a marble—or at least a limestone—tank, and the structure is shaded by great chunár trees, while through a vista of their splendid foliage we look down the terraces and water-courses upon the lake below."

A fit dreaming-place this for the lotus-eating monarch of a lotus-eating people. The lake is so full of the lotus and other water-lilies that more than sixty thousand tons of the edible nuts are gathered each year and ground into flour, the root besides serving as a popular esculent. What is an object of devotion with the Tibetans of the higher Himáliyas a few days' journey distant, as formerly with the Egyptians, is to the Kashmiris an article of food and trade. They might draw from the waters, which cover a very small part of the fertile valley, fish enough to support, with the nelumbium nuts, nearly the whole of the present population; but then they are lotus-eaters, and as such improvident and indolent by all rules of poetry and legend.

Srinagar has been likened to Venice. Standing a mile higher in the world, water-communication is its dependence for movement of persons and things almost[Pg 287] as exclusively as with the Queen of the Adriatic. For once, the lean, dry Oriental has his fill of water. Moisture prevails in excess. The characteristic flat roof of his house gives place to one with slope enough to shed any shower or number of showers; and that soon becomes clad with a spontaneous growth of plants. The surplus rainfall, however, is not so great as it would be were not the stormy south-west monsoons cut off by the mountains. The English, water-dogs by nature, and last from the blazing plains of the Panjab, do not complain of dampness. One of them, indeed, declares that "the air is exceedingly dry, notwithstanding the immense amount of water in the valley and the frequent showers of rain."

Srinagar—as the city known for four centuries as Kashmir was anciently and is again named under Hindú rule—is a little disappointing in the material employed for most of its structures. Stone is not wanting, but the deodar timber is more abundant, being floated down cheaply from the mountains, where it forms immense forests, the carefully preserved hunting-ground of the Mogul emperors. A Frenchman dubs it a city of chalets, and recommends the architects of Paris to seek there the most charming models for kiosks, verandas, turrets, cupolas, etc. The humblest suburban and rural abodes he pronounces full of the picturesque. They appear to be much in the Swiss style, so natural to an alpine region. They, too, are mostly of wood, except on the high slopes, where that material is scarce or wholly absent, and on the frontiers, where each hut is a little rock-fort.


Even the piers of the bridges over the Jhelam are, above the water at least, formed of large logs, which overlap each other and approach with their ends the middle of each span after the semblance of an arch. Parasitic plants, and even considerable trees, take root in their crevices and disguise the structure in an even more bizarre way than the mediæval buildings did Old London Bridge. There are seven of these bridges within the city, about three hundred feet long, and between them on either hand the houses overhang the water at the expense of all visible shore, sometimes striding out upon stilt-like piles, their multiform gables "fantastically set" with a total disregard of uniformity and extent of façade that would have been the death of Baron Haussmann or the builder of a Philadelphia block. Nevertheless, there is a pervading tone and style which would identify a Kashmiri villa transplanted into Christendom.[Pg 288]

Two isolated hills overlooking the city, and visible afar off to the weary wayfarer, are crowned and flanked with fortifications and temples of one or the other religion. The list of the latter edifices included, in Bernier's time, a Hindú pagoda claimed by the inhabitants to have been built by Solomon, but it has now disappeared as completely as his better-authenticated effort at Jerusalem. In return, as compensation, a Mohammedan mosque has given place to a modern fort. The march of improvement or of change shows itself in a yet more modern array of cottages erected for the accommodation of English visitors. Here these gentry hide themselves in an absolute forest of fruit trees of the kinds familiar at home—apple, apricot, cherry, etc. The lovers of the apricot may be interested to learn that it is par excellence the fruit of this soi-disant Eden, this glittering attic-window upon the Roof of the World, and of all the slopes thereof up to the white-tiled roof-tree. It flourishes up to ten thousand feet, only the stone-pine, of all edibles, going higher; and dried apricots are a leading staple among the hillmen, as dates are with the Arabs.

Upon the bazaars the English architect has laid his heavy hand, and villas and shops like those of the Thames promise to mark the artistic renaissance of Kashmir. The pleasure-houses of the emperors before mentioned have so far escaped him, although it is to be feared he will soon have the repairing of them. Their principal charms, the turf, the great trees and the cascades, were never more beautiful, and have rather gained by the softness with which age has enriched them. The trees have been steadily growing under all flags and cults, swelling in pride and strength as they looked contemptuously and calmly down on the storms of human passion. They need no repairs, and their style, nobody knows how much older than Thebes or Dendera, will endure no modification.

The level surface of this alluvion is illustrated by the very slight descent of the Jhelam. From Ismaïlabad, near the head of the valley, and fifty-four hundred feet above the level of the sea, the fall to Srinagar, thirty miles, is seventy-five feet; and from the capital to Lake Wúlar, twenty-four miles below, only fifty-five feet—declivities in marked contrast with the fall of two thousand eight hundred feet in eighty miles from the edge of the plateau at Baramúla to the plain of the Panjab. Besides the ancient beaches which indicate the origin of this upland meadow, there are traceable other and more recent evidences of a change of level in the waters, pointing to an elevation, as the former do to subsidence. In the Manas-Bal, the smallest but deepest of the Kashmirian lakes, submerged ruins, alleged to be those of a temple, are clearly visible. At another point, fifteen miles below Srinagar, ruins and fragments of pottery have been exhumed at a great depth. One of these oscillations appears to be now, or to have been within two centuries, in progress. Lake Wúlar has grown shallower, its present average depth being forty feet.

Man, among these enormous mountains, presents not less notably than inanimate Nature a singular compound of change and solidity, of the catastrophic and the secular. The little state of Kashmir, overrun from time immemorial, in peace or war, by hordes of many races and tongues, preserves a language and a physiognomy of its own. About forty per cent. of the words in Kashmiri are Persian, twenty-five Sanscrit, fifteen Hindústhani, ten Arabic and fifteen Mongol. Its letters resemble those of the Sanscrit, and are apparently the originals of the Tibetan characters. They are not much used, the literary capabilities of the Kashmiris remaining to be developed. Travellers say the men, especially the upper classes who have maintained the purity of their blood, are the finest, physically, to be found in the Himáliya. They are stout, well-built, and pleasing in countenance, resembling Europeans, except in having a darker complexion. They are more acute and intelligent than the Sikhs and than the Dográs or Hindús of Jummoo, their present superiors politically. They are industrious, manufacturing besides shawls other stuffs and much fancy-work in wood. The beauty of the[Pg 289] women is as much remarked upon now as in the old days, and the late Mr. Moore cannot be accused of overstepping poetic license on that point.


The higher classes of the Kashmiris having held more firmly to their religion during Mohammedan sway, most of the non-Moslem inhabitants are Brahmans, and they live chiefly in the city. Unlike their co-religionists of the province of Jummoo, many of whose high-caste men cultivate the soil, the Kashmiri Brahmans contemn manual occupations. They are largely employed in the offices of the state. The lowest occupations are left to a class of pariahs called Batals, who are considered by some to represent a wholly distinct race, a remnant of the aborigines who were dispossessed by the first Aryan settlers. As it is easier to procure photographs of individuals belonging to this degraded class than of those above them, an unjust impression of the physical traits of the Kashmiris is apt to reach the Western World. The dancing-girls are Batals, and are pronounced by those who know very unfavorable specimens of the Kashmiri fair. The Mohammedan women are always veiled.

But ethnic science, whether based on linguistic, physical, social or religious distinctions, is in a very unsatisfactory condition. Surprising yet illusory resemblances are constantly cropping up in the most unexpected ways and places. Wilson was struck with the Gaelic traits of the Mongolian Búdhists who inhabit the mountains of Zanskar, south-east of the valley. "The sound of their language, the brooches which fasten their plaids, the varieties of tartan which their woollen clothes present, and even the features of the people (which are of an Aryan rather than a Tartar type), strongly reminded me of the Scotch Highlanders." He had the support, too, of one of those imaginative savants who delight in Welsh, Erse and Gaelic philology, who insisted "that the names of innumerable places in Tibet and Tartary are identical with the local names of the Gaelic language." Add to this the fact that a corps of the maharajah's army is uniformed in an almost critically exact reproduction of "the garb of old Gaul," and the argument is a good deal more complete than many on more practically momentous points which have done service for centuries and are still accepted. We have the Gauls of Galatia, Galatz, Galicia, Gallia proper and Gaeldoch (or Caledonia), forming a continuous chain of Gallic settlements from the Himáliya to the Ultima Thule. And now the circuit is complete. The current sets back from the West. The slogan, heard so tellingly at Lucknow, is swelling up the glaciers of the Asiatic fatherland to save it from the Scythians! Monkbarns lived too soon.

The Mohammedans of Baltistán, on the opposite (or northern) side of Kashmir, again surprise us by speaking a[Pg 290] Tartar tongue. We are not told that they are Scotch, endowed though they undoubtedly are with some of the canny and thrifty characteristics of the dwellers ayont the Tweed. They are inveterate tradesmen, and carry their small wares, including hill-ponies, all through the mountains. Let us drop in upon them, if such an expression be applicable to a climb of the most tremendous description. It takes us up the steps of the steepest and loftiest slope of the amphitheatre which forms the maharajah's dominions. First, however, we begin by a gentle and pleasant descent down the Jhelam to Lake Wúlar. Then begins the trouble. We turn northward, and find ourselves at the end of the first stage four thousand feet above the valley, on the brink of an artificial sheet of water surrounded by dense evergreen woods. Next day we rise 2000 feet higher, and redescend 6500 feet to the banks of the Kischanganga, the chief affluent of the Jhelam, running mostly parallel to the course of the latter stream. Then we undulate—if so soft a term be applicable to a route so sharply, abruptly and irregularly serrate—along the spurs which border the river, now in the forest and now on a bleak plateau where careful irrigation avails to grow nothing less hardy than millet, peas and buckwheat. In crossing to the valley, or rather trench, of the upper Indus, we have the choice of two passes, one 13,060 and the other 13,500 feet above tide. Having selected the least of these two evils, we swoop nearly six thousand feet down upon the village of Astor and a new language, the Dard. The temptation to stop and study either is small. If we are insatiate of climbing or find the heat at Astor—only 7853 feet above the sea—oppressive, we have the ice-cone of Nanga Parbat, 26,629 feet high, within ten miles to the west. We are within unpleasantly easy reach of the western and north-western frontier now; for the opposite slope of Nanga Parbat and the ridge to which it belongs is held by the independent Mohammedan tribes of Yaghistán, born marauders since the beginning of tradition. They have a republican form of[Pg 291] government, one of the fierce democracies numbering only seven houses. Life, liberty and the pursuit of other people's property is a motto they act up to with a persistency and consistency highly disagreeable to their neighbors over the hill. The latter have, in self-defence, evinced a tendency to adopt the same rule of action, and to steal from their friends by way of reimbursement for what is stolen by their enemies—a disposition which is discouraged by the maintenance of a considerable garrison at Astor.


The valley of Gilgit, continuous with that of Astor, inasmuch as the two abut upon the Indus at nearly the same point, one falling and the other rising, is the core of a tongue of territory projecting[Pg 292] north-west into the heart of Yaghistán, and nearly dividing that turbulent region into two parts. The British in attaching this corner to Kashmir rather strained established boundaries in their own favor, and will doubtless continue the process till all Yaghistán is absorbed and the great Karakoram range becomes the frontier from the Afghan territory to that of Chinese Tibet.

At the town of Gilgit we have a reproduction in little of the valley of Srinagar. Its level is somewhat lower, and, though farther north by two degrees, it ripens such southern fruits as the pomegranate, etc. Its attractions will not, however, have full sway so long as the peace of the region remains precarious. The last attack from Yaghistán was signally repulsed in 1866. The practice of going armed is still general, and travellers need an escort. Some of the villages resemble the casemates, mines and covered-ways of a fortress. The people are of the same family and religion with those over the border, their foes, although perhaps less hated by them than their nominal compatriots the Kashmiris and Dográs. The Dards are an active and proud people, fond of independence, with features distinctly Caucasian.

Continuing our exploration of the upper benches of the amphitheatre, we turn to the right and skirt the upper Indus, which runs for several hundred miles from south-east to north-west close along the southern foot of the Karakoram, or rather upon a "hip" of the Roof of the World. Skárdú, on the left bank, was an independent capital down to 1840, and its aspect is still stormy in a political as in a climatic sense. The land looks like a petrified storm, the waves of granite and slate dotted sporadically with huts and microscopic bits of culture. Only in a few of the deep valleys is Nature less inhospitable. The glaciers descend to an altitude of 13,500 feet, with an upward extent of twenty-five miles or more; cultivation, after a fashion, existing at their lower edge, and grass growing for a season of six or eight weeks much farther up. The Báltoro glacier leads up to a stupendous peak, the second in height of all known elevations, but not yet dignified with a name, being only labelled in the Indian Survey "K. 2." Its height is 28,265 feet, or 687 less than Gaurisankar, the giant of mountains, a peak in the Eastern Himáliya. The summits next to K.2 are from 25,000 to 27,000 feet. Among them lies the pass of Mustagh, 18,300 feet above tide, up to 1863 a high-road between India and Yarkand, practicable for but a few weeks of summer. The brief interval left by the snow the brigands have extinguished.

After the abandonment of this pass, that of Karakoram, forty leagues east of it, became the principal route to Central Asia. The elevation is exactly the same. Of the five hundred and fifteen miles, divided into thirty-five marches, between Leh and Yarkand, a hundred and fifty traverse ice, naked rocks and precipices, wholly devoid of grass or fuel. Still farther east, in the extreme north-eastern angle of Ladákh and the Kashmiri states, a third route to Turkestan has been opened. It is longer than the others, but is practicable for near half the year, and can be traversed by horses and two-humped camels instead of yaks and ponies, as at the western crossings. On three stages only are wood and grass absent. It ascends from the south over a plateau marked by salt or brackish lakes. It is difficult to say which of the three contestant empires, Russia, China and England, has easiest or least impracticable access to the coveted core of Asia.

If the handful of Little Tibetans occupy the gallery of the Kashmiri theatre, there are wells in it which go down to the level of the dress-circle. These lower levels have traits of culture—trees, grass, whitewashed brick or stone dwellings, and nunneries and religious monuments on the roadside and sometimes arching the road. All, high and low in rank and topography, are deeply pious, and devote the greater part of their waking hours to muttering a supplicatory formula of six syllables, so far translatable by Christians only to the extent of its meaning something about the Deity and the lotus.[Pg 293]


The trip from New York to Jummoo is about as long in point of time as to California twenty-five years ago. As many years hence the survivors of us may be getting up Thanksgiving or Christmas reunions at the old homestead of the Aryan family. It will never be a hackneyed spot. It stands too much on end. Steep mountains are never hackneyed: Cook's Personally Conducted will never permeate Kashmir.

Edward C. Bruce.

[Pg 294]




It was the first of March, and a wild wind was hurrying fragments of white cloud across the blue. Percival had taken his breakfast in snatches, performing on his bell meanwhile. Emma had not brought his boots, and would not so much as come to be told that he wanted them. At last, despairing, he went out on the landing and shouted his request to her as she shuffled on some errand below. Turning to go back, he met Miss Lisle, who had just come down the stairs behind him.

They stood for a moment exchanging trivial remarks. To them came a stout, fresh-colored, peculiarly innocent-looking old man, who went by with a beaming smile and a slight bow.

"That's Mr. Fordham," said Judith: "I don't think I ever saw him so close before."

"No: one hardly meets him from one week's end to another. He is unusually late this morning."

"He looks a very quiet, steady—Really, one might take him for rather a nice old man."

Percival stared blankly at her, and then began to laugh: "Well, Miss Lisle, I never heard a reputation blighted so completely by a complimentary sentence before."

Judith blushed a little: "But he isn't very nice, is he?"

"I don't know about nice. I should say he was as steady and harmless an old fellow as ever lived. What do you mean?"

"Well," Judith hesitated, "of course one has no business to judge any one without really knowing; but his staying out so late at night—"

"'So late at night?'" Percival repeated.

"I suppose he has a latch-key generally. But one or two nights I am sure Miss Bryant sat up to let him in. I heard them whispering: at least, I heard her. I don't think that girl could even whisper quietly."

"But there must be some mistake. Fordham comes in quite early, and very often he doesn't go out at all in the evening."

"He goes out later," said Judith.

"Indeed, no. I could time all his movements. His room is next to mine, and the wall is not so thick as I could wish. He snores sometimes."

"But—" she persisted, looking scared and white, yet what was Fordham to her?—"but I have heard him over and over again, Mr. Thorne. I can't be mistaken."

Percival was disconcerted too. He looked at the carpet, at his slippered feet—at anything but her face: "You have heard some one, I suppose: I don't know who comes in late. Not poor old Fordham." He heard Emma on the stairs, and hurried to meet her. Coming back with his boots in his hand, he found Judith standing exactly as he had left her.

"I'm sure I beg Mr. Fordham's pardon," she said with a smile. "One does make curious mistakes, certainly. That nice-looking old man!" And nodding farewell to young Thorne, she went away.

He did not see her again for two days, though he watched anxiously for her. Bertie came in and out, and was much as usual. On the third evening, as Percival[Pg 295] was going up stairs, she called after him: "Mr. Thorne."

He turned eagerly.

"You lent Bertie some money a day or two since?"

Something in her voice or her look made Percival sure that Lisle had borrowed and spent it without her knowledge, and that it was a trouble to her. After all, what did it matter? He would sell his watch and pay Mrs. Bryant. He could not deny Bertie's debt, since she had found it out, but he could make light of it. So he nodded: "Yes, by the the way, I believe I did: he hadn't his purse or something." This in a tone of airy indifference.

"Tell me how much it was, please, and I'll pay it back." Then he saw that her purse was open in her hand.

"Oh, it doesn't matter," Percival said: "don't pay me off in such a quick, business-like way, Miss Lisle. I'm not the milkman, nor yet the washing. Bertie will settle with me one of these days."

"Please tell me, Mr. Thorne. I mean to pay it: I must."

"Well, I'll ask him about it, then."

"You know," with a look of reproach and pleading.

Percival could not deceive her, she looked so sorrowfully resolute. He met the glance of her gray eyes. "Two pounds," he said; and was certain that she was relieved at the answer.

"Bertie wasn't sure it wasn't two pounds ten."

"On my honor, no. He asked me for a couple of sovereigns, and I took it literally."

"If you say so, I am sure. I didn't doubt you: I only told you that you might understand why I asked." She put the money, a sovereign and two halves, into his unwilling hand. Then he understood her relief, for, looking down into the little sealskin purse, he saw that there was no more gold in it. The last ten shillings must have been counted out in silver, and he was not quite sure it would not have ended in a threepenny piece and some halfpence.

"Now I am going to ask a favor," she said. "Don't lend Bertie any more, please. He has been used to spend just what he liked, and he doesn't think, poor boy! And it is only wasted. Don't let him have any more."

"But, Miss Lisle," said Percival, "if your brother asks me do you mean that I am to say 'No'?"

"Please, if you would. He mustn't be extravagant: we can't afford it. He can't pay you back, and if I lost any of my work—Mrs. Barton's lessons, for instance—I couldn't either."

"You work to pay me!" exclaimed Percival aghast: "I won't hear of such a thing. Miss Lisle, you mustn't! It's between Bertie and myself, and I shouldn't be ruined if he didn't pay me till his ship comes home one of these days. Take it back, please, and he and I will arrange it."

She shook her head: "No: my brother's debts are mine."

"Ah!" said Percival, with a swift, eloquent glance. "Then let me be your creditor a little longer: I hardly know what it feels like, yet."

"Since when has your ship come home, Mr. Thorne, that you can afford to be so generous?"

The blood mounted to his forehead at her question, but he answered quickly: "My ship has not come home. Perhaps if it had I should not dare to ask you to let me help you. I feel as if our poverty made us all nearer together."

"It is not every one who would say so in your place," Judith replied. "I am your debtor for those words. But we Lisles have wronged you too much already: you shouldn't try to make the load heavier."

"Wronged me?" he faltered.

"Did you think I did not know? My father had your money and ruined you: deny it if you can! I suspected it, and lately I have been sure. Oh, if Bertie and I could pay you back! But meanwhile he shall not borrow from you and waste your earnings on his silly whims. If you lend him any more you may try to hide it from me, but I shall find it out, and I will pay it—every farthing. I will find some way, if I have to sit up every night for a week and work my fingers to the bone."[Pg 296]

"God forbid!" said Percival. "He shall have no more from me. But be generous, and promise me that if you should want help, such as my poverty can give, you will forget old times and come to me."

"No, I won't promise that. I will remember them and come." She caught his hand, pressed it one moment in her own, flung it from her and escaped.

"Judith!" he called after her, but she was gone.

Percival went into his own room. The money had come just in time, for his landlady's weekly account was lying on the table. He looked at the three coins with lingering tenderness, and after a moment's hesitation he took one of them and vowed that he would never part with it. Yet in the midst of his ardent resolution he smiled rather bitterly to think that it was not the sovereign, but one of the halves, he meant to keep for ever. Poverty had taught him many lessons, and among them how to combine economy and sentiment. "If she had given me the ten shillings' worth of silver, I suppose I should have saved the threepenny bit!" he said to himself as he locked his little remembrance in his desk.

A couple of days later, as he was walking home with Bertie, they passed three or four men who were sauntering idly along, and Thorne felt sure that his companion received and returned a silent glance of recognition. He glanced over his shoulder at them, and disliked their look exceedingly. "Do you know who those fellows were we passed just now?" he said.

Bertie looked back: "One is the brother of a man in our choir."

"Hm! I wouldn't have one of them for my brother at any price," said Percival. The matter dropped, but he could not forget it. He fancied that there was a slight change in Bertie himself—that the boy's face was keener and haggard, and there was an anxious expression in his eyes. But he owned frankly that he was not at all sure that he should have noticed anything if his suspicions had not been previously aroused.

"Come in this evening," said Bertie when they went up stairs. He leant against the door of Percival's room, and as his friend hesitated he called to his sister: "Here, Judith! tell Thorne to come and have some tea with us: they've let his fire out, and his room is as warm and cheerful as a sepulchre."

"Do you think I order other people about as I do you?" she replied.—"Will you come, Mr. Thorne? I can, at any rate, promise you a fire and a welcome."

When she met him she was quite calm, tranquil and clear-eyed. Do the ripples of the summer sea recall that distant line, the supreme effort of wind and tide some stormy night? Percival would have thought that it had been all a dream but for the little coin which that wave had flung at his feet for a remembrance. And he had called after her "Judith!" The tide had ebbed, and he did not even think of her as other than Miss Lisle. Had she heard him that evening? He would almost have hoped not, but that twilight moment seemed so far away that it must be absurd to link it with his every-day life.

Apparently, she and Bertie were on their usual footing. Did the young fellow know of that absurd mistake about old Fordham? Did Percival really detect a shade of dim apprehension on Judith Lisle's face, as if she hid an unspoken fear? As Bertie leant forward and the lamplight shone on his clearly-cut features, Percival was more than ever certain of the change in him. Could his sister fail to see it?

"Bertie," she said when they had finished their tea and were standing round the fire—"Bertie, I'm afraid you have lost one of your pupils."

He had his elbow on the chimney-piece, his hand hung loosely open, and his eyes were fixed upon the leaping flames. When Judith spoke he looked up inquiringly.

"Miss Nash—Emmeline Nash," said Judith.

Percival happened to be looking at the fire too, and he suddenly saw Bertie's fingers drawn quickly up. But the young master spoke very composedly indeed: "Emmeline Nash—why? Has anything happened?"[Pg 297]

"No: only Mr. Nash has given in at last, and says she may go home at Easter for good.—She is older than any of the other pupils, Mr. Thorne: in fact, she is not treated as a pupil. But her father is—"

"An old fossil," said Bertie.

"Well!—interested in fossils and that sort of thing, and a widower; so there has not been much of a home for her, and he always fancied she was better at school. But school can't last for ever."

"Happiest time of one's life!" Bertie ejaculated.

"Oh! do you think so?" said Judith doubtfully.

"Not at all. But I believe it is the right thing to say."

"Stupid boy!—And as she will very soon be twenty, I really think she ought not to be kept there any longer."

"Of course Miss Nash is delighted," said Percival.

"Yes, but hardly as much so as I expected. One's castles in the air don't look quite the same when one is close to them. I am afraid, her home-life won't be very bright."

"Perhaps she will make it brighter," said Thorne. "What is she like? Is she pretty?"

"Yes," said Bertie.

Judith smiled: "One has to qualify all one's adjectives for her. She is nice-ish, pretty-ish: I doubt if she is as much as clever-ish."

"No need for her to be any more," Bertie remarked. "Didn't Miss Crawford say she would come in for a lot of money—some of her mother's—when she was one-and-twenty?"

"Yes, five or six hundred a year."

"That's why he has kept her at school, I suppose—afraid she should take up with a curate, very likely."

"Mr. Nash is very rich too, and she is an only child," said Judith, ignoring Bertie's remark. "But I think it has been hard on Emmeline."

"Well, I'm sorry she is going," said Lisle—"very sorry."

"Is she such a promising pupil?" Thorne inquired.

"She's a nice girl," said Bertie, "but a promising pupil—O Lord!" He flew to the piano, played an air in a singularly wooden manner, and then dragged it languidly, yet laboriously, up and down the keys. "Variations, you perceive." After a little more of this treatment the unfortunate melody grew very lame indeed, and finally died of exhaustion. "That's Miss Emmeline Nash," said Bertie, spinning round on the music-stool and confronting Percival.

"It is very like Emmeline's style of playing," Judith owned.

"Of course it is. Let's have something else for a change." And turning back to the piano, he began to sing. Then he called Judith to come and take her turn. She sang well, and Percival, by the fireside, noted the young fellow's evident pride in her performance, and admired the pair. (Any one else might have admired the three, for Thorne's grave, foreign-looking face was just the fitting contrast to the Lisles' fair, clear features. The morbid depression of a couple of months earlier had passed, and left him far more like the Percival of Brackenhill. Poverty surrounded the friends and dulled their lives, but as yet it was only a burden, not a blight.)

"You sing," said Bertie, looking back. "I remember you were great at some of those old songs. I'll play for you: what shall it be?"

"I'm sure I hardly know," said Percival, coming forward.

"Let's have 'Shall I, wasting in despair,'" Lisle suggested. "It has been going in my head all this morning." He played a few notes.

"No, no!" the other exclaimed hurriedly—"not that." Too well he remembered the tender devotion of more than a year before:

If she love me, this believe,
I will die ere she shall grieve.

Sissy and Brackenhill rose before him—the melancholy orchard-walk, the little hands which lay in his on that November day. He felt a dull pain, yet what could he do? what could he have done? There was a terrible mistake somewhere, but he could not say where. If he had married Sissy, would it not have been[Pg 298] there? He woke up suddenly. Young Lisle was speaking, and Judith was saying, "Let Mr. Thorne choose."

"Oh, I don't mind," said Percival. "Shall it be 'Drink to me only with thine eyes'?"

He sang it well. His voice was strong and full, and the sweet old-fashioned courtesy of compliment suited him exactly. The last word had scarcely left his lips when the door opened, and Emma showed in Mr. Clifton of St. Sylvester's.

The clergyman came forward, black-coated, smooth-shaven, with watchful glances which seemed ever looking out for that lay co-operation we hear so much of now. Lisle looked over his shoulder and sprang up to receive him. The visitor tried to get his umbrella and two or three books into the hand which already held his hat, and one little volume fell to the floor. Percival picked it up and smoothed the pages. "Mr. Thorne—Mr. Clifton," said the young organist as the book was restored to its owner. Percival bowed gravely, and Mr. Clifton did not shake hands, as he would have done if the young man's manner had been less reserved. He was lavish of such greetings. A clergyman might shake hands with any one.

"I'll not detain you long, Lisle," he said. "But I wanted to speak to you about the choir-practice to-morrow." And there ensued a little business-talk between parson and organist. Judith took up a bit of work and Percival leant against the chimney-piece. Presently Lisle went back to the piano and tried over a hymn-tune which Mr. Clifton had brought. The clergyman stood solemnly by. "I met Gordon a few minutes ago," he said. "He was with his brother and some other men of the same stamp. If he mixes himself up with that set, he must go."

"You'll miss him in the choir, Mr. Clifton," said Bertie.

"He must choose between such associates and the choir," the other replied. The words were moderate enough, but the tone was austere.

"Especially at Easter," said Bertie, still playing.

"What of that?" demanded the other. "I would rather have no choir at St. Sylvester's than have men in it whose way of life during the week made a mockery of the praises they sang on Sundays."

He spoke in a low voice, and Bertie's playing partially covered the conversation. "Perhaps, Mr. Clifton, if Gordon understood how much you disapproved—" the young organist began.

"Gordon? Gordon? it isn't only Gordon who should understand. Every one should understand my feeling on such a subject without my having to explain it. But I won't keep you any longer now: it is getting late. Remember, seven o'clock to-morrow evening." And with a polite remark or two to the others Mr. Clifton bowed himself out, with Bertie in attendance. The procession of two might have been more dignified if the organist had not made a face at Judith and Percival as he went out at the door, and if he had not danced a fantastic but noiseless dance on the landing behind the incumbent of St. Sylvester's, who was feeling feebly in the dim light for the top step of Mrs. Bryant's staircase.

"Is anything the matter with Mr. Clifton?" Judith asked when the boy came back and executed another war-dance all round the room. "He didn't seem pleased, I thought."

Bertie brought himself up with a grand flourish opposite the arm-chair, and sank into it: "Bless you, no! there's nothing the matter with him. Tumbled out of bed the wrong side this morning—that's all. He does sometimes."

"Might have got over that by this time of night, one would think," said Percival, looking at his watch.

"Hold hard! you aren't going yet?" exclaimed Bertie, bounding up.—"Here, Judith, let's have another song to take the taste of old Clifton out of our mouths. Whatever possessed him to come here to-night?"


They had two or three songs instead of one, and then Percival went off. Judith put her work away, shut up the piano and laid Bertie's music straight. He stood meanwhile with his back to the dying fire, idly[Pg 299] chinking some money which he had taken from his waistcoat-pocket, a half-crown and two or three shillings. His brows were drawn down as if he were lost in thought. Presently, his half-crown went spinning in the air: he caught it dexterously—heads. Bertie half smiled to himself, as who should say, "Well, if[Pg 300] Destiny will have it so, what am I that I should resist it?"

It is very well to toss up if you have already come to a decision which you cannot quite justify. Should the verdict be adverse, it is no worse than it was before, for if you have really made up your mind so trivial an accident will not stop you. It may even be your duty to show that you attach no superstitious importance to it. And, on the other hand, if chance favors you, some of your burden of responsibility is transferred to the shoulders of Fate.

So Bertie smiled, pocketed his half-crown, kissed his sister and went off to his own room, whistling on his way thither with peculiar distinctness and perseverance.

Nearly an hour later two figures stood by the dim light in the passage and conversed in whispers:

"Now, my charming Lydia, how about that key?"

"I'll 'charming Lydia' you!" was the reply. "I like your impudence!"

"I know you do. You shall have some more when I've time to spare. But now I must really be off. Get me the key, there's a dear girl."

"I can't, then. If you want a latch-key, why don't you go to ma and say so like a man? There it is, and you'd have it directly."

"O most unreasonable Lydia! How many times must I explain to you that that wouldn't do, because your ma, while she possesses many of the charms, is not quite exempt from the weakness of her sex: in short, Lydia, she talks."

"Well, what then? If I were a man I wouldn't be afraid of my sister. I'd be my own master."

"So will I," said Bertie Lisle.

"And I'd say what I meant right out. I would!"

"If you knew there'd be a fuss, and people anxious about you, would you?" He yawned. "No: I'll be my own master, but I like to do things quietly."

"I don't care so much about that," said Lydia, whose feelings were less delicate. To struggle openly for an avowed object seemed to her the most natural thing in the world, and she would have preferred her independence to be conspicuous. She did not understand that with men of Bertie's stamp it is not the latch-key itself, but the unsuspected latch-key, which confers the liberty they love.

"Well?" said he. "Am I to stay here all night?"

"That's just what you'd better do. You won't get any good out of that lot; and so I tell you. You'll lose your money and get into nasty drinking ways: don't you go there any more."

"Upon my word, Lydia, you preach as well as old Clifton does."

"And do you just as much good, I dare say."

"Just as much. You've hit it exactly."

"I thought so. You aren't the sort to take any heed. One may preach and preach—"

"How well you understand me! No, as you say, I am not the sort to get any good from preaching. You are quite right, Lydia: my character requires kindness, sympathy and a latch-key—especially requires a latch-key."

"Especially requires a fiddlestick!" said Lydia; and, disregarding his smiling "Not at all," she went on in an injured tone: "There's ma worrying over accounts, and likely to worry for the next hour. How am I to get a key from under her very nose?"

Lisle seemed to reflect: "Old Fordham doesn't have one, I suppose."

"Gracious! No, not he! If you gave him one he'd drop it as if it was red hot. He thinks they're wicked."

There was a pause, but after a few moments there stole through the silence a sweetly insinuating voice: "Then, Lydia—"

Lydia half turned away and put up her left shoulder.

"Then, Lydia, I suppose you wouldn't—"

"You'd better keep on supposing I wouldn't."

"Can't suppose such cruelty for more than a moment—can't really. No, listen to me"—this with a change of voice: "I must go out this evening. Upon my[Pg 301] soul, it's important. I'm in a fix, Lydia. I've not breathed a word to any one else, and wouldn't for worlds, but you'll not let it out, I know. If I'm lucky enough to get out of the scrape to-night, I'll never get into it again, I can tell you."

"You will," said Lydia.

"I swear I won't. And if not—"

"Well? if not?"

"Why, I must try another plan to get free. I sha'n't like it, but I must. But there'll be a row, and I shall have to go away. I'd a good deal rather not."

"What sort of plan?" she asked curiously.

"Desperate," he answered, and shook his head.

"What is it?" Her eyes were widely opened in excitement and alarm. "You ain't going to be driven to forge something, like people in novels? Or—or—it isn't a big robbery, is it? Oh, you wouldn't!"

The face opposite looked so smiling and candid and innocent that it made the words she had hazarded an obvious absurdity, even to herself, as soon as she had uttered them.

"Why not a murder?" said Lisle. "I think it shall be a murder. Upon my word, you're complimentary! No, no, I don't mean to try my hand at any of them." She smiled, relieved. "But I must go out to-night. Lydia, will you let me in once more?"

"Once more? You won't ask again?"

"Never again."

There was a pause: "Didn't you say that last time?"

"Lydia, you are the unkindest girl—"

"Well, then, I will."

"No, you are the kindest."

"Just this once more. Mind, you tap very gently, and I'll be awake. But do be careful. It frightens me so!"

When the house was full of lodgers the Bryants stowed themselves away in any odd corners. At this time Lydia occupied a large cupboard—by courtesy called a small room—close to their stuffy little back parlor. Lisle would go to the yard behind the house, which was common to two or three besides No. 13, and with one foot on a projecting bit of brick-work could get his hand on the sill and make his signal.

"Some day the police'll take you for a burglar," said Lydia encouragingly. "Well, go and enjoy yourself."

"It is a shame to keep you up so long, isn't it? What do you do all the time, eh, Lydia?"

"Sit in the dark, mostly, and think what a fool I'm making of myself."

"Don't do that. Think how good you are to a poor fellow in trouble. That will be better—won't it? But I must be off. Good-bye, you kind Lydia."

He stooped forward and kissed her, taking her hands in his. He found it convenient to pay his debt in this coin, his creditor being passably pretty. Not that Bertie had any taste for indiscriminate kissing. Had he had five thousand a year, and had Lydia rendered him a service, he would have recompensed her with some of his superfluous gold. But as he only had his salary as organist and what he could make by giving music-lessons, he paid her with kisses instead. He had no particular objection, and was it not his duty to be economical, for Judith's sake as well as his own?

"Go along with you!" said Lydia; and the young man, who had achieved his purpose and had no reason for prolonging the interview, stole laughingly down stairs, waving a farewell as he vanished round the corner. Lydia stood as if she were rooted to the ground, listening intently. She heard the door opened very gently and closed with infinite precautions. She still stood till she had counted a hundred under her breath, and then, judging that Mrs. Bryant had not been disturbed by his stealthy exit, she went down to fasten it. She was prepared with an answer if she should be caught in the act, but she was glad to get away undetected, for an excuse which is perfectly satisfactory at the time may be very unsatisfactory indeed when viewed by the light of later events. So Lydia rejoiced when she found herself safe in her own room, though she pursued her usual train of meditation in that refuge. She appraised Lisle's gratitude and kisses[Pg 302] pretty accurately, and was angry with herself that she should care to have them, knowing that they were worthless. Yet as she sat there she said his name to herself, "Bertie," as she had heard his sister call him. And she knew well that it was pleasant to her to be thrilled by Bertie's eyes and lips, pleasant to feel Bertie's soft palms and slim strong fingers pressing those hands of hers, on which she had just been trying experiments with a new wash. Lydia looked thoughtfully into her looking-glass and took her reflection into her confidence. "Ain't you a silly?" she said to the phantom which fingered its long curl and silently moved its lips. "Oh, you are!" said the girl, "and there's no denying it." She shook her head, and her vis-à-vis shook its head in the dim dusk, as much as to say, "No more a fool than you are yourself, Lydia."—"Nobody could be," said Lydia moodily.

She did not deem it prudent to keep her light burning very late, and she had a long vigil before the signal came, the three soft taps at her window. She was prepared for it. Every sound had grown painfully distinct to her anxious ears, and she had been almost certain that she knew Lisle's hurried yet stealthy step as he turned into the yard. She crept to the door and opened it, her practised hand recognizing the fastenings in the dark. The light from the street-lamp just outside fell on Bertie's white face. "What luck?" she asked in a whisper.

"Curse the luck!" he answered: "everything went against me from first to last."

"I told you so," she whispered, closing the door. "Didn't I say that?"

"Don't! there's a good girl," said Bertie softly, somewhere in the shadows.

Lydia was silent, and shot the bolts very skilfully. But the key made a little grating noise as she turned it, and the two stood for a moment holding their breath.

"All right," said Lisle after a pause.

"It's late," said Lydia. He could not deny it. "You must take your boots off before you go up," she continued. "And do be careful."

He obeyed. "Good-night," he whispered. "You'll see that girl calls me in good time to-morrow? I feel as if I should sleep for a century or so." He yawned wearily: "I wish I could."

"I ain't to be sleepy, I suppose: why should I be?" she answered, but added hurriedly, "No, no, you shall be called all right."

"You good girl!" whispered Lisle, and he went noiselessly away. A dim gaslight burned halfway up the stairs and guided him to his room. He had only to softly open and close his door, and all was well. Judith had not been awakened by the catlike steps of the man who was not old Fordham. She had fallen asleep very happily, with a vague sense of hopefulness and well-being. She had no idea that Bertie had just flung himself on his bed to snatch a little rest, with a trouble on his mind which, had she known it, would have effectually banished sleep from her eyes, and a hope of escape which would have nearly broken her heart. Her burden had been laid aside for a few hours, and through her dreams there ran a golden thread of melody, the unconscious remembrance of that evening's songs and music.



Bertie was duly called, and came down the next morning punctually enough, but somewhat weary and pale. A slight headache was supposed to account for his looks. Lydia complained of the same thing over her breakfast of bacon down stairs. But Fate was partial, for Bertie's marble pallor and the faint shadow beneath his eyes were utterly unlike poor Lydia's dull complexion and heavy, red-rimmed eyelids. She was conscious of this injustice, and felt in a dim way that she had proved herself capable of one of those acts of self-devotion which are the more admirable that they are sure not to be admired. But the longer she thought of it the more she felt that this noble deed was not one to be repeated. One must set bounds to one's heroism. "I can't go on losing my beauty-sleep in this fashion," said Lydia to herself.[Pg 303] "I do look such a horrid fright the next day."

When Judith had gone to Standon Square, Bertie yawned, stretched himself, got out his little writing-case and sat down to write a letter. He spent some time over it, erasing and interlining, balancing himself on two legs of his chair, while he looked for stray words on the ceiling or murmured occasional sentences to judge of the effect. At last it was finished, and, being copied in a dashing hand, looked very spontaneous indeed. "I think that ought to do it," he said to himself as he smoked his pipe, glancing over the pages: "I think it will do it." He smiled, in the pride of triumphant authorship, but presently there came a line between his brows and a puzzled expression to his face: "I'll be shot if I know how it is to be managed afterward. People do it, but how? I wonder if Thorne knows? If law is at all catching, a year of that musty office must have given him a touch of it." Lisle considered the matter for a few minutes, and then shrugged his shoulders: "It won't do, I'm afraid. I daren't try him. I'm never quite clear how much he sees and understands, nor what he would do. And Gordon? No." There was another reverie. Finally, he arose, knocked the ashes out of his pipe and stretched himself once more: "I've got to depend on myself, it seems to me. I must set my wits to work and astonish them all. But oh, if yawning were but a lucrative employment, how easily I could make money and be quit of the whole affair!"

Bertie took a great interest in his personal appearance, and was frank and unaffected in his consciousness of his good looks. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the bottle-green mirror, and stopped short in considerable anxiety. "Brain-work and these late hours don't suit me," he said. "Good Heavens! I look quite careworn. Well, it may pass for the effect of a gradually breaking heart: why not?"

A glance at his watch roused him to sudden activity. He carefully burnt every scrap of his original manuscript, feeling sure that Lydia would read his letter if she had the chance. He looked leniently on this little weakness of hers. "Very happy to afford you what little amusement I can in the general way," he soliloquized as he directed an envelope, "but I really can't allow you to read this letter, Lydia my dear." Apparently, he was in a distrustful mood, for, after hesitating a moment, he got some wax and sealed it with a ring he wore. Then, putting it carefully in his pocket, he tossed a few sheets of blotted music-paper on the table, left his writing-case wide open, took his hat and a roll of music, and went out in the direction of St. Sylvester's, trying to work out his problem as he walked. He was not, however, so deep in thought that he had no eyes for the passers-by, and his attention was suddenly attracted by a servant-girl dawdling along the opposite pavement. He watched her keenly, but furtively, as if to make quite sure, and when she turned down a side street he followed, and speedily overtook her.

"This is lucky!" he ejaculated. "I didn't expect to see you, Susan. What are you doing here?"

She was a slight, plain girl, with a fairly intelligent face whose expression was doubtful. Sometimes it showed a willingness to please, oftener it was sullen, now and then merely thoughtful. Just at this moment, as she looked up at the young organist, it was crafty and greedy. "I'm taking a note," she said. "Miss Crawford's always a-sending me with notes or something."

"You don't mind being sent with notes, do you?" said Bertie blandly.

"That's as may be," the girl answered.

"I should have thought it was pleasant work. At any rate, it's as easy to take two as one, isn't it?"

"I have to take 'em, 'cause I'm paid to, you see, easy or not."

"Oh, of course you ought to be paid." His fingers were in his waistcoat-pocket, and some coins that chinked agreeably were transferred to her hand, together with the sealed letter. "You've saved me a walk to Standon Square," he said.

The girl laughed, looking down at[Pg 304] her money: "It wouldn't have hurt you, I dare say. You oughtn't to make much of a walk there. How about an answer?"

"Oh, I shall get an answer when I come to-morrow." He nodded a careless farewell, and went a little out of his way to avoid Gordon's brother, who was visible in the distance.

Susan turned the missive over in her hand. "It's sealed tight enough," she remarked to herself. "What did he want to do that for?" She eyed it discontentedly: "I hate such suspicious ways. Wouldn't there be a flare-up if I just handed it over to the old maid? I won't, though, for she's give me warning, and he's a deal more free with his money than she'd ever be—stingy old cat! But wouldn't there be a flare-up? My!" And Susan, who had an ungratified taste for the sensational, looked at the address and smiled to think of the power she possessed.

Before she slipped the letter into her pocket she sniffed doubtfully at the envelope, and tossed her head in scorn: "I thought so! Smells of tobacco." It was true, for Lisle, as we know, had smoked while he revised his composition. "If I were a young man going a-courting I'd scent my letters with rose or something nice, and I'd write 'em on pink paper—I would!" Susan reflected. But Lisle was wiser. There is no perfume for a young ladies' school like a whiff of cigar-smoke. To that prim, half convent-like seclusion, where manners are being formed and the proprieties are strictly observed, it comes as a pleasant suggestion of something worldly and masculine, just a little wicked and altogether delightful.

So Lisle went on his way to St. Sylvester's, lighter of heart for having met Susan and got rid of the letter. While it was still in his pocket nothing was absolutely settled, in spite of that half-crown which had represented inexorable Destiny the night before. But now that it was gone, further thought about it was happily unnecessary, and honor forbade him to draw back. It was true, however, that he was still face to face with the difficulty which had been in his mind when he met his messenger so conveniently.

He caught a street Arab, and promised him twopence if he would come and blow for him while he practised. But he began by playing absently and carelessly, for since the letter had been despatched his problem had become infinitely more urgent, and it thrust itself between him and the music. His fingers roved dreamily over the keys, his eyes wandered, as if in spite of himself, to the east end of the church. All at once he came out with an impatient "How do people manage it?" and he finished the muttered question with a strong word and a big chord.

A moment more, and his face is illuminated with the inward light of a sudden idea. He lets his hands lie where they happen to be, he sits there with parted lips and startled eyes. The idea is almost too wonderful, too simple, too obvious, and yet—"By Jove!" says Bertie, under his breath.

His street Arab means to earn his twopence, and in spite of the silence he pumps away in a cheerful and conscientious manner till he shall be bidden to stop. The organ protests in a long and dolorous note, and startles the musician from his reverie. Forthwith he begins to play a stirring march, and the rejoicing chords arise and rush and crowd beneath his fingers. Has he indeed found the solution of his great perplexity? Apparently he thinks so. He seems absolutely hurried along in triumph on these waves of jubilant harmony. A ray of pale March sunlight falls on his forehead and shines on his hair as he tosses his head in the quickening excitement of the moment. His headache is gone, his weariness is gone. The notes seem to gather like bands of armed men and rush victoriously through the aisles. But even as he plays he laughs to himself, a boyish, happy laugh, for this great idea which is to help him out of all his difficulties is not only a great idea, but a great joke. And the march rings louder yet, for with every note he plays his thought grows clearer to his mind, plainer and[Pg 305] more feasible. There is a gay audacity about the laugh which lingers in Bertie's eyes and on his lips, as if Dan Cupid himself had just been there, whispering some choice scheme of roguish knavery, some artful artlessness, into the young man's ear. Bertie does not acknowledge that his inspiration has come in such a questionable fashion. He says to himself, "It will do: I feel it will do. Isn't it providential? Just when I was in despair!" This is a more suitable sentiment for an organist, no doubt, for what possible business can Dan Cupid have at St. Sylvester's? Louder and louder yet pours the great stream of music; and that is a joke too, for Lisle feels as if he were shouting his secret to the four winds, and yet keeping it locked in his inmost soul, taking the passers-by into his confidence in the most open-hearted fashion, and laughing at them in his sleeve. But the musician is exhausted at last, and the end comes with a thundering crash of chords.

"Here, boy—here's sixpence for you: you may be off. We've done enough for to-day, and may go home to Bellevue street." But it seems to Bertie Lisle, as he picks up his roll of music and comes down the aisle, that Bellevue street too is only a joke now.



April had come, and the best of the year was beginning with a yellow dawn of daffodils. The trees stood stern and wintry, but there were little leaves on the honeysuckles and the hawthorn hedges, glad outbursts of song among the branches, and soft, shy caresses in the air. Sissy Langton, riding into Fordborough, was delicately beautiful as spring itself. She missed her squire of an earlier April, and his absence made an underlying sadness in her radiant eyes which had the April charm. That day her glance and smile had an especial brightness, partly because spring had come, and, though countless springs have passed away, each comes with the old yet ever-fresh assurance that it will make all things new; partly because it was her birthday, and while we are yet young there is a certain joy of royalty which marks our birthday mornings; but most of all because that day gave her the power to satisfy a desire which had lain hidden in her heart through the long winter months.

It was the Fordborough market-day, and already, though it was but eleven o'clock, the little town was waking up. Sissy, followed by Mrs. Middleton's staid servant, rode straight to the principal street and stopped at Mr. Hardwicke's office. Young Hardwicke, reading the paper in his room, was surprised when a clerk announced that Miss Langton was at the door asking for his father. He forgot the sporting intelligence in an instant: "Well, isn't my father in?"

No: Mr. Hardwicke went out about twenty minutes earlier, and did not say when he should be back. They had told Miss Langton, and she said, "Perhaps Mr. Henry—"

Mr. Henry was off like a shot. He found Sissy on her horse at the door, looking pensively along the street, as if she were studying the effect of dusky red on palest blue—chimney-pots against the April sky.

"So Mr. Hardwicke is out?" she said when they had shaken hands. "I'm so sorry! I wanted him so particularly."

"Is it important? Are you in a great hurry?" said Henry. "He won't be long, or he would certainly have left word—on a market-day especially. Could you come in and wait a little while?" he suggested. "I suppose I shouldn't do as well?"

"I don't know," said Sissy, looking a little doubtfully at the tall, fresh-colored young fellow, who smiled frankly in reply.

"Oh, it isn't at all likely," said Mr. Henry with delightful candor. "The governor can't, for the life of him, understand how I make so many blunders. I've a special talent that way, I suppose, but I don't know how I came by it."

"Then perhaps it had better be Mr. Hardwicke. If it were a waltz, now—"[Pg 306] and she laughed. "But it isn't a waltz: it is something very important. Do you know anything about wills?"

He looked up in sudden apprehension: "Is it about a will? Mrs. Middleton's? Is anything the matter?"

"No, it isn't Aunt Middleton's: it's mine," was the composed reply. But seeing relief, and almost amusement, on his face, she added hastily, "I can make a will, can't I? I'm twenty-one, you know: it's my birthday to-day."

"Then I wish you many happy returns of the day."

"Thank you, but can I make a will?"

"Of course you can make a will."

"A will that will be good?" Sissy insisted, still speaking in the low tone she had adopted when she began to explain the object of her visit. "Can I make it here and now?"

"Not on horseback, I think," said Hardwicke with a smile. "You would be tired of sitting here while we took down all your instructions. It isn't very quick work making ladies' wills. They generally leave no end of legacies. I suppose they are so good they don't forget anybody."

"Mine won't be like that: mine will be very short," Sissy said. "And I suppose I am not good, for I shall forget almost everybody in it." She laughed as she said it, yet something in her voice struck Hardwicke as curiously earnest. "I will come in, I think, and tell you about it," she went on. "I want to make it to-day."

"To-day?" he repeated as he helped her to dismount.

"Yes. I'll tell you," said Sissy, entering his room, "and you'll tell Mr. Hardwicke, won't you? I'll get the Elliotts to give me some luncheon, and then I can come here again between two and three. I shall have to sign it, or something, sha'n't I? Do tell your father I want it all to be finished to-day."

"I'll tell him."

"Tell him it's my birthday, so of course I must do just as I please and have everything I want to-day. I don't know whether that's the law, but I'm sure it ought to be."

"Of course it ought to be," Henry replied with fervor. "And I think we can undertake to say that it shall be our law, anyhow."

"Thank you," said Sissy. "I shall be so very glad! And it can't take long. I only want him to say that I wish all that I have to go to Percival Thorne."

"To Percival?" Hardwicke repeated, with a sensation as if she had suddenly stabbed him. "To Percival Thorne? Yes. Is that all I am to say?"

"That's all. I want it all to be for Percival Thorne, to do just what he likes with it. That can't take long, surely."

Hardwicke bit the end of a penholder that he had picked up, and looked uneasily at her: "You're awfully anxious to get this done, Miss Langton: you aren't ill, are you?"

"Oh, I'm well enough—much better than I was last year," said Sissy lightly. "But there's no good in putting things of this sort off, you know"—she dropped her voice—"as poor Mr. Thorne did. And your father said once that if I didn't make a will when I came of age my money would all go to Sir Charles Langton. He doesn't really want any more, I should think, for they say he is very rich. And he is only a second cousin of mine, and I have never seen him. It's funny, having so few relations, isn't it?"

"Very," said Hardwicke.

"And some people have such a lot," said Sissy thoughtfully. "But I always feel as if the Thornes were my relations."

"I suppose so. At any rate, I don't see that Sir Charles Langton has any claim upon you." There was silence for a minute, Sissy drawing an imaginary outline on Hardwicke's carpet with her riding-whip, he following her every movement with his eyes.

"I shall have to sign both my Christian names, I suppose?" she said abruptly.

"Have you two? I didn't know. What is the other?"


"Jane! I like that," said Henry. "Yes, sign them both."

"Thank you. I don't want to seem[Pg 307] like an idiot to your father. I should like it best if I could just write 'Sissy' and nothing else, as I do at the end of my letters. When I see 'Cecilia Jane Langton' I feel inclined to call out, 'This is none of I!' like the old woman."

She stood up to go: "You won't forget, will you?"

"No, I won't forget."

"Everything to Percival Thorne."

"Percival Thorne is an uncommonly lucky fellow," said the young man, looking down.

Sissy stopped short, glanced at him and colored. In her anxiety she had never considered the light in which the bequest might strike Henry Hardwicke. In fact, she had not thought of him at all except as a messenger. She was accustomed to take him for granted on any occasion. She had known him all her life, and he was always, in her eyes, the big friendly boy with whom she pulled crackers and played blindman's buff at children's parties. She dreamed of no possible romance with Henry, and did not imagine that he could have such a dream about her. He was as harmless as a brother, without a brother's right to question and criticise. It was precisely that feeling which had been at the root of the friendliness which the Fordborough gossips took for a flirtation. They could not have been more utterly mistaken. She liked Henry Hardwicke—she knew that he was honest and honorable and good—but if any one had said that he was a worthy young man, I believe she would have assented. And that is the last adjective which a girl would apply to her ideal.

Sissy's scheme had been in her mind through all the winter, but she had always imagined herself stating her intentions in a business-like way to old Mr. Hardwicke, who was a friend of the family. She had been so thunder-struck when she found that he was out that she had taken Henry into her confidence at a moment's warning. She dared not risk any delay. It would be impossible to go home leaving Percival's future insecure. Suppose she died that night—and she was struck with the fantastic coincidence of Mr. Hardwicke's second absence at the critical moment—suppose she felt herself dying, and knew that the only thing she could have done for Percival was left undone! She could not face the possibility of that agony. Indeed, she wondered how she had lived through the long hours which had elapsed since the clock struck twelve and the day began which made her twenty-one—not the girl Sissy any longer, but the woman who held Percival's fortune in her hands. How could she have gone away with her purpose unfulfilled?

When Henry said "Percival Thorne is an uncommonly lucky fellow," she colored, but only that transient flush betrayed her, for she answered readily: "Why, Mr. Hardwicke, what a dreadful thing to say to me! I hope you don't have second-sight or anything horrible of that sort?"

"Second-sight!" Henry repeated doubtfully, looking down at a little dangling eye-glass: "what's that?"

"Oh, you must know. Isn't it second-sight when you can tell if people are going to die? You see them in their winding-sheets, and they are low down if it will only be rather soon. But if it is to be quite directly their shrouds are wrapped round them high up. What was mine like, that you said Percival Thorne was so lucky? Up to here?" And, standing before him, she smiled and touched her chin.

"God forbid!" said Henry. "How can you say such fearful things?"

"Oh, you didn't see it, then? I'm very glad."

"Good Heavens! no! And I don't believe it. I didn't mean that Thorne would be lucky if you died!"

"I can't do him any good any other way," said Sissy with sweet composure; "but I don't think I'm going to die, so I don't suppose I shall do him any good at all. Do you think this is a strange fancy of mine? The truth is, Aunt Middleton and I have been unhappy about Percival ever since last May, because we know his grandfather meant to have done something for him. He isn't rich, and he ought to have had Brackenhill;[Pg 308] so I should like him to have my money if I die. It is only a chance, because I dare say I may live fifty years or so—only fancy!—but I would rather Percival had the chance than Sir Charles. That's all. You'll explain it to your father? It can't do any harm if it does no good."

"Oh no: I see. It can't do any harm."

"And now I'll be off," laughed Sissy. "How dreadfully I have made you waste your time! I dare say if I hadn't been here you would have written ever so many things on parchment and tied them up with red tape."

"Oh yes, quantities!" Hardwicke replied as he escorted her to the door. "A cartload at least. I'm glad you think I'm so industrious."

Standing outside, he said something about her horse. He did not like Firefly's look, and he told her so. Moreover, he threatened to tell Mrs. Middleton his bad opinion of Sissy's favorite.

"Nonsense!" she answered lightly. "There's nothing to be afraid of." But suddenly she turned and looked at him. "Don't you really think Firefly is safe?" she said. "Well, I must see about it.—William, I'm not going back now, and I think I'll walk to Mrs. Elliott's. You had better meet me here at half-past two."

And with a parting glance at Hardwicke she went away down the sunshiny street, and he stood looking after her. He would have liked to be her escort to the Elliotts' house, but he had her message to deliver to his father, and he knew she would not permit it. Besides, to tell the truth, she had taken him by surprise, and gone away before he thought of anything of the kind. So he could only stand bareheaded on the office-steps watching her as she went on her way. But suddenly his lips parted to let out a word, which certainly would not have escaped him had he been by Sissy's side. "There's that Fothergill fellow!" said Henry, recognizing the captain's slim figure and black moustache. And he turned on his heel and went in.

He was quite right. It was Fothergill who came sauntering along the pavement, looking at the shop-windows, at the passers-by, at the preparations for the market, with quick eyes and an interest which conveyed the impression of his superiority to it all better than any affectation of languid indifference. His glances seemed to say, "And this is a country town—a market—these are farmers—people live here all their lives!" But when he saw Sissy Langton he came forward eagerly. And perhaps it was just as well that he was at hand to be her squire through the busy little street, for the girl was seized with a new and unaccountable nervousness. A bit of orange-peel lying in the road caused her a sudden tremor. Two or three meek and wondering cows, which gazed vacantly round in search of their familiar pasture, appeared to her as a herd of savage brutes. She looked distrustfully up and down the road, and waited at the pavement's edge for a donkey-cart to pass before she dared attempt a crossing. It was just at this moment that the captain appeared, quickening his pace and lifting his hat, only too ready to guard her through all the perils of a Fordborough market-day.

Henry Hardwicke hated reading, and had no particular love for the law. His father said he was a fool, and was inordinately fond of him nevertheless. It might be that the old lawyer was right on both points. And, dull as Henry was supposed to be, he was capable of delicate feelings and perceptions as far as Sissy Langton was concerned. It seemed to him that accident had revealed to him a hidden wound in her heart; and the revelation pained him—not selfishly, for he had never hoped for himself, but because of the secret suffering which it implied. His one idea was to do her bidding, yet not betray her. He delivered her message to his father with a tact of which he was himself unconscious. On his lips it became no less urgent, but he dwelt especially on Sissy's desire to see justice done to the man who had been accidentally disinherited; on her feeling that she owed more to the Thornes, whose home and love she had shared, than to the Langtons, with whom she[Pg 309] shared nothing but a name; and on her impatience of even an hour's delay, because the squire's sudden death had made a deep impression on her mind. All this, translated into Harry's blunt and simple speech, was intelligible enough to Mr. Hardwicke. The girlish whim that all should be done on her birthday made him smile, but the remembrance of Godfrey Thorne was present in his mind as in hers. He did not attach much importance to the whole affair, and felt that he should not be overwhelmed with surprise should he hear a few months later that Sissy was going to be married to some one else, and wanted to make some compromise—perhaps to resign the squire's legacy to Percival. To his eyes it looked more like an attempt at restitution than anything else. "She is sorry for him, poor fellow!" thought Mr. Hardwicke. "She did not know her own mind, and now she would like to atone to him somehow."

Sissy came back alone at the time she had fixed, looking white and anxious. A client came out as she arrived, and five farmers were waiting in the office to see Mr. Hardwicke: therefore, though she was ushered in at once, the interview was brief. The old lawyer paid her a smiling compliment on her promptitude. "We have to advise people to make their wills sometimes," he said, "but you are beforehand with us." Sissy expressed a fear that she had troubled him on a very busy day, and he assured her that to blame her because her twenty-first birthday happened to fall on a Friday would be the last thing he should think of doing. Then the girl looked up at him, and said that old Mr. Thorne had always been so good to her, and she thought that perhaps if he could see he would be glad, so she could not put it off. She stopped abruptly, and her eyes filled. Mr. Hardwicke bent his head in silent acquiescence, the brief document was duly signed and witnessed, and Sissy went away, riding home as if she had never known what fear meant. Suppose Firefly threw her, what then? She had been to Mr. Hardwicke, and though her "Cecilia Jane Langton" was not all she could have wished, because she was nervous and Mr. Hardwicke's pen was so scratchy, still there it was. And was not the paper, thus signed, a talisman against all dread of death?

So her burden was lighter. But what could lighten the other load which lay on her heart? She hardly knew whether it were love or fear that she felt for Percival. The long days which had passed since she saw him had only deepened the impression of that summer evening when they parted. His reply to her entreaty that he would come back to her had been exactly what she had feared—as gentle as he himself had been when they stood face to face in the old drawing-room at Brackenhill, and as inflexible. If she could forget him—if she could learn to care for Captain Fothergill or Walter Latimer—what a bright, easy, sunshiny life might yet be hers! No, ten thousand times, no! Better to suffer the weariness of dread and doubt and longing for Percival.

But Percival would have been astonished if he could have seen the darkly heroic guise in which he reigned over Sissy Langton's dreams.


[Pg 310]


There is nothing like a wide horizon to give a boy aspirations—nothing like a hill-farm to give him hope—especially the hope of leaving it. In spring, on a day of expectation, when the warm air has not yet brought out the flowers, and carts go past with loads of young trees whose dry roots and branches look like emblems of old hopes still unfulfilled, a boy is working on the top of Ford Hill. The five-inch soil covering the solid rock that forms the New York hill—the first of all, perhaps, to show its head above the pristine waters—has nourished a lofty forest which, battling with everlasting winds, resembles a body of men strong from incessant toil: its elms and beeches are so tough they defy the forester, and are fit only for water-wheel shafts. Working among these adamantine timbers, the boy stops to look across the broad and deep valley. Not at the old hill-quarries opposite, in whose depths snow lies all summer, does he look, nor at the hanging woods above the new piece, nor at the yellow farmhouse and barn; but higher, toward the west, where, on a level with his eye, 'twixt hills like cloud-banks, he sees a white streak, the distant lake. Storms are running down the Deerfield hills. In one of the woody valleys rain-clouds have formed a mirage, another seeming lake, and from its bosom rise to the clear, fine air of the hills the muffled clangor and whistle of the New York Central train, in the boy's mind a glittering image fleeing to splendid cities, and one that he longs to follow.

A boy has no perception whatsoever of the poetry of farm-life: he considers a woodman's work crabbed prose. The idea of making poetry out of any part of it, or out of a herder's work either, is to him stark idiocy. Sheep-washing, for instance, is simply working a whole spring day in very chilly water, and sheep-shearing is a task at which he makes "ridgy" work and endures the horror of seeing the gentle, thin-skinned creatures bleed under his awkward shears. The boy cannot conceive what poetry there is about oxen. From the moment a calf hides in the hay with its mother's help, and makes believe there is no calf born yet, until it becomes an ox, it cannot for an instant be considered poetic by a boy. The calf is a creature that insists, whenever it drinks, on thrusting its head to the bottom of the pail with a splash that deluges the boy with milk: it drinks until it is out of breath, and then withdraws its head with another splash and an explosion of milk-steam from its nostrils—performances which cause the boy's friends to remark wherever he goes, "You smell of sour milk." The boy likes well enough to feed the oxen their full measures of meal; he likes to see them get down on their knees to lick up morsels that roll into corners of the stable-floor; he stretches his hand in before them for little balls of meal they cannot reach with their long tongues, at which they draw back with a thwack against the stanchion, breathing hard and gazing at him with their large black eyes; and when the off ox tries to capture the nigh ox's portion, the boy raps him back to his place. Quite a pastoral friendship exists between the boy and the nigh ox, which, being continually bullied by the off ox, needs the boy's protection, and is therefore placed next him at work. But, for all that, he does not see the romance of such matters.

The yoking of oxen is decidedly not matter for a flying smile to a boy. He lays one end of the yoke's beam on the ground, lifts the other end with his right hand, and, waving one of the ox-bows in his left, cries to the nigh ox, "Come under!" The "nigh" slowly obeys, bending its head low to accommodate the[Pg 311] boy's stature, and permitting itself to be fastened by the ox-bow to the yoke. The boy now lifts the free end of the yoke's beam as high as he can and calls the off ox to come under. It also obeys, treading deliberately with its heavy feet, and waiting patiently for the boy's small fingers to fasten the weighty bow with a clumsy bow-key. Then the boy lifts the ponderous cart-neap and attaches it to the ring in the yoke—a labor that causes his heart to "beat like a tabor;" and thus the beasts are wedded to their daily toil. Occasionally, however, the ox will not come under at all, but will require the boy to follow it about the barnyard, dragging the jingling yoke and waving the bow with infinite fatigue; and occasionally the boy makes the mistake (no greater could be made) of yoking the off ox first. The off ox, finding a yoke sans yokefellow dangling at its neck, is much amazed, not being "broke" to that, and takes to whirling round and round and galloping up and down the barnyard in a manner suggestive of nightmare. This is a circumstance that makes a boy hopeful of going somewhere else.

The yoking of oxen, though difficult, is nothing compared with the working of oxen. The boy can direct his plough lightly along its straight furrow, anticipating each movement of his oxen, and he can turn a corner "straight as a bug's leg;" nevertheless, he would like those persons who have a Wordsworthian idea of following the plough along the mountain-side in glory and in joy to witness the struggles of a green hand learning to plough—of a tramp hired man, say, one of the sort that can't milk and don't know "haw" from "gee." This miserable being tires himself out doing nothing. He cannot lay a furrow over sod downward: he has to stop and turn it over with his hands. He leaves patches of turf. He does not touch up his oxen scientifically, the "nigh" on the head, the "off" on the rump: therefore they frequently do not move at all. His plough-point hits the stones, and his plough-handles knock him in the ribs and lay him out. If he is ploughing near the barn, which is the home of the oxen, approaching it, they go like lightning, and he must drop the plough and rush at their heads to keep them from running straight into the barn: leaving it, they creep like snails, and perhaps they take to "pulling"—that is, walking sidewise, with their bodies as far apart as possible; or to "crowding"—leaning against each other over the chain that holds the plough to the yoke, and one of them gets its foot on the chain and proceeds on three feet. If the tramp hired man goes between them to adjust the chain, the oxen squeeze him flat, and one ox steps on his toe. The toe goes Pop! and what anguish! The ox cannot be made to understand that it must step off. No use in saying "Highst!" or anything else. Nothing but kicking the ox in the leg with your free foot will stir it. In addition to these troubles of the ox-driver, the oxen know how to "turn the yoke:" they can twist their heads in the yoke after a fashion that enables them to stand facing the plough and staring at the driver. If they "turn the yoke" while drawing a cart down a side-hill, the cart, with the driver in it, slips about in front of them, and drags them down the gulf face foremost. The noisiest being on earth is a man ploughing with a pair of old bulls. At night, when he comes home to supper, he is scarcely able to whisper, and the parting blow he gives his beasts is no damage to them nor consolation to him. A man ploughing green sward with two old plugs of horses is about as miserable.

Cows, whether the fine old "line-backs" of the hills or scrawny, beefless Alderneys or milkless Durhams, have one merit with a boy. It is not that they enjoy fine weather, a good pasture and a green landscape—have thoughts, notice the sprouting beanfields as they come up to milking, and the new flag-staff on the green: it is that they are good at fighting. In every herd there is a queen who can vanquish all the rest, and a vice-queen who can vanquish all but the queen, and a second vice-queen who can vanquish all but the first two, and so on down to the weakest of the herd, who cannot withstand[Pg 312] any of the others. Sometimes there is one that can defeat the queen, but none of the rest; and other complications occur that give diversity to the cow-fights. The boy has comfort superintending these combats. He encourages the cowards and helps the weak by drawing them forward by the horns to attack. When the queen stops the way at the bars, and will not let the rest through, or when she amuses herself running up and down the stanchions driving away the other cows, the boy puts her down and relieves the drove of her tyranny.

The boy oversees some fighting among the fowls of the hill-farm, where they still keep the old hawk-colored breed—a breed that fights to the death—not being over-partial as yet to Shanghais that won't lay and Leghorns that won't sit. On a large farm, where there are several barns and as many sets of hens, the boy cultivates the fighting qualities of the cocks by keeping them around together, and not letting them forget each other. The turkeys—strange birds! so tender in youth a spring rain kills them, so tough in age they roost in the tree-tops in winter, and come down o' mornings covered with frozen sleet and looking as if they enjoyed it—are objects of no interest to the boy; but for the geese he has a kindness, not because they fight each other, but because they fight him. "Can't you let them geese alone?" is the frequent exclamation of the hired man in the stable to the boy in the mow. The boy is always perfectly willing to hunt goose-eggs: he has a battle with the biting, shrieking, wing-flapping goose every time he takes an egg from her nest. When she begins to sit on her empty nest, it is his business to bring back a part of her eggs and place them under her, which leads to a pitched battle. The pea-hen is a different creature: she keeps her nest a secret even from the peacock, never leaving it save on the wing, and approaching it with the greatest circumambulation. Nobody but the boy knows where it is. Should he take up her egg, though he might lay it down exactly as it was before, she would never lay another egg there. This he knows. He is acquainted with many things other people have no idea of. He knows how a roost of poultry looks at morning dusk, when, if you enter the barn, the entire roost turns one eye at you, and then for an unknown cause simultaneously shakes its head. He knows how hens catch mice in the hay-mow—how they gnaw the sucking pigs' tails to the bone (the hired man says they need the meat). He knows how to obtain bumblebees' honey, paying for this information with an ear like a garnet potato, one of the sort that "biles up meller;" and he knows how to find mushrooms. Life for a boy on an upland farm is to labor, to abstain, to sweat and to be grievously cold (see Horace); nevertheless, there comes a soft spring dawn when on the rich spots of the sheep-pasture he finds a bushel of mushrooms, snow-white on their tops and pink underneath, crisp, tender, rising full grown from the moist earth, and lifting bodily away the chips and leaves that overlay them. He brings this treasure home. He inverts the mushroom-cups in a clean frying-pan, fills each one with butter and a pinch of salt, cooks them gently a few minutes—dishes them. Then he dashes more butter and some water from the tea-kettle into the frying-pan—for he is as fond of gravy as "Todgers' boarders"—pours this over the mushrooms, and sits down to a feast that has some poetry about it.

The boy brings a sharp appetite to his few pleasures. All agreeable thoughts float in his mind during his summer nooning doze when he lies on the grass after dinner waiting for the sun to strike the west side of the farmhouse chimneys, which, standing square north and south, serve for sun-dials. And in haymaking, when he is "mowing away" far above the "purline beam" in the barn as fast as a man in the hayrack can toss the hay up to him, and the air is heated like a furnace by the hot haymaking sun on the shingles close above his head, and his shirt is full of timothy-seed, and he is almost dying with exhaustion, suddenly he hears the sound of rain pattering[Pg 313] on the roof. The hay in the meadow will be spoiled, but down he slides to enjoy an hour's rest in the cool lower world of the barn-floor. And when the Fourth of July comes, and the farm-boys gather at The Corners and fire off old shot-guns, pistols, an anvil, a cannon and empty thread-spools, then and there is the poetry of the whole harvest-season for the boy. The harvest-moon, bringer of hot days and "bammy" nights to glaze the corn, may be the admiration of many, but is not so to the boy. It is accompanied by a special grievance to him: at the end of days' works that take the tuck out of him to the last fragment he has to go for the cows, and to come home late after everybody else has washed up and is partly through supper. The hunter's moon too, large, mild and beaming though it may be, is a thing of disgust to the boy, for it marks the beginning of the season when, after chores are finished and the men are sitting comfortably around the kitchen fire, he has to split kindlings in the woodhouse for the hired girl, and to fill the four wood-boxes with which the hill farmhouse warms its kitchen, dining-room, nursery and parlor.

The hill-farmer's mind is rich in suggestions of work for a boy. After haying, harvesting and everything else is done, you will find that lad down cellar of a dark morning by the light of a tallow candle cutting bushels and bushels of potatoes for the cows with a "slice"—one of those antique long iron shovels used about a brick-oven. You will find him foddering forty head of cattle before school-time in the morning, rising at four o'clock for the purpose, and going over the work again after school; and if he does not ride to the woods on Saturdays with the choppers, the farmer calls him "dreadful slack." The boy would like to get the work all finished some time, but on a hill-farm there is no hope of being done save the hope of being done with it entirely. There is always plenty of work for the boy. In the vast, dark, lofty, cathedral-like orchard, whose untrimmed, mossy trees bear profusely on their interlacing branches the small fair apples for countless barrels of cider, there is work for him. There is plenty of work at the cider-mill or in boiling down the sweet cider over the bonfire that cheers the damp fall weather.

In fact, his tasks are endless. Perhaps it is raining like suds. The sun for several weeks has reminded the hired man of a drop of hair-oil on a basin of water. The only weather-sign that occurs to any one is the old Indian one: "Cloudy all around, and pouring down in the middle." You might suppose no work could be done in such weather. It is then the farmer starts the boy off with five hundred dollars in his pocket to pay various husbandmen for cattle, and with directions to make a détour on his way back collecting moneys due for other cattle, stopping at the Chittaninny Tavern to meet a man who will have a sum of cash ready for him there. The Chittaninny Tavern is in a cutthroat neighborhood. The man with the cash pays it at the bar in the presence of a crowd of ruffians, the bartender looking over the boy's shoulder, and a loafer follows him out to his horse, shows him a pistol and asks him if he hasn't "one of them things." While the boy dashes homeward through the rain and night, pursued in imagination by the man with the pistol, he makes up his mind that a well-lighted city is the place for him to do business in.

Should the rain lessen, the farmer and the boy set out for town with a herd of cattle. Having disposed of the herd, on their homeward way, toward nightfall, the boy, who has walked, as near as he can guess, four hundred miles around the cattle in the November mud, is dismayed to see the farmer stop at a house by the wayside. There are more cattle to be bought and driven home. The master of the wayside house is in some remote pasture, whither the boy runs to fetch him. After a long bargain with this man the farmer pulls out a roll of bills, pays down a round sum, a fresh creature is brought out to the road, and again they pursue their homeward way. It is a young heifer this time—most difficult[Pg 314] of animals to drive. She runs like a deer: in a minute she is far ahead of the boy. She takes the wrong road: the boy makes frightful efforts to overtake her—enters the fields to follow her unseen, and cuts across lots to head her off. She, being a bright creature, is aware of his manœuvres. She watches him over the fences, and contrives to keep beyond his reach, spite of all he can do. To hold her on the homeward route is a miracle: still, the trio of farmer, boy and heifer do manage to reach the home village, where the farmer, who is riding in his carriage, stops at the bank and tells the boy to be "boss and all hands" and go on alone with the heifer. This is terrible. Night is at hand, the demoniac beast is wilder than ever, and the boy knows that, though palpitating with fatigue through all his frame, there are the chores at home yet for him to do. Well, it is then he determines to go on a whaling-voyage or to go and be a stoker for a steam-engine, or a boiler-maker, or a tramp, or anything but a boy on a farm; and so hope grows strong in his heart.

An old hill-farmer must be beloved of Hermes, he so understands the arts of gain. If he wants to buy anything, he takes a sap-bucketful of eggs to the village, and makes a point of bringing back a part of the money. When in town he does not dine at a tavern, but on some crackers and cheese: he says baker's bread tastes like wasps' nests, and city fare in general is light and dry. He saves more picking up horseshoes when the snow melts than many persons do in all their lives. He works all the year round: he thrashes in midwinter with the thermometer below zero. The hard times affect him no more than a fly would a rhinoceros. This is perfectly exasperating to the poor spendthrift, good-for-nothing, lazy part of the community. The tramp hired man is particularly mad about it; he declares the old farmer wants him to work all day for a sheep's head and pluck, and sleep under a cart at night. The tramp hired man entertains inverted financial ideas, and a creed that would probably read, "Strike a man on his right cheek, and if he don't turn his left, boot him;" and the tramp hired man lies en grand—tells lies two days long when he finds a listener.

The old hill-farmer never wastes nor wears out things. He has a coat for butchering-days that belonged to his great-great-grandfather who fought in the Revolution, and he has an ancient tin lantern that he considers valuable. He almost quarrels with the young farmer about his corrugated glass lantern and his large, brilliant, one-paned lantern with the polished concave tin back, and his brass-mounted globe lantern: they have resplendent lanterns on the hills. The old farmer says they will blow up or smash up, whereas his ancient tin lantern is safe. The old man does not see the boy shinning up a post in the horse-barn (there is no staircase—nothing but a few pegs stuck over the horses' heads by which to climb to the hay), the tin lantern swinging on his arm, its door open and candle flaring. Nor does he see the boy attempt to increase the lantern's light by filling it with dry leaves. "What has that darned Irishman been up to now?" says the old farmer, finding it unsoldered on its shelf.

"The mill-streams that turn the clappers of the world arise in solitary places." The old hill-farmers are lovers of their country. Their carefully-saved money and their patriotism sustained our great war. Whoever was a boy on a hill-farm during the war remembers the neighbors stumbling over the stony roads at twilight, when the day's work was done, to hear the daily paper read at the farmhouse on The Corners, eager to know the worst or the best every night. Hugh used to hold the candle, while Mark read in a slow, understanding voice about the marching, fighting, wavering, conquering of those days, now less remembered than the Iliad, when we warmed our hearts at the blaze of war. At every new local name, "Stop!" the old farmer used to say: "let's see where that is. Get the map.—Hugh, hold the light.—There 'tis, by that grease-spot—not the tallow-spot Hugh just dropped—the spot where people[Pg 315] have put their fingers around Washington." Such a prodigious trampling of fingers on the map followed our armies to battle! What a memory it is to have in the mind!

The old farmer of the hills, however frugal, fosters some luxuries: one is horses. He has plenty of them, fat and slow from careful usage, and for the most part spotless bays.

Four white feet and a white nose,
Skin him and give his body to the crows,

says the man of the hills. Melvine, a great horse-breeder, one day took sides in a quarrel between a horse and its master, fought the man for abusing his horse—fought him hard and long: 'twas "t'other and which" with them for a while. "I wouldn't have done it," said his neighbor, Squire Greffern: "I wouldn't have fought the man. I'd have reasoned with him kindly. I'd have said, 'See here, now, this horse isn't to blame: he ain't human,' says I, 'and you ought not to abuse him,' says I. And says I, 'You ought to know better than to hurt a horse: it injures him,' says I. 'He has more sense than you have' (getting excited). 'You deserve to be licked yourself, by hoky! Why, Gosh Almighty! get out, or I'll thrash the daylights out of your darned rotten hide!'" So ended the squire's reproof.

The old hill-farmer has an old dog grown from indulgence, like his horses, in the habit of going his own gait. He will trot to church on Sundays, and trot, trot, down the aisle after meeting has begun, or, if he likes, up into the gallery. When two of these obstinate old dogs once met before the pulpit they indulged in a whirlwind of fight. The minister requested the sexton to put them out, but they showed him their teeth and fought until satisfied. Then the minister administered a grave rebuke to the farmers for desecrating the house of God by bringing dogs to church. Whether the dogs understood it or not, one of them never went to church again.

Another luxury of the hill-farmer is unabridged hospitality. He would agree with Doctor Johnson that nothing promotes happiness so much as conversation. Blazing fires—beacons of company—often flame up his best rooms' chimney-stacks, pouring their blue wood-smoke high in the clear air of the hills. Thanksgiving Day in the hills would do for a festival in honor of Jupiter, the patron of friendship, 'tis a day of such hospitality. It is the only day of the year when the boy has enough to eat. Not that there is not plenty all the year round. It is always jam and never satis with the boy, to borrow Tom Hood's joke. In killing-time they put down hecatombs of beef in snow and of ham and sausage in hot lard, and they have stores of cod-fish to be cooked with cream, and of chickens for potpies, which are never made properly, for some mysterious reason, save by a farmer's wife. A fearful fate, though, has been known to befall a farmhouse among the wintry hills when the farmer's wife has put too much sage in the sausage. Too much sage all winter, ah! Nothing short of being "clyed," as the farmer's wife pronounces it, will satisfy a boy who works on the hills; and that he is on Thanksgiving. 'Tis a day of perfect bliss to him, when he sleeps long, and after his morning's work is done goes to skate in his best clothes on a very glary pond where a crowd of other boys are skating. He skates until he is tired and hungry, and comes home late, stopping on the way to climb the fences of the orchards in search of frozen apples, delicious food to his famished lips. When he reaches home the turkey smells away out to the gate, and in the kitchen everything is all cluttered up and "t'other end to," and dinner is nowhere near ready yet. 'Tis a joyous hour for the boy when it is ready, and for the hired man too. The hired man's pleasure is somewhat damped by hearing the hired girl remark that his mouth is like a barn-door with a load of hay in it. "I declare for it if 'taint," says she. He informs her that she is always "bellerin'" about something, and she requests him not to be so "putchy;" nor does that end the matter. Guests like the Melvines of Melvine Farm, the Bligh boys of Bligh's Corners, the Plunkett girls and Deacon Buckingham's hired girl, and Yem Finny[Pg 316] and Sam Bab's folks, are the kind to invite to a party. They are the kind to keep up a rumble of talk in the parlor, and in the other rooms a rush of games—Hide the Handkerchief, Hunt the Slipper, and so on: Achilles's troops did not play Whirl the Platter on the sands of Troy with a greater gusto.

Very hospitable people are not particular as to who comes to see them, if only some one comes: therefore, pack-peddlers, stove-peddlers, drovers, the old crazy man and the old crazy woman, and other wanderers, are welcome at the hill farmhouse. These vagabonds come from all directions—up the Red Mill road, down from Windy Row, over from the Huddle and the Hollow, and across from Ranger's Field Centre, sometimes meeting two or three together. The boy is glad to see them, particularly the peddlers, they bring such an uproar of talk with them. The brown Bohemian or Hungarian receives a bombardment of questions at the farmhouse that breaks all bounds to his loquacity: he tells everything he knows of foreign lands, as well as news of what is going on in ten counties round. Two only of the vagrant tribe the boy dislikes, the colporteur and the travelling Spiritualist—two cold, shabby, sniffling beings, each wrapped in a shawl and each driving an old horse afflicted with poll-evil. Whenever the boy goes to put up one of these men's horses he wants to break his wagon and whip, and he does give them a few ferocious shakes in the solitude of the stable. The boy worships the clockmaker, who comes once a year on a Saturday and stays over Sunday, mending all the clocks in the house, the tall, timeworn wooden one up in the boy's bedroom as well as the rest. This fellow has a taste for pugilism. While working at the clocks he holds discussions with the hired folks about Heenan, Sayers, Morrissey, dogs, cocks and horses, and lets out secrets about mills coming off in London and New York next week. This is delightful. But once let the horse-pitchfork man arrive, and there is a regular sitting up at night, a grand debauch of talk on politics, patent-rights, improved agricultural implements and other themes, the whole interspersed with original jokes. The old farmer is obtuse about jokes—

An owl might make him laugh, if only it would wink,

but nothing less could—yet the horse-pitchfork man's jokes penetrate him.

The boy thinks it dull when there is no company at the farmhouse of a winter evening. He then sets a pitcher of cider to warm by the fire, and makes himself as comfortable as he can over a book. The few books he reads are fastened minutely in his memory. He obtains The Perfect Gentleman from the district school library, and thenceforth knows what is proper behavior for an Englishman under all circumstances. He reads The Vestiges of Creation, and in afterlife is amazed to find half the world fighting the ancient theory of evolution. His love of society causes him to plunge into the vortex of the mite society and singing school if he has anything decent to wear. Cheerfully he works in pantaloons whose legs have been cut off and turned hind side before, in order that the thin and faded places may come on the back of his legs and the unfaded ones on his knees; contentedly he sustains them by one suspender twisted from a solitary button in front around to another on his right side: he knows the farmer's wife has no time to take care of his clothes. But when old Mrs. Lyburn, a woman who can no more design a suit of clothes than a theatre-ceiling fresco, is commissioned to make him a coat out of an old goose-green overcoat, and a pair of trousers out of some thick, old light cloth breeches, and when she cuts the legs of those breeches off at top and bottom, leaving them broad enough for a Turk, with pockets like large bags hanging down inside of them, then the boy rebels and refuses to go anywhere. If he goes he takes his road through Stone's Woods, and comes home the back way by the wagon-house. The boy has grit, real grindstone grit: therefore he keeps this up, and sooner or later he has it out with the old farmer about his clothes. "Well, well, don't rare and pitch like a flax-break: we'll see about[Pg 317] it," says the old gentleman. The old farmer takes the boy to town and buys him a sleek, shiny black suit—the coat is a long-waisted, long-tailed frock—and he adds a pair of good "stubbid" shoes, having strings made of leather.

"You're stuck, and stuck bad," says the hired man compassionately when he sees the suit. A boy who is as keen as a brier and smart as a whip cannot be expected to wear "humbly" clothes forever. A neat suit made by the village tailor, and a necktie, hat and boots that put him into positively ethereal spirits, are articles that he finally attains. In these clothes he joins the debating society and the choir. Saul Lapham, a friend of his, plays the cornet at the choir-rehearsals. Saul lays down the dignity of a human being to puff out his cheeks, bulge his eyes and grow red in the face blowing a brass horn. Saul is a tyro in the business—can't blow softly, though he tries hard to do so, and completely drowns the singers except when he breaks down, which occurs rather often, to their extreme relief. The little spats and sensations of the choir-rehearsals are entertainment for the sylvan boy. One evening Miss Tway was so "worked up" about failing in a solo she was trying to sing that she fainted twice, the first time with her mouth shut, the second time with it open; and Saul, not knowing what else to do, put a gum-drop into it, which offended Miss Tway, for she thought it was his finger.

The lad is a gallant figure in his new suit galloping on horseback from his highlands down to the village on the flats to attend some rustic diversion. In the tavern ballroom there is a little stage with a curtain hung across it, and on that stage the boy sees the most charming performance he ever beholds. It consists of a regular play, with a ballet between the acts, and a minstrel performance introducing the celebrated scene of a negro teaching another negro to tune the banjo, where the pupil climbs up the back of his chair while endeavoring to ascend the scale; and all ending with a puppet-show, the whole being done by three young fellows. "Why-ee! 'twas wonderful!" says the boy.

Balzac remarks: "People who are very happy are naturally stupid." Perhaps it is because he is not stupid that the boy is unhappy on the many-fountained hills. The longed-for evening soon appears—his last on the farm. He sleeps no moment that night in his soft farmhouse bed under homemade blankets hemmed with woollen thread. He does not know that he will be homesick for his old bedroom—homesick for the Gothic chest, the picture from The Pirate and Three Cutters, and the toilet-table holding nothing but a hairbrush, which, with its half dozen bristles, resembles a Captain Cook club. He will be homesick for the very closet under the roof that makes his clothes smell of hops, wool and dried apples. How glows the morn when he leaves! He goes to success, for he carries power—power as great as Fate.

Mary Dean.


Alone, in contemplation lost,
I stood upon a castled height,
Dark-beetling o'er a lurid tarn
That glassed the brow of night.
Between the icy flash of stars,
Above me sprinkled and beneath,
[Pg 318] The silence of the listening air
Was counterfeit of death.
No cloud upon the naked sky,
No ripple on the lake below;
But o'er the sluggish waters hung
A phosphorescent glow,
That suddenly, all quivering wan,
As smitten with the throes of birth,
Upheaving, vanished, to reveal
A phantom not of earth—
A lily wonderful as light,
Unfolded on the balmy deep,
And, cradled in its bosom, lay
A presence lost in sleep.
And tenderly a star remote
Shed holy lustre o'er the place
Where innocence and peace displayed
Such unimagined grace
That e'en the calm celestial orb,
Enamored of the dream below,
With tremulous emotion pale
Diffused a milder glow.
And I beheld, in mystery,
The secret of my vision fair—
That of a relic sprung the flower
That bore its image there.
And from the watchful star above—
The dwelling of a spirit fled—
That faithful sentinel of love
Its vacant shrine surveyed,
And knew, through all transition seen,
Its place and habitation dear,
Still waiting, in the throb of hope,
Its resurrection here.
Long had I gazed; but, lo! a cloud,
Down-sweeping as a bird of night,
O'erwhelmed me, and the phantasy
Was blotted from my sight.

John B. Tabb.

[Pg 319]



It was the tenth of November when my accident happened: it was late in February before I again sat up and began to feel once more that I belonged to the world of flesh and blood, and to take in slowly, with unaccustomed mind and ear, sights and sounds outside the monotonous world of pain where I had lived so long that I felt bitterly I had earned the right to die. Few glimpses of light had enlivened the terrible blackness of my cruel experience: they had all come from my mother's smile. Occasionally, for a few moments when I lay with my head upon her breast, I was reinspired with a desire to live; but at most times a settled sense of suffering and gloom cut me off from every sweet source of comfort in life. But after I had sat up once—once parted with the dreary prospect of the chintz and lace which curtained my bed—I was a little stronger. Deep was the silence of the icebound shore that day, sparkling the blue waters across which the sun marked a glittering track. My mother sat beside me, and Helen knelt by my reclining-chair watching my face with eager, earnest eyes, divining every wish and foreseeing all my needs. She served me with such an enthusiasm of devotion that in my morbid state, with every nerve strained to its highest tension, I suffered merely in looking at her. But Dr. Sharpe himself had begged me to let her stay with me, because she fretted so when away from me. I had but one wish in life, it seemed to me—to get back to Belfield. The luxury with which I was surrounded was an oppression to my every sense. I was fed from priceless porcelain, and the markets were ransacked to find dainties for my taste; my room was freshly decorated every day with flowers, both cut and growing in pots, and the air was heavy with their scents; forced fruits from the greenhouses, heaped in silver baskets on every table toward which I turned, tempted my dull appetite. I wanted my old room at home: I wanted to lie in my hard narrow bed and see the walls flush with the reflection of the dawn in the east—to have Carlo lift the latch of my door, and enter stealthily and stand at my bedside, wagging his tail and looking up at me with his solemn brown eyes as he waited for me to stretch out my hand, that he might lick it all over for his good-morning. There, in those dear familiar places, I should be able to think over the evil that had come upon me—might perhaps, out of all my broken threads, regather one or two.

For from the first I had been told the trials I was to confront. My life had been saved, although it was at first despaired of, but I must be permanently lame. It had been a most unlucky fall for me, but a glorious case for the surgeons—fractures and compound fractures, broken ribs and dislocated shoulders. In old times, when I had planned out my future, I had said that I would be a surgeon when I grew up; but now, although all my doctors—and my experience of doctors had come to be as wide as most people's—had been most patient, tender and untiring in their study and treatment of my case, I resigned without one murmur my wish to enter the profession.

One morning, while I was still absolutely helpless, a fierce gleam of light reflected up from the sea shot athwart my face. Helen sprang up and carefully adjusted shades and curtains.

"You are a kind little nurse, Helen," said I. "What does the new governess think of the way you spend your time?"

"Oh, Mademoiselle Lenoir quite enjoys it," returned my mother, laughing: "she sits about reading novels and eating bonbons. I will go and see what she is doing now."

"Do, mother," said I, "and take a walk in the greenhouses yourself.—Helen,[Pg 320] you'll take good care of me, won't you?"

She flung her arm about my neck and pressed her quivering lips against my hair.

"I wish I could do something for you," she cried plaintively.

"But you do a great deal, Helen. Of course my mother does everything best of any one, but you come next."

She gave me a piteous little smile. "I wish I could do something better than any one else," she whispered: "it was all my fault."

"Now, dear little girl, I shall send you away if you say that any more. Nothing was your fault—nothing. Don't take up that weary strain again. I want you to tell me all about that morning, though: I never heard yet how you came to be on the cliff at all. Your grandfather had forbidden you to go there."

Her lips still quivered. "I am afraid I shall cry," she said with a little gasp.

"You must not cry: it does me harm to see anybody cry," I answered imperiously. "Now tell me about it all."

She regained her self-command at once: "Georgy asked me about the cliff, and I told her that grandpa said I was never to go there—never. But she took me by the arm and pulled me: she pulled me hard—she is stronger than I am," said the poor little mite. It was not difficult to guess the remainder of the story from the child's disjointed words: she struggled not to blame her cousin. Georgy, on reaching the brow of the precipice, had amused herself by throwing stones down the ravine, that she might enjoy their rumble and clatter. When this too mild pleasure shortly palled upon her, she tried to induce Beppo, the delicate Italian greyhound, to go down, and finally, vexed with him for not seeking such a form of suicide, she flung him over—half in sport perhaps, for Georgy's pastimes were sometimes rather savage. He regained his footing before he was swallowed up in the abyss, and stood on the little shelf of rock thirty feet below, whining at first in entreaty, then howling in such abject terror that Helen, broken-hearted at such misery, slid fearlessly after him, but found herself unable to retrace her steps.

"Did not Georgy try to help you?" I asked.

"I don't think she did," answered Helen, fixing her great eyes upon me. "She kept calling to me at first not to be a coward and to come back. Then she ran away, and I did not see her any more until—"

"How many times did you call me?" I asked.

"I don't know. I seemed to know you would come, but I felt afraid I could not hold on any longer. Just when I was tired out I heard you coming."

I had some stirrings of curiosity about my own fate.

"Did you send the people after me?"

"When I saw you going down," said she, growing pale even to her lips, "I could not move at first. I was not sure what I ought to do. Then I remembered, and ran as fast as I could to papa. I forget what came afterward. I remember that grandpa was holding me in his arms and crying very much, and that papa and Mills and all the men were bringing you across the lawn."

"Don't tell me any more," said I quickly: "I can't quite bear it."

It was late in April when I finally went back to Belfield, and even by that time I was so far from possessing strength or health that not only Mr. Floyd accompanied me, but Dr. Sharpe and Mills as well. Jack Holt and Harry Dart and Tony Thorpe came about me at once: all the good people of Belfield thronged to bring me something—words of comfort and cheer, jellies, Easter lilies, cakes and oranges—but the one I had most longed to see did not come. Once more at home, I grew stronger both in body and mind: the spring-time did me good, although welling up within me all the time, so imperiously, so irresistibly, that I never entirely lost the pain, was the thought that never before had I failed to watch the first uncoilings of the fern-fronds beneath the dead leaves of the former year; the willow catkins, the fragrant arbutus, all the signs of inspiration from the earliest breaths of spring[Pg 321] in the hedges and meadows and woods about Belfield. But still, as I lay on my sofa and tried four times a day the great feat of crossing our parlor from wall to wall, I could guess all the beautiful things that were going on out of doors, and I was happier for the coming summer-time, for is any state so sombre, any grief so unquenchable, any burden of despondency so oppressive, but that the divine gladness of the awakening earth stirs it with its revivifying breath? My misfortune did not inspire me with mystical, heavenly resignation, but I began to be able to look its results in the face.

"Nothing so hampers us in life as the failure to accept our fate with courage," my guardian said to me once. "Be as brave as you can. Do you remember what Medea says in reply to that cruel reminder of her losses?—'Husband, countrymen, riches, all gone from you: what remains?' She answers, 'Medea remains.'"

It had become evident to me, without interrogations on my part, that my mother and Mr. Floyd had resigned at least all present hopes of marriage. All their thoughts seemed to be centred in me, and I felt myself a hinderance in their plans of happiness. So, while I was still holding my guardian's hand, I reminded him of our talk on the bluff that far-off November morning.

"Do you think I would take your mother from you too, my dear boy?" said he bluntly. "Do you think she would come to me if I wanted to take her?"

"But it seems too much of a sacrifice."

"Get well, then, at once," Mr. Floyd exclaimed, laughing. "As soon as you can walk up the church-aisle all the Belfield wedding-bells shall ring their loudest."

Jack Holt brought me some white roses one day in June, which I knew could never have grown anywhere in Belfield except against the eaves of a certain Gothic cottage. I asked him if Georgy sent them, and why she never came to see me.

"I have wondered too why she never comes," he returned; "and I have asked her, but she tells me her mother bids her stay away from you."

"Georgy was not used to be so obedient," said I. "Ask her to come. I suppose she thinks I am frightful to behold, but I fancy I'm much the same, unless I begin to look like a girl. I'm getting into the habit of doing everything so languidly, so effeminately, Jack, that I wonder sometimes if there is any masculine vigor left in me. What can I do to try? I can never run any more: it will be a long time before I can pull my old stroke with an oar. I might shoot at a mark, and if you and Harry will come I will hobble out and try to-morrow."

"Floyd," began Jack with some hesitation, "from Georgy's reluctance to see you I have sometimes thought she was concerned in the matter of your accident."

"Not in the least," I cried stoutly: "never believe that for a moment. It was my own affair entirely, and to this day I can't quite decide that I was not both clumsy and stupid not in some way to keep myself from falling."

I was sitting alone that evening, toward the late sunset, when Georgy came. Showers had fallen all the afternoon, but now the clouds had risen from the west, and, although now and then a few drops fell, the east was spanned by a rainbow and the turbid masses of cloud above took on colors of crimson and purple. I heard the gate click, and turning I saw Georgy Lenox coming in, attended by both Jack Holt and Harry Dart. Each held an umbrella over her—Jack in earnest, and Harry in joking solicitude for her bright summer ribbons. It was evident enough that they were all in high spirits, and I seemed to hear the sparkling impertinences which issued from her laughing lips as she looked from one to the other of the boys with many a toss of her yellow curls and shrug of her round shoulders. They left her at the door, which stood wide open, and I called to her to come in. She entered, but waited a moment on the threshold, growing a little pale as she looked at me. Then rallying, "How do you do, Floyd?" she exclaimed. "You see that I have come at last?"

"I am glad to see you," I returned.[Pg 322] "But come nearer: I want to shake hands with you."

She approached, and I clasped her hand, looking up into her face. She had grown more womanly in these last seven months, and far more beautiful; and, looking in her face, I at first forgot to speak.

"How queer you are!" said she, pouting, but laughing. "Why do you look at me so?"

I do not know whether I spoke or not, but she bent and kissed me, and thus answered my feverish longing, the gratification of which overpowered me with a sudden intoxication like that of wine.

"I only did it because you are ill," said she, putting her hands to her face and peeping out at me from between her fingers. "You look so thin and changed, Floyd! I knew you would, and I dreaded to see you: I am afraid of sick people."

"I am harmless enough. Am I very horrible?"

"You are dreadfully white, and your eyes were not so large before you were sick. Oh, how many times I have asked the boys how you were!"

"But you never came, Georgy."

"Oh, I am past sixteen now, and mamma will not let me go and see boys."

"I see," said I with an indefinable sigh, "that you are almost a woman. And Jack is eighteen."

"The boys are so full of their examinations! Do you think Jack will pass? He is such a stupid old dear! I always feel as if I knew the most, yet I know nothing—actually nothing at all."

"Jack will pass. Whatever place in the world he tries for will always be ready and waiting for him. I am more anxious about Harry: he cares so little about his chances, and trusts always to inspiration and good luck."

Georgy looked at me somewhat curiously: "Don't you feel badly, Floyd, to have the boys go to college and leave you behind?"

We three had planned years ago how we were to enter college together, yet no one of us had yet alluded to my disappointment, and it was difficult for me to bear her question and answer it unflinchingly.

"This is one of my many hard things to bear, Georgy."

"'Tis dreadful for you," she exclaimed with energy. "To think what you were, Floyd, a tall, handsome, dandified fellow, and now changed all at once into a hopeless cripple!"

I even found the strength to endure this and give no sign. In my darkest hours of dejection I had said these words to myself, but no one had hitherto uttered them within my hearing.

"I wonder," she went on, "what you will do? Shall you try to be a doctor, Floyd?"

"No, Georgy: I have given up that idea."

"It does seem wretched. What does Mr. Floyd say?"

"Everything that is most considerate. I have had a hard experience, Georgy, but I have at last learned how tender and faithful many of my friends are." I regarded her steadily, and she flushed crimson.

"I suppose you think," she retorted, "that I might have come to see you oftener. But to tell you the truth, Floyd, I have been almost angry with you, and so has mamma. Of course it was not your fault that you fell down the cliff, and I almost felt as if I were to blame a little about it, although not nearly so much as that silly Helen. To think of her going after a miserable little dog! Oh, how I hated Mr. Raymond for what he said to me! You cannot think how cruel he was, Floyd, when I went back to the house, after hiding away all the morning. The doctors were up stairs with you, and nobody knew if you were dead or alive. He laid all the blame on me—all of it—and kissed and petted Helen, and cried over her as if she had been brought back from the grave. And the housekeeper went up and packed my things, and I was sent out of the house as if I were a murderer or thief, or something dreadful. Mr. Floyd came home with me: he came after your mother. He was in a dreadful state of mind, and[Pg 323] scarcely spoke all the way, except once to tell me that I was very young, and that I must pray to God to give me a heart. Just as if I were not crying and sobbing all the time! Then, when mamma saw me and I had to tell her all about it, she burst out angrily against me, telling me that I had lost all my chances of having any of Uncle Raymond's money. I had not thought of that before, and it did seem worse than anything else. Do you wonder I have felt half angry with you?"

"You teach me to wonder at nothing, Georgy. You must forgive me for injuring your chances of inheriting Mr. Raymond's money;" and I laughed with some bitterness. "But take heart," I went on: "little Helen loves you, and told me to tell you she was sure you meant no harm, and that she was sorry you were sent away."

"Little proud, stuck-up thing!" exclaimed Georgy. "It makes me so angry to think of that child's having everything under her orders—all the servants down on their knees before her, with 'Miss Floyd' this and 'Miss Floyd' that! And then how ridiculously both her father and Uncle Raymond worship her!"

"She was very generous to you, Georgy."

"And why should she not be? There is no reason why, instead of putting up with a few rings and chains and dresses, I should not have half of everything at The Headlands. I am older than she is, and need things more, and I am prettier than she is: don't you think me prettier, Floyd?"

"Yes, I think you are," I rejoined quietly. "But everybody says Helen will grow up to be very beautiful."

"I don't believe it," observed Georgy tartly. "She is too pale, and her eyes are too big: then she is such a solemn little thing. Don't you like golden hair best, Floyd?"


"And blue eyes?"

"Well, I don't know. But yes, I do," I added, meeting hers.

"Do you really think that Helen will grow up to be beautiful?" she pleaded after her momentary triumph.

"Yes, I certainly do," I answered stubbornly.

"We shall see," she exclaimed, tossing her head.

"Don't think," said I, "that I believe that she will be more beautiful than you, Georgy. I don't imagine any girl could be that, but—"

"Well, what else?" she asked, smiling and dimpling.

"But think of something besides beauty," I ventured humbly. "'Tis so poor a preparation for a woman's life, Georgy, to care merely for outside loveliness. I want you to pray for a sweet, loving, grateful nature, Georgy—not to nurse bad, revengeful thoughts."

She stared at me in profound surprise, then burst out laughing. "I didn't know you had grown pious," she observed with a shrug; and, seeing the fruits and confectionery piled on the table at my side, begged me to offer her some, and fell to eating them ravenously, despite the dignity of her sixteen years, and after devouring all she could, carried the rest of them away in her arms.

I sat quietly thinking about her after I was left alone. I smiled to myself at the thought of her coquettish parting glance, for I was sure she would have kissed me again had I asked her; but I wanted no more of her kisses, although I had found them so sweet. I seemed to have suddenly grown stronger and wiser where she was concerned; yet I suppose the poor truth of the matter was, that she had stung my vanity keenly, and said little to endear herself to me in our recent interview. Her words, instead of harming me, had roused all the resentment of the strong vital force within me. I felt curiously stirred, almost elated, in remembering what she had said, and contrasting her prophecies of impotence and failure with my growing sense of power. When the door-bell rang presently I myself hobbled across the floor on my crutches and opened it.

Jack Holt stood there. "Why, 'tis not really you, Floyd?" he exclaimed in surprise; and taking away one of my[Pg 324] crutches, he himself supported me back to my chair. "I was afraid to come in," he went on, sitting down by my side, "lest you should already be over-tired; but if you are well enough to see me I have something to tell you."

"Oh, I am better to-night. In fact, all at once I feel that I am not always going to be the good-for-nothing fellow I have been of late. I begin to have a consciousness that somewhere within me life and energy are stirring again."

"I am so glad!" said he with a voice of some constraint, and looked at me fixedly. "Georgy was here," he observed presently.


"She did you good."

"I don't know," I returned with an effort at indifference: "she may have roused me a little."

He started up, and began to pace the floor with a flurried air quite unusual with him, now and then stopping abruptly and seeming to bend all his energies to the arrangement of a book or mantel-ornament, as if their displacement caused him annoyance—conduct so unlike his ordinary phlegmatic demeanor that I suspected him of extreme embarrassment.

"Speak out, old fellow!" said I briefly. "What's the use of all this hesitation?"

He turned squarely round and faced me, yet did not meet my eyes, but looked over and beyond me. I have never forgotten his face as I saw it then: the heavy features were all fixed in sombre lines; his eyes were like my dog Carlo's, full of honesty and patience, but I knew that he was suffering.

"I am older than you, Floyd—" he began.

I assented: "Yes, three years older."

"Old enough," he pursued, "to have thought a good deal about the time when I shall be an independent man. As soon as I am through college I am to take the pistol- and rifle-factories off my father's hands. The papers are already made out, and will be signed on my twenty-first birthday; so from that time I shall have an income which will entitle me to marry and settle as early as I please."

I gazed at him in profound surprise.

"You are only fifteen," he went on. "I dare say you have not thought of marrying anybody yet."

"No indeed!" I burst out petulantly.

"I have," said he dropping his eyes. "I am older, you know, and I have thought a good deal about it. It has seemed to me for a long time now that but one thing could possibly happen—that I shall marry Georgy as soon as I leave college. Her mother will let her marry no one but a man rich enough to make her life pleasant in the world: my secure prospects seem to justify my reliance on my chances of winning her."

"I knew you liked her," I muttered hoarsely. His words and manner overwhelmed me with wonder.

"Yes," he went on, his dull voice gaining softer modulations, "I love her with all my heart. You know I do: there can be no use in concealing it. I think of nothing for myself: 'tis all for her. She—" He broke off, growing furiously red and shamefaced, then recovered his self-composure. "But notwithstanding all this," said he with a sad, patient, steady face and voice, "I have decided that I ought to give her up. It was my intention to have everything settled before I went to college, but this afternoon I made her tell me the truth about your accident: since then I feel that you have the first claim upon her."

"I don't know what you mean."

He smiled and shook his head. "You have lost a great deal," he returned with unwonted tenderness: "you need much happiness, much private, individual contentment, to enable you to bear the troubles that have come upon you. Georgy was in a measure concerned in causing them: she ought to make full atonement for all the harm she has done. Ever since you came back I have felt that if I could do you any good I would cut off my right hand to serve you. At last I see a way. If you wish it, Floyd, the dearest wish of your heart may come to pass."

"The—dearest—wish—of—my—heart?" I stuttered. "I don't know what you mean."[Pg 325]

He laughed quietly. "I suspect you know all about it," he said. "You are a quiet fellow, but I am not so blind as not to have found out that you are in love with Georgy. But in spite of that, I used to feel, although you are handsomer than I, and a thousand times cleverer, that I had the first claim upon her. You are younger than she is; she will be a grown woman while you are still a boy: in fact, there were plenty of reasons why I never hesitated to come before you. But now I feel bound in honor to tell you that I give her up—that—that you can—"

He paused and looked at me, believing he had said enough, but I was stupefied by my ignorance, shyness and doubt. "Do you mean," I blurted out, "that you will give up marrying her—that I can have her in your place?"

"That is precisely what I mean."

"You will do nothing of the sort," I cried roughly. "Even if she cared for me—which she does not—nothing could induce me to marry anybody, and least of all Georgy Lenox."

For she had wounded my pride and vanity to the quick, and even the kiss she had given me seemed a very Judas kiss of falsehood and betrayal.


As soon as the warm weather came we went to the mountains, and when we returned in the autumn I had put aside one crutch, and felt at times that I was soon to banish the other. The boys had gone to college, and Belfield was desolate to me. Georgy was visiting cousins in New York. I had not seen her since that evening in June when she came to see me, nor was I to see her again for years. In November my mother and I went to Jamaica, for I had so outgrown my strength that fresh and alarming symptoms seemed to threaten me with more fatal ills than being merely crippled for life. But their only effect was to banish us for two years from all the familiar old scenes. We were never to go back to Belfield again and find our home there. Youth and passionate emotion and the thought of marriage had vanished now from my mother: she had, it sometimes seemed to me, no other wish than that I should be restored to health. I fancy she almost hated the memory of that brief time when the words of Mr. Floyd made her color deepen, her lip tremble and the glad impulsive tears start to her eyes.

I accepted her willing service and her exclusive love. I needed both, God knows, in those days of weakness and pain. After a time I began to mend: then I grew robust and strong. My lameness diminished, and was comparatively cured, since I could dispense with crutch or stick. Whether youth or the fine air of those beautiful tropical uplands wrought the miracle, who shall say? Now, although I have the old limp, which I shall carry with me to the grave, my misfortune has ceased to be such to me: it is hard to feel that I was ever justified in regarding it as a calamity to becloud my life. And my little daughter said to me the other day, "I am so glad, papa, that you are lame, for I am sure to catch you up, even if the boys run away from me."

All the more striking characteristics of my nature were changed by my accident. I had suffered much in body and in mind, and had been refined by the torture to a point which made me effeminate, since an almost painful capacity for sympathy, an overwhelming dread of inflicting suffering, and a somewhat morbid self-depreciation are qualities scarcely masculine. My early ambition had been for a hard place in the world, where the world's work would force me to give hard knocks before I reached success. But now I shrank from the jostle and bustle and harsh competitions of real life; and as both my mother and Mr. Floyd wished nothing so much as that I should be guarded from all effort and fatigue at this epoch, everything conspired to unfit me for an active career, and to make me a mere looker-on—not a worker, but a musing, disappointed spectator.

But when I was about eighteen I returned and entered the junior year at[Pg 326] college with Jack Holt and Harry Dart. I had felt some pride in keeping up with them, and had enjoyed the advantage in Jamaica of the society of an Oxford graduate who was coaching the two sons of a wealthy planter to fit them to enter an English university. I read with him, and was well able to pass my examination.

What it was for me to resume my old familiar intercourse with Holt and Dart I could never write down here. My two years in the tropics had not been joyless—indeed, considering all things, they had been singularly happy years—still, I had felt like a child shut out from the sunshiny place where his mates are playing. I had become patient, contemplative and resigned, and in study and in studious observation of Nature in her rarest beauty and most mighty and invincible development I had almost forgotten the deliciousness of a selfish and individual hope, the pleasures of happy and careless youth.

But as soon as I entered college I became sufficiently absorbed in the actual. Neither Holt nor Dart had changed in the slightest degree, except that Jack wore trim English whiskers and looked quite middle-aged, and Harry was engaged in nursing the incipient down of a moustache, and was the tallest, handsomest, cleverest fellow in his class. Jack had always been the closest of students, and his old diligence had not abated here: he kept up with the rest by dint of solid hard work. Harry flung scholarship to the winds of course, but made a special career for himself which won him more admiration from everybody except the faculty than any amount of legitimate industry. He was a fluent and ready debater; he wrote for the college journal; his high animal spirits brought everybody about him, and his mind seemed ever eager and poised for flight: he was ready in wit; decried trifling subjects, yet would dispute for two hours over an absurdity; was dexterous and unanswerable in his syllogisms; would advance the crudest and most untenable theory, defend it, reducing the arguments of his opponents to meaningless folly, conquer apparently by both wit and reason, then turn his own hypothesis inside out, confute it, dash it into senseless atoms, and dismiss it as unworthy of a thought. In short, among us lads, busy with books and full of admiration of our own cleverness, he was delightful; and among other ostentatious pedantries such as prevail at college his passed unrebuked. When he tried his wits with Mr. Floyd, that gentleman implored him for God's sake to hold his tongue and to consult Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, book 2, chapter 4, and discover the opinion of sensible men concerning youthful intellects like his own.

I appeared to poor enough advantage at first, and was almost afraid to speak in the curious and motley society which thronged our rooms. The quick wit, the ready epigram and squib, the oppressive and multitudinous puns in every language,—all served to stun and confuse me, fixed as I was in grave and quiet habits of mind and thought. It was amazing to me at first with what ease many of the boys had acquired clear ideas upon every question of the day, and with what brilliancy they could advance them, while I was tongue-tied from modesty or reserve. Presently, however, I discovered that these promising young gentlemen were not so wondrous wise after all. I dismissed my fears, felt less fastidious about the emphatic utterance of a thoughtless opinion, and soon was as loud-tongued as any in my demand that the world should be made over at once to suit men of our calibre. At first they were all very tender and patient with me, but when I grew a trifle bolder my little gravities became the target for everybody's wit, and I dare say I was much improved by having my mannerisms and elegancies knocked rudely off from me.

Every boy is fortunate who carries the oldest and best associations of his life into his university career; and Harry and I were supremely lucky in always having Jack Holt with us in the old way, and being able in a world of transient delusions and attractions of absorbing charm to fall back upon something real—an influence[Pg 327] which could not be overturned by our eagerness for fashion and novelty, and which, if forgotten for a moment, reasserted itself with vital force to atone for such a base neglect. Not that Jack claimed anything from us: perhaps his power over us was commensurate with the modesty and dignity of his character. His regard was a necessary note in the harmony of our well-being: his disapprobation was a voice which cried "Shame!" to us, although he never uttered a reproach. I felt all this as well as Harry, but he, of course, undisciplined and untrained, possessed more ardor and a more decided temperament than I: his aberrations were wider; and, as the pendulum must always swing back to the right as far as it bounded to the left, he came in his repentance as much closer to his cousin than did I as his deviations had exceeded mine. No wonder Jack loved him—not with impetuosity, for Jack was never impetuous: all his feelings were deep, calm, patient, tender, unconquerable by time or chance. The two felt that mutual attraction which opposites and counterparts possess. Harry was the most popular man in his class. Nature had done everything for him, and lavished those gifts of which she is usually most sparing. He had a good mind and genial wit; a relish for every form of enjoyment; a perfect form, the glorious beauty of a Greek god, with crisp golden curls, brilliant deep-set eyes of blue, noble and chiselled features; frank manners which none could resist; spirits which nothing could depress; an impetuous temper, but passing like a flash the moment it was spent. Jack, on the other hand, had no beauty, and was regarded by those whom he did not care for as a dull fellow. He was a little slow, and had slight appreciation of wit except to admire every evidence of it in Harry. He had certain settled objects in life, and spent none of his forces on the pleasant distractions which the rest of us sought on the way. He had been born with a sort of reposeful energy, which had always impressed me with the conviction that no ordinary situation was enough for him; and at college there was something disproportionate in his position among light-hearted boys, so that I never wondered that he found our aims trivial. He possessed to the full that force of character by which a man masters himself, always keeps himself in check, and in times of risk and extremity of peril can suffice unto his own needs and courageously resist sorrow, misfortune and disappointment.

But while Harry, full of lawless and uncontrollable impulses, had a stormy and untried future before him, in which he was to be obliged to work hard for all his successes, Jack's seemed a dazzling vista of prosperity and ease. He was already engaged to the girl he loved; he was the only son of a man whose wealth was enormous; and while the rest of us were to be hungrily gazing into the world's windows with our cold hands in our empty pockets, he was calmly to take the prettiest girl we knew by the hand and lead her away into a fairyland whose glories we might only guess at. But he took all his prospects very quietly: not even for the sake of love did he neglect his work. He rarely spoke of Georgy, and I knew that it would never be his fault to illuminate with too bright a glare the sweet mysteries of the love that must lie between them. I saw him sometimes writing to her with her picture before him.

"What do you suppose he writes about?" Harry used to ask me on such occasions. "She cares little enough about fine sentiments, even if he were given to that sort of thing; and I can't believe that he is very ostentatious in declaring his passion. I don't think she will ever pass that criticism upon his epistles that some old party did upon a pudding: 'Too many plums and not enough suet.' I confess I cannot guess how he contrives to fill his six regulation pages."

"I don't see that it concerns us, at all events."

"Very true. But she would show me his letters if I asked her to. I wonder how Jack likes a certain ease she has in other men's society? What claws are to a cat, what the sting is to the bee, what its poison is to the upas tree,[Pg 328] coquetry is to Georgy Lenox. I wish him joy of her, but wash my hands of the engagement."

He spoke with some heat, which was his wont in every allusion to Jack's love-affair. But I knew that Harry had a dozen flirtations on hand, and the fatalest effect of the false is its power of destroying our delicate and just perception of the true.


My mother, on her return, had gone at once to her sister, Mrs. Woolsey of New York, and remained with her until she joined me for a Christmas visit at Mr. Raymond's. Three years had passed since I was there, and the three years had changed Helen from a mere child into a slim maiden of almost fourteen, tall and stately for her years. Mr. Raymond seemed no older and no feebler: his eyes held the old restless fire, the only reminiscence of youthful power about him; he was still anxiously served and tended, and in this cold season huddled before the fires covered with furs, a tiger-skin over his knees, his pale hands clasping his wrappings together at the throat. He was considerate for my mother's comfort, as a host should be, and he betrayed an eager curiosity and interest concerning my infirmity; which showed his care for me, but which I resented as an intrusion. For I had reached the point when it was easy for me to endure the fact that I was unlike other men in my physical strength, but was not yet sufficiently resigned to it to bear questioning or sympathy. Helen never alluded to it, and although at first she tried to save me footsteps, she had tact enough to give up even that evidence of any knowledge of my weakness. Indeed, she was shy of me now: she had a governess in these days, and had perhaps been taught one of the first lessons that young girls learn—to shrink from every man who is neither her father nor her brother nor her grandfather. Accordingly, during all that Christmas week I rarely heard the sound of her voice.

Mr. Floyd had joined us a few hours after we reached The Headlands. The three years had made more change in him than in any of the rest of us, if I except myself. He had grown older—was more quiet and languid, and more tender in his manner. I had often wondered of late, now that I was strong again and in a measure launched into life, whether he and my mother would marry. I saw many meanings in my mother's beautiful face of which she never spoke to me; the two had long talks together every day, and their manner to each other held all the sweetness of steadfast affection and true sympathy; yet there was a nameless something which was never in his tones now.

It was a lovely, quiet Christmas-time. Outside, the winter seas roared and great masses of ice covered the rocks and bound the shore: heavy snows fell and the winds whistled cold. But inside, everything went on in a still, blessed fashion that only comes when people love one another, and in a stately, comfortable fashion that is only at command in rich houses where all stores of state and comfort are opened with a golden key. The greenhouses were in their perfection now: there were many of them of various temperatures, but all opening from one into the other. Mr. Floyd and I were walking one day where the oranges, lemons and cedrats were ripening in different degrees of maturity: they seemed to blossom and yield as freely as if in their native climates, and our favorite walk was there these chilly winter afternoons; for Mr. Floyd, always a shiverer, of late found every place except the tropical atmosphere of a greenhouse too cold for him. My mother had been with us picking a few orange-blossoms. My guardian had taken one little spray and put it against her hair, sighing meanwhile, although he was smiling.

"No orange-blossoms for my white hair," said she, laughing and flushing. "They are for the dark curls of a young girl."

"Oh, youth! youth! youth!" he exclaimed half bitterly.

"Dear friend," said she very calmly[Pg 329] and sweetly, "youth is only so beautiful when we have lost it. Middle life is stronger, pleasanter, nobler."

"I might cry for middle life too," Mr. Floyd said lightly, "for I have lost that as well as youth. I am an old man: I have no to-morrows. Carry your orange-blossoms away, Mary: their perfume is too strong for me."

I had listened dreamily, without taking much meaning from their words. My mother went on into the next conservatory and picked roses and camellias, and Mr. Floyd watched her, shivered, and, passing his arm within mine, walked back into the first greenhouse, among the bristling cactuses and broad, silky-leaved bananas.

"As soon as you are free from college, Floyd," said he, "you and I will go to Europe; that is, if I am alive. The doctors say travel is good for me—occupation without fever, interest without personal emotion. Yes, a year from July we will set out, and if Helen can go with us, she and your mother shall be our companions."

"And how about your position at Washington?"

"After the fourth of March I shall never hold office again. I suppose that is what is killing me: I have worked too hard and abused my strength a little."

I looked into his face. I was almost as tall as he now, and Mr. Floyd had always been a head above other men. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked steadily into his face.

"I wish you would tell me, sir," said I, "what you mean when you say these things. Are you really ill? Your allusions to your state of health are so painful to me, and to my mother too."

"Oh," he returned kindly, "your mother knows all about it." He mused a little, then cheered up, laughed and clapped me on the shoulder. "If I were a man in decent health," he affirmed with an air of jollity, "I should be your father-in-law. No, that is not it: I should be your stepfather. Thank your stars that I have the modesty not to believe myself irresistible under present circumstances."

"But why not?" said I, quite in earnest. "If you are less strong than formerly, all the more need of your having a wife. I should suppose."

"As to my need, that is nothing, nothing. But think: if she cared for me I should be preparing tortures for her. She would feel nothing but dread. I may die at any time, Floyd, if I am shocked or startled. Raptures would not do for me, either: I should be afraid to kiss my wife, lest my heart should increase its beating by a throb a minute. No: I shall marry no one now: I have put by the hope, as an old man puts by all the dreams of his prime."

"It might all have come to pass," I exclaimed bitterly, "had it not been for me."

"Oh, my boy! my dear boy!" said Mr. Floyd. "When your accident came I forgot my own wishes at once, thinking only of your need of your mother. I would have given up more for you than that: I would have given up my life. Come, come! we have fallen into too serious a vein. Let us talk about our trip to Europe and the East. I never had the right sort of a travelling-companion yet: wise men stay at home, but bores and noodles go abroad."

"But when we start the wise men will no longer be at home."

"You have hit it precisely. There are a few things I want to show you—some cathedrals, landscapes and pictures. I will save you a world of trouble, and will instruct you at once to find certain objects frightful and unworthy of notice or esteem. The zest of travel is taken out of one by the necessity of muttering vague formulas of meaningless praise before pictures and statues it is traditional to admire. There's too much of everything in this world. When a man has reached my age and my state of health he feels the necessity of getting at the real substance of things."

"But can one get at it?"

"Oh, don't utter any precocious wisdom. Certainly, one can get at the substance of things. True, there is enough mystery and perplexity about the system of the world, and at times all life looms up a terrible enigma, so increasing in[Pg 330] difficulty of solution that Death's key to knowledge seems the one thing to be desired. But it is well for a man not to lose himself in labyrinths of conjecture, but to resolutely put aside his spirit of philosophical inquiry, and do something useful for himself and his fellow-men. For my own part, I don't think Hamlet a fine fellow. Don't ask conundrums. Your duty now is to finish your collegiate course respectably. Take honors or not as it happens, but be a man, and win yourself the place you ought to take, and keep it like a gentleman. Then we will travel, and I will remember you are young and let you do the foolish things youth loves to do. We will have famous times together. Not that I altogether approve of vagabondizing. Still, what is there for us to do? I am worn out: you are too young to have duties to society, and ought to try life, and examine, criticise and become enlightened. I suppose I shall catch the mania for bric-à-brac and curiosities, and make them the object of my life, since I have no other. If I do, I shall be obliged to will them to you, Floyd, for, Goodness knows, Helen will have enough to set up a museum of art without any help from me."

"I think so," I rejoined: "this house is so filled with wonderful things. But Helen—"

"Don't talk about me, please," cried a voice from behind the acacias, "for I am here;" and the little girl came through the drooping branches covered with their plumy canary-colored blossoms, and advanced toward us with that wonderful princess-like gait of hers. She was smiling demurely. "Listeners hear no good of themselves, they say," she observed, throwing a laughing glance at me.

"I was only about to remark that you seemed tolerably indifferent to your possessions."

"The fact is," said Mr. Floyd teasingly, "since Helen found that the moon and the sea did not belong to her, she gave up, and has not believed she is so very rich, after all;" and while he laughed and Helen blushed, and half hid herself, I heard how the child, when she was six years old, had taken her new nursery-governess around the place, saying, "This is my pony," "These are my dogs," "This is my conservatory," and "These are my greenhouses:" then, when she had exhausted the inventory of her wealth, she had affirmed, "That is my moon" and "That is my water;" and when it was explained to her that the crescent over the pine trees in the west belonged alike to all the children on the wide earth, and that the fickle sea too paid its homage at a thousand shores, she was quite inconsolable, and nothing could make up to her for her loss.

A very quiet, demure little woman was Helen now-a-days. I deplored the necessity for the graceful French governess who was polishing her into a conventional manner and preparing her for the dull routine which other girls must follow. I never analyzed my impressions of Helen then, but I am sure I considered her far above any commonplace educational needs, for I knew that she was so wise, so disciplined, so true to all her duties, that she was altogether a woman, and not a little girl at all. It gave me a positive shock to discover that she was ciphering in vulgar fractions and that her spelling was, to say the least, crude. Not but that she was childish enough in many things, and so exquisitely docile with her father that he often scolded her for her over-careful obedience. I could understand well enough myself how she liked to be led by the strong man who loved her, and whom she so dearly loved, because when she was alone with her grandfather she needed to govern, holding a dreary sway over her little kingdom.

As I have said before, we were not intimate this winter. I was not of an age to be interested in a little girl in the schoolroom, and Mademoiselle Blois took care not to allow the little girl in the schoolroom to take an interest in me. Occasionally, however, when she was with her father and I joined them, the memories we shared between us broke through the gossamer web of diffidence which shackled us both, and for a little while we would be as free as in[Pg 331] the old childish confidential days on the seashore or back among the brown stubble of the stripped harvest-fields of the uplands. At these times she would ask me many questions about Georgy Lenox, and when I told her that Georgy was quite a grown woman now, and engaged to my friend Jack Holt, she thought it wonderful and strange.

"But why?" I asked. "Georgy is a trifle older than I am, and I am now almost nineteen."

"Everybody is so old!" she said with a droll little gesture of despair. "It seems to me I shall never grow up."

"Oh yes, you will soon be fourteen: I have heard you say your mother was married when she was seventeen: that is only three years off; and Georgy Lenox is much older, and only just engaged, and will not be married until Jack is out of college and a partner in his father's business."

"Does he like her very much?" asked Helen solemnly.

"Well, yes: he has loved her ever since she was a very little girl. He has spent all his money upon her: he knows all her little needs, her tastes. I have been out shopping with him frequently when he would devote hours to the matching of a shade of ribbon or the selection of a peculiar color of gloves. Harry Dart is never tired of making fun of Jack, for the dear old fellow is a little absurd in his painstaking for a capricious girl who does not even know her own mind, and is certain to find fault with even his most fastidious choice."

"I should not like that," said Helen, so decidedly that I looked with some surprise at the expression of her imperious face. "I should want to have everything, and give it all to him."

"To whom? to Jack?"

"Oh, dear me, no! You know what I mean."

I understood her, and I made an involuntary grimace in thinking of mademoiselle's chaste teachings in the schoolroom. Here was a little girl of fourteen with her mind made up about what she would do for the lover who was to come out of Shadowland some day.

"Don't you think that would be nicer, Floyd?" she asked.

"For the girl to be rich, that she might make her husband rich? Some men would like that."

"But what do you think?"

A boy of nineteen is not so glib in speaking of marriage as a girl of fourteen, but I finally told her that I should not fancy the destiny of marrying a rich girl: then my imagination warmed, and I let her hear what my dream would be. She, the girl I loved, should be poor: very likely life would have been cruel to her, and she would have known cold and privation. What joy I should have in wrapping her in costly things, in setting off her beauty with ornaments appropriate and rare! What a light would shine in her eyes when I led her to the lovely house where we two were to dwell in Fairyland! Every duty in life should be taken from her: all she would have to do would be to grow more and more beautiful. I myself would be chief servant to this dainty little new-made queen, and not even the winds should be allowed to play too freely with her hair.

Helen looked at me pensively, and Mr. Floyd, who was writing in the corner, laughed a low amused laugh which reminded me for a moment of Mephistopheles.

"So you would like that?" mused Helen. "Do you know, I should not like it at all."

"Well, you will never be poor," I retorted, "and you will give your golden key to some man who wants to marry a princess. But, to tell the truth, Helen, I don't expect to marry anybody: I think it is great nonsense. Both Harry and I have made up our minds to be bachelors."


I had not seen Georgy Lenox for four years when, the spring we graduated, she came to visit a cousin of her mother's in Boston, and we were all invited to an Easter-party at Mrs. Dwight's,[Pg 332] the cards being brought to us by no less a person than Mr. Lenox himself. I was in my own room writing when I heard Harry's sweet voice calling, and I went out. Harry was, as usual, sitting on the table before his easel. It had been one of his guardian's regulations that he should not touch paints or canvas during his collegiate course, and until within the last few months he had obeyed orders, and only lately had taken to water-colors as a sort of negative course of action calculated to give him relaxation after the monotony of his unnatural deprivation, without infringing upon his uncle's injunctions. He was painting a girl in a flower-garden, and over his shoulder was gazing a shabby, jaunty, decayed-looking person, who was strangely foreign to my eyes, yet irresistibly familiar.

"Don't you remember Mr. Lenox?" asked Harry, staring at me. "Have you forgotten the pleasures of your boyhood, miserable ingrate? Have you no recollection of the big kite this benefactor of your youth made you, which dragged you down the hill and threw you into the ditch?"

"I remember all about it," said I; and indeed I had been shaking hands with my old friend all the time Harry was speaking.—"And I am delighted to see you, Mr. Lenox."

I began looking about me for a chair. In fact, finding a chair was the one trouble of our three lives, and was the only way in which we felt hospitality to be a tax upon our time. For, although we had as many chairs as the room would accommodate, they were always full of books, fruit, cigars or hats and coats. There was one arm-chair, originally covered with horsehair, which Harry called the "funeral coach:" it might have been called anything, for it was so dingy, so battered, so broken, that its raison d'être had come to be a matter of speculation. Into this seat I now inducted our visitor. He was as shabby as the funeral coach itself, but had kept up more gentility in his decay. I had not seen him for four years, and the lack of any change in his appearance surprised me. There he was, as well shaven, as threadbare, as jaunty and well-mannered, as in the old days when we used to play the siege of Troy, using an old packing-case for the wooden horse, and he was our Trojan victim. I was much impressed by my own age, and said a good deal in those days about the flight of time and the mutability of human affairs: I expected anybody who was grown up when I was young to be well stricken in years; and if Mr. Lenox had been a shrunken old man with altered aspect and a deep sense of the worthlessness of all efforts after temporalities, the change would have seemed only a reasonable one to me.

But, on the contrary, he was just the same as ever, and began talking at once about a grand coup he was going to make presently by investing in a silver-mine. He had two thousand dollars, and would buy shares at forty-nine, and be in time for the dividends of ten per cent. in July. The stock was going up like a skyrocket: a week ago you could have bought it for nineteen.

Jack had come in now, and was standing behind his future father-in-law's chair. "A skyrocket is a bad simile," he remarked. "Everybody knows what it comes down."

Mr. Lenox appeared so happy it seemed really a pity to wilt his enthusiasm: he had been beaten so many times that the prediction of failure was a familiar knell to him. But Jack had no time to waste in talk of any kind, and at once went into my room to study.

"Never mind Jack," said Harry: "he is a born croaker. I dare say the silver-mine is made of gold. How about the stock in the —— Railroad that your wife holds, Mr. Lenox?" And we both laughed at the old joke.

Mr. Lenox smiled furtively: "It was never safe to trust such a secret to scatter-brains like yourselves. But don't you know about the great defalcation? Brown, the president of the road, absconded with over a million of dollars, and they have not paid a single dividend in three years. You ought to hear my wife go on about it."

"But you have an easy time: you didn't[Pg 333] mind Brown's embezzlement," said Harry. "What a stroke of luck for you! You can buy back your wife's ten shares at a low figure, and have a good conscience the rest of your life."

"By Jove, Harry! you have given me an idea. Just as soon as this new stock of mine gets above par I will sell out, reinvest and put the certificates in my wife's bureau-drawer. I should breathe more freely, there is no doubt of it. I confess to you, boys, it's a deuce of a life to keep a secret from a woman, she has you at such a disadvantage. Yes, on my honor, I'll buy in some of that stock: it's utterly worthless for years to come, and there must be thousands and thousands of shares of it in the market. Yes, I will do it as soon as I have made two hundred per cent. on my silver-mine. Yet it does seem a pity—" and he gave us a prudent nod—"to put money into such a broken-down concern."

"But you are as rich as Crœsus," remarked Harry, mixing his colors meanwhile. "It must be awfully jolly to take two thousand in one's pocket and go out and buy a silver-mine."

"The fact is," said Mr. Lenox confidentially, "that old Raymond has shelled out at last. I wrote to him, but he took no notice; so I induced Georgy to send a note to the little girl at The Headlands, and she somehow persuaded her grandfather to let me have three thousand dollars. He sent it in a way which robbed the courtesy of charm; but he is an old man, and for the sake of little Helen I did not repay him in kind."

"Why, what did he do?"

"Sent me his check pinned to a scrap of paper on which he had scrawled, 'A fool and his money are soon parted.' Of course I sent him my note of hand, and shall pay him as soon as possible. Do you happen to know, Floyd, anything of the ultimate disposal of his property—the terms of the old gentleman's will?"

"I know nothing whatever about it," I answered, "but have no doubt of Helen's being sole heiress. Why not? There is no other direct heir."

"I am his nephew," said Mr. Lenox with his jauntiest air. "I have no doubt of my claims or the claims of my daughter being recognized by the head of my family. By all accounts, too, Helen is a delicate child, fancifully reared and probably short-lived."

"Where do you get your information? Miss Floyd is a tall girl of fifteen now, straight as an arrow, and can out-ride and out-walk any girl I know."

"I wish her no harm," exclaimed Mr. Lenox eagerly. "I love the child as if she were my own. Georgy has always represented her as delicate and puny."

"She has not seen her for five years."

"True, true! Don't repeat what I said: you know the code of men of honor on these points, and what is said between friends is inviolate as the grave. Little Helen Floyd has been a good friend to my poor girl, who has none of Fortune's gifts. Not a month passes without a letter with an enclosure of money; and she begs Georgy to look upon her as a loving sister who is proud and glad to be of help to her in any way."

"And Miss Georgy accepts the money?" drawled Harry with a well-known look on his handsome face.

"Of course she does," responded Georgy's father with considerable heat. "Mr. Raymond ought to do anything for her. The amount of that man's income is fabulous, sir: I tell you, it is fabulous: he cannot begin to spend it. I sometimes doubt if he spends more than the interest of his income. Reflect upon his principal; what must it be!"

"Well, it's his own to do as he likes with, I suppose," said Harry, rather bored with the subject. "And I am sure you cannot complain, since you are jingling his money in your pocket this very moment. How did it happen that when Miss Georgy was at Mr. Raymond's she did not make the old gentleman take a fancy to her? She turns most people's heads."

"It was always a mystery to me," returned Mr. Lenox mournfully. "But Mr. Raymond does not like my wife, nor, I sometimes think, does he like me. The truth of the matter is, that that unlucky Hermetically-Sealed Barrel Company—"

Harry looked at me. The unlucky[Pg 334] Hermetically-Sealed Barrel Company had been one of our old jokes at Belfield, for we had been compelled to hear its history a hundred times over. It seemed to me, in my youthful wisdom, odd and pitiful that while we had grown from boyishness into something better, leaving follies and weaknesses behind us, this man, almost thrice our age, still studied the old pages of his book, not reading them with any clearer vision than before, in spite of all his experience. Why did he not turn the leaf and take a different story? Experienced in life as I believed myself in those days, I had not learned then that we halt groping over one lesson throughout our careers. Although our harps seem tuned for the most various harmonies, we strike the same chords over and over again in hopeless iteration.

So we got him off the subject, and talked college-talk, and told him about the probable appointments for commencement. He was one of our alumni, liked our gossip, and could supplement our stories with those of the jollier days twenty-five or thirty years before. Harry and I nearly died of suppressed laughter as he gravely informed us that he had expected the valedictory, and was served badly when it was given to another. It appeared a huge joke that this seedy, broken-down man, without a person in the wide world to respect him or believe in him, could ever have been justified in any of our high hopes—could ever have stood in the places we filled now, and, like us, securely counted on winning the prizes of life.

Then he produced the little white envelopes which he had hitherto forgotten, and we read that Mrs. Dwight presented us her compliments and hoped to see us for a social gathering at her house the next Wednesday evening.

"Miss Georgy's writing," said Harry, putting his down.

"How do you know, you rascal? She certainly does not write to you usually."

"No, but she writes to a fellow I know," returned Harry, nodding toward the next room. We all abated our tones now, and talked softly about Georgy, not wishing Jack to hear. Mr. Lenox was always eloquent upon this theme. He had brought her up to town himself three days before, and the Dwights were charmed with her—could not do enough for her. She was the one success of his life, and no wonder she was precious to him. A good deal of his ready money had gone into her outfit, which must be suitable for an aristocratic house and Easter gayeties, and he had put off getting a new coat until his stock was ripe for harvest. The Dwights had not seen him, you may be sure. He knew that such people would think less of Georgy for having a seedy old father out at elbows, so he was willing to keep in the background. This very morning, however, Georgy had come out for a rendezvous in a secluded corner of the Common, and had taken rare delight in the assignation and pretended he was her lover whom she was forced to meet in secret.

"I dare say she has tripped out before to meet somebody," said Harry, who was always cynical regarding women, but especially severe where Georgy was concerned. "Girls practise those wiles on fathers and brothers, that they may do the thing neatly when a lover turns up."

"Nonsense! For the matter of that, it has sometimes seemed a little hard upon my girl that, although she is engaged to the best fellow in the world, she should have no chance to win lovers from society at large. Not but that I am glad that her future is so secure—a most fortunate match for her. I am proud when I think of it."

Well he might be proud. It is something out of the course of every-day events for a girl to possess the love of a man like Jack, whose nature combined the strongest masculine qualities with the tenderness and faithfulness of a woman. Of a woman? Strange how we use phrases which have outworn their meaning! Jack's tenderness and faithfulness were altogether without parallel.

Ellen W. Olney.


[Pg 335]


Paris, any Frenchman will tell you, is the capital of intellect; and though this is but one of a hundred things equally flattering to their country which all Frenchmen believe, yet it happens to be true. In some societies it is social rank, in others wealth and fine houses, in others, still, capacity to render service to the state, which makes old men courted and opens doors to the novice. But in Paris it is brains. If you have written a book or painted a picture or discovered a scientific theory, you have at once a reserved seat, as it were, in the social world, and nobody thinks of asking who your father was, or where you live, or what your income may be. With the literary society the political is so closely allied that the two may be said to coincide. There are coteries of course, but there are also neutral grounds on which members of all sets meet in peace and separate in harmony; and especially since the Republic has become firmly established the barriers based upon party differences have tended steadily to disappear. During the Empire some of the cleverest writers, such as Sainte-Beuve and Mérimée and About, were imperialists: now they are all dead or have changed their politics. During this period, too, the intelligent and literary opposition was mostly Orleanistic, but the last seven years have clearly shown not only that the bourgeois monarchy had no roots in the heart of the people, but also that the conservative Republic possesses all its advantages, combined with few of its objectionable qualities. To men like Renan and Laugel, who have been Orleanists all their lives, and who cherish a personal affection for the party, the situation appears melancholy, and the wail of Renan in his last book is sad enough. He is French to the core; supports openly the doctrine, "My country—right or wrong;" finds the centralization of the French system, carried to its logical extreme, the ideal government; and hates, above all things, "Americanism." What strikes an Anglo-Saxon as the merest commonplace of healthy politics or intellectual life is in his eyes the most pernicious heresy. We believe that freedom to teach and to write is the only way to discover the truth, and are confident that in the struggle of life which opposing systems must pass through the truth is sure in the end to win. Not so Renan. "The idea that there is a true knowledge, which must be taught, protected, patronized by the state, to the exclusion of false knowledge, is losing ground—one of the results of the general enfeeblement of notions of government." This is bad enough, but the political situation is even worse than the moral and intellectual; for M. Renan finds that France has "preferred the democratic programme, according to which the state, composed of the agglomeration of individuals, having no other object than the happiness of these individuals as they themselves understand it, gives up all notion of initiative above their feelings and ideas. The consequence of such a state of things is the pursuit of prosperity and liberty, the destruction of whatever remains of the spirit of class, weakening of the power of the state. Individuals and the subordinate groups of the state, such as the county and the township, will prosper under such a régime; but it is to be feared that the nation, the country—France—will lose every day something of its authority and its strong cohesion. The period which we are entering upon will be one of liberty à l'Américaine."

All this seems mournful to men of Renan's type, and to young men of fashion who sigh for the "elegance" of the Empire or the Restoration, and pose consequently as imperialists or as adherents of Henri V. But the mass of the nation is supremely contented. The peasants say that the Republic is the only government which does not go to war; the middle classes, richer and more numerous[Pg 336] in France than in any other country, are happy in having the care of their material interests in their own hands, and especially in the consciousness that they are now the ruling class, and that bourgeois intelligence and respectability, rather than imperial frivolity or royal pietism, is the prevailing idea. Even Renan admits that "the present hour is sweet:" what troubles him is the thought of the future. But the republicans are not troubled at all. They don't intend to carry out any great reforms; they wish to avoid all foreign complications until the yearned-for hour arrives when Germany will be forced to disgorge what they are pleased to term its ill-gotten booty; they have in their ranks almost all the administrative and oratorical powers of the country; and they tell you that M. Grévy, the present president of the Chamber of Deputies, will succeed to the presidency, when the "stupid" MacMahon goes out, with just as little difficulty as the latter had in coming in, and that he, in turn, will in all probability be succeeded by Gambetta. These two men are bourgeois to the tips of their fingers, as was Thiers—modest, leading a regular life; well-informed on all local matters, and naïvely ignorant of the rest of the world; not strong believers in political economy; prudent and anti-clerical. Only, Gambetta, being twenty years younger than Grévy, is by twenty years more fiery and radical.

The reader must not complain that he has been entrapped into reading a leader on French politics when he desired nothing of the sort; for, without bearing in mind these preliminary facts, it is quite impossible to understand the relations of French literary men among themselves. Party passion has ever run high in France, and now that everybody can freely speak his mind, it has become more difficult than ever for even the oldest friendship to stand the strain of daily discussion. Take the instance of M. About and M. Taine. They were schoolboys together, and it would be hard to say which of the two most distinguished himself at this period of his career. They were both prodigies, but, though rivals, the fastest friends. After they had emerged from the École Normale they went and set up housekeeping together in an old house in the Quartier Latin; and as they were both poor as rats, the difficulties they had in keeping soul and body together recall the most picturesque and thrilling scenes in Murger's Vie de Bohème. One day they discovered that they had neither money nor anything to eat, and About started out to scare up some nutriment for the inner man. After a while he returned laden with a basket containing a dozen bottles of wine and various packets of provisions, and followed by an organ-grinder. Taine was of course no less pleased than astonished, but he demanded an explanation. "Oh," said About, "I stumbled across a wine-dealer who wanted a first-class advertisement done in the highest style of art, so I sat down and wrote it for him, and he gave me fifty francs and this wine."—"But the organ-grinder?" pursued Taine.—"Heavens!" exclaimed his friend, "you don't think one can enjoy a banquet without music, do you? Come, fall to; and you, old buffer, go to work on that divine instrument of yours;" which the old buffer proceeded to do, probably more to the satisfaction of his employer than to that of Taine.

Nor was lively companionship and assistance of this sort all that the future philosopher and critic owed to the friend of his youth: he probably owes him his life also, and hence the world is, in a sense, indebted to M. About for the History of English Literature and Les Origines de la France contemporaine. While they were living in the style above described Taine was taken suddenly ill, and, as the common purse was not sufficiently full to enable him to consult a physician, the two went to see a clever medical student of the quartier and requested his advice. The budding doctor examined Taine carefully, and finally pronounced that there was but one thing for him to do, and that thing was to go to the Pyrenees. "You might as well tell me to go to the moon," said the poor fellow. "Ah, well," replied the student, "you asked my opinion, and I[Pg 337] have given it; and I may add that if you don't do what I tell you, you are a dead man." It may be imagined that the two friends did not pass a particularly pleasant evening; but after much cogitation About hit upon a possible means of relief; which, however, he kept to himself.

About's youthful talent was as precocious as his matured abilities are brilliant, and he had at this time published a book. One evening during the last season the present writer formed one of a group of three to whom he narrated, in a most charming manner, how he had made the acquaintance of the great publisher Hachette, a granddaughter of whom was another of the trio. He had left his manuscript at the publishing-house, and after some time was informed that the firm would be happy to publish it, and to pay him in cash for the copyright eight hundred francs—an offer with which he closed immediately. A week or so later he was visited, to his astonishment, by the great publisher in person. "Sir," began the latter, "it is often said that publishers don't know how to read, and I myself know some who drive a thriving trade on that principle. But I read occasionally the books which I publish, and I have read yours. I am unable to approve the contract which my agent has made with you. You have parted with your copyright for eight hundred francs: I return to you the contract, you retain the copyright, and I give you for the edition fifteen hundred francs." About was even more touched by the publisher's kindness than he was gratified by his generosity, and the two men mutually pleased each other—a fact which the younger now proposed to turn to account in aid of his friend Taine. So he went to M. Hachette with the following proposition: "I have a friend named Taine, who is very ill, and I want you to send him to the Pyrenees."—"But, M. About, I don't know your friend, and why, in Heaven's name, should I send him to the Pyrenees?"—"But he is a genius, he will be famous one day, and he will make your fortune. Your fortune is already made, I know, but he will increase it." The publisher then remarked that the name Taine was familiar to him, and finally dismissed his enthusiastic author with a promise to consider the matter. In a few days Taine received a note requesting him to come and dine with M. Hachette at his country-place just outside of Paris. The two young men were again in the depths of financial need, and all the money they could scrape together was barely sufficient to pay for a railway-ticket. Taine was quite nonplussed by the invitation—did not know what to make of it; but About persuaded him to accept, saying that he would at least have a good dinner, which was more than he could expect at home. And so he went. The publisher was politeness and cordiality itself, complimented his guest on his successes at the École Normale, and after dinner took him aside and said: "M. Taine, we want a book written on the Pyrenees, and we think you are the best man we can get to do it. If you accept our offer you will start at once for that region, you will deliver us the manuscript in six months, and we will pay you for it six thousand francs; of which I have the pleasure of offering you half to-day." This, the first of Taine's books, duly appeared, and was a great commercial as well as literary success, so that the publisher had no cause to regret his generosity.

One might suppose that a friendship founded and sustained in this fashion would be tolerably secure against the wear and tear of life, especially if no personal difficulties intervened. And so it might in any other land; but literary Frenchmen are too much sentimentalists and doctrinaires to allow friendship or anything else to stand in the way of the expression of their opinion, in season or out of season, in regard to what, from their individual standpoint, constitutes the public weal. Love me, love my dog; subscribe to all my opinions; follow all my political changes or I disown you,—when people guide their conduct by this principle all pairs of[Pg 338] friends, except such a one as Boswell and Dr. Johnson's, sooner or later must separate. Taine is an observer, an investigator, a critic; and having devoted himself in turn to travel and to the study of metaphysics, of art and of literature, he has now turned his attention to recent French history; and the book he has written is not at all to the taste of sentimental politicians of the About type. The reader will not need to be reminded that there is no country in the world so favorable to the growth of "legend" as France: the petite bourgeoisie of Paris, as I found by personal experience, has already fabricated a complete legendary history of the Commune, and there is no subject on which the average Frenchman is so ignorant, and on which his ignorance is so precious to him, as the real character of the Great Revolution. As France is the guide of nations; as it represents, and always has represented, the summit of civilization; as it has ever possessed the greatest hearts, the purest spirits, as well as the most brilliant intellects of the time,—why, it is nothing less than high treason for a Frenchman to turn round and begin to show up the weakness or wickedness of, say, Robespierre. This sort of thing is pardonable only when the exposure of some historical character is offensive to the reigning government, as was the case with the early volumes of Lanfrey's Napoléon. About probably knows the truth about the men of '92 and '93 as well as anybody, but he thinks it desirable that the illusions respecting them should continue. They are, he says, an important political factor. Whereas Taine, like the late MM. Lanfrey and De Tocqueville, loving truth for its own sake, slashes away without caring for the practical result. I was told by an intimate and lifelong friend of both men that it had required the most persistent efforts of persons situated like himself to prevent About's sharply attacking Taine in his paper (since the appearance of La Révolution the radicals have favored its author with the epithet of "réactionnaire"); in which case a rupture would have been unavoidable.

Taine does not like German historians nor German methods of working up history, and he absolutely denies what, to my mind, is their greatest and most unrivalled excellence—their relative impartiality. Mommsen was the subject of unsparing denunciation, as having used Roman history as a mannikin by which he could illustrate certain views on contemporary German politics. Mommsen is an author of whom I know little, but there is another German historian, Von Sybel, who seems to me the most admirable writer in this department with whom I am acquainted; and as his great work partially covers the same period to which Taine has recently devoted himself, I ventured to mention his name in this connection. But I might as well have stirred up a hornet's nest. "Von Sybel," said Taine, "wrote his book to prove that Prussia was perfectly right in taking part in the partition of Poland, and some other things of like nature." He seemed to think this assertion (admitting its truth) settled Von Sybel's place in literature as definitely as if he had said he had written a book to prove Friedrich II. to have been the son of Jupiter or that the Prussians were God's chosen people. One would have supposed that the fact of a man's holding such an opinion in regard to the partition of Poland sufficient evidence for sending him to a lunatic asylum, although most people believe it to be a perfectly established historic truth. Taine would not even admit the excellence of Von Sybel's style—well enough, he said, and clear, but the style of a leader-writer in the —— (naming an old, soberly, but far from stupidly written Paris daily—one of the most readable papers in Paris, and the favorite of the petite bourgeoisie). I mentioned the reputation Von Sybel enjoyed in Germany as having an excellent style, and the response was, "Very likely: where all the rest are blind a one-eyed man sees very well"—a remark true enough as regards the mass of German writers, but very unjust to the person under discussion. Taine's models are Macaulay and Froude, but one would hardly think so from reading his France contemporaine.[Pg 339] Be their demerits what they may—and they are no doubt great—the two English historians certainly have the faculty of presenting a sharply-outlined and vivid picture, while Taine heaps up hundreds of little facts, so that the reader, as the French say, can hardly see the wood for the trees. I may add that the French scholar's opinion of Prescott and Motley and Bancroft is still lower than that which he cherishes for their German contemporaries.

Taine has more the air of a scholar, and less that of a man of the world, than any other littérateur whom I met at Paris. During the winter his wife receives once a fortnight, and he regularly attends the famous weekly dinners of the Princess Mathilde, and occasionally dines informally with some intimate friend; but beyond this he goes but little into society, and takes his opinions of it at second hand; with regard to which fact Sainte-Beuve once kindly remonstrated with him in an admirable letter printed in the second volume of the Correspondance. He is fifty years old, and made, some sixteen years ago, what, in respect to the rank and wealth and amiable and intellectual qualities of his wife, was a very brilliant marriage. The story of the wooing is a "romance in real life." They have two children, the usual size of French families, though About has seven—"toute une famille anglaise," as Madame About remarked to me—whether with pride or in a half-ashamed happiness I did not discover. The Taines live handsomely in the midst of the Faubourg St. Germain, in a house whose windows have a clear view of the Hôtel des Invalides across the gardens of the Sacre-Cœur. I would say that I found Taine particularly courteous and cordial, were it not that I met no French gentleman who in any other society would not be distinguished for perfection of manner and winning kindness.

Taine has often been urged by friends who have been in America to visit the United States, both with a view to repair his somewhat shattered health and to write a book about us after the manner of his Notes on England. He always says he will do so; and it is probable that upon the completion of the great work, of which the third and last volume is now nearly finished, he and Madame Taine will set sail for our shores.

One of the peculiarities of Paris, regarded as a weltstadt, is, that it contains no socially disreputable quarters: there is no part of the city where men of wealth and position do not live. Thus, Theuriet and Cherbuliez reside in the Quartier du Luxembourg (between the Latin Quarter and the Faubourg St. Germain), as did Sainte-Beuve, About and Tourgueneff in the Rue de Douai (toward Montmartre), Girardin and Dumas in the Champs Élysées, Feuillet in the Rue de Rivoli, etc. Feuillet's name is, I think, as well known in the United States as that of any French man of letters except Taine, and if his biography were written he would be as famous for his eccentricities as was Balzac. An old friend of his once told me that one day, in calling upon Madame Feuillet, he expressed his regret that she had no regular reception-day, as in that case he would be able to see her more frequently. "Well," she answered, "I should like to have one, but, you see, it is quite impossible. One can't light the candles till after four o'clock, and before that time it is so dark here in the entresol that you can't see anybody." (I should have prefaced this anecdote by saying, for the benefit of those readers who have never been in Paris, that the entresol is a low story just over the shops, and that the Rue de Rivoli is one of the noisiest streets in the city.)—"But Feuillet has leased the third and fourth floors: why don't you receive up there?" responded the visitor.—"Oh, Octave would never hear of such a thing. Why, when I merely asked leave to hang some of my dresses up stairs, he would not let me: 'I have leased this whole story in order to have silence about me when I write, and the story overhead to have quiet above me. If you should hang your dresses up here, your maid would all the time be rummaging round, and that would derange my thoughts.'" Another of Feuillet's oddities is his hatred of railways. He has a country-place on the[Pg 340] coast in Normandy, and every summer sends down his wife and children and servant by rail; after which, like a Russian grand seigneur, he goes down himself with post-horses. I am inclined to think Feuillet has greater genius than any other living writer of French fiction, with one exception. His Monsieur de Camors, for instance, is a masterpiece, though one of the most painful and unhealthy books ever written. But his talent is essentially dramatic talent, and when he writes a novel his inner consciousness, in spite of himself, is centred upon the stage effect. Thus, in his last story, Les Amours de Philippe, there is no unity whatever, the book consisting of three distinct and independent episodes, precisely corresponding to the three acts of a play. The first of these parts is one of the most agreeable pieces of writing in French literature, a really charming little idyl—a Parisian idyl, to be sure, and not precisely the most suitable reading for young girls. Nothing is more peculiar than a Frenchman's ideas of morality in literature; for, strange as it may appear, several of Feuillet's books are considered highly edifying, and the secretary of the Academy, upon his entrance into that august body, was able to greet him with the, in France, by no means negative praise that it was not his fault if there still existed mauvaises ménages. Feuillet, rather by sentiment than by conviction, it would appear, is an ardent Catholic, and, like Dumas, owes no small portion of his worldly success to the appreciation of this fact in high quarters. Another of his peculiarities is, that almost alone among the writers of the day he cherishes a lingering regret for the pleasant days of the Empire, when for a long period he was not only a favorite at the Tuileries and Compiègne, but almost the only man of talent who found it possible to write.

Another writer whom I used to meet in Paris, at About's and at his own house, was André Theuriet, favorably known in America by his lovely little story of Gérard's Marriage. I had read that and other almost equally charming tales of its author, and felt a strong desire to see him. Of some literary men one creates in his mind's eye a picture of which the colors are the impressions produced by their books, and I had imagined Theuriet either a youngish man with a pretty wife or a gray-haired paterfamilias with two or three grown-up sons and daughters. Theuriet's hair is partially gray, to be sure, but he is unmarried, and by no means bon enfant as regards personal appearance. He was born in 1833 at Marly-le-Roi, near Paris, but educated in a little town in Lorraine, where his mother's family lived, and whither he still returns two or three times a year, as he said to me, "to run in the woods." He early entered the civil service, and was long stationed at Auberive, a place situated in the forest-region on the edge of Burgundy, and about which is laid the scene of his novels Gerard and Raymonde. For the last eight years his official duties have caused him to live at Paris, and it is during this period that his works of fiction have been produced. Theuriet is a poet as well as a novelist, and his poetry is said by competent critics to be very good; but the public looks with a more kindly eye upon his novels, and as their author cannot afford to disdain contemporary profit and reputation, he has been obliged rather to show the cold shoulder to the Muse. Theuriet's appearance in letters and his popularity are, I think, to be taken as a sign that a healthy change is going on in the taste of French readers. His books, consciously or unconsciously, are a protest against the system in which young girls are brought up in France, and which most intelligent Frenchmen deplore. It is less from an innate tendency to that sort of thing than because young girls of their own rank must not only always be under the eye of a chaperone, but also are intentionally afflicted with a deadly ignorance, incapacity to talk or to make themselves agreeable, that the young men leave them for the society of cocottes. Now, Theuriet has been a good deal in the society of English people, and while he stoutly maintains that his girl-characters are thoroughly French, he yet admits that the[Pg 341] idea of describing a kind of young girl that in France is always assumed to be hoydenish and ill-brought-up, came to him from observing the family-life of his neighbors from across the Channel. Theuriet is not a great writer: he has none of that power of analyzing physical and mental emotions in which Balzac and Stendhal are the great adepts, though their descriptions, while unquestionably implying great knowledge of the human heart, produce upon the Anglo-Saxon reader a feeling of pain, of offence, and often of disgust. I once asked him if he thought France, under the present bourgeois régime, likely to return to a healthier taste in literature, and received as answer the assurance that since coarse and sordid realism could go no further than L'Assommoir, a reaction must set in. From the filthiness of low life, I dare say, but how about the elegant fleshliness of the previous school? France will have to undergo a complete turning inside out before this loses its hold upon the national mind; as a proof of which I may mention the fact that a man who knew as much of the world and of books as Taine does, one day said to me that the best advice he could offer to a foreigner who thought of devoting himself to letters was to carry back with him, to his own country, Balzac, Stendhal and Mérimée.

Of all the men of letters at Paris, there was no one for whose works I cherished so hearty an admiration as I did for those of Ivan Tourgueneff, and none in whose personality I felt so profound an interest. Tourgueneff is far from being a model novelist, but his tales are written with wonderful power, and yet are neither indecent nor melodramatic nor rasping to the nerves. That the burden of strong natures is in proportion to their strength, that human nature in general is weak, and that the Devil still sometimes appears incarnate in the person of lovely woman, seem to form his theory of life. Hence his stories are ever sad, but they are not depressing; for his weak characters we sympathize with and do not despise, his strong and generous ones we sorrow for, his lovely women we reverence. And, however great one's admiration of Tourgueneff's books may be, the man Tourgueneff will not appear unworthy of them. What storms may, in earlier years, have passed over the heart of the now sixty-year-old man I do not know, but now his rather aged face, fringed with perfectly white hair and beard, bears an expression of perfect peace. Much of his time is constantly employed in helping others, and, from all I heard, Madame Gréville hardly exaggerated when she said to me, "He is a saint, a nineteenth-century saint!" And withal he is one of the most guileless of men: whatever he may think of men in general, he never can bring himself to think ill of any man in particular.

Tourgueneff has now for a long period passed at least six months of the year in Paris, and only three or four in Russia. He used to spend the summer at Baden, but since the war he has exchanged Baden for Carlsbad—whether or not on account of sympathy with France, and hence hatred of the peacefully-disposed nation which it is pleased to consider its deadly enemy, I do not know. It might well be, for he feels almost as strongly as a Frenchman as he does as a Russian, and I met no one in France who was so enthusiastic a republican as he. The present French Republic (which he insists is fundamentally and thoroughly different from the Republics of '93 and '48, as well as from that of the United States) seems to be his ideal government. In a century, he says, there won't be a king in Europe, except perhaps in England, and there he will be nothing but a pageant—a political mummy shown to the populace at so much a head.

In writing of the great Russian novelist it naturally suggests itself to say a word upon Madame Émile Durand, or "Henri Gréville," who has lately achieved so universal a reputation. One of her slightest efforts has just been crowned by the Academy, and one or more of her tales has been translated into all the tongues of Europe, including Dutch and Spanish. The Durands, who are childless,[Pg 342] reside in a little pavillon, or house with garden behind the main structure which fronts the street, in the not very inviting region of Montmartre. Madame Gréville is a comfortable-looking lady of thirty-five with the air of forty, and is a most agreeable talker. In her varied experience she has seen a good deal of the up and downs of life, but has now settled down, as she told me, "to making her three novels a year." I hardly think she will ever again reach the level of the Expiation de Savéli. Her husband is the Paris correspondent of a St. Petersburg paper, and incidentally a painter.

No sketch of French literary society, however short, should omit mention of that most famous of all periodicals, the Revue des Deux Mondes. It is forty-eight years old, and during its long life it has seen perhaps a hundred rivals rise and fall, while it has itself gone on constantly increasing in importance, so that it is now become an institution, like the Academy or the Comédie Française. Its offices are located in a fine old hôtel not far from the noble faubourg, where M. Charles Buloz (son of the founder of the Revue) and his wife give during the winter fortnightly receptions to the contributors and their friends, as well as literary dinner-parties which form, I suppose, the most catholic reunions in Paris; and for the excellent reason that all opinions except blatant radicalism and the dogmatic idiocy of Bishop Dupanloup and his friends are represented by its contributors. By admitting him to its columns the Revue gives a French author a stamp of approval which suffices to make him known and respected (at least as regards talent) in all quarters of the globe. As was the late, so is the present, manager fully conscious of his power, and feels as independent with regard to his authors as does the director of the Théâtre Français toward his. A short time since the most famous of those literary Frenchmen who are not novelists, and a man who rarely writes for periodical publications, sent an important contribution to the Revue, but neither the name of the author nor the fact that the contribution was of a character to attract great attention among the public induced M. Buloz to print what seemed to him, from a literary point of view, unworthy of a place in the columns of this journal. The pecuniary rewards of writing for the latter are but slight: a writer receives nothing at all for his first article, and afterward the prices vary—not in proportion to the merit of the production, but in relation to the reputation of the author. Henri Gréville, for instance, obtained for her L'Expiation de Savéli—a novel which, I am inclined to think, will not only always remain her masterpiece, but will ever be considered a most perfect work of art—but one hundred and fifty dollars; and the ordinary price for articles upon historical or philosophical or art topics is but one dollar to two dollars per page. It is odd, too, considering the artistic eye and touch possessed by Frenchmen, and their sensitiveness in regard to such matters, that the Revue, in spite of its large circulation and high subscription-price, is the worst printed magazine in the world. To American readers, who have doubtless noticed with pleasure the attention paid of late years by the Revue to American literature, it will perhaps be interesting to learn that "Thomas Bentzon," who has discovered for the French public so many of our authors, is a Madame Blanc. She was described to me as a woman of great intelligence and the highest character, the daughter of an old but poor noble family, and early married to a wealthy banker. This person not proving to be a model husband, his wife sought a separation; and the fault being obviously on his side, he was ordered by the court to make Madame Blanc a handsome allowance. She, however, refused to take the money of a man whom she could not respect, and having consented to accept only the small annual sum necessary for their child's education, set bravely but quietly to work to earn her own living—a task in which she has slowly succeeded. Arthur Venner.[Pg 343]


In all the old Norse legends we are sure to find the inevitable three brothers, to the youngest of whom, Grimmel, fall all the adventures, the dealings with the Devil, and the pot of yellow gold at the end.

Not many years ago there lived in a lonely hut on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina this identical Grimmel and his brothers. Their father, John Boyer, was a hunter. When he died the two elder sons, Richard and Hugh, remained with their mother, farmed a sterile tract on the Black Mountains and trapped bears and wolves through the great southern ranges of the Appalachian chain. Twice in the year they came down to the hamlet at Gray Eagle to exchange their peltry for such goods as they needed. They were, in short, Grimmel's elder brothers, who sat satisfied in the chimney-corner while giants, devils and trolls were carousing without. They wore the cloth which their mother had spun, woven and made up for them. They shot with their father's rifle, ate the same corn-dodgers, nodded over the same Bible every evening, and drank plenty of whiskey from the same secret still back in the gorge. It had never occurred to them to go down into the world, to learn a trade or profession or to make money. Why should they? Money was of very little use. They probably did not handle twenty dollars in the year, yet they had all they wanted.

They were big and slow-moving and serious as the tame bear which lay before the fire. At forty they always spoke of the house and farm as "my mother's, Mistress Boyer's," and meekly obeyed the old woman as she ordered them about with a sharp tongue. The instinct of kinship was as strong in them as in the old Jews. They would strike a bee-line for each other through the trackless wilderness when miles apart. This happened often.

"How do I know where to find Richard?" said Hugh. "I don't know how I know. Something in my bones tells me."

I think that when the youngest brother, Peter, left the mountains these older men suffered a kind of physical loss ever after, as if an arm or a leg had been taken from them. Peter was somewhere out in the world, living by his wits. God had given him precisely the same kind of wits as his brothers, but with a single added drop of uneasy leaven. He tumbled out of his cradle when he was a baby to see what lay beyond. He was thin, wizened, restless as a strange beast in a cage, though his brothers tirelessly puzzled their slow brains to soothe and satisfy him. When he was a boy he was wretched because he was not taken down into the valley or to far-off towns. His brothers were puzzled, dismayed.

"It is the bird in the bush he wants," said his shrewd old mother. "The bird in the bush: he will never get it in his hand."

When he was a boy of ten a party of geologists stopped at the log hut. There was much talk among them of the cities, of science and of politics. Peter Boyer thought he had found his bird in the bush.

"I must have an education, and a good one, mother," he said.

He was sent to Raleigh to school. Reports came home that no such boy had ever been taught there. His fellow-students prophesied that Carolina would some day be proud of her gifted son. Up in the mountains the two brothers ploughed, trapped, dug ginseng and climbed the peaks for balsam with hot, steady zeal to earn the little money which was needed to pay for his schooling. The bare cabin grew barer, mother and brothers went hungry many a day, but the pittance was always saved and sent to him.

The boy came home in vacations with his moustache, his gorgeous scarf-pin and[Pg 344] his quick, eager talk: he brought, too, piles of gilded prize-books, and once a silver medal. He did not care much for books or medal, but Richard wrapped each one carefully in paper and packed them in the big chest, and when the boy was gone the two broad-shouldered men would take them out at night and turn them over, and sometimes spell out a page, with a grave awe and delight.

Presently, the lad sent back their money: he was pushing his own way—into college, into the University of Virginia, finally—great and culminating triumph!—into the newspapers. Poems (after Poe, as a matter of course), political diatribes in Johnsonese periods in De Bow's Review, essays, criticisms,—nothing came amiss to him.

The young man's mind was of that flabby but fidgety kind which throws off ideas as a crab its shells, one after another—useless, imperfect moulds of itself. He came home to the mountain-hut in the first flush and triumph of authorship, bringing every newspaper-clipping in his pocket-book wherein a mention of his name had appeared. Richard, Hugh and his mother were never tired of hearing nor he of reading them. The poems and the clippings were left to be stored away—sacred relics—with the prize-books and medals. Peter set off to the West.

"The bird in the bush is always out of sight with Peter," said his mother, whose hair was growing white and her voice feeble. He became a lawyer, a Congressman. When he made his first speech (on the snags in the Missouri River) he ran down to Carolina with a copy of it in The Congressional Globe. He had grown portly and red-faced, and talked in a strident voice. All the towns on his route received him as a conquering hero. "The Honorable Peter M. Boyer arrived last night," said the papers, "and received a magnificent public dinner at the —— Hotel. The distinguished Senator, one of the favorite sons of the Old North State, is on his way to visit his parents at their summer retreat in Buncombe county."

The distinguished and pompous Senator, at home in the hut, walked up and down with uneasy strides and anxious wandering eyes, just as he had done when a thin cub of a boy. The Senate Chamber evidently was but as narrow a cage for this alien beast as the life of a hunter had been.

"I'm not satisfied," he told Hugh and Richard. "Politics are not the right groove for me. But I'll find it. I know that I have an intellect different from that of the ordinary man. You can't compare pure gold and brass, can you? Well, I've tested those fellows at Washington, and they are brass: they're pot-metal, sir! My brain," tapping his forehead, "will tell some day on the world: I'll make my mark. I'll hit the bull's eye yet."

The Senator went back to Iowa. He was not returned for the next term. In a month or two his mother received a letter from him dated at London. "When I succeed," he said, "I will come back to you. I have given up politics and taken to literature. Literature is the only career in which my brain can reach its full development: all others compress and constrain me. I shall seek in the Old World for the recognition which the New did not yield me." All this was Greek to his mother and her sons, but they knew that it meant that he was gone.

He never came back.

In two years the Honorable Peter was as extinct, so far as the American Congress, newspapers and people were concerned, as any saurian dead before the Flood. His mother died. Peter had always been an alien to her, a perpetual disquiet. But when he was gone the thorn was out of her flesh. She talked and thought of him as in his babyhood, and left him her blessing at the last. As year after year crept by, the twin-brothers ceased to talk of him. But it was because they had begun to think of him with that strained, tense attention with which we sit and listen for the steps of one who long delays his coming, and who may be dead by the way.

He might come back any day, with a crown of glory on his head. Or—was he dead? So many ships went down in that[Pg 345] dim outer world—so many cities were burned; legions of men were swept away in battle; in short, the millions of graves which dotted the earth's surface only meant to these Boyers the one possible grave where he might lie. The gray-headed old men went stealthily alone at night sometimes to the big chest and turned over again the poems and essays yellow now with age, and the gilded prize-books. But they never spoke to each other of them.

About eighty miles from Black Mountains, in a hamlet on the Nantahela range, the whereabouts of Peter Boyer was discussed one July day as a subject of more practical interest. All the men in Sevier—a dozen, all told—were gathered as usual under the great oak which stood by the pump in the middle of the square. It was a grassy, weedy square: one or two cows lay chewing the cud on it, as they did all day long. Why not? There was never enough noise in the little street which ran round its four sides to disturb them. In the evening the women went out and milked them just where they were: occasionally, a meditative sow with her litter, or a slouching boy, passed them; or a canvas-covered wagon drawn by a steer would lumber slowly along, stop, and a woman get out of it with a bag of ginseng or angelica to barter for sugar and shoes; or a farmer in butternut homespun would jog up the street on his mule, his gun and bag of rations strapped behind, on his way to the higher peaks to salt his wild cattle; or a party of Cherokees from Qualla would come in with baskets to sell; or Seth Keen, the dwarf hunter, would bring in a roll of wolf-skins, and stay to tell his old stories over for the hundredth time. But these were rare events: on ordinary days the cows dozed undisturbed in the sleepy, foggy air, and the men lounged on the trough by the pump, and smoked from morning until bed-time, and cracked jokes on each other, and told marvellous stories of the war and its ravages.

"It giv' Sevier a staggerin' blow, gentlemen," old Judge Scroope would say: "we'll never recover from it. I tell you, Jefferson Davis an' Lincoln wur men the country hed no use for. Nor the Almighty neyther. That's my cool jedgment, now that we are out of the fracas. Look at the ruin them men wrought around you!"

And his audience would look around them, and shift their legs, and shake their heads with solemn conviction, though they knew, and he knew that they knew, that since North Carolina began to exist the decrepit frame houses yonder had turned the same pauper faces to the square in Sevier, and that their grandfathers in homespun had lounged just as they did on this very broken trough, and watched their lean cows chew the cud, and leisurely abused the Federalists for the ruin of the country. Twice a year the judge and Lawyer Grayson rode down to court and crossed the old track of Sherman and his raiders, and coming back would tell of levelled fences and burned barns. For thirteen years they had gone down, and the barns and fences yet lay as Sherman left them, as unchanged as the gneiss rocks about them.

On this day, however, they had a new subject to discuss. The sheepskin-covered chair which sat by the pump day and night the year round, ready for the judge, had been empty for two weeks. The old man had pneumonia, and was on his deathbed. Every morning the doctor brought a full account of his latest symptoms, and the crowd drearily discussed them during the rest of the day over interminable melancholy games of backgammon.

On this morning Grayson the lawyer had been sent for.

"The old gentleman's going to make his will," said the doctor, taking a seat.

The words were like a chilly wind from the grave. The gossips of Sevier were, after all, a simple affectionate folk. They had grown together like the mossy logs of their houses: when one was torn away, it left a gap and a dull, abiding sense of loss for years. There was a long silence.

"De jedge am bin a class-leader fohty year," said at last old Primus the barber in the background, shaking his woolly poll.[Pg 346]

Nobody answered. The squire noiselessly laid down the dice and shut the backgammon-board. Major Fetridge rose with a groan: "I'll go over and get a glass of somethin'. Won't some gentleman join me?"

Nobody joined him. The major's red head and lean little legs moved unsteadily over the square.

"Sam Fetridge hes hed enough a'ready," said the squire. "He'll follow the jedge, and that hot foot, ef he don't pull up. D'ye think Dave Cabarreux will come in for all the Scroope proputty, doc?"

"I don't know. I—don't—know," pulling his beard meditatively. "It'll be left in a lump: that much the jedge told me himself. 'I'll not part the proputty,' he says, 'but I'll leave it whar it'll keep up the standin' of the family.' The old man always hed his sheer of pride in the Scroopes, you know."

"Dave Cabarreux is his cousin once removed," interrupted Bright the landlord, who had sauntered back with the major, and engineered that unsteady worthy to a place on the trough. "He hes no other kin than Dave, that I know of. David's as genteel a young man as walks Sevier streets."

"He's a damned cub!" The major staggered to his feet, gesticulating angrily with his trembling hands.

"Tut, tut, Sam! sit down," said the squire, pulling at his coat-tail. "You begrudge Dave his pretty little sweetheart. I understand: I've watched you. Why, Fetridge, you're old enough to be her father, you moon-calf!"

Sam stiffened his shaky body into a drunken dignity: "Squire, you can talk of me as you choose: every scrag-end of humanity kin take liberties with my name now, and does it. But the pump is no place to mention that lady, nor any lady, sir."

"No, it's not: that's a fact, Sam. I beg her pardon. But Primus tells me, gentlemen, that the jedge has been talkin' incessant of his nephew Boyer. Who's Boyer?"

"I've heerd the jedge talk of him frequent, sittin' on that very cheer," said Byloe the carpenter. "He's his grand-nephew. Peter Marmyduke Boyer is the full name. Governor of Iowy. The jedge has told me he was one of the first men of the present century. He'd all the genius of the Scroope family. Fact is, I used to think he was a straw man the jedge had made expressly to hang the honors of the family on."

"What's the jedge callin' on him now for?" said the major.

The doctor glanced around cautiously to the circle of attentive faces, the silent street beyond, the houses that fenced them in: "It's my opinion—in strict confidence, gentlemen," lowering his voice: the faces gathered more closely, Sam's, pimpled and eager, the nearest—"it's my opinion that the jedge means to cut off Dave without a shilling, and leave the proputty to this Honorable Peter M. Boyer. But what's the difference?" he continued after waiting a moment to allow the sensation produced by his words to subside. "This man Boyer, they tell me, has not been heard of for years. He didn't even turn up in the war. Undoubtedly, he's dead."

Major Fetridge sank back against the pump with a drunken chuckle: "Dave Cabarreux thinks that he's dead, hey? Boyer's not the sort of man to die as long as a good thing like this is in the dice. Why, Boyer's young, sir. He's got more brains and experience and vitality than all the damned wooden Cabarreuxes in a lump."

Byloe squirted tobacco-juice skilfully into the puddle between his feet, and winked at the squire. "It would go dead ag'in' your chances down at Calhoun's, major, if Dave gets that proputty," he said gravely. "Old Tony Calhoun is a full-blood Yankee. He'll never give his daughter to a man with lean pockets."

The major pulled himself up, half sobered as if by a dash of cold water. "And what has Cabarreux to make him fit for her?" he demanded shrilly. "Neither money nor brains. No one of the name ever had energy to earn salt to his bread. Cabarreux? Bah-h! Boyer is a man! Why, gentlemen, if Peter Marmaduke Boyer were to appear in Sevier, it would[Pg 347] be like the coming of the eagle among the magpies."

"Sam, you're drunk," said Byloe. "What d'ye know about the man?"

"Know Boyer?" He laughed. The major had a peculiar laugh, which always put the crowd about the pump in a good-humor—a shrill, pleasant cackle of exultation. "Why, the whole country knows Boyer. But, if you must know it, he was a personal friend of mine. He had a great intellect—a gi-gantic intellect," sweeping the horizon with his arm. "He represented one of the great Western States in the Senate, Mr. Byloe: ten years ago he was known through the length and breadth of the Union as North Carolina's favorite son. To have asked who was Peter M. Boyer then would have argued yourself unknown."

"Sam's right," said the squire, nodding. "Now, that you speak of it, I remember him perfectly well. He had a great reputation as a politician. The Raleigh Herald used to publish his speeches in extenso. Queer he took no part in the war!"

The major chuckled again, delighted: "He did, sir! he did! Beauregard had no braver officer. To see that man lead his command into the teeth of the Yankees was a spectacle nobody who saw it can ever forget." The little man stood up as he talked, gesticulating fiercely as if in the presence of the foe, his linen coat flapping about his legs, his white hat set jauntily on one side. "Ha! those were pleasant days, squire," wiping his forehead in a glow of triumph. "They brought men up to their proper level! Boyer was never promoted, though. He was too modest to push himself, and war was hardly the right groove for him, after all."

"So this great man was a personal friend of yours, Sam?" asked Byloe with another wink and shrug at the crowd.

The major nodded: "Yes. I wasn't always a drunken loafer in Sevier, nor Ike Byloe's companion," he said quietly.

There was a laugh of applause. The little man, with all his vaporing, his windy boasts, his general utter worthlessness, had at bottom a grain of something genuine which keen Ike Byloe lacked.

"What sort of looking man was this Boyer, Sam?" asked the doctor. "I confess I have a curiosity about the jedge's heir."

"Oh, a fine-looking fellow—every inch a man," said the major carelessly. "Voice orotund, magnetic. Easy manners. Good figure;" and he walked up and down complacently, slapping his own shrunk shank. There had been a well-shaped leg inside of the ragged linen trousers once, and the conscious merit which infused every atom of his lean little body still culminated in his strut.

The sun was setting behind the Balsam Range, and threw a cheerful glow over the oak and the pump and the little group, when a loose-jointed figure came across the fields.

"Hyar's Grayson!—Well, colonel, how is he?"

"It's all over, gentlemen. The jedge is gone."

There was a sudden silence. The men asked no questions, as Northern gossips would have done. Presently, they got up one by one, with a brief word or two, and went quietly away to their own houses to close them up, and to tell madam. The Carolinian "madam" may be ugly and shabby and silly, but she is usually first in her husband's mind all day.

Nobody was left under the oak but Grayson, the major and Byloe, who was resolved to solve the mystery of the will.

"I s'pose the jedge attended to his earthly affairs before he went off, Colonel Grayson?" he said.

Grayson nodded.

"Will witnessed, signed—all correct?"


Byloe gave a dolorous cough: "Folks are talkin' a good deal about Dave Cabarreux as the heir. Dave's the next of kin."

Grayson pushed the ashes into his pipe in imperturbable silence.

"I was suggestin' that Boyer had a chance—Governor Boyer of Iowy: Sam hyar'd prefer him. Ef Dave gits the proputty, he'll take somethin' else that Dave's set his heart on, eh?" chuckling. "Sam knows Boyer."[Pg 348]

The lawyer looked up quickly. He said nothing, but Byloe noted the glance. "Boyer is the man!" he thought, and hurried off to tell the news.

When he was gone Mr. Grayson turned to the major: "Do you really know this Boyer, Fetridge? Could you find him if he was wanted?"

Sam did not answer immediately. He was looking thoughtfully at the ground, his palms resting on his knees. He too supposed that Boyer was the heir, and the news had driven all the braggadocio and drunken fire out of him. What a weak imitation of a man he was, any how! Grayson thought, looking at him curiously, and wondering what had moved the fellow so strangely. Was it possible that he hoped to marry Calhoun's little girl if Dave lost this money?

The major got up at last, and put on his hat. "If Peter Boyer is wanted—that is, if the money is really left to him—I can produce the man, Grayson," he said, and walked slowly away, his head bent and his hands clasped behind him. The stagey strut was quite gone.

The day after the judge was buried Mr. Calhoun came down in the buggy from the farm to Sevier, Isabel driving. "I have a new mule in harness," he explained to the squire, "and I had to bring Bel to manage him. It's bad training to use the whip, and he has the temper of the devil. He's beyond me, but Bel has her ways of making him go."

The old squire, looking up at her, his hat in his hand, said gallantly there was nothing in Sevier which Miss Isabel couldn't make go; at which the little girl laughed, and put her foot in his offered hand to jump down from the buggy. There did not seem to be a large amount of propelling power in her. She had a childish-looking figure, and went shyly into the store, blushing nervously as she passed the men outside. They all stood up and took off their hats, though they did that when any woman passed; but one after another, from Colonel Grayson to old Primus, contrived afterward to throw himself in her way, to give her a good-day respectfully, and have a private glimpse of the beaming face under the broad-brimmed brown hat. As soon, too, as it was noised about that Calhoun's wagon was in town the women all came out to find Isabel. Sevier was dismal enough after the funeral, and needed heartening, and, as Byloe said, "That young woman hed spirit enough for all Haywood county." Isabel was an intimate friend of every woman in town. Sue Grayson hurried her in to read her last love-letter, and Mother Byloe consulted her about her cherry jam. It was a pity, they thought, that she had no beauty—there was always a lamentation on that point when she was gone—and the men agreed that she lacked flesh; but Major Fetridge, who had known something of the world outside of Sevier in his day, used to follow her far off to watch her clear, sparkling face. However drunk he might be, it sobered him. To-day, as she stood among the village women, whose charms had ripened on the fried meat and black coffee on which they had been fed since babyhood, she reminded him of a fine proof engraving among cheap chromos.

How it was that the little Pennsylvanian moved the mules and sluggish Sevier to life even the major did not know, but it was a fact that she always left the village more awake and happier than she found it. It was as if one had sung a stirring song in the market-place.

As she drove away to-day the squire looked after her admiringly. "I heard you were going to send her North, Mr. Calhoun?" he said to the paunchy, brisk little man beside him.

"Yes, yes," pulling his black moustache. "Fact is, this is no place for Isabel, squire. She has no mother: I have to think for the child. She has kinsfolk in New England, and I'll send her there for a year or two. To tell you the truth, I can't see her mated with one of these loggish young ploughmen about Sevier."

"You mean Cabarreux?" said the squire with a significant nod.

"Yes, I mean Cabarreux. 'Twon't do, squire. I've forbidden her to see him[Pg 349] again. Well, what d'ye think of sending her away? I meant to ask your advice about it."

The squire was more intimate with Mr. Calhoun than any of the other men in Sevier; but it was the Northerner's practice to take counsel with them all concerning his endless schemes: he was a friendly, social fellow, and liked to hear himself explain his plans—just the man to buttonhole Charon in his boat and get a useful hint or two from him about the other side. The people of Sevier liked Calhoun, but were a little afraid of him. His education and mind, they knew, were no better than theirs; his manners were not as good; but a man who, with but a hundred dollars in his pocket, could camp down in the woods and evolve out of the bare earth a farm, a mill, a mica-mine, a house with comforts and luxuries such as Sevier had never dreamed of, had a quality which stunned and awed them. A man may know how common are the iron and steel and coal that go to make up a steam-engine, but none the less does the mysterious force inside make him stand out of the way.

The squire and Mr. Calhoun sauntered down the street. "I'll not deny," said the old man, meditatively, "that Cabarreux has no Northern 'go' in him. But Dave's a good-natured fellow. He fought like the devil thar in the Wilderness, and him but sixteen!"

"Yes, and has done nothing since but think of it. Oh, I've no objections to Carbarreux except that he's of no account: he'll never earn his bread. I can't see my girl starve."

"They'd be a fine-looking couple," persisted the squire, whose heart leaned toward the young people. "Dave stands a good chance for the jedge's property, too. We'll know to-night: the will's to be read this afternoon."

Mr. Calhoun stopped: "I'll acknowledge, squire, that would make a difference—that would undoubtedly make a difference. I'm a practical man. Cabarreux with a steady income would be a dead weight which Bel might manage to shove along through the world; but Cabarreux with nothing is a millstone which would grind her to powder. I'd made up my mind to send her away next week. But if you think—"

"Stay in town until we hear. The will's to be read to-night. Come and dine with me: the madam has corned beef and succotash to-day."

Isabel drove briskly along the mountain-road. When she came to the forks she stopped and hesitated: either way would take her home—one in half an hour, the other after a long circuit among the hills. She turned the mule's head into the longer road, a red flush rising suddenly on her delicate neck and face. For an hour the narrow path climbed the mountain-side, then dipped abruptly into the valley. Isabel looked eagerly down the gorge; her breath came quickly; she began to sing softly to herself. Yet there was nothing in sight but a little clearing in the vast stretch of sombre, uninhabited forest, a vacant log house, a half-built barn.

This was the place which Dave Cabarreux's father had given him years ago, and which she had heard he was going to work next spring. He would be drudging here while she was in the North, thinking of her as he ploughed: she knew that. But she would be gone for ever. It would be all over then. Isabel stopped the mule, and sat with her hands clasped on her knees, looking at the meadow and the desolate closed house. It was nobly done in David to give himself up to hard work. Her heart beat as high with pride as if he had been the first man who ever undertook at a late day to earn his living. She had heard in town that he had been down looking at the place the day before. Perhaps he had walked over that very meadow. She leaned forward: the ground was soft: surely there were the marks of footsteps. Only yesterday! Isabel glanced quickly around—at the lonely road, the mighty hills that shut her in, swathed in forest, shouldering the clouds, the gray mist creeping through the gorge. An eagle swept across the opening overhead, frogs croaked in the swamp yonder: there[Pg 350] were no other living things to see her. She sprang from the wagon, ran across the meadow, put her foot in the deep print: her bosom heaved, the tears came to her eyes. Isabel was not a sentimental, silly girl, but a shrewd, hard-working woman. She had not seen her lover for a long time, and she thought it would be years before she would see him again.

She walked down to the river—sat down under a walnut tree. Surely she might rest there a minute. She would never see David's home again.

A tall, dark man gathered himself up from among the deep fern, watching her breathlessly. Was it possible that she cared to walk over the land because it was his land? No: she was too cold-blooded a little thing for that.

"Miss Isabel!"

She sprang to her feet. It was he! Then she spoke coolly, precisely as if they had met on the street in Sevier: "How did you come here, Mr. Cabarreux? I thought there was nobody but myself in this valley."

Young Cabarreux stood leaning over her, his hat in his hand: "The truth is, I was asleep by the branch thar. I came out to look into the quality of the soil this mornin', but I took a rest instead: I'll have enough of work hyar next year."

"Yes, you will," with a little sigh, and a quick glance of pity at the well-knit, handsome figure.

Cabarreux colored high and hesitated: "You—you knew it was my land, then, Miss Isabel? When you stopped?" He bent so close that she could feel his breath stir her hair. What could she say? She had never let him know that she cared for him so much as that. She gave a frightened glance at the face above her, the mellow olive complexion, the laughing mouth, the dark, liquid eyes. It seemed to her that one of the early gods might have had such a face.

"I had heard—I thought you had a farm in this valley," she faltered, moving away.

Cabarreux did not press the question: he followed her, moving the branches aside with patient courtesy. He was a sincere man, and he loved the girl with all his strength. Did she care for him? He would know now.

He stopped, clearing the dead leaves from a mossy log. "Will you sit down?" he said with a certain stately grace which even his baggy, homespun clothes and torn hat did not make absurd. "It is my land, and it would seem always different to me if you'd rest on it for a minute, Miss Isabel."

Isabel sat down. The color glowed hot in her face, and her lips moved unsteadily as she tried to talk. "The laurel blooms late in this gorge," she said. "Look at the bush by the rock."

But Cabarreux did not look at the laurel: he did not know what she said. He stood immovable before her, his sultry eyes lazily reading her face. There was deep quiet in the little valley, except when a fish leaped in the water beside them or the call of a mocking-bird rang through the woods. They had never before, as it happened, been quite alone together. Now this great silence and solitude shut them in.

He stood erect at last with a long breath. "There is somethin' I've wished to say to you for a long time," he began in his leisurely drawl.

She stood up pale and fluttering. If she were the man! If she could speak! She would compel love, she would force confession by sheer strength of words. But Cabarreux stood deferential, indolent. "I must go home: it is late," she said, hurrying across the field.

"One moment, Miss Isabel. This will be my home," stopping by the porch of the little house. "If you would only look at it or walk through it once—just once! It will be something for me to remember—when you are gone."

When she was gone? This was the last time. She went hesitatingly up on to the porch, and stood in the empty room by the bare hearth, Cabarreux beside her. Once or twice he tried to speak, but the words died on his lips: when he gave her his hand as she went down the steps his fingers were icy cold and trembled. Perhaps she guessed the pain that the man felt at the time, and[Pg 351] was quite willing that he should feel it. She said coolly as they walked through the woods to the road, "It's quite a pretty little house, and this is very good soil indeed. I shall think of you as very comfortable here, Mr. Cabarreux, when I am in the North."

"When you are in the North? Great God! do you know what you are sayin'? Stay! you shall hear me! It's a poor hovel—I know how wretched it looks in your Northern eyes—but as I lay there this morning I was plannin'—plannin' how to make a palace of it for you—for you. Why, I'd work like a slave—"

He stopped short. Dave Cabarreux had never done an honest stroke of work in his life. Nothing but planning. He remembered that in this imminent moment, and laughed. "Miss Isabel, I've been a good-for-nothing dog: that's the truth. Everybody knows it: you know it. But there's a woman that I love who could put a new soul into my body. If she would."

They had halted by the fence now, and Isabel's hand was on the mossy rail. He put his own over it. "If she would? Isabel, do you care for me—at all?"

She looked up at the dark face full of tenderness and power. It seemed as if the gods were coming very close to her indeed. "Yes, I care for you," she said gently. "But I must go home—I must have time—I will not hear more to-day."

But she waited to hear more. He only stooped and reverently kissed her lips without a word. His brain reeled as it had done when he was going into battle in the Wilderness. He had never worked, but he would—to win her! He had not borne himself so badly in that other fight.

He lifted her into the buggy and walked beside her, his hand on the reins, as the mule crept drowsily along the five miles between the valley and the Calhoun farm. He spoke little. He was in a rapturous dream, in which the warm sunlight, the woods, the soft fingers which he touched now and then, bore a part.

Isabel talked or sang softly to herself, as she always did when she was happy. Once he heard her say, "I should try oats in that meadow, if I were you. And I should not be surprised if corundum could be found in those rocks back of the house."

Oats and corundum?

Tears of vexation stood in her eyes as he looked at her perplexed. "It is the farm I mean. You don't seem to have heard me. My father is so practical! Indeed, indeed, it is only by hard work that you can gain his consent."

"Oh, I understand perfectly," gazing dreamily into her eyes. "I shall go to work upon that place: I shall tear it all up—next spring." He walked on beside her. The golden light deepened in the west; the air was full of delicious resinous odors from the pine forest; now and then he pressed his lips to the warm, rose-tinted hand. Surely, he thought, this divine draught which they had just begun to taste was not as sweet to her as he found it, or she would not care to talk of oats and corundum.

When he left her he sauntered leisurely up the mountain wrapt in a delirious ecstasy. Suddenly he quickened his steps: "I must go and hear Uncle Scroope's will. A chance of something thar. No need of grubbing out my life then in that old sheep-pasture." But he soon slackened his pace again, thinking with a glow of exultation how true and tender he would be to his love—how he could fight for her if need be. He wished there were some foes to fight. No doubt if there had been, Dave would have done his devoir, for he was as gallant a gentleman as any Sidney of them all.

Isabel sat on the porch alone that evening. The women, with the men, were at work ploughing corn on the upland, and her father would not return from Sevier until late. The sun was going down, throwing the shadow of a great peak of the Balsam Range over the house and the neat farm with its Pennsylvania barn and fences. High up on the mountain heaps of mica outside of the gaping black mouth of a deserted mine glistened like silver.[Pg 352]

A queer little figure was coming up the lonely road. Isabel saw it, and laughed. Nobody could mistake the consequential strut, the flapping linen suit, the white hat with its band of crape. But Isabel was in a happy, tender mood toward all the world to-night; and she had always been gentle with the poor little major. She only, of all the people in Sevier, saw beneath the drunken braggart a man who had been sorely worsted, and that perhaps not fairly, in the long fight. He was quite sober this evening. But as she rose to meet him she saw signs of an odd change in him. The linen clothes were scrupulously clean, costly ruby buttons blazed in his shirt-front, on his fore finger was a curious antique ring never seen there before: the usual defiant jauntiness of the man had given way to a more significant self-assertion, as if he had at last found secure ground beneath his feet.

"My father is not at home, Major Fetridge: I am sorry," said Isabel, offering him a chair.

But he remained standing, leaning airily against a pillar, looking down at her. "I am not sorry, Miss Calhoun. It was you that I came to see," he said pointedly. A nervous smile showed his teeth; his pale blue eyes shone: the little man was, she saw, aflame with some secret exultation as with wine.

"I fancy that you bring me good news, major?" said Isabel, humoring his mood.

"News? Yes, I bring you news. The will is read—Judge Scroope's will."

"Who is the heir?"

"Peter Marmaduke Boyer, if he is alive. If he is dead, young Cabarreux."

Isabel made no reply for a moment: the work she held fell from her hand. She had not known of this chance. If David Cabarreux were the heir he would have every virtue in her father's eyes.

"I hope," she said at last, taking up her work again with a soft, complacent little laugh, "Mr. Cabarreux may live long to enjoy his good fortune."

"The fortune is not his," cried Sam excitedly. "You don't understand. Boyer is the heir—the Honorable Peter M. Boyer. A man who stood in the Senate of the United States, Miss Calhoun. A man who knows the world—who will know how to give his wife place and power, and who will have money now to buy both."

"I thought you said he was dead?"

"No. I—" He paused, grew suddenly pale, and went on hurriedly: "I know the man. He is alive."

"Then—It does not matter. It is all just as it was before," said Isabel with a proud smile. But, her thoughts going to her lover in his disappointment, she almost forgot that the major was there until he spoke again.

His altered tone startled her into attention. It was sharp with repressed passion and pain. The poor sot was in earnest—more in earnest, it seemed to her, even than Cabarreux had been when he had told her that he loved her to-day. "Miss Calhoun, do you remember one day three or four years ago, when I was knocked down in a drunken fight at Sevier, and lay like a beast on the roadside?"

"Major Fetridge—"

"Hush! I must tell you: I never spoke to you about it before. You passed by. You were a little thing then—the people in Sevier had left me there like a dead dog—but you tried to rouse me, to take me home; and when you could not do it, you spread your handkerchief over my face to hide it. I have it yet. Look there! Such a scrap of a thing!" opening it out.

"Any girl would have done it. Why do you bring up this miserable story now?" cried Isabel.

"Because on that day I swore before Almighty God that if ever I reached my place in the world you should stand beside me. Oh!" pacing up and down with a bitter laugh, "I wasn't always the drunken bummer Sam Fetridge. I have within me great capabilities—even yet, yet. You saw that. You saw the man I might have been, and never was. Every word you have ever spoken to me has showed me that you saw it."

The words and the uncontrollable excitement of the man had a singular effect upon Isabel. Something in the voice,[Pg 353] the words, came from a strong soul in desperate strait—belonged to a man with intellect and energy, for whom she could have near sympathy, a sense of alliance; but before her eyes was only ridiculous Sam Fetridge, the butt of the village, vaporing up and down.

"It is true," she said frankly, "that your life in Sevier has been wretched enough. I thank God that you are going to change it. What can I do to help you?"

"Don't you know? Don't you understand even yet?" The little man came up before her and took both her hands in his: the tears stood in his blinking eyes. Isabel looked into them steadily, and she did not take her hands away. "You see it is a sort of crisis to-night with me, Miss Calhoun. I've thought for a good while the game was played out for body and soul. But there's one thing that could make a man of me again, and to-night I feel as if I had some right to put out my hand and take it."

Her lips moved, but she said nothing.

"It is your love. I've loved you a long time. I'm old enough to be your father, but I never loved any woman but you, Isabel."

"I thought you meant that," she said under her breath.

"It is not drunken Sam Fetridge that loves you. I have culture, intelligence, energy. I am a better man at bottom than Dave Cabarreux, and one nearer akin to yourself."

"I love him: I do not love you." She said it mechanically, her eyes fixed on his with a frightened, curious look of recognition. It followed him as he left her, half staggering across the porch: it was on him still as he came back, and, leaning against the pillar, held out his hand again to her.

She did not take it now.

"Miss Calhoun, there is not in the United States a man with more ambition than I have, nor one with a better chance to take his place among other men if—if I had your hand to hold. Give it to me: be my wife. For God's sake, don't take the chance from me!"

"Major Fetridge," she said resolutely, but with a strange quaver in her voice, "I love David Cabarreux. I never can marry you. If there is anything else that I can do—"

"No, there is nothing you can do," he cried vehemently. "It would have been better you had thought me a drunken brute like the others, and had not recognized me. For you did recognize me, you know."

He turned without another word, and walked down the hill with slouching step and head bent. Isabel tried to think of him as the tippling major, but it seemed as if she had talked to another man.

Mr. Calhoun met Major Fetridge as he came home, but he was in an ill-humor and did not speak to him. Late that evening Sam lay on a bench by the pump. He had been drinking heavily, but he was sober. The squire and Grayson were discussing the event of the day, the will.

"Calhoun is savagely disappointed," said the squire. "If Cabarreux had had the money, he would have allowed him to marry Isabel, he says. Now he means to send her North at once."

"Are you sure that this Boyer is alive?" said Grayson.

"Sam says so. He says he is going to bring the man up soon. Well, it's all up with poor Cabarreux. I'm sorry for them. Bel is a good girl: she ought to have been a happy wife."

The men went home to bed, leaving the major on the bench. He lay there for an hour or more. The village had gone to sleep for the night. Dense fogs wrapped the mountains that shut in the little hamlet, but overhead the stars were shining in the near heaven.

He rose at last. He was ghastly pale, as if the blood had ceased to flow in his body, but he stood up, drawing himself to his little height with a sudden triumph. "Damned if I don't do it! the time has come for the great deed!" He went with a swagger, as though he walked on air, down the street.

Two days later young Cabarreux,[Pg 354] sauntering leisurely, as usual, across the square, met the squire and Sam Fetridge coming out of Grayson's office. Both men were greatly excited, but Sam was silent, while the squire talked volubly. He grasped Dave by the hand: "Cabarreux, I congratulate you! You are a lucky dog! I was just saying to Fetridge hyar, 'What is there that fellow hasn't got?'"

"What's the matter? what have I got?" said Cabarreux.

"The major here hes heerd about that fellow Boyer. He's dead."

"Is this true?" turning to Fetridge.

The major did not answer.

"Of course it's true," said the squire. "Sam has the letter in his pocket.—Show it to him, Fetridge."

Sam looked up at the handsome, eager face for a full moment. "Boyer is dead," he said.

"The proputty's yours, Cabarreux," cried the squire.—"By George, he's off already! Straight for the Calhoun farm! Thar will be as fine a couple as there is in Carolina. Come, let's drink their health, major. I'll stand treat."

"Drink their health? No. Good-night. I'm going out of town a bit," he replied, nodding shortly; and without another word of farewell he turned his back on Sevier for ever.

There is no couple better beloved in all that mountain-region than David Cabarreux and his wife. They live on the farm. Dave lies in the fern a good part of every day smoking and planning, but as his wife is satisfied that his dream is one of love for her, she is content: besides, she wishes him to rest, being careful of his health and in constant terror lest he may fall a victim to cerebral disease from overwork, which is so common an ailment in the North. Oats and corundum both came according to prophecy. The Cabarreux property is turning out better than any other in that part of the State, both as to soil and mineral products: there is some talk of a gold-mine, indeed, lately.

"And Bel," her father tells the squire, "will find out the latest improvements in working it. Bel can bring the best profit out of any ground, however poor. Even out of Cabarreux himself."

Mr. Calhoun is a little prejudiced still against his Southern son-in-law.

Peter Marmaduke Boyer is dead. He died at home, in the mountain-hut. The way it came about was this: The two brothers sat alone one night by the fire after a day's hunting. Suddenly Richard stood up. His practised ear heard a step far off down the mountain. Then Hugh rose: they looked at each other. "It is he," they said, and went out into the night to meet him. Their watch of half a lifetime was over.

Their brother, when they brought him into the house, was very poor and weak, and looked as if he were an older man than either of them. But he was full of triumph and good cheer.

"Boys," he said, "I told you I would not come back to you until I had done a great deed. I have done it."

He never told them what it was, and they were contented with knowing that he had taken rank above all other men down in the great world yonder.

He lived for more than a year. It was a very happy year. The brothers had waited long for it. They listened from morning until night to his boastful little stories with undoubting faith and pleasure. As for their hero, he felt that he had made his mark: he had his circle of admirers and limitless applause: what could life give him more?

The little man wasted away gradually. Just at the last he looked up with an assuring nod to Richard and Hugh: "You'll not be long behind me, boys. But I'll be there before: I'll straighten matters a bit for you." And so he went out with an airy swagger into the other world.

Rebecca Harding Davis.
[Pg 355]


"Tantah, a town of Lower Egypt, in the Delta province and 5 miles S. W. of Menoof, on the Damietta branch of the Nile. It has a government school."

This, and nothing more, from the Gazetteer. It does not promise much, and yet Tantah is an important place, and, in spite of the Gazetteer, is not on the Damietta branch, but in the very heart of the Delta, among the smaller water-courses. On this account it is not often visited by travellers.

And first I must tell how I came to go to Tantah. In the year 1867 the sloop-of-war ——, to which I was attached, was cruising in the Levant, touching now and again at Canea or at Suda Bay to see how the Turks and the Cretans were getting on with their war, or at Larneka to lend the "influence of the flag" to that pleasant gentleman, General di Cesnola, then in the full tide of archæological research in Cyprus. Sometimes we were sipping fruity wine in Samos or eating "lumps of delight" and smoking Latakia in Smyrna; and generally we represented the United States in these uttermost parts with great dignity.

One day while at Smyrna we received orders by the mail-steamer to go at once to Jaffa, and there afford assistance to certain "distressed Americans" then sojourning on the Plain of Sharon. We already knew something about them. These people were the remains—the sediment, so to speak—of a certain "American colony" which had come out from New England, principally from Maine and New Hampshire, a year or two before, being the latest crusaders on record, and "bound to occupy the land" on the way to the Holy City. They had some kind of queer, fanatical belief, which had been fostered by their leader, one Adams, a long, raw-boned, bearded Yankee, until they sold their farms or shops and tools of trade, and placed the proceeds in a common stock under the charge of their prophet and leader. This Adams was said to have formerly been an actor, and then a Methodist minister in St. Louis, a Mormon (some people said) after that; and finally he had invented a creed and founded a sect of his own. It does not speak very well for the vaunted New England shrewdness and intelligence that near two hundred and fifty persons of all ages cast in their lot with him, or, rather, cast in their lots for him. He chartered a vessel, freighted it with provisions, seed for planting, agricultural implements and lumber for houses, and forthwith sailed for the Holy Land at the head of his followers, intending to sow and reap and prepare for the coming of the nations at the millennium, supposed by the colonists to be near at hand. Such people are apt to be useful so long as their enthusiasm lasts, whatever the motives which prompt them. This even the Turks could see; and a firman had been procured without difficulty, enabling them to erect their houses and to lease and cultivate a certain portion of land, planting American seed-wheat and maize where before grew only gran turco, barley, sesamum and anise.

Thus it came about that there was to be seen the curious contrast of staring Yankee frame houses and a regulation "meeting-house" peeping over the orange-groves of Jaffa. Yankee-built farm-wagons passed along the dusty cactus-hedged lanes in company with panniered donkeys and laden camels, while Yankee forms and voices were daily seen and heard in the filthy narrow streets of the old town itself. I wonder how much these simple, homely people knew of Roman assaults and massacres or of Napoleon's butcheries enacted on the very ground where their hearthstones were laid? Not much, I fancy. And it was hard to get them to talk freely or connectedly on any subject. In fact, their experience had not been happy;[Pg 356] and by this time the Plain of Sharon was dust and ashes to them, and "their dolls were stuffed with sawdust." Some of the younger members of the community did confess to a passing knowledge of Jonah and the whale, and of the ships which brought the cedar of Lebanon to the port where their lot was cast; but they seemed as much at sea as Jonah was when the Crusades were mentioned. At any rate, here was this American-born community ploughing this historic soil, most of the members of which had never been fifty miles from home before they took this great blind leap into the dark.

I never knew just how much Adams believed in himself and his mission. On a previous visit, while all was still couleur de rose with the colony, I had asked him how he proposed to keep order among his flock and to settle the disputes and difficulties which must inevitably arise. "Why, sir," he answered, "we have no disputes; but should any arise, I, with the elders, will sit and judge them in the gate, just as in Bible times—just as was done right here twenty-five centuries ago."

We found matters sadly changed since our visit of the year before. It was now almost harvest-time, and there was little to reap, for little had been planted. Many of the colonists had fallen sick, and not a few had laid their bones under the strange soil to mingle with the dust of ages. Some had been assisted to return to their Western home by a benevolent member of the party whose pilgrimage is immortalized by Mark Twain in the Innocents Abroad. Some who had privately and wisely retained a small sum for a "rainy day" had gone off, abandoning their interest in the common weal. But many had, in the inception, with unquestioning faith, placed their all in the common stock, and were unable to extract any part thereof from the custody of Adams, who not only did not account for the funds, but by this time had taken to drink, and was generally to be seen (when to be seen at all) in a state either of maudlin piety or of morose defiance of all questions and demands. Of course, under these circumstances the business-affairs of the colony went to rack and ruin. The small number of his disciples who remained were suffering from want of comforts and from malaria, home-sickness and disappointment. One or two of the women had taken to themselves Syrian husbands, and one or two of the men, with Yankee readiness and adaptation where a penny was to be turned, had taken to "guiding" travellers to Jerusalem or trading in horseflesh; but nearly all of those who were left were longing for "home," and would be glad to get there on any terms.

It was determined very soon after our arrival, in spite of Adams's covert opposition, that those who wished to leave should be taken on board our ship and transported to Alexandria, whence they could be sent by the consul to Liverpool as "distressed American citizens," and thence to America. Poor people! they had little to bring on board but the clothes in which they stood—well worn and mended, but generally clean and decent. Some few had modest bundles, and the younger women had even retained a little personal finery. Indeed, the women and girls all showed in their deportment much of the self-respect and quaint good manners due to their New England birth and training. These were all provided with private quarters for the short passage in the cabin and wardroom. The men were quartered upon the different messes among the crew, and they seemed to have suffered more degradation in their fallen fortunes than the women. Among the males was to be seen an occasional tarboush or a pair of baggy trousers and sash; and it was curious to observe how the wearers of these garments had acquired a loaferish, farniente air worthy of a native. Our officers and men did what they could toward assisting these poor people with spare clothing and a little cash. They seemed, however, to move about in a kind of daze, receiving the contributions properly enough, but in a quiet, undemonstrative kind of way; so different from the usual backsheesh transactions to which we were accustomed in this part of the world that the[Pg 357] contrast of itself would have proclaimed them a foreign race. In one or two cases the women, as soon as they found out what was going on, made a private request that any cash intended for them might be put into their own hands, "their men bein' kind of shiftless-like, you see."

A quiet run of thirty hours brought us to the busy port of Alexandria, where the crowded harbor and the rush and bustle of the Overland traffic and travel caused a turmoil to which we had been for months unaccustomed. It must have been fairly bewildering to our passengers, fresh from their humdrum existence. The arrangements on their behalf were made in a few hours, and our poor fellow-countrymen were soon off for England in the steerage of a huge cotton-loaded freight-steamer, having a new experience in the companionship of Bengalese, Maltese, Arabs, English navvies and riff-raff of all tongues and complexions. In fact, the Overland route, at that time especially, afforded about the most curious aggregation of nationalities and costumes that the world has ever seen since the Crusades.

"It is an ill wind which blows nobody good." We had earnestly desired, during two terms of service in the Levant, to visit Egypt, but some untoward event had always prevented us from doing so. A threatened massacre at Damascus, some consul's squabble at Sidon or Haïffa, or some fresh atrocity reported in the course of the Cretan insurrection, or the desire on the part of our minister to have "the flag shown" at Constantinople, had invariably barred us from getting to the south. But here we were at last within sight of Pompey's Pillar, and we felt sure that we should not leave the East again, as we had done once before, without a peep at the Pyramids, and at least a glance at the wonderful work of M. de Lesseps, then approaching completion.

On the day after our arrival, while dining with our consul-general, the great fair then being held at Tantah became the subject of conversation. As most of us had never even heard of Tantah, we were informed that it was a large and flourishing town in the Delta, about halfway between Alexandria and Cairo, where an annual fair—the fair of Egypt—had been held time out of mind. That is, out of modern Egyptian mind, which, in strange contrast with its belongings and residence, does not seem to remember anything much before the last harvest, the last hatching of eggs and the last conscription. Lately, the fair had been interdicted by the viceroy on account of cholera having been introduced by the pilgrims returning from Mecca and Jeddah, and then spread by the multitude which congregated there; for the fair was held just at the time that the pilgrims returned from the "Hadj," and hadjis, as a rule, are not averse to dealing and turning an honest penny.

This year, however, the fair was in full blast again, and more frequented than ever on account of its temporary suspension. To this point were drawn not only the Fellahs of the surrounding Delta, but Nubians, Soudanese and Copts from the south; Arabs from across the Red Sea and from Fezzan and Tripoli; Mograbs on their western way from the Hadj; Turks from Aleppo, Broussa and Constantinople; Greeks, both Hellenes and Fanariots; Maltese, Italians and Syrians; Armenians and Jews. The time was late in April, and the weather already very hot, so that the tribe of winter Nile travellers would be conspicuous by its absence, and visitors to the fair would be spared their airs and graces, and have an opportunity to enjoy a scene of genuine local color without a pervading sense of tourists to spoil it.

The consul-general kindly proposed that we should make up a party for the next day, undertaking to procure a vice-regal order (Ismail was not yet khedive) for a special car to be attached to the morning-train, wait for us, and bring us back to Alexandria in the evening. The consuls-general of Russia and Belgium, who were present, volunteered to join the party. Each of them, as well as our own consul, was to be attended by his two cavasses—magnificent persons in costume gay with color and lace, and bristling with weapons; in addition to[Pg 358] which they carried in the hand a long and heavy rod.

We reached Tantah before nine o'clock, and emerged from the station under the close inspection of a motley crowd of loafers, to find the day, as usual, splendidly clear and bright, but already too hot for comfort. The American vice-consul was in waiting to receive us—a Syrian merchant of some substance, whose office was a sinecure, and who spoke no word of English, but to whom the position was of much importance as a protection from any petty persecution of the local authorities. He seemed to be quite overwhelmed by the honor done him by the visit, which would add immensely to his social and business standing.

Forming a sort of procession, we walked slowly toward the centre of the town, preceded by the six cavasses, who shouted to the motley crowd to make way for their high lordships, and when the promptest obedience was not rendered whacked the offenders with their canes with great impartiality and no light hand. Hardly a curse or a scowl resulted from this treatment, the crowd mostly seeming to take the stick discipline as a joke.

The town of Tantah is, for Egypt, a very modern place, on flat ground of course, containing the usual bazaars, mosques, barracks and pasha's residence or konak, with some substantial private buildings near the centre, from which the houses soon dwindle to the ordinary mud residence of the Fellah. The place was said to contain some fifty or sixty thousand people, while more than double that number was just now drawn to it by the fair.

The vice-consul, swelling with pride and shiny with perspiration, led us straight to his residence, a large house in one of the principal streets. Here we had breakfast, with coffee and pipes, which occupied an hour, the whole large establishment seething and working with the unwonted excitement of entertaining such distinguished guests. This was evident even to such utter strangers as ourselves, for we were constantly aware of a scuffling and whispering outside the large room in which we were entertained, and every now and then became aware of eyes surveying us curiously from some coign of vantage; which eyes, on meeting ours, suddenly and silently disappeared.

As soon as possible we sallied out to pay the necessary visit to the pasha of the district. Our coming had been duly announced, and upon arriving at his residence we found him at the landing of the staircase ready to receive us, for consuls-general are great people in Egypt, having diplomatic functions, and being, in all but name, ministers resident. The pasha was a small, spare, dark little man, with his black beard clipped as close as scissors could do it. He was dressed in the official costume—a single-breasted black coat such as some of our Episcopal clergymen wear, black trousers, patent-leather boots, and of course the red fez. The reception-room into which he led us was a large one—cool by comparison with the outside air, and somewhat dirty and shabby, as such places are apt to be, according to my experience. Seating ourselves according to rank on the rather greasy divan which ran round three sides of the apartment, we were offered cooling drinks and cigarettes. (Chibouks are things of the past for all ordinary occasions. It's a pity, for they are better smoking than cigarettes, and certainly more picturesque.) Compliments were exchanged in bad French, and the ordinary topics discussed, but nothing was said as to the weather except that it was warm—a self-evident proposition. The weather is not a fruitful topic in Egypt. After a little time some officials came in with a whole pile of papers for signature, and we took the opportunity to terminate our mutual discomfort, the pasha with a perfunctory grin shaking hands with everybody, at the same time ordering some of his own cavasses to join ours as a special bodyguard to clear the way for us through the narrow, crowded streets.

Having attended to the bienséances, we sallied out for sightseeing, going first to the principal mosque, as it was in our way and evidently considered by our[Pg 359] guides one of the "lions." Whether it was owing to the rank of some of our party or to the presence of the pasha's cavasses I don't know, but we walked straight into this mosque, without taking off our boots or putting papooshes over them—the first and last time, in my experience of the East, in which such a thing was done. There was suppressed grumbling on the part of some dervishes and some old-fashioned turbaned individuals grouped in the arcaded porch, but nobody seemed to care much about them. There was nothing particular to see inside the mosque after we got there. It had not the grand proportions or elaborate decoration of some of the Cairene mosques, neither was the pulpit as handsomely carved or the hanging lamps and ostrich-shells as numerous. The coolness of the thick-walled, domed building was, however, most grateful, for the heat in the streets was by this time almost insufferable, and the smells awful.

But we had no time for coolness or comfort on this day. We were to dine with the vice-consul at two o'clock, and we had not yet seen the fair. Passing hurriedly through the principal bazaars, we could only glance about, for we were almost suffocated by the surging crowds, which pressed upon us in spite of the utmost exertions of our cavasses. Indeed, we were all too much accustomed to bazaars to have much curiosity about these. Escaping to the outskirts of the town, where the real fair was held, we found the fun growing fast and furious, and the different sights and sounds more and more bewildering. Here were hundreds of tents and other temporary erections, and swarms of people of the quaintest appearance, buying and selling, cooking, eating and drinking, praying, quarrelling and chaffing. Of course the blue cotton long shirts of the indigenous Fellahs lent the principal color to the crowd, but this was relieved by the most brilliant-colored clothing among the visitors and traders, including the red fez on most heads, the red and yellow headgear of the Arabs, the black caps of the Copts, and the white uniforms of the viceroy's nizam or regular soldiers. Sherbet- and water-sellers pervaded the scene, and added the chatter of their voices and the clatter of their brass cups to the already indescribable din. There were piles of different sorts of grain; harness for horses, camels and buffaloes; heaps of carpets and rugs and clothing; fez caps, papooshes, pipes and tobacco, mostly the common Jibileh; brass and copper cups and cooking utensils, and cheap jewelry and trinkets. Farther on was a space reserved for buying and selling horses, donkeys, camels and cattle, and here were to be seen fellows who would not be off their feet at Tattersall's or at a Kentucky "quarter race," so much are jockeys and horse-dealers alike all the world over. It was really amusing to recognize the well-known "horsey" look from under the kufieh of an Arab whenever the chance for a "trade" presented itself.

Near the horse-fair we became aware of music of a peculiar kind, with a good deal of tambourine in it, proceeding from a closed tent; and upon its becoming known that our party was present, out streamed from the door a group of musicians and almehs, or dancing-women; the latter in rather light attire, but covered, as to their heads, bosoms, arms and ankles, with strings of jingling coins—some with toe-rings, and all with the eyes heavily lined out with kohl and fingers stained with henna. These people have not, for many years, been permitted publicly to exercise their vocation in Northern Egypt, but have been banished away up the Nile. I presume their presence at the fair was winked at by the authorities, and they were probably not the best of their class. Some of the women were by no means bad-looking, and they danced with a sway of figure and a grace and abandon perfect in their way. It is the same dance, with the same steps and gestures, which is painted on the walls of many an ancient Egyptian tomb, and transmitted from the time of Osortasen and the Pharaoh who knew Joseph. A tremendous crowd at once collected on the prospect of a dance at the expense of the strangers, and, gaping over each other's shoulders,[Pg 360] divided their stares between our party and the almehs. The sun, all this time, was beating down upon the scene with power sufficient, one would have thought, to bake the unprotected brains of most of the company. One of our party became fairly ill from this cause, and we were all glad to escape from the reeking markets and streets, and to take refuge once more in the cool and spacious house of our vice-consul.

Here we managed to cool off a little, and in due time were ushered into the dining-room, where was a table handsomely decked and furnished in the European style. Our host took his place at the head of the table, but during the whole dinner never touched a morsel, occupying himself in superintending the movements of the numerous servants and in smiling blandly on each of us as we caught his eye, and evidently inviting us by his gestures to "go in and win." When we had had eight or ten courses of the usual soups, fish and roast and boiled, accompanied by wine of several sorts, we began to feel that there was a limit to our capacity. But there appeared to be none to the resources of our host's larder and kitchen, for course after course of native dishes was now brought on, and we were pressed to try one after another of strange-looking and still stranger-tasting concoctions. Finally, the list of these seemed to be exhausted, and the roasts began over again, until, on the appearance of a huge turkey stuffed with pistachios, my right-hand neighbor, who had a statistical mind, announced that this formed the twentieth course. At this point the consul-general interfered, and informed our host, with many thanks and compliments, that we could positively eat no more. With a gratified smile and the air of a general who had won a victory he turned to his servants and ordered the cooking to cease. We were told afterward that it was the etiquette of a grand repast among wealthy people of this class that the courses should continue to appear until the guests asked the host's mercy or gave other decided evidence of repletion. Our consul-general, knowing this, had been willing to let us see how far the thing could go.

When we had risen from table and taken seats upon the divan, the wife and daughter of our host (Syrian Christians) served us with basins of perfumed water and fine fringed towels, after which they raised the hands of the principal members of the party to their lips and foreheads and thanked them for the great honor they had done them.

The sun was by this time low, and the time for our train had quite arrived. So we left the house of our entertainer to walk the short distance to the station. On the way we met the horses of one of the viceroy's squadrons going to water. Beautiful animals they were—all dark bay or chestnut, splendidly groomed, and marching to the sound of the trumpet as steadily as if each carried a rider. The men in charge of them were well-set-up, soldier-like fellows, who, barring their white uniforms and dark faces, might have just ridden out of Knightsbridge Barracks or the gate of Saumur.

At the station we found our car just being attached to the evening-train from Cairo; which train, by the by, had been waiting for us for some time, to the very apparent disgust of the English-speaking and other European passengers. The native passengers seemed to take the delay calmly and as a matter of course, some of them spreading their prayer-carpets upon the platform to recite the evening prayer, to which the muezzins were calling from the minarets as we left the town: "La Illah illa Allāh! Mohammed du russûl Allā-ā-h!"

We were soon off, passing through most monotonous scenery, with constantly recurring groups of Fellahs and their animals returning from their long day of labor, and filing along the causeways and embankments toward the mud villages and towns, over which the pigeons were whirling their last flight before betaking themselves to their cotes for the night. The air became cooler and the moon rose as we rolled along the embankment of Lake Mareotis, and the whole scene was so calm and peaceful[Pg 361] and conducive to reverie that it seemed a rude awakening when we dashed into the station at Alexandria and the touts and donkey-boys began their tiresome yells and shouts, as if they had never left off since morning: "Onkle Sam, sir! werry good donkey, my master."—"Dis Jim Crow! more better, sir!"—"Hôtel Mediterranée, signori!" Bidding good-night to our pleasant and courteous fellow-sightseers, we were soon clattering through the streets to the custom-house landing. Our cutter was waiting: "Up oars! let fall! give way all!" and twenty-four strong, bronzed arms were pulling us over the smooth surface of the moonlit harbor. In ten minutes we were once more on board our floating home, and turned in forthwith, tired enough to sleep without rocking.

E. S.


These winter days, my love, are short and sad—
Oh, sad and short!
But future summers will not make us glad,
Of Fate the sport.
I go; and where we have been you abide,
To face the light
Of days that pour their splendor far and wide,
And mock the night.
How you will hate their brightness well I know—
Their fragrant ways,
Thick set with bloom, free winds that come and go,
And birds that praise
The triumph of the summer, and are glad
Of their desire,
Fulfilled in warmth, with mirth and music mad,
And set on fire
Of Love, to whom all sweet things do belong:
Those new, bright days,
With overflow of blossoms and glad song,
You will not praise.
Nor shall the swift, short nights, when skies bend low,
And through the blue
The white moon moves on silently and slow,
Bring rest to you.
The day will vex you, and the night deny
Your idle prayer:
Shall I, across strange waters, hear your cry,
And be aware?

Louise Chandler Moulton.

[Pg 362]



Not since the day on which we heard of Lee's surrender had there been such a commotion in the house. We who had grown up since that date had ceased to expect anything in the way of pleasure, for "the war" was a ghost that wouldn't be laid. Did we want fine dresses, we were asked where the money was coming from, now that Uncle David had lost all his property by the war; did we vainly long for a trip to a Northern city, we were consoled by the announcement that if it had not been for the war Uncle David would have taken us to Europe; if we complained that we had to keep our own rooms in order and sweep the parlors besides, a dignified reference was made to the former number of servants in the establishment; and when we roundly declared that life wasn't worth living without a dessert for dinner every day, somebody would say that it could hardly be expected we should set such a table as we did before the war. Positively, we didn't know how old we were, for Aunt Nanny declared that her memory wasn't a yard long on account of the trouble she had had during the war, and the family Bible had been "confiscated" by a pious private of taking propensities. Lilly was the older, however: we knew that. She was half a head taller than I, and had a dignified figure, though she looked like a child in the face and had a good many child's ways. She never knew what to do with her hands, for one thing, and when a little embarrassed she had a sweet cunning habit of putting one hand up to her mouth and laughing behind it. Her mouth was her prettiest feature. It had a bewitching way of dimpling at the corners, and the twenty-four pearls behind it had never been touched by the dentist. This, Aunt Nanny said, was the one good result of the war; for we had to eat boiled rice and drink cold water instead of plum-cake and coffee; so we kept our teeth sound.

We were orphans. Our names were Lilly and Stella Tresvant. Our father had been killed during the war, and our mother had died of grief. We were little children then, and had been sent to the Island City, Galveston, to live with Aunt Nanny and Uncle David. We thought ourselves quite grown-up now. Since we came to our island home we had never been away from it. It was forlorn enough, though it was a pretty place, all overgrown with oleanders and cape-jessamines. We used to get so tired watching the sea, hearing the restless beat, beat of the waves against the shore, and seeing the far-off birds dip their wings into the water! There was an old book in Uncle David's library that I suppose we had read a dozen times. It was called Rasselas, and was about a young prince and his sister who lived in a Happy Valley, and yet could never be happy until they got away. "I can sympathize with them," Lilly used to say with such a mournful look in her big gray eyes; "and yet what was their case compared to ours? They didn't have to wear their grandmother's clothes made over, I'm very sure."

But the turning came in our long lane. One year Uncle David's crop was uncommonly good. He made a bale to the acre, got it all picked in good time, and the hands paid off without any grumbling. His plantation was in the interior, and just before the cotton was sent off we all went up to have a look at it. There were about fifty bales—a very good crop for these times, though Aunt Nanny declared it wouldn't have been a drop in the bucket "before the war." But it looked like immense wealth to Lilly and myself.

"Only think, Stella!" said Lilly to me: "if we had just a single bale apiece, what a good time we might have!"[Pg 363]

Now, it happened that Uncle David overheard this. He was walking about the yard, as silent as usual, but he was holding his spectacles in his hand, and that was with him a sign of great good-humor. We could always tell the state of the cotton-market by the position of Uncle David's spectacles; and, as Mrs. Gargery tied on her apron when upon a "rampage," so uncle jammed his spectacles close to his eyes when things were very much out of joint.

"Well, girls," he said, "you've been pretty good lately, and I'll present you each with a bale of cotton."

We couldn't speak for surprise. But I flew at Uncle David and gave him such a kissing as he had never had from anybody, I suppose, for he blushed quite red.

Then we ran off to the cotton-press to see the last bales pressed. As often as we had watched that revolving screw and the two mules going slowly round squeezing the huge bale—it was rather a primitive press this, made by the carpenter on the place—we had never looked with an interest to compare with that which we now felt. It was our own property being squeezed into shape; and we actually stood there until the bale in press was rolled out, corded and tied. It was a great five-hundred-pounder at least; and "That's mine," said Lil.

When we had been at home a few days a lady called to see us who had been an old friend of our mother's: Mrs. Long was her name. She was sparkling with jewels, and Lil and I were quite dazzled by them and her pretty clothes and her careless way of saying that she thought of "running over to New Orleans for a couple of months," just as we should have proposed to run down to the beach to pick up shells.

"I wish I could take these two girls with me," she said, waving her hand toward Lilly and me. "Would it not be possible, dear Miss Nanny?"

Aunt Nanny shook her head, and began the usual doleful story about the war and its consequences; but Lilly gave me a quick look, and her face absolutely flashed. Then she slyly raised those long slim fingers of hers and spelled out, "The cotton."

Well, pretty soon we heard from the cotton. Uncle David had sent it to England, and it had brought a good price. In he came one day and tossed a little packet into my lap and into Lil's. We opened them, and out tumbled five twenty-dollar gold-pieces.

"Well, young ladies," said he, "what shall you do with your wealth?"

"Go to New Orleans," said Lilly as coolly as ever she spoke in her life.

"Pooh! pooh!" said Aunt Nanny: "just put it in the bank for a nest-egg."

"Now, Aunt Nanny," said Lilly, who had a perfect genius for argument, "what under heaven do we want with a nest-egg? Uncle David gave us this without any conditions: we were to do just as we pleased with it. And I am tired of staying on this old sand-bar: it just makes me sick to smell the oleanders. I want to go somewhere—to see something of life. Mrs. Long would be delighted to have us go over to New Orleans with her: this money will buy us some new dresses; so why can't we do it?"

"I think they might go, Nanny," said that blessed Uncle David; and then Maum' Hepsey came in. She had been our black mammy, and was a privileged character.

"Lor', yes, Miss Nanny!" said she: "let de chillen go, for massy's sake. Dey gits tired joggin' along here in de same ole ruts. 'Tain't gwine ter cost so very much; an' I'm willin' ter 'conomize six months ter help 'long."

The end of it all was that Aunt Nanny had to give her consent—that is, she said, if Mrs. Long really wanted us. So she dressed in her best—a long velvet cloak and a brocaded silk that looked very arkaic—and went the same day to find out that lady's mind. She came back, of course, with a warm repetition of Mrs. Long's invitation, and an urgent entreaty to be ready in a week's time. Hence the commotion in our family, for much had to be done in that week of preparation.

I did not suspect Lilly was not quite[Pg 364] happy until one morning when we were walking on the beach before breakfast. It was a morning to make one in love with life. I danced along the hard shining white beach, and was more interested in watching the water, that broke into as many ripples as if the fishes were doing the diagonal waltz under the waves, than in looking at Lilly's face; but finally I noticed that she had an ugly little frown on her forehead.

"After all, Stell," she said, "one hundred dollars won't go a great way."

"Well, of course, Lil, we don't expect to launch out, like Dinah, in 'gorgeous array.'"

"No, but we don't want to look like Southern paupers."

"As we are," said I, laughing.

"No matter: we must put the best foot foremost," said Lil, looking very pretty and pale and earnest as the salt wind blew back her hair: "our new silks, with some of Aunt Nanny's old lace, will do very well, but how I wish we had some jewelry!"

"Oh, I don't care for that," said I.

"Good enough reason: you are younger than I am, and don't need it." (One would have thought Lilly thirty years old.) "But I should look like a different being with earrings. I must have a pair."

"The only question is how to get them," said I prosaically, for I'm always acting as a drag on Lilly's wheels.

"True," she said with a tragic air. "Dear me! I'm tempted to duck my head under the water, and let it stay there, when I think of all the troubles of life."

"'You would be a mermaid fair,
Sitting alone, sitting alone,'

and all strung round with corals and pearls. But I'd rather be Stella Tresvant on her way to New Orleans—and breakfast."

"Breakfast, indeed!" said Lilly with an accent of scorn.

Still, she ate this meal with a becoming appetite, and after it was ended proposed that we should go and have a chat with Maum' Hepsey.

We found Maum' Hepsey in her cabin, sitting in a rickety old rocking-chair, a short black pipe in her mouth from which she was drawing vigorous whiffs of comfort. A slow fire was burning in the fireplace, and on it was a huge black kettle half filled with white Southern corn. This was "lye hominy" in course of preparation—the succulent lye hominy dear to every Southern heart.

"Lor', chillen!" said Maum' Hepsey, "it's too hot for you to be in here. Massy knows if I wazn't seasoned to it I'd drap in my tracks, dis fire is so pow'ful drawin'."

"Oh, never mind, maum'; we can sit in the door. We just came to talk to you about our troubles."

"Sakes alive! I thought your troubles waz about over, now dat you're gwine ter have a trip to Orleans."

"That's it," sighed Lil: "we're going off to that grand city, where I suppose the ladies wear silks and satins every day, and we've nothing to wear."

"Whar's de money for de cotton?" Maum' Hepsey demanded, her lower jaw dropping in such a surprised way that the black pipe fell out and barely escaped the lye hominy.

"A hundred dollars doesn't go very far," said Lil contemptuously.

"Well, chillen, in my young days dat waz pretty much of a sum—sho's yo' born it waz."

"Things are different now; and besides, Maum' Hepsey, you don't know how a dressed-up lady ought to look."

"Highty-tighty!" said maum', while her eyes sparkled alarmingly. "As if I ain't seen mo' finery in a month dan you has in every blessed year of your life! Lor'! when my young mars' brung his bride over from Orleans dat chile didn't have a gownd in her trunk dat warn't made of Injy silk; an' she did look han'some a-trailin' round in 'em. An' you tell me I donno what fine dressin' is! Go 'long, chile! you've lost your manners."

Maum' Hepsey was really offended, and I hastened to soothe her: "Lil only meant that you didn't know how the ladies dressed now. We are to have two new dresses, maum', but Lilly's trouble is that she hasn't any jewelry."[Pg 365]

She shook her turbaned head: "Jewelry costs a sight of money, honey. My young mis', she had a ring on her finger wid a stun in it like a star. 'Twarn't no bigger 'n a baby hazelnut, but, sho's yo' born, chillen, dat ring cost ten hundred dollars!"

"That was a diamond," said Lilly in an awed voice. "I never expect to have one if I live to be a thousand years old."

"Chillen," said Maum' Hepsey, lowering her voice, "why don't you git Miss Nanny to let you open dat trunk in de attic?"

"Whose is it, Maum' Hepsey?"

"Lor', honey! didn't you never hear 'bout dat trunk? It was lef' wid your Uncle David for sto'age durin' de war. A slim, dark-complected young man brought it one evenin' about sundown, an' from dat day to dis none of us has ever set eyes on him."

"What do you suppose became of him?"

"De good Lord knows, honey. Mos' likely he waz killed: men dropped down like oleander-blossoms in de high winds in dem dreadful days. Now, I shouldn't wonder, chillen, if dar waz money in dat trunk."

"So there might be," said Lilly with a start.

"It must ha' held somethin' valerble," said Maum' Hepsey, looking like a solemn old owl, "else why should he ha' been so mighty pertickeler 'bout havin' it stored safe? Den, ag'in, he must ha' been killed, else why shouldn't he ha' come back for it? An' why should we let de things—whatever is in it—moulder away, instead o' gettin' de good of 'em like sensible folks?"

"We shouldn't have any right," said I doubtfully.

"Oh shoo, chile, shoo! You'd have just as much right as de rats an' mice."

Lilly jumped up. "I think Maum' Hepsey's idea a good one," said she. "Who knows? That trunk may turn out a gold-mine."

Back we went to the house, and made an appeal to Aunt Nanny to be allowed to open the trunk.

"Dear me, girls! what will you think of next?" said she. "I had almost forgotten that old trunk."

"Tell us about the man who left it, aunty. What was his name?"

"That's what none of us know. He came here about dusk one evening—a wild, distracted looking man he was—and said he wanted to leave a trunk until called for. You know your uncle David was a commission-merchant, and very often had packages left with him for safe-keeping. He had a book in which he registered the names of the owners, descriptions of the parcels, etc. He turned to his desk to get out this ledger, and when he looked round again the man was gone. Your uncle ran to the door, but no trace of him was to be seen. He says that he would have thought the whole thing a dream, but for the little trunk on the floor."

"What a romance!" cried Lil.

"The poor fellow must have been killed," said Aunt Nanny. "We advertised the trunk after the war, but no claimant ever came for it."

"And you've kept it all this time without looking into it? How could you? It would have been a perfect Blue Beard's chamber to me."

"Dear me, child! With all the trouble that's come to this house I've had other things to do than to go prying into strangers' trunks."

"Well, you've got to pry now," said Lilly with her little air of decision. "Who knows what treasures we may unearth? Can't we open it, aunty?"

"Yes, if Uncle David says so."

We could hardly wait for Uncle David to come home. We dragged the trunk down from the attic to the sitting-room: finally, we went to the gate to watch for Uncle David, and before he was well in the house had won his consent to open the trunk. In fact, I think he was not without a mild curiosity himself, though he said, "I feel uncommonly like a burglar," as he knelt down by the trunk and tried to force the lock.

"How do you know how a burglar feels?" said Lil saucily.

It was rather an exciting moment. A sea-breeze sprang up, and the blinds rattled[Pg 366] loudly, as though some angry hand were trying to break them away. I started nervously and looked over my shoulder, half expecting to see the wrathful face of a slim, dark man. A cold air blew through the room. It almost seemed that viewless influences were interposing to save the stranger's treasures from profanation.

It was a spring lock, and it flew open with a snap. We peered eagerly into the trunk. Commonplace enough! Uncle David handed out one shirt after another.

"Bah!" said Lilly, "only a man's shirts!"

"But only look!" said Aunt Nanny, "what exquisite linen! and how neatly made! Some woman's hand is in this."

Lil picked one up and looked at it curiously: "Well, they are nicely done: no sewing-machine work here. And see, aunty, here are initials."

The initials "C. G." were marked in delicate embroidery on all the garments. Next came a lot of gentleman's handkerchiefs marked in the same way, and with them half a dozen thread cambric, lace-bordered handkerchiefs, evidently intended for a lady's use, and without mark. The next thing was a dress-suit, in which we took very little interest: then a yellow sheet of paper that we seized eagerly. We hoped it was a letter, but it was a poem without date or signature, written in French:

Qu'elle est belle la marquise!
Que sa toilette est exquise!
Gants glacées à dix boutons,
Et bottines hauts talons!
Qu'elle est belle la marquise!
Quelles délices, quel délire,
Dans sa bouche et son sourire!
Et sa voix—qui ne dirait
Que le rossignol chantait?
Qu'elle est belle la marquise!
La marquise! ma marquise!
Bel amour est sa devise,
Et sa profession de foi
Est: je vous aime—aimez moi!
Qu'elle est belle la marquise!

"Oh, how interesting!" cried Lilly. "I shall die if I don't find out something more about him."

"You'll never hear of him again," said I, "so make up your mind to die."

"Perhaps he had left one he loved," said Uncle David, "and she waited for him day after day, and he never came back to her."

Uncle David's voice was as sad as the echo in a tomb. I thought I saw tears in the misty blue eyes behind the spectacles; and I believe at that moment, for the first time in my life, I realized that Uncle David, old and gray and wrinkled though he was, had a heart that had suffered.

"Well," said Lilly, shaking back her hair impatiently, "is there anything more?"

"Only this little box."

We opened the box, and there, on a bed of pink cotton, were a pair of cuff-buttons, the most elegant we had ever seen. They were onyx, with diamond stars for a centre. The diamonds were all small except the central ones, that were like the dewdrops at the tips of narrow leaves.

"How beautiful!" cried Lilly.

"These diamonds are of great value," said Uncle David, examining them critically.

"But this man must have had friends," said I: "there must be some one in the world to whom these things ought to belong."

"Until those friends are found," said Lilly, "I propose that we act as Mr. Unknown's heir and executors. You can have the handkerchiefs, Stell, and I will take these buttons: they could be made into lovely earrings."

"Oh, Lilly! should you like to wear them?"

"Certainly: why not?" and Lilly ran to the glass and held one of the darkly-shining stones against her pale, pretty cheek.—"Don't oppose it, aunty dear. Only think! fifteen years and the man not heard from!"

"Here are his initials again," said I, picking up the other button, on whose gold side the initials were engraved. "'C. G.'—Constant Gower? Colton Goran?"

"What nonsense, Stell!" interrupted Lilly.—"Tell me, Aunt Nanny—may I have the buttons?"

"Oh, I suppose so, child. You always[Pg 367] manage to have your own way; and if your uncle David is willing, I've no objections."

Uncle David was equally willing, so Lilly took triumphant possession of the buttons.

Another week saw us on our way to New Orleans. We were neither of us seasick, and we enjoyed every moment of the voyage across the Gulf. Mrs. Long seemed glad to have us, and was interested in our incessant talk. Lilly of course gave her the whole story of the Frenchman's buttons, and brought them out for her inspection. She said they would make lovely earrings, and that she must attend to that the first thing on reaching New Orleans.

She took us to the St. Charles Hotel, and with beating hearts we made our toilettes for the table d'hote. What a grand occasion that was to us! I was rather frightened, but Lilly actually seemed to grow taller as she put on her new dress. She had chosen the suit herself, and while the skirt was black silk, the bodice was deep crimson laced in the back. Her face rose from it like a lily, pure and pale. I looked at her with admiration and despair, for in my nervousness I felt that my face was the color of an Indian peach. Once seated in the dining-room, however, we soon began to feel a comfortable sense of our own insignificance, and to look about at our neighbors as Mrs. Long was doing.

A season of delight now set in for us. We went to museums and picture-galleries; we drove on the Shell Road that wound in shining distance like a silver chain; and walked on Canal and Carondelet streets, equally interested in the fine shop-windows and the fine languid ladies who strolled past them.

To be in New Orleans at any time would have been joy enough, but it was "gilding refined gold" to be there in the gay week preceding the Carnival, and to look forward to Mardi-Gras itself to round off our visit. Already immense "proclamations," printed in every color of the rainbow, were thrown about the city like handbills, running somewhat in this style:

"We command that Tuesday, Mardi-Gras, March 5, be set apart as a day of Fun, Folly and Frolic, when the innocent license of the mask shall have no let, when the places of festivity shall offer a night of pleasure to all our people, and when the pageant of the Mystick Krewe of Comus shall dazzle the eye and captivate the reason by the wonders of art and beauty.

"Signed, Rex.

"Attest: Typhoon, Puck."

Who composed this Mystic Krewe no one knew. Year after year, like a splendid dream, a glittering procession moved through the streets at dusk of Shrove-Tuesday, representing the fairest myths of fable and the most gorgeous pageants of history. Mrs. Long, who had seen a Roman Carnival, declared it far surpassed in magnificence by that of our own Southern city. And we—lucky, lucky girls that we were!—were to see it all! We were even to go to the grand ball at the opera-house; for, though Aunt Nanny did not approve of balls, and we had never been to one, Mrs. Long declared it would do no harm for "once in a way," and that it would be a memory for a lifetime.

It is no part of my story to tell of the delights of the great day, nor of its magnificent displays; nor of our fluttering hearts as we dressed for the ball; nor of how pretty Lilly looked all in white, with white flowers in her dark hair, and the onyx earrings shining against her fair cheeks; nor even of the beautiful ball itself. A memory for a life Mrs. Long declared it would be; and this, I doubt not, it will prove, but for a reason she will never guess. Something happened so romantic, so wonderful, so extraordinary, that I am sure when we are old, old ladies—"sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything"—it will give us a thrill of the blood to think of that Mardi-Gras ball.

We were dancing in a cotillon. It was the basket figure, where the ladies are all grouped in the centre. I was on one side of Lilly: on the other was a pretty, foreign-looking little creature dressed in[Pg 368] black with gleams of scarlet breaking through. Imagine what we felt when this lovely apparition seized Lilly by the wrist and said in a low, agitated voice, "In the name of Heaven, young lady, tell me where you got the earrings that you wear in your ears!"


The next moment the dance had separated us. Lilly and I had only time to exchange one glance of wonder. After the dance, when we were taken back to our seats and our partners had left us, the stranger came over to us and said rapidly, in a low voice and with a strong French accent, "Pardon my impertinence, je vous en prie. But is it that you will answer my question?"

I did not know what to say, but Lilly, who is never at a loss, replied, "The story would be rather long to give in a ballroom, and I don't know what right you have to ask it."

"Verra true," said she gently; "but I did once see a pair of buttons ze twins of your earrings. Ze letters 'C. G.' were engraved on ze gold backs."

She was watching Lilly closely as she spoke. My sister blushed crimson, and said, "If that be so, you have more right to them than I have."

"Ah, mon Dieu!" cried the stranger: "it is as I hoped! When can I see you? Where? how?"

"Come and see me: I am at the St. Charles Hotel. My name is Lilly Tresvant."

"You are with your mother?"

"No: with a friend—Mrs. Long."

"Ah, your chaperone! And she will wish to know who is your visitor. I cannot have it arranged that way." She seemed in deep thought: then said, "Listen, chères demoiselles. There are reasons why I wish it not known that we have met: I will explain all when I see you. Do you go sometimes to ze French market?"

"Oh yes—often."

"Come, then, to-morrow morning: I will meet you. I will tell my story, and you will tell yours. Mon Dieu! after all these years, how strange! I must leave you now. Au revoir. Remember, to-morrow, early, at ze French market; and not one word to your chaperone, Madame Long: you promise?"

We promised of course—what foolish girls wouldn't have promised?—and the graceful little Frenchwoman moved away, leaving two girls more interested and excited than they had ever been in all their lives. We cared no more for the ball: we went home like people in a dream. We scarcely slept that night, fearing to be late for the French market in the morning. Before it was fairly light we had dressed ourselves and hurried off.

"Oh, Stell!" cried my tall sister, "let us never say we haven't had an adventure! No novel I ever read was half so exciting. I feel quite like a heroine, don't you?"

"I think the little Frenchwoman is more the heroine of the piece."

"Yes, so she is; and she ought to be. Isn't she a charming, graceful, pretty creature?"

"She is pretty," said I, hurrying along to keep pace with Lilly's long steps, "but there was something about her I did not quite like. It seemed to me she had a sort of common look, in spite of her fine dress."

"Common! Well, Stell, you had better not say anything more!" said Lilly with crushing emphasis.

"It was so queer," persisted I, "that she made us promise not to say anything to Mrs. Long!"

"Oh, that will all be explained."

"I felt like a conspirator stealing out of the house this morning."

"As if we don't go to the French market whenever we like! And there's certainly no harm in going to meet a lady. If it had been a young man now!" and Lilly's laugh rang out gayly.

The French market was as pretty and bright as usual, though it was the dull Ash Wednesday morning. The long line of stalls was bright with fruits and flowers, and walking about, buying, staring, chatting, drinking coffee, eating oranges, were people of almost every nationality under heaven. However, the unique interest of the scene, this morning[Pg 369] at least, was thrown away upon us. In the crowd we soon distinguished the figure of the little Frenchwoman, and joined her at once. She had on a close black bonnet and a veil, and did not look nearly so pretty as she had looked the night before. Her skin lacked delicacy, and there was a haggard look about her eyes.

"Mes chères demoiselles," she exclaimed, "I have thought of nothing all night but of seeing you here this morning."

We very truthfully assured her that such had been the case with ourselves.

"You did not wear them?" exclaimed she, looking at Lilly's ears.

"I meant to," said Lilly with a start, "but getting off in such a hurry, and never wearing them in the morning, I forgot to put them in."

"Ah, yes: they are too handsome for morning. You have ze good taste, mademoiselle. Come, now, let us take some coffee together, then we can go over where it is quiet and talk."

She took us to an old Frenchwoman's stand, and we each drank a cup of the strong black coffee, which she insisted on paying for. Then we crossed the market to a deserted stall, whose owner had probably sold out her small stock at an early hour and gone home. We sat down, and she began: "You have told me your name. Mine is Gardiné—Véra Gardiné. I have a brother named Clément Gardiné."

"C. G.!" cried Lilly.

"C. G.," said she with a sigh. "You have perhaps heard of the Gardiné family? The old name is well known in ze city."

We confessed with some shame that it was unknown to us.

She sighed again: "Ah! it is a sad story: I will tell it to you in ze way ze most quickest. We are French, but born in zis country—creoles, you know. I was but a leetle girl when ze war began, and my brother had scarcely twenty years. But he was so brave, so reckless: go to ze war he would, almost breaking ze heart of his—his—fiancée—what you call it in English: his engaged girl—ze gentle, lovely Florine. When ze Northern army came to New Orleans, Florine's father and mother ran away with her to Texas—made of themselves refugees. Soon after both parents died, and Florine was left so all alone that my brother determined to marry her at once. He got a furlough from his general, and came home in disguise. It was joy all mixed with fear to see him. Blockade-steamers were running all ze time from New Orleans to Galveston, and he took passage in one of them. He had no baggages, but one small trunk that I packed for him—his dress-suit, some shirts that I had made, some lace handkerchiefs that I was sending to Florine. In this trunk too were ze star buttons, heirlooms in ze famille Gardiné. He was to spend his honeymoon in Texas until his furlough had expired: then he was to bring Florine to me, and he was to go back to his regiment. He left me, brave, strong, full of hope, and from zat time till one long year afterward I neither saw nor heard from mon frère.

"I was distracted. I wrote letters here, there, everywhere. It was no use. The city was besieged: I could not get out of it. Oh, what suffering to remember!

"One day, in my heart-sickness, longing to do something with my life, I went with one of ze good Sisters of our Church into ze city hospital. And there I found my brother, his head shaved, raving with fever! He had been fighting, they told me, with one of ze guerilla-bands around ze city—had been captured and brought there wounded dangerously. I took him home, nursed him night and day, and at last had my reward. He knew me—ze consciousness had come back to him. You can guess ze questions I poured out, but oh, mes chères demoiselles, you cannot guess ze sister's agony when I found zat mon pauvre frère had forgotten every circumstance of ze past year!"

"Oh, how dreadful!" cried Lilly, her eyes filling with tears. "What did you do?"

"What could I do? Ze doctair said it was not an uncommon case. There had been some injury to ze brain. Clément remembered coming to New Orleans,[Pg 370] and making his preparations to go to Florine; but from zat time all was a dreadful blank. I drove him almost wild with my tears and questions, for what had become of Florine? As soon as he was well, and we could get away from the city, we went to Texas to try and find her, but our search was all in vain.

"And now you can judge what I felt when I saw ze star buttons in zis young lady's ears."—She turned to Lilly, and spoke in a voice all broken with emotion: "It seemed that at last I had a key to unlock ze door of that sad year. Tell me quickly, mademoiselle, where did you get them? Did Florine give them to you? Is she dead? Tell me all."

"You are deceived, Miss Gardiné," said Lilly, almost ready to burst into tears. "All I can tell is very little. A trunk was brought to my uncle's in Galveston by a young man, who rushed off before uncle could even ask his name. From that day we have never heard from him, and out of curiosity my sister and I persuaded Uncle David to let us open the trunk."

Miss Gardiné clasped her hands tragically: "Hélâs! after so much hope to find only disappointment! Ze saddest part of it all is this," she went on. "Since it all happened mon pauvre frère has been so miserable zat sometimes he loses his mind: he is mad. No one knows this but myself—no one shall know. In society he is ze elegant young man: yes, people who admire him little dream when he is away, and they think him on his plantation up ze Bayou Têche, zat he is in a private madhouse in ze city, watched over by poor Véra."

She raised her handkerchief to her eyes, and Lilly and I looked at each other with deep, silent sympathy.

"This is why I have begged your secrecy," she said. "Your chaperone, Madame Long, possibly knows many people: she would talk. Ze misfortunes of Clément Gardiné must not be talked over by ze vulgaire herd."

"I am sure," said I diffidently, "that Mrs. Long would be prudent."

"My dear child," said mademoiselle, smiling sadly, "it is better not to put her to ze test. Besides, what good would it do?"

"That is so, Stell," said Lilly impatiently. "Why are you always so anxious to tell things?"

"I have one last hope," said Miss Gardiné. "Ze doctair has said if my brother could once remember zat last year he might be cured entièrement. It is brooding on zat subject that brought on his insanity: he needs a shock. Now, if you will go with me when I visit him, and show him suddenly ze star buttons—who knows?—all may come back to him. I have told ze doctair all ze story, and he thinks it a plan of wisdom."

"I am sure it is," said Lilly, "and I will go with you with pleasure."

"To a madhouse?" cried I.

"You would never know it was zat," said the French lady: "it is like one fine private house, ze patients are all so gentle."

The end of it was that we promised to meet her at the Catholic cathedral the next day, and go with her to see her brother. "Dress very simply," said she at parting, "and do not fear anysing. If any one speaks to you in ze house, all you must do is to make one courtesy very respectful, and humor them in their leetle fancies."

Mrs. Long noticed the next day our preoccupation and aversion to our usual interests, but, thinking it the natural reaction after the excitement of the past weeks, she forbore to question us.

We were promptly at the place of appointment next day, and so was Miss Véra. A carriage was called, and we were driven rapidly to a house just on the edge of the city—a fine, rambling old house, set far back in beautiful grounds and surrounded by an iron fence. Heavy iron gates swung open harshly, and closed after us with a clanging, dismal sound. I clung to Lilly's arm, feeling very nervous, but her courage seemed to rise with the occasion. "You had better take the earrings out," said Miss Gardiné before we went in: "here is a box I have brought on purpose."

Lilly handed her the earrings, together[Pg 371] with the package of lace handkerchiefs that I had appropriated.

By this time we had reached the door. Miss Gardiné unlocked it with a key she had in her pocket, and we entered a beautiful picture-hung hall with a silver lamp swinging from its ceiling. On either side were rooms exquisitely furnished, it seemed to us in a hasty glance. Certainly, Miss Véra had been right when she had said there was nothing to frighten any one about this madhouse. In a boudoir that we passed a young lady sat at a piano singing—a beautiful girl dressed in blue, with bare arms. I glanced inquiringly at Véra. "Yes," said she, nodding her head, "zat is one of ze saddest cases here. Her lover was killed in a duel on ze bridal-eve, and she became insane. She is quite incurable."

We went up a flight of broad stairs, and in the hall encountered an old lady with white hair elaborately dressed. "Why! why! why!" said she, stopping short: "who are these girls, Marie? You must be having a party."

"Only some friends from the country, madame, come to spend an hour with me," said Véra in French and with a low courtesy.

"Very decent-looking girls," said madame, looking at us coolly through a gold-mounted glass. "Here, Marie! When you did my hair you made the pins stick in me. Just see if you can't relieve me."

She sat down, and Véra—or "Marie," as this poor old mad lady called her—gave some deft touches to the gray head. "That is better," said madame graciously. "Now, where's your cap, child?"

"In my pocket, madame."

"Put it on, put it on: I don't want you to be aping lady-airs."

Véra pulled out a little cap and put it on her silky black locks, smiling sweetly, and greatly impressing us by her amiability and tact. Then the old lady went down the stairs, and the French girl said with a shrug, "Sometimes she fancies me her maid, sometimes her daughter—la pauvre femme!"

Up another flight, and we stopped before a closed door.

"He is here," said Véra in a low, intense voice.

Lilly put her hand on her heart as if to stop its beating. As for me, I was only conscious of a feeling of burning curiosity.

Véra threw open the door. A young man was seated in the centre of the room, leaning on a table. His face was buried in his hands. "He will sit that way for hours," whispered his sister.—Then she said aloud, "Clément!"

He looked up; an angry flush rose to his face; with one bound he was at Véra's side, snatched the little cap from her head and tore it into shreds.

I was fearfully alarmed at this exhibition, and Véra looked deeply mortified. "He has never been so violent," she exclaimed; "and this was my fault: I had forgotten that I had on ze miserable little thing."—She fixed her eyes on him steadily and said, "Clément, I have brought some visitors to see you."

A gleam of something like reason crossed his face: he made a graceful bow. Lilly looked fascinated. He was a singularly handsome man, very dark, with glittering black eyes, and hair falling on his shoulders. On his head was a red velvet smoking-cap.

"They have brought something to show you, Clément," she went on, as slowly as if counting her words—"something that you have missed for many years."

She opened the box and flashed the earrings before his eyes. He started up, and in a voice of anguish he cried, "The star buttons!"

"He recognizes! he remembers!" cried Véra.

"Remember?" he exclaimed—"remember what? A ship ploughing the Gulf—" He stopped, pressed his hands madly to his forehead. "Down, down, demon pain!" Then the words came pouring out like a torrent: "Light breaks through the night. A ship crosses the Gulf: a woman begs me, for the sake of her I love, to go with her—to save her father. He is in prison, he has murdered a man, but he is old: she loves him—she kneels to me. I promised to help him escape: I did my best. I said[Pg 372] Florine could wait. I left my trunk in an old man's counting-room. We laid our plans, but we failed in all. The father was shot like a dog; I was captured; I was sent up the country for trial. Months in prison: free at last to fly to Florine, to find my bride. Now, now, now, it comes to me. I was too late: Florine had been murdered by the Indians!"

He flung his arms above his head and fell to the floor. We were in a state of the wildest excitement.

"Oh, he is saved! I am sure of it!" cried Véra. "Go now, dear young ladies: he must not see you when he comes to himself. Ze carriage is waiting. I will see you again."

"But we leave New Orleans to-morrow," said Lilly.

"I will write to you. You are my friends for life."

Lilly hastily scribbled an address on a card. "Here is my address," she said: "you will surely write?"

"Yes, yes! Heaven bless you!" She seized Lilly's hand and kissed it. "You shall hear from me: you shall find that Véra Gardiné is not ungrateful."

She hurried us out, closing the door behind us. The way was clear: we ran lightly through the halls, hardly daring to breathe until we were safely out of the house and in the carriage.

"Drive to the Catholic cathedral," said Lilly. The carriage-door was shut, and then we could give vent to our emotions. Lilly was half wild: she laughed and cried together. "Do you think he will get well?" she said: "do you think so?"

"How can I tell, Lilly? The buttons seemed to give him enough of a shock."

"Wasn't it wonderful? Oh, Stella, what a romance! It is all perfectly clear to me now."

"It's far from being clear to me."

"Why, don't you see: he met this woman on the boat and engaged with her in some desperate enterprise to save her father. He left the trunk at Uncle David's—"

"Yes, but why didn't he give a name or an address with the trunk?"

"I suppose he was so beside himself that he hardly knew what he was doing. You can see that he is of a very excitable temperament. Then the rest of it is easy to imagine. Poor, poor fellow! how he must have suffered! Didn't you think him very handsome, Stella?"

"Yes, very: he looked like the Corsair."

"Do you suppose he will ever get over it?"

"Get over what?"

"Poor Florine's death."

"Oh, never!" said I emphatically.

Lilly sighed a little, and said that she thought Véra ought never to marry, but to devote her life to consoling Clément for all he had suffered.

If Mrs. Long had thought us abstracted before, I don't know what she thought now. We scarcely spoke unless she addressed us, and then we made answers as wide of the mark as a boy's first shots. Only once Lilly roused to interest: Mrs. Long was speaking of the old French families of New Orleans, and Lilly said, "Oh, Mrs. Long, did you ever hear of the Gardinés?"

"Yes, indeed," said the lady: "they're one of the oldest and best families. Véra Gardiné is quite a belle in society, and Clément is a fine young man. He does not fritter away his time, as so many young men do, but works away like a good fellow at his plantation up on the Bayou Têche."

Lilly and I stole a look at each other. How we should have electrified good Mrs. Long had we told her all we knew about poor Clément Gardiné!

We went back to Galveston, feeling that a whole world of experience had opened to us since we left it. We were not the same girls, and never could be again. Lilly flew into a passion when she found Uncle David wearing one of "C. G.'s" sacred shirts, and insisted that they should be done up at once in a parcel ready to send to Miss Gardiné.

"I am determined to have them both come over and make us a visit," she said confidentially to me.

We had not been forbidden to tell the story at home, but while Aunt Nanny and Maum' Hepsey listened very sympathetically.[Pg 373] Uncle David laughed a good deal, and said, "She's going to write to you, is she? Well, show me the letter when it comes."

We waited long for that letter, and at last it came; and when we had read it we knew exactly how a man might feel upon whom a rock fell out of a clear sky—that is, if he had time to feel anything. Here is the letter:

"Mes Chères Demoiselles: You will watch with your pretty eyes many days for the postman before that he bring you this lettre. And why? Because I am going to be very generous. You have gif me ze diamond: I will give you ze lesson. But it is not safe to gif it too soon; so I leave this lettre in charge of un ami, who is to mail it four weeks from zis day. My lesson is zis: 'Do not ever talk loud when you travel; do not keep secrets from your chaperone; and when you have a diamond hold on to it—gardez-le.' Do you understand, mes jolies et simples demoiselles? When you gave ze histoire of ze earrings to your Madame Long on ze steamer, 'Clément'—ha! ha!—heard it all. Clément—whose name is Jules—live very mooch by his wits; and he saw that these diamonds must be his—that you were two dear leetle geese—pardon!—ready to have ze feathers plucked. How to get at you he did not know: you were always with that chaperone with sharp eyes. It was I—Marie, Jules's little wife—who made up ze plan, so bold, so simple, so originale, ma foi! We had been in bad circumstance a long while: I was ze French maid chez Madame Gardiné. Comprenez-vous? On ze ball-night Mademoiselle Véra was sick, but I was well. I took her ticket—I wore her belle robe—I went to ze ball for one dance, to meet you. My pretty romance turned your little heads. I have been on ze stage: I have not forgot how to act. I took you to ze Gardiné house—ze madhouse, you know. Ze family were going out to dine, but we were too early. You saw Mademoiselle Véra at ze piano: you met madame in ze hall. It was for me an excited moment, but you suspected nothing. Jules did his part not ill: he won ze tears from your eyes. One of ze lace handkerchiefs I have kept, chères demoiselles, as a souvenir: the others, with ze diamond earrings, were changed into money tout de suite. They sold for much money: we have been able to take a little trip, perhaps to Cuba, where we eat ices and drive along beautiful roads; perhaps to one gay Northern city, where we go to the play every night. Wherever it is we are happy—we think much of you. Jules calls you our sweet benefactors. And I tell you all this that you may know I spoke not false when I said, 'Véra Gardiné will not be ungrateful'—a promise that you must own well kept by Marie Zanetti.

"P. S. And that pauvre 'C. G.!' we wonder mooch about him. Charmante mystère!"

Lilly fainted outright, and we had a time of it generally. In the midst of it all, Uncle David said dryly, "Well, Nanny, I suppose you may hand me over that bundle of shirts now."

It may be worth mentioning that years after we met the real Gardinés, and very charming people we found them. And it is I who am now Mrs. Clément Gardiné, and am living on my husband's Louisiana plantation. As for Lilly, she can laugh now as she thinks of the accomplished rogues who deceived us so nicely, but she has developed a pronounced hatred for the French language, and I don't believe any one could ever win her heart whose initials happened to be "C. G."

Sherwood Bonner.

[Pg 374]


When I landed in Boston, in January, 1874, it was neither to "make my fortune" nor to hunt buffaloes or bears in the neighborhood of that classic city. Nevertheless, just to show my readers that there is a measure of truth in the prevalent impressions here of John Bull's general ignorance and apathy as to what is going on in America, I willingly admit that not till I had been a few days resident in Cambridge did the unpalatable fact fully dawn upon me that the country was undergoing the ordeal of "hard times"—a phrase, by the way, which I have had dinned into my ears almost incessantly as far back as I can remember. Besides, although I could not help knowing that the States have been peopled by Europeans, I was hardly prepared to find Americans proper—the descendants of Revolutionary ancestors—in such an appalling minority; and it certainly surprised me to find that Ireland and Germany were responsible for so large a proportion of the population. When I walked in the streets or visited the stores or public buildings disillusion trod close on my heels: I was constantly accosting, or being accosted by, persons of Irish or German or other foreign nationality, who, though displaying characteristics that somehow distinguished them from their countrymen in Europe, did not fall in with my ideal of the American people. I do not mean precisely that they fell short of that ideal, but simply that "the shoe wouldn't fit," to use a common expression. I began at last, in my bewilderment, to inquire whether there were any Yankees in or about Boston, anyhow; and thus it transpired that after a few days "prospecting" I finally transferred myself and my fortunes from Boston to old Cambridge, where, it is needless to say, I found plenty of the genuine American article that had been the object of my quest.

After some time—in the course of which I succeeded in making myself known to three or four of the college professors and tutors—I was told by one of them of a gentleman who, he thought, might be able to help me in obtaining employment. He is a man of genius and good-nature, and through him I got really useful introductions. From this time there were no external difficulties in my way, beyond those experienced by many other men around me who had been on the lookout for vacancies for months before I had become one of their anxious number. But differences of training and experience remained to constitute real and very serious obstacles, although—and let me say it here, as I shall have plenty of occasion to grumble further on—the chief deterring or exclusive influence I ever suffered from in Boston or Cambridge was that of a kindness so much in excess of my capacity to make fair returns that I had often to flinch from accepting it. Literary and professional men in those twin-cities come nearer, to my thinking, to Wieland's cosmopolites (Die Abderiten) than any other class of people I know.

But let us to school. I may as well say at once that I never at any time, while in the United States, commanded salaries (or incomes) equal to some I had received in England; and I am now more than ever convinced of the fact that England offers an unequalled field for a teacher of ability and perseverance, always provided that he is as competent an authority on cricket and boating as he is on Greek particles and the working of the differential calculus. I speak, of course, simply of the ordinary university graduate, who (like myself), not being from patrician ranks or Mammon-blessed, must hew out a position for himself without any aid from the patronage of influential friends or relatives. Given a moderate amount of classical and mathematical stock in trade, together with correct personal habits and fair capacity for imparting[Pg 375] instruction, and an English teacher who adds to these qualifications some skill in the chief bodily pastimes, may go on his way in peace: he shall have his reward. Let me add, however, that if he is a man of ramshackle tendencies, the offices of drill-sergeant, cricket-referee and supervisor of table-etiquette which he has to combine with his ordinary tutorial duties will in time become so irksome—especially if it is his lot to fall upon inferior schools—that he will be disposed to sacrifice all his pecuniary advantages and chances of unlimited promotion for the sake of a little peace of mind and unhampered leisure.

My readers are not to suppose that my object is to institute a full comparison between the schools of England and the United States: I have not the wide experience of American schools that would justify me in attempting such a task. For instance, although I have made a careful study of the working methods and interior economy of the common schools of the three American cities in which I have exercised my vocation—namely, Boston, New York and Philadelphia—I have never taught in the public schools; and any survey of the educational facilities of the country that leaves them out would resemble a performance of Hamlet with the rôle of the prince omitted. Nevertheless, my brief sojourn here has been a chequered and, in some respects, an amusing one; and any one who chooses to hear my record of it may add as much salt as he pleases, for I promise to be perfectly frank in my utterances.

I obtained my first pupils by answering a newspaper advertisement—I have already named the three cities which my experience covers—and they consisted of two young ladies, aged respectively eighteen and twenty-two years. Their education had been thoroughly neglected, or, rather, they had idled away the golden chances of their youth, and now their ignorance, for ladies of their social standing, was astonishing. But mark the anomaly: had they been Englishwomen of the same rank and similarly uneducated, they would have been uncouth and ungrammatical in speech, awkward in manner and dowdy in dress. There is no people upon whom the transforming, refining effects of a thorough training are so marked—because, it must be confessed, the native soil so much needs cultivation—as upon the English people. But these girls were ladylike in manner, tastefully dressed, and their speech was entirely free from the barbarisms of an uneducated Englishwoman's language: I hasten to add, however, that I would sooner have the Englishwoman for a pupil. Two Englishwomen who required assistance from a private tutor would submit in patience to a prolonged course of laborious and irksome work, all unmindful of the doings of society and the absorbing interests of the hour, so long as the ultimate object was some day attained. My fair Americans were undoubtedly intelligent, and even spasmodically hard-working, but their impatience of sustained, systematic work, combined with—or rather caused by—their devotion to social pleasures, not one of which they would forego on any consideration, prevented them from reaping any appreciable benefit. I instance their case, not because it was the first or the only one of the kind that fell into my hands, but because it revealed to me at the outset a trait of the American character—especially of the women—which confronted me at every turn of the road afterward; namely, a want of repose—a defect which would seem to be largely accountable for the insensibility manifested by a great portion of the American young women of the middle classes to the fact that they have advantages at school such as their sisters in England would accept in an ecstasy of gratitude.

About the middle of my first summer I was advised to try one of the school "agencies" that abound in the larger cities, especially in New York; and I accordingly registered myself in the best-known and most widely-recommended office. Perhaps it may be of interest to the reader unversed in such matters to learn what are the conditions on which an agent undertakes to introduce an applicant to persons wishing a teacher. To begin, the teacher fills[Pg 376] up a "form of application" by naming his qualifications and references, and affixing his signature to the contract between him and the agent, the terms of which are as follows: "Registration for one year, two dollars in advance; commission, four and a half per cent. of salary or income for one year only—board, when included in compensation, to be rated at two hundred dollars for the school-year. This commission is due as soon as the engagement is made." In the printed receipt which is handed the applicant there is a curt, business-like recapitulation of all the conditions, in which occurs the following memorandum: "I shall give you notice of vacancies as they occur which, in my judgment, seem suited to your wishes and qualifications." The italics are my own. An admirable loophole of retreat, truly: "in my judgment"! When a despondent candidate wakes up morning after morning for months to read in the newspapers over the signature of his agent such an advertisement as this: "Engagements for the fall term now being made. Many teachers wanted. Capable persons should not delay in coming forward,"—it is no doubt consoling to him to infer that had the "judgment" perceived him to be suited for any of these presumably numerous vacancies, he would certainly have had the judgment's dictum to that effect.

In the course of a year I received notices of two vacancies. One was the principalship of a boarding-school somewhere in West Virginia, in which I should have to realize what income I might from the payments for board at a rate prescribed by the patrons of the establishment. The difficulty with me in this case was that before I came near the question, "What are the chances of success in such an undertaking?" the previous question presented itself as even more difficult: "Where am I to get the money with which to make the attempt?" The other vacancy was a mastership in a school in Portland, Oregon. My health has always been robust, especially since my deliverance from the Centennial and solar fervors of 1875 and 1876, and therefore I had no desire to try the paradisiacal climate of the uttermost West; but, nevertheless, I wrote twice, at an interval of a month, to the address with which I had been furnished, and at last received a letter from a bishop's wife, intimating that "there must be some mistake: no vacancy had occurred in that institution for many months." Quis declarabit? A mistake or a myth?

Now, as no American will deny that there are a few things which are better managed in England than in the United States, I submit that the method of bringing teacher and employer into communication by means of a professional agent is one of these things. At all events, there is nothing equivocal about the English method. Let the reader judge for himself from the following details: (1) The registration-fee is one shilling, not eight (two dollars). (2) The commission—generally five per cent.—is payable, not as soon as an engagement is made, but at the end of the first half year of service, and provided only that there is to be a continuance of the engagement: surely a beneficent provision for the poor teacher. (3) One cannot travel very far in Britain: for ten dollars one can go from London to John O'Groat's. (4) Vacancies are announced by bulletin in the office as they occur, and a notification is sent by post to distant registered candidates: secrecy in regard to the whereabouts and emoluments of a position is quite unnecessary, because the principals who patronize—or, rather, hire—the agent will employ teachers only through him. (5) A teacher is never asked the contemptible question, "How much salary do you expect?" The amount of salary attached, together with a description of the duties of the position, is set down in the notification. (6) The agent is simply an introducer: he of course has to be satisfied, before the registration of the applicant, that the latter is really a teacher and a man of character, but beyond that the "judgment" part of the business is relegated to the principal who receives the application.

Reverting again to my first summer, I have a little incident to relate: One evening I was introduced to a middle-aged,[Pg 377] sharp-looking little man, who, I was informed, was the principal of a flourishing college in a Western State—a college in a town, both of which he had himself founded. This gentleman and I managed to spend the evening together pleasantly enough, but my astonishment was great next morning when I received a letter from him offering me a situation in his establishment. I had an interview with him, and concluding from all the appearances that the location was a healthy and civilized one, the school a prosperous one, and himself an energetic, cultivated gentleman, I was on the point of accepting, when it suddenly occurred to me that in my anxiety to learn whether the position was desirable in other respects not a word had been said on the subject of salary. My expressing a wish to be enlightened upon this important particular produced an immediate hitch in the negotiations, but the practical upshot was that the greater part of my salary was to consist virtually of unreclaimed land! Since that magnificent occasion I have regarded with magnanimous forbearance requisitions emanating from that portion of the West.

At last, however, my answer to an advertisement was successful, and in September I was duly installed as teacher of the classics in a school of some fifty boys in one of the three cities I have mentioned. The following extract from the principal's letter of engagement will show what is naturally the chief difficulty an English teacher has to encounter in his search for an employer in the United States: "On the whole, I think the most favorably of you out of some forty applicants; the only fear I have arising from the well-known fact that American lads are so unlike those of the old country, and require different methods of discipline."

The salary, though a moderate one—not by a third equal to salaries in English schools of the same grade—was yet reasonable; and when it is added that it was a day-school; that there was held only one session of five hours, with a roomy interval for lunch, gymnastics and music; that each teacher had a large, well-furnished and cleanly-kept room to himself—a luxury which is rare in the best English schools; that each department was under the charge of a separate teacher, who was never required to step out of his own special walk—another school-virtue not common in English schools; that the principal fulfilled my ideal of a calm, judicious and discriminating headmaster,—it is no wonder that I began to congratulate myself upon having at last fallen upon a school that furnished a combination of what I consider the best features of both the English and Scotch schools, to the exclusion of all that is detestable and soul-harassing in either. "No more for me," I soliloquized, "of presiding magisterially at the odious dinner-table, at which not a whisper is tolerated, and even the irrepressible chuckle over some accident to the earthenware is accounted a crime; no more of solemn marching in procession on Sunday morning and evening to some fantastic, farcical 'High Church,' whose funereal-mummeries served only to mask the furtive deviltries of the brisker members of my charge; no more onsets at tea-time, when returned home with the boys from an exhausting walk, of infuriated farmers demanding vengeance for rifled orchards and shattered fences; no more morning calls from elderly maiden ladies in neighboring summer boarding-houses, reporting a hail of shot from ubiquitous catapults during the night-watches; no more sitting up o' nights, when on duty for the day, reading with the drones against the approaching Oxford or Cambridge 'local,' and rushing stealthily up stairs every now and then to pounce upon the perpetrators of hideous catcalls." All this I had escaped from, and more. And now what a contrast! Saturdays and Sundays were my own, and I could worship in the Hebrew or Mohammedan temple, just as I chose; and for the rest of the week I should have all day, after four hours' pleasant culling of Horatian and Homeric flowers, to devote to some abstruse study, perhaps local politics.

As if any one should expect perfection or perfect satisfaction (which is the[Pg 378] same thing) in this wicked, cross-grained world! First of all, although it came last of all, it transpired toward the end of the year that the school was not paying, and the teachers (of whom there were by far too many) were warned that they would have to be satisfied with half salaries during the remainder of the school-year. This blow did not fall very heavily on any one but myself, as all the other teachers had engagements in other schools, as well as friends and relatives throughout the city. The boys were very fickle: a succession of bad averages on their weekly reports would send them off in high dudgeon to some other school; and though there were fresh accessions taking place from time to time, the frequent interchanging was injurious alike to the tone of the school and to the school exchequer. There were, too, one or two bad boys who should have been expelled, but whose expulsion would have lost to the school their independent sympathizers as well, and so would have seriously embarrassed the finances. An American principal with a bevy of "free and independent" youths to cater for is in an inconceivably different position from his English confrère, who is empowered to read his pupils' weekly letters to their parents and to send a policeman in pursuit of any runaway malcontent among them. From the moment an English boy leaves his father's house he is under the complete control of his principal, and consequently a ruinous veering about from school to school is effectually prevented, while the retention of a decidedly vicious boy would obviously be a most unprofitable policy. I have seen a rich English parent bring back his truant offspring to be soundly flogged in presence of his grinning schoolmates—an ugly spectacle, and now happily a rare one in England; but the reverse of the picture, though far less shocking, is by no means pleasantly suggestive. I have heard an American lady express her surprise to a principal, with unmistakable tartness in her tone, that her son, who was at once the idlest and most troublesome boy in his class, always brought home averages of sixty or seventy, "when young A——, who lives next us, and is considered quite a slow boy, receives ninety and over every time. Don't you think there must be some mistake, or—or unfairness—in the marking?"

Only ten of my sixteen boys had been in the school before that year, and of those ten only four had passed through the regular curriculum of the school from the primary department to the graduating class. Those four were notably the most advanced and the only thoroughly-grounded boys of the sixteen. A few of the others had attended nearly all the private schools in the city, while two of them had been oscillating between the public and private schools for years at their own sweet wills, and could never decide whether the commercial or classical department of the school in question was the one for which they were best fitted. It may well be understood, therefore, what a medley my classes presented, and how unlikely it was, in the face of all these drawbacks, that their acquirements should be above mediocrity. On the score of natural abilities, however—in quickness of perception, facility in generalization, readiness and coherence of expression, and clearness of head generally—it would not be at haphazard one could find an equal number of boys in any English school to match them.

As to the vexed subject of discipline, my experience leads me to say that, provided I was left to my own way, I would rather manage a class of twenty American boys than of twenty English. The common cry about Young America's disrespect for authority or worth seems to me to be founded on a misconception, when, indeed, it is anything but the wailing of ignorance or cant. I am strongly possessed of a belief that American children know intuitively where respect is really due, and that there they fully and unhesitatingly award it. I at least have found among them a more genuine, spontaneous sentiment of regard for their teachers than either in England or Scotland—a sentiment utterly free from the cringing submissiveness which too often passes muster in England as a juvenile[Pg 379] virtue. However feared—and, accordingly, respected—an English teacher may be by his scholars, he is nevertheless an ogre to most of them—to the aristocrat a plebeian pedagogue to whom he must defer, just as, when he is a little older and sports a scarlet tunic, he must submit to the unlettered sergeant-major who teaches him his goose-step; to the rich parvenu more intolerable still, as the pruner of his obtrusive vulgarities of speech and manner, the index of his social inferiority and the standing menace to his innate rudeness, that is only intensified by his consciousness of wealth; to the poor man's son essentially a "schoolmaster"—a wielder of the ferule and a bloodless automaton, to whom, as Southey wrote,

The multiplication-table is his creed,
His paternoster and his decalogue;

to only the emancipated and discerning few what he really is at his best—their greatest earthly friend and benefactor. All I have seen of American schoolboys impresses me that the feeling which dictates their bearing toward their teachers is born of a clear-sighted and intuitive appreciation of superior knowledge, worth or experience, and not of conventional observance or necessity. It is generally said abroad that American children are unruly, forward and irreverent toward their parents and elders; and one reason assigned is that parents are careless of teaching their children the little ceremonies and graduated formalities of speech, "in which," as an English bishop recently alleged in an after-dinner speech, "there is embodied so much wholesome discipline that a careful attendance to the practice of them gives the young man or woman an advantage not offered by any other method of training." Spartan, but indigestible! A keener observer than the bishop—the heresiarch Thackeray—wrote in his Philip: "I never saw people on better terms with each other, more frank, affectionate and cordial, than the parents and the grown-up young folks in the United States;" and certain it is that the description is applicable to the intercourse between teachers and pupils.

The faults of the latter are aimlessness and impatience; and their misfortune—which is largely responsible for those faults—is that they are too soon allowed to plunge into the quagmire called by euphemism "society," and often whelmed in its sorry pleasures and petty ambitions—too soon, also, invested with the right to manage their own affairs and to choose their own associates, advisers, and even instructors; in a word, permitted to breathe the invigorating spirit of the Declaration of Independence before their constitutions are fitted for its reception. This may sound trite enough, but I see no other way of accounting for the intellectual—and, alas! moral—failure of so many of the brilliantly-gifted lads whom I have known and loved in these United States.

I might proceed to give a few illustrations of this resultless restlessness, this dissipation of the youthful forces, to which I have alluded; but there is one phase of my experience here which goes further to prove its prevalence and baneful effects than a thousand instances derived from my knowledge of boys in school or in the closer contact of private tuition. From time to time there appear in the "Instruction" column of the daily newspapers advertisements like the following: "Wanted, lessons in the evenings by a gentleman of neglected education;" "Wanted, lessons in grammar and conversation (sic) by a married couple." It was by answering such advertisements as these that I fell upon the most satisfactory portion of my labors in this country, and met with pupils of both sexes the memory of whom will be to me a source of pride as well as of pleasure as long as I live. Ladies and gentleman of good social standing they were, who, bitterly regretting neglected early opportunities, had the moral courage to "go to school"—with the wise meekness and receptiveness engendered in fine natures by ultimate self-disparagement—even when their avocations seemed to preclude the possibility of sustained and fruitful study. But when I contemplate a long array of such pupils (covering a period of three years)—from the young banker's clerk or embryo lawyer chagrined with himself[Pg 380] because of the poor figure he cut at last week's party, and commendably determined to try and remedy his defects, to the mature business- or even professional-man, humiliated because his accomplished wife's every sentence made him feel ashamed of his squandered youth, and so constrained, at the eleventh hour, to employ a private tutor—it is difficult for me not to recognize that in a country where the children enjoy so many privileges, where they are taught regularly, systematically, patiently, conscientiously—where, in short, everything is taught, and everything is taught well—there must be some mistake in the exercise of the parental guardianship that creates and fosters the aimlessness and impatience which prevent so many of the children from reaping adequate benefit from their noble heritage.

One thing that occasioned me a good deal of trouble and anxiety in my first school was the system of "marking" for each lesson with a view to obtaining a weekly average standard. Not that I was unused to the method, but I had never before seen it pushed to such an extent nor pursued on exactly the same principle. A boy would be marked up by his various teachers in about a dozen subjects during the week, and on Friday a printed slip would be handed him showing his weekly average in each subject and in all the subjects taken together. An average of 95 per cent. was quite common; 80 was not in high favor; 70 was shaky, while 60 was quite bad. A quarter's experience of it convinced me that the thing was a piece of abominable red tape: I do not mean in theory, but in the results of its working in that particular case. I had seen boys and men in school and college in England and Scotland obtain "first-class honors" with a mark of 75, and I now marvelled how it happened that boys who had but a faint idea of what hard work really meant were able to produce such brilliant results, more especially when so much of their time and attention was devoted to the preparation of orations and dialogues, and even to the rehearsal of private theatricals (the principal would have gone crazy had any one presumed to call them by that name in his hearing) for the approaching "entertainment," two of which treats were offered "by the school" (a great deal in those three words) to the public during the year. I may mention that on these two occasions it was the part of the principal to ascend the stage during the entr'acte and read off from a paper he held in his hand a few particulars regarding those precious averages which seemed in the speaker's and hearers' minds to be exactly commensurate with the standing and progress of the pupils.

My marking made me for some time rather unpopular; and beginning at last to follow the time-honored injunction, "When you are in Rome do as the Romans do," I hoisted my boys from the sixties and seventies to the more plausible eighties and nineties. It was, no doubt, an unprincipled thing to do, but I soothed my outraged conscience with the thought that I was making a martyr of myself—that when the examination-week arrived the examiners' reports would confound me by exposing the difference between my paper and their gold. The examination-week did arrive, of course, and I found that I was to be myself the examiner of my classes. Let not the reader think that I would be pleasantly satiric when I say that not till then did I fully awake to the fruitful meaning of the expression, "American independence." And neither let him infer that I take such a school to be a representative American high-class school: I only say that it is a fair representative of a class of schools that is both numerous and popular in the cities I have named above. Here, indeed, was an application of the sui-juris principle that, though it certainly eased my feeling of apprehension and doubt as to the probable results of the examination, yet filled me with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. And the reason is not far to seek: my English training would naturally have the effect of making me look for a verdict on my work not to my own notebook, nor even to the principal's returns, but to some higher[Pg 381] and extra-mural authority who should test the attainments of the pupils and the efficiency of the school by a searching and impartial examination.

In English middle-class schools the advent of the "Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board" is regarded with no small anxiety by principals, masters and scholars alike. It marks an epoch in their lives, and is the only period of the year in which there is anything like a rapprochement between them, as if in the presence of some imminent crisis. The eccentric jackanapes who is by turns the butt and witling of the school stands for once consciously on equal terms with his principal, and can for once even "cheek" the school-bully with perfect impunity. All is excitement, anticipation, preparation and much consuming of midnight oil. Perhaps a very brief account, in conclusion, of the methods of procedure in these examinations may interest the reader; and in case he should think that my object in offering my sketch is to draw an invidious comparison between the English and American methods of examination, I refer him to an animated and interesting correspondence in the April issue of the Nation between President Eliot of Harvard and Professor Adams of Michigan University—a discussion in which the former gentleman enthusiastically claims for the English method a degree of excellence which the most ardent home advocates of the system—who know its working faults as well as its positive advantages—would hesitate to claim for it.

The English board holds two kinds of examinations: First, examinations of schools for the benefit of schools exclusively, and having no effect to admit individuals to the universities or to exempt them from subsequent examinations, whether at the universities or elsewhere; second, examinations of individuals for certificates which give exemption from the entrance-examinations at Oxford and Cambridge, from the earliest examinations of the university course, and from the preliminary examinations of certain professional bodies. The examinations cover thirty-four different and carefully-specified subjects (no candidate taking the whole), and on the average two hours are allowed for writing answers to the questions in each subject; the examinations last from eight to twelve days, and are held three times in the year; and the schedule of days, subjects and hours for each year is published nearly a year in advance. The decision of the board is upon the individual: "Has he passed a satisfactory examination in a sufficient number of subjects?" and the board takes no account whatever of the opinions and certificates of school-authorities concerning the individual. A printed report is annually made by the board, showing the name of each person who obtained a certificate, the subjects in which he satisfied the examiners, and the school from which he came. The examinations are conducted in writing for all the subjects, but for a few subjects oral examinations are superadded. The questions are printed; they are the same for every candidate in any given subject; and they are made public when the examinations are over. In order to secure uniformity of standard at the examinations, the results obtained at the different places of examination are compared by the central board of examiners. Each candidate pays a fee of two pounds, and from these fees each examiner is liberally paid for every day of service spent in setting questions, attending the examinations and looking over the answers of candidates.

There never was a method of examination without its drawbacks, and the chief weakness of the English system is that it tends to excite a spirit of rivalry which is apt to resort for aid to cramming processes. As yet, however, the examinations have been conducted in such a manner that the special "cramming-schools"—of which there are not a few—have very generally come to grief, even when they have had successes before the examiners for the civil service.

D. C. Macdonald.
[Pg 382]



In its present form Russian journalism is a kind of geological diagram, the primary strata being typified by the ministerial organs (the Russian Invalid and the Northern Bee) and their shadow the Journal de St. Pétersbourg; the transition period by the Voice (Golos) and the Moscow Gazette; and the more advanced ages by the Russian World (Russki Mir). The last, although dating back only to the Franco-German war, has already made itself conspicuous for the exceptional accuracy of its information, the wide range of its topics and the frank and manly tone of its criticism. Thanks to it and to its two great forerunners above mentioned, the utterances of Russian journalism carry with them more weight than they would otherwise do—a result materially aided by the decay of the censorship, the worst and meanest legacy of Russia's dark ages, which has lately had a chance of showing itself as absurd as it is hateful under the congenial guidance of General Schidlovski. The rulers of the empire have begun to perceive that it is hardly worth while to hire men at exorbitant prices to deface articles which they cannot read and condemn books which they cannot understand; and the common sense of Russia has long since revolted against a system which is still as uselessly and childishly vexatious as when pilloried in imperishable language a century ago by Beaumarchais.

This is a great deal, but it is not enough. Like many other native institutions, Russian journalism is merely a fine fragment. Russia has a multitude of ships, but no navy; a number of ministers, but no government; a host of journals, but no press. The Russian daily papers (with the exception of an occasional "double edition" on the part of the Bourse Gazette) consist of a single broadsheet, the large type of which reduces its contents to a minimum. Fully one-half of this limited space is usually occupied with advertisements and official announcements, while even the few remaining columns are often deplorably misused. One detestable custom, originally borrowed from France, is that of "padding" a journal with tenth-rate novels, pointless anecdotes and would-be humorous feuilletons, such as the weakest "comic annual" would decline without thanks. Another failing of Russian journalism is its fondness for the tu-quoque style of argument, retorting every mention of Poland by an allusion to Ireland. But, despite all this, there is much hope for the future of Russian journalism. It is no slight gain that, in a country which has long been regarded as the very incarnation of truth-stifling despotism, any journal should be found to speak as the Golos recently spoke on the question of Russia's naval forces: "The Crimean war, which tried so severely the qualities of our army, cannot be said to have tested those of our fleet, inasmuch as it never gave itself a chance of being tested. At the first approach of the enemy it hastened to shelter itself behind the forts of Cronstadt, whence it never emerged till the close of the war. Now, if the sole use of the navy upon which we yearly expend millions of roubles be to shrink out of harm's way at the first sign of danger, we might just as well have no navy at all."

Besides the journals above named, the Moscow Son of the Fatherland and two others published in the capital (the Birjeviya Vedomosti, or Bourse Gazette, and the Peterburgskiya Vedomosti, or St. Petersburg Gazette), though now eclipsed by their younger rivals, formerly held a high place among Russian dailies. The Russian magazines cannot be dealt with in the limited space of the present article: it must suffice to mention the two most important—namely: the Russki Vestnik (Russian Courier) and the Vestnik Yevropi (Courier of Europe). Several of M.[Pg 383] Tourgueneff's later stories have made their first appearance in the pages of the latter, which, numbering among its contributors some of the foremost writers in Russia, and combining, like the Revue des Deux Mondes, the functions of a review with those of a magazine, is in every way the worthy successor of its now defunct forerunner, the Sovremennik (Contemporary), formerly owned and edited by the poet Nekrassoff.[B]

The comic element of Russian journalism is represented by the Iskra (Spark) and Budilnik (Alarm-Bell), the latter having the superiority in pictorial illustrations, though the savage and personal cast of its satire, together with its imprudent fondness for political allusions, has more than once all but occasioned its suppression. Both journals are published weekly, and both have a considerable circulation, though it must be owned that their title of "comic" is for the most part a sad misnomer. That the Russians are naturally devoid of humor no reader of Gogol or Griboiedoff, Pushkin, Kriloff or Tourgueneff, can believe; but the comic journals themselves have fallen far too much into the hands of the Imperial University, whose literary style is a combination of the humor of the cider-cellars with the verbal fluency of Billingsgate. Under such auspices the ill-starred periodicals naturally oscillate between insipid propriety and labored coarseness. For a month or two the talented contributors go smoothly on in their career of untranslatable pleasantry, till some special atrocity calls forth the fatherly admonition of the police. Immediately a reaction ensues, filling the objectionable columns with harmless sneers at the weather and other safe objects of attack, until the effect of the warning has died away, and all goes on as before.

Those of our readers who were in Russia a few years ago must remember the famous caricature of "National Music," representing the various journals as a band of musicians. In the foreground stands the minister of police as bandmaster, regulating the time with the flourish of his baton: on his right is the Russian Invalid (the government organ) with a trombone, on his left the Military Gazette with a kettledrum. Immediately below, the Moscow Gazette, in the person of its celebrated chief, M. Katkoff, is playing in a reckless, haphazard fashion upon an enormous bass fiddle. Close by are the two leading comic journals, the one tinkling a triangle, the other blowing the pandean pipes. Farther on the Voice (Golos) is bawling through a speaking-trumpet, and the Bourse Gazette flourishing a tambourine, a host of minor performers being loosely sketched in the background; while far in the distance a hand outstretched from a cloud of mist is tolling a cracked church-bell, symbolical of M. Kerzen's famous Kolokol (Bell), at that time in the zenith of its sinister renown; and Russia, as a young lady in a ball-dress, is vainly attempting, with a look of dismay, to close her ears against the uproar.

Equally clever and equally audacious is a more recent travesty of the well-known scene in Dante's Inferno where Bertrand de Born, a noted sower of sedition, comes forth with his severed head in his hands. In the Russian version the renowned editor of the Moscow Gazette is seen hobbling along with a cannon-ball labelled "Police Surveillance" at his ankle, and carrying by the hair his own head, which is so drawn as to bear a grotesque likeness to an inkstand with a pen in each ear. The text of Dante is thus travestied:

And by the hair he with despairing look
Upheld his head, which cried to me, "Oh woe!
Himself is his own inkstand! Thus are two
In one tormented."

The backwardness of the Russian[Pg 384] press, attributed to so many different causes, is really due to one very simple one—the want of readers. Among a population of whom only nine per cent. can read, and who neither know nor care what passes in the world of politics, the existence of free public opinion, or indeed of any opinion at all, can hardly be expected; and thus, while no country contains such frantic republicans as Russia, no government is more absolutely secure. Upon that tremendous passivity the utmost efforts of such men as Netchaieff and Bakounin fall like a pellet on the hide of an elephant. The popular cries which madden other races are utterly meaningless to the docile, unemotional "mujik," loyal and conservative to the very marrow of his bones.

But the vivifying of these petrified millions may safely be left to the influence of time. The provincial schools recently established may be trusted to do their work, however slowly; and the "educated Russia" dreamed of by Alexander I. may yet crown the age of Alexander II. Those who, like the writer, have lived in the villages of the interior, and have seen the Russian peasant as he really is, cannot but have hopes of his future, in the teeth of the hasty and one-sided observers who love to depict him as a brute with the single human attribute of dishonesty. The ignorance, sluggishness and intemperance of the mujik belong to the system under which he has been reared: his frank hospitality, cheery good-humor and simple child-like piety are all his own. To raise these brave, simple natures out of the unwholesome darkness which has so long imprisoned them is a noble and Christian work; as far above the mere material emancipation of 1861 as the soul is above the body.

D. K.


"Ghosts? No, I don't believe in ghosts: I have seen too many of them," is a very fair thing on one of the oldest of subjects. My case is different. I have been trying all my life to believe in ghosts, and saw my first four days ago. Toward noon I fell into a doze—very short and slight it must have been—over my book. No one was in the room, and the door was closed. The book was held up in the usual position, a little below the level of the eye, in the right hand. I awoke—if the word can be applied to what was so very slight a slumber—and saw limned with perfect distinctness against the page the head of a girl or boy six or eight years old, blue-eyed, light-haired, and fair but not clear in complexion. It was below life-size, not more than four inches in height. Only the head was visible, without anything below the jaw. At first it seemed perfectly solid, but the lines of print, which were still held up as in reading, gradually showed themselves through the fading apparition until it entirely died away. This happened in about a third of a minute, the beautiful little face continuing the whole time to gaze at me with a calm but not sad expression. It was not in full front, the right side being turned to me in what is called a three-quarter position. The light which illuminated it did not come from the window, which was directly behind me and gave all the light there was in the room, and yet the impression was in no respect that of a picture. Not for a moment did this interpretation occur to me, strongly as did the evanescent character of the head militate against the idea of reality. The fading was most rapid at the occiput, and may be said to have begun there, extending to the right and upward. There was no background or accessory of any kind, the head being quite isolated and detached, objectively as subjectively.

The lineaments were not those of any one of my acquaintance, and recalled no countenance I had ever seen. If the appearance suggested a young member of the family, it was not because of resemblance, but from his being frequently in my mind, and apt to be associated with any alarm due to the tinge of superstition from which none of us are wholly free. For the reason already given it could not have been a reminiscence of a picture. The shading and coloring[Pg 385] were too exact for anything painted. My easel was, it is true, near by, on the opposite side of me, and on it were two heads of nearly the size of that I describe; but they were hard-featured old saints of a deep mahogany hue, relieved by a very dark background, and therefore the exact antipodes of my shadowy visitant. On these I had been painting an hour or two before; and that is the solitary connection conceivable between the spectre and anything tangible. The reader will perhaps be inclined to set it down as having been complementary to them. I do not think it was; but were it so, the point mainly craving explanation remains untouched—that what I saw was with the waking eye. It may have come from the land of dreams, or from a remote outlying province of it, but its perceptible existence was entirely in the realm of actualities. I was not conscious, and had no recollection, of having had a dream. It is true that, according to a theory necessarily and in its nature incapable of being sustained by positive proof, we may have unconscious dreams, and be always dreaming when asleep without knowing it. Persons who rise at night, take pen and paper and solve problems which had been the worry of their waking hours, and return to their couch still asleep, present cases analogous to mine in so far as their unconscious mental activity leaves an outcome and expression obvious to the senses. Another parallel would be that of a sleep-walking artist who should when in a state of somnambulism execute a picture. But neither case would be identical in principle with mine. The artist and the mathematician would both have executed in their sleep what they had laid the foundation of when awake. I, on the other hand, would, should I transfer my aërial sitter to canvas, simply paint what I saw when wide awake, just as in undertaking to reproduce any other face from memory, whether observed once for twenty seconds or frequently and for longer periods.

It is usual to explain the common stories of phantoms by attributing them to ocular illusion, aided or not aided by the imagination or by particular conditions of the bodily or mental health. The eye, of course, is never quite proof against deception, but there needs some little material for it; and in my case there was absolutely none—no waving sheet or trees or clouds, nothing but the printed page; and that was visible, unchanged except by the utterly inharmonious and contrasted image before it. My imagination was not affected before, at the time, or after. My pulse may have been a little quickened for the moment, for I did not accept the appearance as a matter of course, as we do everything, however preposterous, in a dream, but, on the contrary, quite recognized its abnormal character. I know of no existing cause of especial or temporary liability to any delusion of the kind. In short, though I have not—and had not when I continued after the disappearance to contemplate, without moving a muscle, the book against which the head had been projected, and coolly reflect upon what I had seen—the slightest belief that it was supernatural, I should be compelled, if called on in court, to swear that I had seen what must be provisionally named a spectre. "If I stand here, I saw it!"

E. C. B.


As the traveller is whirled along over the great stretch of railway between Liverpool and London, he passes (about midway) through Nuneaton, a busy little manufacturing town, situated in a most delightful and fruitful part of the "Garden Land." About two miles from this town (which the gifted authoress has dubbed "Milby" in her Scenes of Clerical Life), on the broad smooth highway leading to the ancient and renowned city of Coventry, stands the house where Marian Evans was born. It is a large brick building, surrounded by a well-stocked and pleasant garden, devoid of ornament, but highly suggestive of comfort and convenience—such a house as our forefathers used to build fifty years ago, when comfort was not sacrificed to appearance, and when the owner had more to do with the design than the architect.[Pg 386]

Robert Evans, the father of the renowned authoress, was bailiff to Lord Howe and to Sir Roger Newdigate—father of the present M. P. of that name, who is such an earnest champion of Protestantism as it is reflected in the Church of England, and who has made such earnest but as yet fruitless endeavors to have a bill passed for the periodical visitation and inspection of the monastic and conventual institutions of Great Britain. Her brother, Isaac P. Evans, still occupies that responsible position, and resides in the old homestead. The country around Mrs. Lewes's early home is rich in historic associations. Not far away is Bosworth Field, and in another direction are the ruins of Astley Castle, within whose strong walls Lady Jane Grey passed a portion of her brief, chequered life. Near the castle stands—or stood—a tree in which her father, the duke of Suffolk, took refuge when pursued by the emissaries of the sanguinary queen. A small table used by him while concealed in the huge hollow trunk is still preserved.

There are several very ancient churches in the vicinity of the residence where George Eliot passed her early days. The parish church of Nuneaton, to which she alludes in her Scenes of Clerical Life, is a grand structure, six hundred years old, with a massive embattled tower containing a chime of eight melodious bells; and Coton (Shepperton) Church, which in her girlhood she attended with her parents, is perhaps still more ancient, as it is certainly more weatherbeaten and venerable in appearance. The writer's parents have often seen the future authoress sitting in the antiquated, high-peaked family pew and taking part with grave attention in the service.

In Atteborough, a village in the same neighborhood, there resided an eccentric character named Joe Liggens. He had received a university education, but, lacking application and industry, had chosen no pursuit in life, and passed his time in lounging around his native village and frequenting the tap-room of its alehouse, where, surrounded by an admiring crowd, he puffed away at his long pipe, removing it from his lips only when he deigned to express an opinion upon some subject of debate and give his open-mouthed hearers the benefit of his wisdom and erudition. When Scenes of Clerical Life first appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, describing places and persons familiar to the villagers, they naturally wondered who the author could be, and decided at last that it could be no other than Joe Liggens. Had he not been to Oxford? Didn't he know Latin and all sorts of things? And wasn't he acquainted with the scenes and personages described in the new book? No one else could be thought of combining these various and essential qualifications. When Joe was questioned on the subject he merely smiled and said nothing—the strongest confirmatory proof, and an exhibition of the modesty inherent in genius. In recognition of the honor he had conferred upon his native place, a subscription was started for the impecunious Joe, and a goodly sum was on the point of being presented to him when the real name of "George Eliot" was revealed, and Joe Liggens found himself treated as an impostor by those who had thrust upon him undeserved honors.

W. B.


The Camden and Atlantic, the Philadelphia and Atlantic City, the New Jersey Southern, and some minor railroads, pass through portions of New Jersey long known as the "Jersey Barrens." They are all new roads, comparatively speaking, but they have wonderfully stimulated the enterprise that has created so many flourishing villages that ten years ago had never been heard of. Vineland, the fairest and most flourishing village in the country, as well as the largest, is only about fifteen years old. Its population is six thousand. Forbidding-looking swamps, giving rise to swarming myriads of mosquitoes and to malaria through their dank, decaying vegetation, have been converted into flourishing cranberry-meadows, and the dry land into fine vineyards and fruit-orchards surrounding homes of every grade of elegance, from the simple vine-covered cottage to the costly villa with carefully-kept[Pg 387] evergreen hedges enclosing exquisite lawns, statues, fountains and rare flowers. The extent of these hedges is estimated at seventy-five miles.

But this prosperous reclamation of the waste lands of South Jersey has already received a check from an insidious but terrible enemy, destined to undo the labor of years unless promptly and wisely attacked. This enemy is drought, traceable directly to the destruction of the forests. Formerly, glass-manufacturing companies established themselves in well-wooded regions, used the forests for their furnaces, and when these were exhausted migrated to new places to repeat the work of devastation. Then the settlers "cleared up" the land extensively, and since the railroads have been built the burning of the woods along their routes by cinders from the locomotives has been terribly frequent, and often extensive. A conductor on the Camden and Atlantic stated last year that he had counted fifteen forest-fires during one trip from Camden to the sea.

Yet nothing is done to prevent these ever-recurring calamities. The citizens complain, mourn over the destruction, grumble at the railroads, and thank God when the fires are at a safe distance from their own homes. When personally threatened, they turn out, men, women and children, aided by terror-stricken and sympathizing neighbors, and "fight the fire" by felling trees and clearing away the inflammable matter in the path of the fire. Sometimes a whole neighborhood will struggle for days together without respite as only the desperate can. Many of these fires, it is said, are due to the wilful mischief of boys and others. Hundreds of acres are destroyed every year. Along the Camden and Atlantic almost every tract of woodland has been burned over once or more.

The effect of the decrease of the rainfall in South Jersey is already serious. The water-supply in Vineland, Hammonton and other places is constantly lowering: all the wells except those that were dug very deep at first have had to be lowered at least two feet.

The most practical step at present toward arresting the destruction of woodlands is no doubt the organization of forest-protecting and planting societies like those in Germany, which have now so far secured the aid of the legislative power that no landowner can cut down one of his own forest trees without the consent of the authorities. This seems like tyranny, but it is really that wisdom which recognizes the good of the whole community as paramount to any private consideration.

M. H.


Le Devoir gives some interesting information about the wonderful stones of Saffah, now on exhibition in the Asia Minor department of the Museum of the Louvre. This department has lately been reopened to the public, after being closed six months for internal improvements. Visitors pass before the cases containing these ordinary-looking cobblestones, and wonder why they should be there instead of in the street, where they seem to belong. But these ordinary-looking stones are, in the eyes of scholars, among the most precious objects of history: they are covered with writings in some unknown, and even unheard-of, tongue. Some of the writing is fine, some coarse: sometimes the lines are straight, from right to left, and sometimes they wind about, like the trail of a serpent, in every direction. Saffah is a desert plain in Syria extending east from the lakes of Damascus, and a part of it is covered with these curious stones. Antiquaries like Renan, Ganneau, De Vogué, Waddington and Pierret are sorely puzzled over the writing on them, for the character resembles none that has yet been deciphered. They will not, however, abandon the task, for antiquaries are Patience personified; and we shall one day know the history, language, manners and customs of a race whose very existence up to the present time has not even been suspected.

M. H.


[B] The published statistics of the Russian press are manifestly untrustworthy; but the post-office returns of St. Petersburg show that 82,000 copies of daily and 40,000 of weekly papers, with 50,000 copies of monthly periodicals, are yearly sent to the provinces. The largest circulation (26,000) belongs to M. Katkoff's Moscow Gazette (Moskovskiya Vedomosti). Besides the native journals, 17 German papers, 5 French, 4 Polish, 2 Tartar and 1 Hebrew are published in Russia. Of English papers, the Manchester Guardian, thanks to the number of Lancashire workmen in the interior, has the widest circulation: the Times comes second, the Illustrated London News third.

[Pg 388]


The Atlantic Islands as Resorts of Health and Pleasure. By S. G. W. Benjamin. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Invalids and pleasure-seekers have here a guidebook to the summer and winter resorts of the North Atlantic, from the desolate rocks called the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the ever-bland Madeira and the over-bright Bahamas. The varied company of the isles embraces even Wight, where Cockney consumptives go to get out of the mist, and the Norman group consecrated to cream and Victor Hugo. The author's good descriptive powers are assisted by a number of drawings, many of which are finely done and well discriminate the local character of the different places, latitudes and circumstances of life. He does not appear to be much of a valetudinarian himself, or he would hardly have been able to venture on and report for our benefit so wide a range of travel and experience; but his preference obviously is for the island most thoroughly tempered to the needs of an enfeebled constitution, and which welcomes most wooingly those whose first craving is to keep alive—Madeira. Such of us as associate their earliest recollections of the name with the annual cask of wine will read with interest that though the wine, thanks to the oidium or some malady of that sort, is a thing of the past, the spot retains many other charms ample to justify a trip to its shores by a more roundabout way than the slow and direct or costly and circuitous routes laid down by Mr. Benjamin. Teneriffe ranks close to Madeira, and the Valley of Orotava, scooped out of the flank of the famous peak, is recommended as simply perfection for sufferers from "pulmonary complaints, rheumatism or neuralgia," and beneficial even in Bright's disease. The thermometer in this happy valley stops at fifty-eight degrees in winter, and averages from sixty-eight to seventy-two degrees in summer. Should you find this temperature too inclement, you can descend to the port at its mouth and luxuriate in a range of sixty-four to eighty degrees. Where we write the figure at this moment is ninety degrees in the shade, and those semi-tropical outposts of the anciently-known world seem arctic.

Bermuda, New York's onion- and potato-garden, is presented to us in a less fascinating light, owing possibly, in part, to the fact that Mr. B. does not like onions, and was nearly stifled on his return by the odor of that nutritious esculent under battened hatchways. But he sees a great deal to delight sound travellers, and objects mainly in behalf of the sick to the climate, which is only a modification of that of the continent, with an extra tempest or two thrown in. In protesting against the antiquated mode of landing maintained by Bermudan conservatism, he thinks a more modern, rational and convenient plan would be hooted down by the wharf-mob in the spirit of "Demetrius the coppersmith." We believe the Ephesian was a maker of silver images, though Alexander may have been actuated by a like motive in opposing Paul's proceedings as not good for trade.

Speaking of landing-places, that of Columbus is transferred, in a notable note on the Bahamas, from Cat Island to Watling's Island. The former has no lake, as the latter has; and Columbus insists on a lake. He also went in one day with oars around the north end—a feat impossible in one case and easy in the other. Watling, for this and other reasons dwelt on by English surveyors, is on the new maps rebaptized San Salvador, in rectification of euphony not less than of historic truth. If now equally successful inquiry could be brought to bear on the identity of the Discoverer's bones, claimed alike by Hayti and Cuba, it would be an additional comfort to the lovers of fact.

Steam-service is steadily growing more frequent, regular and expeditious, and the next generation of Americans will doubtless pack their portmanteaus as lightly for the Canaries, the Loffodens and the Galapagos as that now in being does for Appledore or Mount Desert. For individual health, relaxation or enjoyment, not more than for the general invigoration and well-being of the race, we need to be on easier terms with the sea. The old maritime spirit, so striking to the eyes of[Pg 389] Burke, seems to have died out from among us. If we are to have a brilliant and assured future, we must not look for it wholly to the land. It may not rise sheer, Britain- and Aphrodite-like, from the breast of ocean, but it must yet rest partly upon that most solid of supports, the ever-shifting wave.

The Principles of Light and Color. By Edwin D. Babbitt. New York: Babbitt & Co.

Were we to open this book about the middle we should be disposed to set it down, on the strength of its latter half, as a contribution to the literature of the Pleasantonian (or blue-glass) school of natural philosophy. This impression would be humored by the bluish tint of the paper upon which it is printed. But an inspection of the entire work would show that it is something more comprehensive and ambitious, not to say more interesting and suggestive. It is the product of a bold and original, if not exactly close and systematic, thinker—one who, with a longer and severer experimental training in the fields he has chosen for exploration, would command the respectful attention of leading scientific men. He begins with the reflection that, "in spite of the wonderful achievements of experimental scientists, no definite conceptions of atomic machinery, or the fundamental processes of thermal, electric, chemical, physiological or psychological action, have been attained." He proposes to remedy this failure, and to carry the natural sciences to their "basic principles." He proceeds to speculate with great ingenuity on the nature of light, the form, relations and movements of atoms, the action of electricity upon them, the constitution of the atmosphere, mode of creation of the solar system, and the rationale of chemical affinity. From these lofty regions he stoops to his conclusion in the new science of "chromo-therapeutics." He undertakes to define and explain the alleged effects upon mind, soul and body of all the colors of the spectrum. Among these colors he assigns the place of honor to blue, that tint emanating from the frontal portion of the brain in rays visible to certain finely-organized individuals, and being associated with the highest intellectual faculties. Red belongs to the opposite pole of the cerebral sphere, and holds special relations with the grosser part of man's abstract nature. In this mysterious region of inquiry he joins hands with some questionable allies, such as the Spiritualists, the phrenologists and the mesmerizers. The power of the clairvoyants he does not doubt. Indeed, he claims to have used it himself, and to have fattened on it, his present weight of one hundred and eighty pounds having been attained, he tells us, together with perfect health, by the judicious employment of "these subtler agencies." One is tempted to ask, in view of such a result, why waste time on the color-cure when the mesmeric system succeeds so admirably?

Should we demur to these eccentricities of an enthusiastic savant, he would perhaps point us to similar excesses in some of the acknowledged lights of intellectual progress, and cite as a recent instance of the madness of too much learning the ascription, by the brilliant yet matter-of-fact and practical Tyndall, of almighty "potency" to matter. Of course we should reply that Tyndall was a sincere and earnest student, and not a charlatan or a fanatic; whereto our author might respond, and respond justly, in sharp disclaimer of the latter brace of characters. He seems to be sincere: he can read and think, and does both, as the first part of his book, and much of the rest of it, show. He would have escaped the imputation we have suggested as not unapt to be cast upon him, secured a full hearing in a more respectable quarter, and gained higher aid in the development of his ideas, had he been less hasty in forming and stating some of his ultimate conclusions and the practical application of them. Many very able men who have preceded him in scientific labor, and who do not believe that "the bowels will be aroused into animation" by the exhibition of "a small strip of yellow glass three inches in depth, bordered by its affinitive violet," to the umbilical region, or that "Major Buckley developed one hundred and forty-eight persons so that they could read sentences shut up in boxes or nuts," would listen attentively to what he has to say on the anatomy of an atom, metachronism and "chromatic attraction."

Around the World in the Yacht Sunbeam. By Mrs. Brassey. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Some of the best books of travel we have had lately have been written by women. Their way of looking at new things, even if superficial—which is not by any means always a safe assumption—is pleasant and[Pg 390] refreshing after the more sober, philosophic and blue-booky style of comment we are accustomed to be favored with by observers of the other sex. Many valuable trivialities are lost by the effort to go deeper than the surface. The phases of life, manners and scenery which strike one in a rapid tour are perhaps most instructive, and certainly most entertaining, when reproduced just as they appear. The light female touch, which revolts at figures and documents, is well suited to that work, if work it can be called. The male traveller, we know, does much of his research when he gets home, keeping up, however, with a view to that end, a solemnly didactic frame of mind all the time he is abroad. He is thus apt to give us less of what he sees than of what he thinks—an error into which a woman is less prone to fall. She is less critical, less ashamed of being startled and pleased, and more frank and naïve in her confession of it. She resembles in this respect the delightful voyagers of the Middle Ages—the Polos, Batutas and Mandevilles—who were too much occupied with the novelty of everything they saw to bore us with their opinions, and who were untrammelled by the slightest idea of publishing a résumé of political, religious or economic conclusions when they got home. What an infinitesimal proportion of us understand even our own country! Why, then, obscure and flatten our impressions of foreign lands by supposing, and preparing to make others believe, that we can understand them after a cursory study of a few weeks or months?

Mrs. Brassey is not a literary woman. She has no "mission," and makes no pretensions to culture. She simply chronicles a tour made in her husband's yacht, accompanied by two or three young children and as many friends. But she has good sense, good temper and character, and what she writes fully justifies her husband's prefatory statement, that "the voyage would not have been undertaken, and assuredly it would never have been completed, without the impulse derived from her perseverance and determination." Unprepared by special study, and quite devoid of science, she yet notes well, and interests us in, the animals, plants, human occupants and natural phenomena generally of the countries visited. And without any command or affectation of imagery or fine language she is very graphic in her descriptions of sea and shore. Her account of a visit to the great Hawaian volcano is one of the best we have ever read, being simple, terse and vivid, without the overloading with detail that spoils so many of the pen-pictures of the day.

The trip was made in eleven months of 1876-77. The route lay from Chatham to Madeira, Rio, the river Plate, Valparaiso (through the Straits of Magellan), the Society and Sandwich Islands, Yokohama, Hong-Kong, Singapore, Ceylon, Aden, Alexandria, Malta, and so on back to England. It thus threaded a large part of the tropical world, and we are led to perceive a greater variety in tropical life and scenery than we are in the habit of realizing. The rapidity of movement facilitated this, as it brought the different points more closely together, and made what there was of contrast more striking. Not that the movements of the party were uniformly hurried either, for weeks were spent in Rio, the Pampas, Chili and Japan, and sufficient stoppages made at many other places. The slow passage through the stormy Straits makes us acquainted with the savages of the Land of Fire and their picturesque country, decidedly more damp than fiery. Japan was reached in the season of ice and snow, and the author, wrapped in furs and ulsters, was puzzled by the native contempt of the thermometer as shown in their wooden-walled houses with paper partitions and the popular passion for the lightest possible raiment. We join in her amazement at the proceedings, on a frosty morning, of the propellers of her jenrishka—or, as it is punningly termed, pull-man-car—who, compelled by law to wear their clothes in town, deliberately stopped when they struck the country and divested themselves of almost the last stitch—a performance paralleled in the opposite hemisphere by a party of Fuegians, man, wife and son, who came off in a canoe to trade, and stripped themselves utterly of their one garment of fine sea-otter skins in exchange for beads and tobacco. The author seems to have armed herself against surprises of this and all other kinds, and to have set out prepared to accept outlandish ways as they came, and look on the bright and reasonable side of everything. She manifests no national prejudice, whether against savage or civilized people, and commends frankly American carriages, railways, tramways, calicoes and canned fruits wherever she meets them; and that is, for one or another item of the[Pg 391] list, nearly everywhere. Our manufacturers will read with interest the compliments recorded as paid by their customers, actual and possible, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the superior merit of their fabrics as compared with those of Manchester.

Altogether, should Mrs. Brassey's yacht be ready for another circumnavigation before ours, we do not know that we should refuse the offer of a spare berth.

Art-Education. A Lecture by General William Birney. Delivered February 6, 1878, before the Washington Art-Club. Washington: Art-Club.

This brochure is mainly a sketch of the consequences to industrial art of the English Exhibition of 1851, or a consideration of the fruits of the South Kensington Art-School. The humiliation of England in that Exhibition is well known, and the way in which she profited by the bitter lesson is full of instruction to this country. Thoughtful Americans, whether directly concerned in the welfare of laboring men or not, remember uneasily the troubles of last year, listen with compassion to whatever sounds of distress come from the assemblies of those who call themselves "workingmen," and look with anxiety for evidence of returning prosperity and contentment. All Americans worth mentioning are workers and are in sympathy with labor. If any "workingmen" think that there is a large or powerful class in this country opposed to the interests of labor, they should at once dismiss the notion, and look further for the cause of their troubles. Considerate people see that the "workingmen" should take a wider view of their situation than most of them seem to do; that they should look above and beyond the ranks of partisans for the light they need; that they should listen to those who will discuss their problem with the coolness, the disinterestedness, the unhesitating honesty which characterize the leading scientists of the day in other fields of inquiry. Such are the speakers and writers they should invite to their assistance. Instead of wasting their breath in expressions of self-admiration, in threadbare platitudes about the nobility and rights of labor, in appeals to the omnipresent politician, in complaints against labor-saving machinery, in talk about the Eight-Hour law, it would be more encouraging if they would try to supplant foreign workmen by simply excelling them in workmanship, and try to find employment by the creation of new industries. Higher education in industrial art is the stepping-stone to this.

As the depression is the result of a combination of causes, it is not probable that a panacea exists. Complete restoration will come from several remedies, each having its due effect in its own time and place. But perhaps the most potent of all, one indispensable to thorough and lasting prosperity, is thus revealed by General Birney:

"Although the United States has not hitherto directed her attention to art, her manifest destiny is to do so. The necessity of events will compel it. We have entered upon a long peace, in which we shall have to compete with civilized nations for the supply of the markets of the world. A population of forty millions cannot exist in comfort when they sell to the world nothing but agricultural implements, sewing-machines, revolvers, clocks, corn, cheese and cheap cottons, and buy everything else from it. The end of that course must be national ruin.

"For self-preservation, we must manufacture: we must have skilled labor. The rapid increase of scientific knowledge makes art a necessity. As science throws men out of employ, art must provide employment. The scientist and artist must walk hand in hand. The invention of labor-saving machinery for the farmer, enabling one man to do the work which formerly required ten, is rapidly driving men from the country to the cities. The invention of other machinery is rapidly throwing large numbers of workmen out of employ. Political causes are adding to this evil. How to put the unemployed millions to work is the problem of the day. The salvation of the country depends upon its solution. The nation stands before each public man demanding that he shall read the riddle or be destroyed.

"One of the helps to a solution, if not a solution, is the introduction of skilled labor. It takes but a few men to fashion a ton of iron into bars, but a thousand are not too many to work it into watch-springs. Five men can make all the coarse pottery used in this District: it takes five hundred to make its decorated ware and porcelain. Rough hand-labor is being superseded by machinery. But the demand is greater than ever before for skilled labor, both to manage the machinery and to take the product where[Pg 392] machinery has left it and fashion it into value by the art of the decorator. Such a workman plies his handiwork at his own house, teaching his sons the secrets of his trade. He is the necessary coadjutor of the machine-owner, and has no need to resort to the brutal methods of Molly Maguires and trades-unions to get a fair reward for his labor. Let demagogues rant about our danger from competition with the pauper labor of Europe! We never were, and never will be, injured by that. What we should fear is the skilled labor of well-paid, cultured and educated artisans."

The French, who won so easy a victory over the English in 1851 in the manufacture of whatever directly augments the luxury and elegance of life, now fear that England will overcome France on her own ground. An able Parisian, criticising the Exhibition of 1878, and acknowledging the facts it reveals, asks the French government to send, at the public expense, a hundred workmen every year to Great Britain as a means of keeping French artisans abreast of British and holding their own in the markets. Ours is not a paternal government. If it should send a hundred men to England, half of them might be political bummers, whose chief study would be, not how to learn to work for the benefit of their countrymen, but how to live without work. The American people are as individuals supposed to take care of their own business. Do our trades-unions and labor-clubs and workingmen's associations send a hundred picked men abroad every year for study and practice? Are they too conceited or ignorant to realize what most concerns them? Thousands of foreign subjects are earning money from us, while thousands of our countrymen are suffering. This is not the fault of those foreign workmen, nor of the American purchasers of their artistic work, nor of our government. It is in a great degree because Americans have not the skill and taste to take up material where machinery leaves it, and lay it down beautified by the touch of real art. An "appeal to the ballot-box," the sovereign remedy of a true American for every ill; the enactment that two and two shall make five, which is about what the Eight-Hour law amounts to; the declaration by statute that so much of one metal shall equal so much of another metal,—has there not been enough of this? Would not a few hundred well-educated emissaries of our trades-unions and labor associations kept in the technical schools and workshops abroad be of rather more value? "How many of the graduates of the South Kensington Art-School, and artisans whose ability is traceable to it, might have been induced to try here the fine work which now, in England, is making the French tremble for their laurels, by a judicious use of the money which public halls, meetings, brass bands, processions, delegations, disturbances, transparencies, lobbyists, blather-skites and strikes have cost the 'workingmen' of America?"

Books Received.

The Army of the Republic: Its Services and Destiny. By Henry Ward Beecher.—How to Spend the Summer; Where to Go; How to Go; How to Save Money. (Christian Union Extras.) New York: Christian Union Print.

Sensible Etiquette of the Best Society, Customs, Manners, Morals and Home Culture. Compiled from the best authorities. By Mrs. H. O. Ward. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates.

Gabrielle; or, The House of Mauréze. From the French of Henri Gréville. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers.

Hathercourt. By Mrs. Molesworth ("Ennis Graham"). (Leisure-Hour Series.) New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Hints to Plumbers and Householders. By W. L. D. O'Grady. New York: The American News Co.

Poems and Ballads. By Algernon Charles Swinburne. (Second Series.) New York: R. Worthington.

Pauline, and Other Poems. By Hanford Lennox Gordon. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

How to Take Care of our Eyes. By Henry C. Angell, M. D. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

Rothmell. By the author of "That Husband of Mine." Boston: Lee & Shepard.

Maid Ellice. By Theo. Gift. (Leisure-Hour Series.) New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Chips from Many Blocks. By Elihu Burritt. Toronto: Rose-Belford Publishing Co.

Bluffton: A Story of To-day. By M. J. Savage. Boston: Lee & Shepard.

Somebody Else. By G. P. Lathrop. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

His Inheritance. By Adeline Trafton. Boston: Lee & Shepard.

Poems. By W. T. Washburn. New York: Jesse Haney & Co.