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Title: All the Days of My Life: An Autobiography
       The Red Leaves of a Human Heart

Author: Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Release Date: March 29, 2011 [EBook #35706]

Language: English

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All the Days of My Life: An Autobiography

The Red Leaves of a Human Heart

By Amelia E. Barr

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK AND LONDON
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
MCMXIII

Copyright, 1913, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Printed in the United States of America


Mrs. Barr at 80

TO MY FRIENDS
DR. CARLOS H. STONE
AND
MRS. STONE
I INSCRIBE
WITH AFFECTIONATE ESTEEM
THIS STORY OF MY LIFE

Cherry Croft

A.D. 1913


vii

CONFIDENCES

This is to be a book about myself but, even before I begin it, I am painfully aware of the egotistical atmosphere which the unavoidable use of the personal pronouns creates. I have hitherto declared that I would not write an autobiography, but a consideration of circumstances convinces me that an autobiography is the only form any personal relation can now take. For the press has so widely and so frequently exploited certain events of my life—impossible to omit—that disguise is far out of the question. Fiction could not hide me, nor an assumed name, nor even no name at all.

Why, then, write the book? First, because serious errors have constantly been published, and these I wish to correct; second, there has been a long-continued request for it, and third, there are business considerations not to be neglected. Yet none, nor all of these three reasons, would have been sufficient to induce me to truck my most sacred memories through the market-place for a little money, had I not been conscious of a motive that would amply justify the book. The book itself must reveal that reason, or it will never be known. I am sure, however, that many will find it out, and to these souls I shall speak, and they will keep my memory green, and listen to my words of strength and comfort long after the woman called Amelia Huddleston Barr has disappeared forever.

Again, if I am to write of things so close and intimate as my feelings and experiences, I must claim a large liberty. Many topics usually dilated on, I shall pass by silently, or with slight notice; and, if I write fully and truly, as I intend to do, I must viii show many changes of opinion on a variety of subjects. This is only the natural growth of the mental and spiritual faculties. For the woman within, if she be of noble strain, is never content with what she has attained; she unceasingly presses forward, in lively hope of some better way, or some more tangible truth. If any woman at eighty years of age was the same woman, spiritually and mentally, she was at twenty, or even fifty, she would be little worthy of our respect.

Also, there are supreme tragedies and calamities in my life that it would be impossible for me to write down. It would be treason against both the living and the dead. But such calamities always came from the hand of man. I never had a sorrow from the hand of God that I could not tell to any good man or woman; for the end of God-sent sorrow is some spiritual gain or happiness. We hurt each other terribly in this world, but it is in ways that only the power which tormented the perfect man of Uz would incite.

I write mainly for the kindly race of women. I am their sister, and in no way exempt from their sorrowful lot. I have drank the cup of their limitations to the dregs, and if my experience can help any sad or doubtful woman to outleap her own shadow, and to stand bravely out in the sunshine to meet her destiny, whatever it may be, I shall have done well; I shall not have written this book in vain. It will be its own excuse, and justify its appeal.

AMELIA BARR


CONTENTS

  PAGE
I. The Border Land of Life 1
II. At Shipley, Yorkshire 11
III. Where Druids and Giants Dwelt 25
IV. At Ripon and the Isle of Man 47
V. Sorrow and Change 60
VI. In Norfolk 69
VII. Over the Border 81
VIII. Love Is Destiny 91
IX. The Home Made Desolate 106
X. Passengers for New York 126
XI. From Chicago to Texas 146
XII. A Pleasant Journey 177
XIII. In Arcadia 195
XIV. The Beginning of Strife 214
XV. The Break-up of the Confederacy 235
XVI. The Terror by Night and by Day 259
XVII. The Never-Coming-Back Called Death 278
XVIII. I Go to New York 300
XIX. The Beginnings of a New Life 319
XX. The Family Life 335
XXI. Thus Runs the World Away 354
XXII. The Latest Gospel: Know Thy Work and Do It 374
XXIII. The Gods Sell Us All Good Things for Labor 405
XXIV. Busy, Happy Days 426
XXV. Dreaming and Working 446
XXVI. The Verdict of Life 466
Appendix I. Huddleston Lords of Millom 481
Appendix II. Books Published by Dodd, Mead and Company 488
Appendix III. Books Published by Other Publishers 490
Appendix IV. Poems 492
Appendix V. Letters 499
Index 513

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE
Mrs. Barr at 80 Frontispiece
Mrs. Barr’s Birthplace 8
Rev. William Henry Huddleston 52
Mrs. Barr at 18 98
Mr. Robert Barr 204
Miss Lilly Barr 288
Mrs. Barr November, 1880 364
Miss Mary Barr (Mrs. Kirk Munroe) 378
“Cherry Croft,” Cornwall-on-Hudson 428
Miss Alice Barr 456
1

CHAPTER I

THE BORDER LAND OF LIFE

“Date not God’s mercy from thy nativity, look beyond to the Everlasting

Love.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Ask me not, for I may not speak of it—I saw it.”—Tennyson.

I entered this incarnation on March the twenty-ninth, A.D. 1831, at the ancient town of Ulverston, Lancashire, England. My soul came with me. This is not always the case. Every observing mother of a large family knows that the period of spiritual possession varies. For days, even weeks, the child may be entirely of the flesh, and then suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, the mystery of the indwelling spirit is accomplished. This miracle comes not by observation; no mother ever saw it take place. She only knows that at one moment her child was ignorant of her; that at the next moment it was consciously smiling into her face, and that then, with an instinctive gladness, she called to the whole household, “the baby has begun to notice.”

I brought my soul with me—an eager soul, impatient for the loves and joys, the struggles and triumphs of the dear, unforgotten world. No doubt it had been aware of the earthly tabernacle which was being prepared for its home, and its helper in the new onward effort; and was waiting for the moment which would make them companions. The beautifully fashioned little body was already dear, and the wise soul would not suffer it to run the risks of a house left empty and unguarded. Some accident might mar its beauty, or cripple its powers, or still more 2 baneful, some alien soul might usurp the tenement, and therefore never be able effectually to control, or righteously use it.

I was a very fortunate child, for I was “possessed by a good spirit, yea rather being good, my spirit came into a body undefiled and perfect” (Wisdom of Solomon, 8:20). Also, my environments were fair and favorable; for my parents, though not rich, were in the possession of an income sufficient for the modest comforts and refinements they desired. My father was the son of Captain John Henry Huddleston, who was lost on some unknown sea, with all who sailed in his company. His brother, Captain Thomas Henry Huddleston, had a similar fate. His ship, The Great Harry, carrying home troops from America, was dashed to pieces on the Scarlet Rocks, just outside Castletown, the capital of the Isle of Man. When the storm had subsided the bodies of the Captain and his son Henry were found clasped in each other’s arms, and they were buried together in Kirk Malew churchyard. During the years 1843 and 1844 I was living in Castletown, and frequently visited the large grave with its upright stone, on which was carved the story of the tragedy. Fifteen years ago my sister Alethia went purposely to Castletown to have the lettering on this stone cleared, and made readable; and I suppose that it stands there today, near the wall of the inclosure, on the left-hand side, not far from the main entrance.

When my grandmother, Amelia Huddleston, was left a widow she had two sons, John Henry and William Henry, both under twelve years of age. But she seems to have had sufficient money to care well for them, to attend to their education, and to go with them during the summer months to St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea for a holiday; a luxury then by no means common. She inspired her sons with a great affection; my father always kept the anniversary of her death in solitude. Yet, he never spoke of her to me but once. It was on my eleventh birthday. Then he took my face between his hands, and said: “Amelia, you have the name of a good woman, loved of God and man; see that you honor it.”

After the death of their mother, I believe both boys went to their uncle, Thomas Henry Huddleston, collector of the port of Dublin. He had one son, the late Sir John Walter Huddleston, 3 Q. C., a celebrated jurist, who died in 1891 at London, England. I was living then at East Orange, New Jersey. Yet, suddenly, the sunny room in which I was standing was thrilled through and through by an indubitable boding token, the presage of his death—a presage unquestionable, and not to be misunderstood by any of his family.

Sir John Walter was the only Millom Huddleston I ever knew who had not “Henry” included in his name. This fact was so fixed in my mind that, when I was introduced to the one Huddleston in the city of New York, a well-known surgeon and physician, I was not the least astonished to see on his card “Dr. John Henry Huddleston.” Again, one day not two years ago, I lifted a newspaper, and my eyes fell on the words “Henry Huddleston.” I saw that it was the baptismal name of a well-known New Yorker, and that he was seriously ill. Every morning until his death I watched anxiously for the report of his condition; for something in me responded to that singular repetition, and, though I never heard any tradition concerning it, undoubtedly there is one.

Millom Castle and lands passed from the Huddleston family to the Earls of Lonsdale, who hold them with the promise that they are not to be sold except to some one bearing the name of Huddleston. Not more than ten years ago, the present Earl admitted and reiterated the old agreement. One part of the castle is a ruin covered with ivy, the rest is inhabited by a tenant of the Earl. My sister stayed with this family a few days about twelve years ago. Soon afterwards Dr. John Henry Huddleston, accompanied by his wife, visited Millom and brought me back some interesting photos of the church and the Huddleston monuments.

The Millom Huddlestons have always been great ecclesiastics. There lies upon my table, as I write, a beautifully preserved Bible of the date A.D. 1626. It has been used by their preachers constantly, and bears many annotations on the margins of its pages. It is the most precious relic of the family, and was given to me by my father on my wedding-day. Their spiritual influence has been remarkable. One tradition asserts that an Abbot Huddleston carried the Host before King Edward 4 the Confessor, and it is an historical fact that Priest Huddleston, a Benedictine monk, found his way up the back stairs of Windsor Castle to King Charles the Second’s bedroom, and gave the dying monarch the last comforting rites of his church.

When they were not priests they were daring seamen and explorers. In the seventeenth century India was governed by its native princes, and was a land of romance, a land of obscure peril and malignant spells. An enchanted veil hung like a mist over its sacred towns on the upper Ganges, and the whole country, with its barbaric splendors and amazing wealth, had a luring charm, remote and unsubstantial as an ancient fable. In that century, there was likely always to be some Captain Huddleston rounding the Cape, in a big, unwieldy Indiaman. That the voyage occupied a year or two was no deterrent. Their real home was the sea, their Millom home only a resting-place. By such men the empire of England was builded. They gave their lives cheerfully to make wide her boundaries, and to strengthen her power.

My father and his brother both chose theology, and they were suitably educated for the profession. John Henry, on receiving orders, sailed for Sierra Leone as one of the first, if not the first missionary of the English Church to the rescued slaves of that colony. My father finally allied himself with the Methodist Church, a decision for which I never heard any reason assigned. But the reason must have been evident to any one who considered the character and movements of William Henry Huddleston. In that day the English Church, whatever she may do now, did not permit her service to be read, in any place not sanctified by a bishop with the proper ceremonies. My father found in half a dozen shepherds on the bare fells a congregation and a church he willingly served. To a few fishers mending their nets on the shingly seashore, he preached as fine a sermon as he would have preached in a cathedral. It was his way to stroll down among the tired sailormen, smoking and resting on the quiet pier in the gloaming, and, standing among them, to tell again the irresistible story of Christ and Him Crucified.

He was indeed a born Evangelist, and if he had been a contemporary of General Booth would certainly have enrolled himself 5 among the earliest recruits of his evangelizing army. In the Methodist Church this tendency was rather encouraged than hindered, and that circumstance alone would be reason most sufficient and convincing to a man, who believed himself in season and out of season in charge of souls. In this decision I am sure there was no financial question; he had money enough then to give his conscience all the elbow-room it wanted.

Soon after this change my father married Mary Singleton—

“A perfect woman, nobly planned,

To trust, to comfort, and command.”

Physically she was small and delicately formed, but she possessed a great spirit, a heart tender and loving as a child’s, and the most joyous temper I ever met. Every fret of life was conquered by her cheerfulness. Song was always in her heart, and very often on her lips. She brooded over her children like a bird over its nest, and was exceedingly proud of her clever husband, serving and obeying him, with that touching patience and fidelity which was the distinguishing quality of English wives of that period.

And it was to this happy couple, living in the little stone house by the old chapel in Ulverston, I came that blessed morning in March, A.D. 1831. Yes, I will positively let the adjective stand. It was a “blessed” morning. Though I have drunk the dregs of every cup of sorrow,

“My days still keep the dew of morn,

And what I have I give;

Being right glad that I was born,

And thankful that I live.”

I came to them with hands full of gifts, and among them the faculty of recollection. To this hour I wear the key of memory, and can open every door in the house of my life, even to its first exquisite beginnings. The thrills of joy and wonder, of pleasure and terror I felt in those earliest years, I can still recapture; only that dim, mysterious memory of some previous existence, where the sandy shores were longer and the hills far higher, has 6 become fainter, and less frequent. I do not need it now. Faith has taken the place of memory, and faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Childhood is fed on dreams—dreams waking, and dreams sleeping. My first sharp, clear, positive recollection is a dream—a sacred, secret dream, which I have never been able to speak of. When it came to me, I had not the words necessary to translate the vision into speech, and, as the years went on, I found myself more and more reluctant to name it. It was a vision dim and great, that could not be fitted into clumsy words, but it was clearer and surer to me, than the ground on which I trod. It is nearly seventy-eight years since I awoke that morning, trembling and thrilling in every sense with the wonder and majesty of what I had seen, but the vision is not dim, nor any part of it forgotten. It is my first recollection. Beyond—is the abyss. That it has eluded speech is no evidence of incompleteness, for God’s communion with man does not require the faculties of our mortal nature. It rather dispenses with them.

When I was between three and four years old I went with my mother to visit a friend, who I think was my godmother. I have forgotten her name, but she gave me a silver cup, and my first doll—a finely gowned wax effigy—that I never cared for. I had no interest at all in dolls. I did not like them; their speechlessness irritated me, and I could not make-believe they were real babies. I have often been aware of the same perverse fretful kind of feeling at the baffling silence of infants. Why do they not talk? They have the use of their eyes and ears; they can feel and taste and touch, why can they not speak? Is there something they must not tell? Will they not learn to talk, until they have forgotten it? For I know

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting

The soul that rises with us, our Life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting;

And cometh from afar.

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter darkness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home.”

7

At this house, overlooking the valley of the Duddon, I needed nothing to play with. Every room in it was full of wonders, so also was the garden, with its dark walls shaded by yews, and pines, and glistening holly, the latter cut into all kinds of fantastic shapes. The house had a large entrance hall, and, rising sheer from it, was the steep, spiral stairway leading to the upper rooms. The stairs were highly polished and slippery, but they were the Alps of my baby ambition. Having surmounted them, there was in the corridor to which they led, queer, dark closets to be passed swiftly and warily, and closed guest rooms—obscure, indistinct, and shrouded in white linen. It gave me a singular pleasure to brave these unknown terrors, and after such adventures I returned to my mother with a proud sense of victory achieved; though I neither understood the feeling, nor asked any questions about it. Now I can accurately determine its why and its wherefore, but I am no happier for the knowledge. The joy, of having conquered a difficulty, and the elation of victory because of that conquest had then a tang and a savor beyond the power of later triumphs to give me. I know too much now. I calculate probabilities and attempt nothing that lacks strong likelihoods of success. Deservedly, then, I miss that exulting sense of accomplishment, which is the reward of those who never calculate, but who, when an attempt is to be made, dare and do, and most likely win.

There was also a closed room downstairs, and I spent much time there when the weather was wet, and I could not get into the garden. It had once been a handsome room, and the scene of much gaiety, but the passage of the Reform Bill had compelled English farmers to adopt a much more modest style of living; and the singing of lovers, and the feet of dancing youths and maidens was heard no more in its splendid space. But it was yet full of things strange and mysterious—things that ministered both to the heaven and hell of my imagination; beautiful images of girls carrying flowers and of children playing; empty shells of resplendent colors that had voices in them, mournful, despairing voices, that filled me with fear and pity; dreadful little heathen gods, monstrous, frightful! with more arms and hands and feet than they ought to have; a large white marble 8 clock that was dead, and could neither tick nor strike; butterflies and birds motionless, silent, and shut up in glass cases; and what I believed to be a golden harp, with strings slack or broken, yet crying out plaintively if I touched them.

One afternoon I went to sleep in this room, and, as my mother was out, I was not disturbed; indeed when I opened my eyes it was nearly dark. Then the occult world, which we all carry about with us, was suddenly wide awake, also; the place was full of whispers; I heard the passing of unseen feet, and phantom-like men and women slipped softly about in the mysterious light. My heart beat wildly to the visions I created, but who can tell from what eternity of experiences, the mind-stuff necessary for these visions floated to me? Who can tell?

It was, however, the long, long nights, far more than the wonderful days, which impregnated my future—the dark, still nights full of hints and fine transitions, shadowy terrors, fleeting visions and marvelous dreams. I shall remember as long as I live, nights that I would not wish to dream through again, neither would I wish to have been spared the dreams that came to me in them. The impression they made was perhaps only possible on the plastic nature of a child soul, but, though long years lay between the dream and the event typified, the dream was unforgotten, and the event dominated by its warning. All education has this provisional quality. In school, as well as in dreams, we learn in childhood a great deal that finds no immediate use or expression. For many years we may scarcely remember the lesson, then comes the occasion for it, and the information needed is suddenly restored.


Mrs. Barr’s Birthplace
Born in the parsonage next to the chapel

There is then no wonder that, in the full ripeness of my mental growth, I look back with wondering gratitude to these first apparently uneventful years on the border land of being. In them I learned much anteceding any reasoning whatever. There is nothing incredible in this. Heaven yet lies around infancy, and we are eternally related to heavenly intelligences “a little lower” that is all. Thus, in an especial manner,

“Our simple childhood sits,

Our simple childhood sits upon a throne,

That hath more power than all the elements.”

9

For it is always the simple that produces the marvelous, and these fleeting shadowy visions and intimations of our earliest years, are far from being profitless; not only because they are kindred to our purest mind and intellect, but much rather because the soul

“Remembering how she felt, but what she felt

Remembering not; retains an obscure sense

Of possible sublimity.”

I have a kind of religious reluctance to inquire too closely into these almost sacred years. Yet when I consider the material education of the children of this period, I feel that I have not said enough. For a boy educated entirely on a material basis, is not prepared to achieve success, even financial success. The work of understanding must be enlightened by the emotions, or he will surely sink to the level of the hewers of wood and drawers of water. The very best material education will not save a child who has no imagination. Therefore do not deprive childhood of fairy tales, of tales of stirring adventure and courage, and of the wondrous stories of the old Hebrew world. On such food the imagination produces grand ideals and wide horizons. It is true we live in a very present and very real world, and many are only too ready to believe that the spiritual world is far-off and shadowy. On the contrary, the spiritual world is here and now and indisputably and preëminently real. It is the material world that is the realm of shadows.

I doubt if any child is born without some measure of that vision and faculty divine which apprehends the supernatural. This is “the light within which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” If that light be neglected, and left to smoulder and die out, how great is the darkness it leaves behind! Precious beyond price are the shadowy recollections of a God-haunted childhood,

“Which be they what they may,

Are yet the fountain light of all our day;

Are yet the master light of all our seeing.”

10

A child is a deep mystery. It has a life of its own, which it reveals to no one unless it meets with sympathy. Snub its first halting confidences concerning the inner life, or laugh at them, or be cross or indifferent, and you close the door against yourself forever. Now there is no faculty given us that the soul can spare. If we destroy in childhood the faculty of apprehending the spiritual or supernatural, as detrimental to this life, if there be left

“... no Power Divine within us,

How can God’s divineness win us?”

11

CHAPTER II

AT SHIPLEY, YORKSHIRE

“Sweet childish days that were as long

As twenty days are now.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“A child to whom was given

So much of earth, so much of heaven.”

Before I was three years old my father removed to Yorkshire, to Shipley, in the West Riding. I never can write or speak those two last words, “West Riding,” without a sensible rise of temperature, and an intense longing to be in England. For the West Riding is the heart of England, and, whatever is distinctively English, is also distinctively West Riding. Its men and women are so full of life, so spontaneously cheerful, so sure of themselves, so upright and downright in speech and action, that no one can for a moment misunderstand either their liking or disliking. Their opinions hold no element of change or dissent. They are as hearty and sincere in their religion, as their business, and if they form a friendship with a family, it will likely be one to the third and fourth generation. I correspond today with people whom I never saw, but whose friendship for my family dates back to a mutual rejoicing over the victory of Waterloo.

Of course I was not able to make any such observations on West Riding humanity when I first went there, but I felt the goodness of the people then, and in later years I both observed and experienced it. And it was well for me in my early childhood to live a while among such a strong, happy people. They impressed upon my plastic mind their confidant cheerfulness, and their sureness that life was a very good thing.

Shipley was then a pretty country town, though it is now a great manufacturing city, not far behind Bradford and Leeds. 12 I was three years there and during those years gradually dropped all remains of infancy, and became a child, a child eager for work and for play, and half-afraid the world might not last until I found out all about it. At first I went to a dame’s school. She did not take children over five years of age, and to these babies she taught only reading and needlework and knitting. We sat on very low benches in a room opening into a garden, and we spent a good deal of time in the garden. But she taught me to hem, and to seam, to fell and to gather, to stroke and to backstitch, and when I left her I could read any of the penny chap books I could buy. Most of them contained an abbreviated adventure from the “Arabian Nights” collection.

Soon after we removed to Shipley a woman came into our lives, called Ann Oddy, and my sister and I were told to be respectful to her and to obey her orders. She was a clever housekeeper, a superior cook, and had many domestic virtues; but she was authoritative, tyrannical, and quite determined to have things her own way. Fortunately I won her favor early, and for two simple reasons: first, my hair was easy to curl, and Sister Jane’s had to be carefully put in papers, and then did not “keep in.” Second, because she thought Jane was always ready to go “neighboring” with Mother, and then was so secret as to where she had been, and so “know nothing” of what was said; but I was better pleased to stay in the children’s room with a book and herself for company.

Indeed I liked Ann’s society. She had a grewsome assortment of stories, chiefly about bad fellows and their young women, but sometimes concerning bad children who had come to grief for disobeying their good parents, or for breaking the Sabbath Day. There was generally, however, an enthralling climax, relating to a handsome young man, whom she saw hanged at York Castle for murdering his sweetheart. At this narration I usually laid down my book, and listened with trembling interest to the awful fate of this faithless lover, and Ann’s warnings against men of all kinds who wanted helpless women to marry them. In those days I felt sure Ann Oddy had the true wisdom, and was quite resolved to look upon all handsome young men as probable murderers.

13

The three years I spent at Shipley were happy years. I enjoyed every hour of them, though the days were twenty times as long as days are now. There was a great deal of visiting, and visiting meant privileges of all kinds. We were frequently asked out to tea with our parents, especially if there were children in the house to which we were going, and there were children’s parties nearly every week at somebody’s house.

It was a good thing, then, that our usual fare was very plain, and not even the quantity left to our own desire or discretion. Breakfast was always a bowl of bread and milk boiled, and a rather thick slice of bread and butter after it. Fresh meat was sparingly given us at dinner, but we had plenty of broth, vegetables, and Yorkshire pudding. Our evening meal was bread and milk, rice or tapioca pudding, and a thick slice of sweet loaf—that is, bread made with currants, and caraway seeds, and a little sugar. But when we went out for dinner or tea, we had our share of the good things going; and, if the company was at our house, Ann Oddy usually put a couple of Christ Church tarts, or cheesecakes, among our plain bread. She always pretended to wonder where they came from; and, if I said pleadingly, “Don’t take them away, Ann,” she would answer in a kind of musing manner, “I’ll be bound the Missis put them there. Some people will meddle.” Then Jane would help herself, and I did the same, and we both knew that Ann had put the tarts there, and that she intended us to eat them. Yet this same little pretense of surprise was kept up for many years, and I grew to enjoy the making of it more perfect, and the changing of the words a little.

The house at which I liked best of all to visit was that of Jonathan Greenwood. He had a pretty place—with a fine strawberry bed—at Baildon Green. He was then a handsome bachelor of about forty years of age, and I considered him quite an old man. I knew also that he was Miss Crabtree’s sweetheart, and Ann’s look of disapproval, and the suspicious shake of her head made me anxious about both of them. What if Miss Crabtree should have another sweetheart! And what if Jonathan killed her because she had deceived him! Then there might be the York tragedy over again. These thoughts 14 troubled me so much that I ventured to suggest their probability to Ann. She laughed my fears to scorn.

“Martha Crabtree have another sweetheart! Nay, never my little lass! It will be the priest, not the hangman, that will tie Jonathan up.”

“Tie Jonathan up, Ann!” I ejaculated.

“To be sure,” she answered. “Stop talking.”

“But, Ann——”

“Do as I bid you.”

Then I resolved to ask Jonathan that afternoon. It was Thursday, and he would be sure to call for a cup of tea as he came from Leeds market. I did not do so, because he asked permission for me to go to Baildon Green with him, and stay until after the fair, and during the visit I knew I should find many better opportunities for the question. To go to Baildon Green, was the best holiday that came to me, unless it was to go to Mr. Samuel Wilson’s, at the village of Baildon. He had a much finer house, and a large shop in which there were raisins and Jordan almonds, and he had also a handsome little son of my own age, with whom I loved to play. But one visit generally included the other, and both were very agreeable to all my desires.

At Baildon Green I had many pleasures. I liked to be petted and praised and to hear the women say, “What a pretty child it is! God bless it!” and I liked to hang around them, and listen to their conversation as they made nice little dinners. I liked in the evening to look at the Penny Magazine, and to have Mr. Greenwood explain the pictures to me, and I certainly liked to go with him in his gig to Leeds on Leeds market day. Sometimes he took me with him into the Cloth Hall; sometimes also men would say, “Why, Jonathan, whose little lass is that?” And he would answer, “It is Mr. Huddleston’s little lass.” “Never!” would be the ejaculation, but I knew the word was not intended for dissent, but somehow for approval.

When I was at Baildon Green Saturday was the great day. Very early in the morning the weavers began to arrive with the web of cloth they had woven during the week. In those days there were no mills—all the cloth was made in the weavers’ 15 homes. Baildon Green was a weaving village. In every cottage there was a loom and a big spinning wheel. The men worked at the loom, the women and children at the wheel. At daybreak I could hear the shuttles flying, and the rattle of the unwieldy looms in every house. On Saturday they brought their webs to Jonathan Greenwood. He examined each web carefully, measured its length, and paid the weaver whatever was its value. Then, giving him the woolen yarn necessary for next week’s web, he was ready to call another weaver. There were perhaps twenty to thirty men present, and, during these examinations many little disputes arose. I enjoyed them. The men called the master “Jonathan,” and talked to him in language as plain, or plainer, than he gave them. Sometimes, after a deal of threaping, the master would lose his temper, then I noticed he always got the best of the argument. In the room where this business took place there was a big pair of scales, and I usually sat in them, swinging gently to and fro, and listening.

These weavers were all big men, the master bigger than any of them; and they all wore blue-checked linen pinafores covering them from neck to feet. Underneath this pinafore the master wore fine broadcloth and high shoes with silver latchets. I do not know what kind of cloth the men wore, but it was very probably corduroy, as that was then the usual material for workingmen’s clothes, and on their feet were heavy clogs clasped with brass, a footgear capable of giving a very ugly and even dangerous kick.

I have never seen a prouder or more independent class of men than these home weavers; and just at this time they had been made anxious and irritable by the constant reports of coming mills and weaving by machinery. But their religion kept them hopeful and confident, for they were all Methodists, made for Methodists, and Methodism made for them. And it was a great sight on a Sabbath morning to see them gathering in their chapel, full of that incompatible spiritual joy which no one understands but those who have it, and which I at that time, took for simple good temper. But I know now that if I was a preacher of the Word, I would not ask to be sent to an analyzing, argumentative, cold Scotch kirk; nor to a complacent, satisfied 16 English church; nor even to a meditative, tranquil Quaker meeting-house; I would say, “Send me to an inspiring, joyful, West Riding Methodist chapel.”

This visit to Baildon Green was the last of my Shipley experiences. During it Mr. Greenwood told me that he would have “a handsome wife” when I came again, and that she would take me about a bit. I was not much pleased at the prospect. Men were always kinder to me than women, and not so fussy about my hair being in curl, and my frock clean. So I did not speak, and he asked, “Are you not pleased, Milly?”

“No,” I answered bluntly.

“But why?” he continued.

“Because I like you—all to myself.” Then he laughed and was much pleased, and I learned that day that you may wisely speak the truth, if it is complimentary.

The event of this visit was Baildon Feast, a great public rejoicing on the anniversary of the summer solstice. It had been observed beyond the memory of man, beyond historical notice, beyond even the traditions of the locality. There was no particular reason for its observance that I could ever learn; it was just Baildon Feast, and that was all anybody knew about it.

I was awakened very early on the first day of the feast by the bands “playing the sun up,” and before we had finished breakfast the procession was forming. Now Baildon Green is flat and grassy as a meadow, and when I was six years old it had a pond in the center, while from the northwest there rose high hills. Only a narrow winding path led to the top of these hills, and about half way up, there was a cave which tradition averred had been one of Robin Hood’s retreats—a very probable circumstance, as this whole country-side was doubtless pretty well covered with oak forests.

A numerous deputation from the village of Baildon, situated on the top of the hill, joined the procession which started from Baildon Green at an early hour. The sun was shining brightly, and I had on a clean white frock, pretty white sandals, a new blue sash, and a gypsy hat trimmed with blue ribbons. When the music approached it put a spirit into my feet and my heart 17 kept time to the exciting melody. I had never walked to music before, and it was an enchanting experience.

The procession appeared to my childish apprehension a very great one. I think now it may have consisted of five hundred people, perhaps less, but the great point of interest was two fine young heifers garlanded with flowers, and ornamented with streaming ribbons of every color. Up the winding path they went, the cattle lowing, the bands playing, the people singing and shouting up to the high places on which the village of Baildon stood. There at a particular spot, hallowed by tradition, the cattle garlanded for sacrifice were slain. I do not know whether any particular method or forms were used. I was not permitted to see the ceremony attending their death, and I confess I was much disappointed.

“It isn’t fit for a little lass to see,” said my friend Jonathan, “and I promised thy father and mother I wouldn’t let thee see it, so there now! Nay, nay, I wouldn’t whimper about such a thing as that. Never!”

I said I wasn’t whimpering, and that I didn’t care at all about seeing the animals killed, but I did care, and Baildon Fair without its tragedy no longer interested me, yet I stayed to see the flesh distributed among all who asked for it. There was an understanding, however, that those who received a festival roast should entertain any stranger claiming their hospitality. This ancient rite over, the people gave themselves up to sports of all kinds.

But their Methodism kept them within the bounds of decency, for there were favorite preachers invited from all the towns around, and if the men and boys were busy in the cricket fields all day, they were sure to be in the chapel at night. There was also a chapel tea party the last afternoon of the feast, and after it a great missionary meeting at which Bishop Heber’s hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains,” was sung with such mighty fervor as made me thrill and tremble with an emotion I can yet recall. That night I solemnly determined to be a missionary. I would go to the darkest of all heathen lands, and be the first to tell the story of Jesus. I went home in a state of beatific surrender, and whenever I think of that night, 18 I am aware of a Presence, and the face I wore when I was a little child turns to me. And I am troubled and silent before that little ghost with its eager eyes and loving enthusiasms, for I have done none of the things I promised to do, and an intangible clutch of memory gives me a spell of sadness keen and regretful.

This Baildon experience was one of those instances of learning in childhood things of no immediate use. I was hardly six years old then; I was seventy-six when it struck me, that I had perhaps taken part in a non-intentional sacrifice to the God Baal. For four years ago I was much interested in discovering that the Shetlanders, even to the close of the nineteenth century, kept the same feast at the summer solstice, and also made their children in some of the lonely islands pass through the Beltane fires, in fact paying the old God Bel or Baal the same services as the Hebrew prophets so often reproached the Israelites with performing. But I believe that wherever Druidical remains are found, relics of this worship may be traced either in names, superstitions, signs or traditions. In a letter I received from a Bradford lady dated September twenty-seventh, A.D. 1911, she says, “It was rather strange but we had a man at our house from Thornton the other day, and he was telling us how they paraded the cattle they were going to kill at the feast through the streets, and I thought of you, and what you remembered of it in Baildon.”

These details may seem to the reader trivial and futile; on the contrary, they were the very material from which life was building character. For all that surrounds a child, all that it sees, hears, feels or touches, helps to create its moral and intellectual nature. See then how fortunate were my first six years. My physical being was well cared for by loving parents in a sweet orderly home, and my mental life well fed by books stimulating the imagination. Through the “Arabian Nights” tales I touched the domestic life of the wonderful East, China, India, Persia and Arabia; and at the missionary meetings, and at my home, I met men who had been to these far away places, and brought back with them curious and beautiful things, even the very gods they worshipped. There had been hitherto in 19 other respects a good deal of judicious neglect in my education. Books had never been anything but a source of wonder and delight to me. I had never heard of a grammar and an arithmetic, and had never been deprived of a visit or a holiday because if I did not go to school, I would miss a mark, or lose my place in a class.

Fortunately this desultory education was marbled all through with keen spiritual incidents and issues. For the spiritual sight of children turns more sharply upon the world within the breast, than they show, or that anyone imagines. They hold in their memories imperishable days which all others have forgotten, visions beautiful and fearful, dreams without name or meaning, and they have an undefined impression of the awful oldness of things. They see the world through doors very little ajar, and they know the walking of God through their dreaming sleep.

The happy and prosperous children are those, who had before all else the education that comes by reverence. This education is beyond all doubt the highest, the deepest, the widest and the most perfect of all the forms of education ever given to man. A child that has not been taught to reverence God, and all that represents God to man—honor, honesty, justice, mercy, truth, love, courage, self-sacrifice, is sent into the world like a boat sent out to sea, without rudder, ballast, compass or captain.

But the education by reverence must begin early. Children of very tender years may be taught to wander through those early ages of faith, when God took Enoch, and no one was astonished; when Abraham talked with God as friend with friend; when the marvelous ladder was let down by Jacob’s pillow; when Hagar carrying her dying child in the desert saw without surprise the angel of the Lord coming to help her. Nor is there any danger in permitting them to enter that dimmer world lying about childhood, to which Robinson Crusoe and Scheherazade hold the keys. The multiplication table can wait, until the child has been taught to reverence all that is holy, wise and good, and the imagination received its first impulse. So I do not call such events as I have chronicled 20 trifling; indeed, I know that in the formation of my character, they had a wide and lasting influence.

A few days after the fair, Jonathan Greenwood was going to Bradford so he left me at my home as he passed there, and as soon as I came in sight of our house, I saw my sister running to the gate to meet me.

“I have a little brother!” she cried. “I have a little brother, Amelia.”

“Mine, too,” I asserted; and she answered, “Yes, I dare say.”

“Is he nice?” I asked.

“Middling nice. You should see how everyone goes on about him.”

“My word!” cried Jonathan, “you girls will be nobodies now. But, I shall stick by you, Milly.”

“Yes,” I answered dubiously, for I had learned already that little girls were of much less importance than little boys. So I shook my head, and gave Jonathan’s promise a doubtful “yes.”

“Tell Ann Oddy,” he said, “that I will be in for a cup of tea at five o’clock.” Then he drove away, and Jane and I walked slowly up the garden path together.

“Father called him John Henry, first thing,” said Jane, “and Mother is proud of him, as never was.”

“I want to see him,” I answered. “Let us go to the children’s room.”

“He is in Mother’s room, and Mother is sick in bed, and Ann is so busy with the boy, she forgot my breakfast, so I had breakfast with Father.”

“Breakfast with Father! Never!”

“Yes, indeed, and dinner, too, for three days now. Perhaps as you have come home, Ann will remember that girls need something for breakfast. Father wasn’t pleased at her forgetting me.”

“What did she say?”

She said, “Mr. Huddleston, I cannot remember everything, and the Mistress and the little lad do come first, I should say.”

“Was Father angry?” I asked.

21

“He said something about Mrs. Peacock.”

“What is Mrs. Peacock doing here?”

“She is hired to help, but I think she never leaves her chair. Ann sniffed, and told Father, Mrs. Peacock had all she could do to take care of Mrs. Peacock. Then Father walked away, and Ann talked to herself, as she always does, when she is angry.”

This conversation and much that followed I remember well, not all of it, perhaps, but its spirit and the very words used. It occurred in the garden which was in gorgeous August bloom, full of splendid dahlias and holly-hocks, and August lilies. I have never seen such holly-hocks since. We called them rose-mallows then which is I think a prettier name. The house door stood open, and the rooms were all so still and empty. There was a bee buzzing outside, and the girl Agnes singing a Methodist hymn in the kitchen, but the sounds seemed far away, and our little shoes sounded very noisy on the stairway.

I soon had my head on my mother’s breast, and felt her kisses on my cheek. She asked me if I had a happy visit, but she did not take as much interest in my relations as I expected; she was so anxious to show me the new baby, and to tell me it was a boy, and called after his father’s brother. I was jealous and unhappy, but Mother looked so proud and pleased I did not like to say anything disagreeable, so I kissed Mother and the boy again, and then went to the children’s room and had a good cry in Ann Oddy’s arms.

“Ann,” I said, “girls are of no account;” and she answered, “No, honey, and women don’t signify much either. It is a pity for us both. I have been fit to drop with work ever since you went away, Amelia, and who cares? If any man had done what I have done, there would be two men holding him up by this time.”

“Ann, why do men get so much more praise than women, and why are they so much more thought of?”

“God only knows child,” she answered. “Men have made out, that only they can run the world. It’s in about as bad a state as it well can be, but they are proud of their work. What I say is, that a race of good women would have done 22 something with the old concern by this time. Men are a poor lot. I should think thou would want something to eat.”

I told her I was “as hungry as could be,” but that Jonathan was coming to tea at five o’clock.

“Then he’ll make it for himsel’,” she said. “Mr. Huddleston has gone to Windhill to some sort of meeting. Mrs. Huddleston can’t get out of bed. I have the baby on my hands, and Mrs. Peacock makes her own tea at five o’clock—precisely.”

“Then Ann let me make Jonathan’s tea. I am sure I can do it, Ann. Will you let me?”

“I’ll warrant thee.” Then she told me exactly what to do, and when Jonathan Greenwood came, he found a good pot of tea and hot muffins ready, and he had given Agnes some Bradford sausage, with their fine flavoring of herbs, to fry, and Agnes remembered a couple of Kendal wigs[1] that were in the house and she brought them in for a finishing dish. I sat in my mother’s chair, and poured out tea; but I sent for Jane when all was ready, and she gave me a look, still unforgotten, though she made no remark to disturb a meal so much to her liking. Later, however, when we were undressing for bed, and had said our prayers, she reminded me that she was the eldest, and that I had taken her place in making tea for Mr. Greenwood. Many a time I had been forced to receive this reproof silently, but now I was able to say:

“You are not the oldest any longer, Jane. John is the oldest now. Girls don’t count.”

In my childhood this eldest business was a sore subject, and indeed to this day the younger children in English families express themselves very decidedly about the usurpation of primogenital privileges, and the undue consideration given to boys.

A few weeks after the advent of my brother, John Henry, we removed to Penrith in Cumberland, and the night before leaving, a circumstance happened which made a great impression on me. There was a circle of shrubs in the garden, and a chair 23 among them on which I frequently sat to read. This night I went to meet Mother at the garden gate, and as we came up the flagged walk, I saw a man sitting on the chair. “Let us go quickly to the house,” said Mother; but a faint cry of “Mary!” made her hesitate, and when the cry was repeated, and the man rose to his feet, my mother walked rapidly towards him crying out, “O Will! Will! O my brother! Have you come home at last?”

“I have come home to die, Mary,” he said.

“Lean on me, Will,” she replied. “Come into the house. We leave for Penrith to-morrow, and you can travel with us. Then we shall see you safely home.”

“What will your husband say?” the man asked.

“Only kind words to a dying man. Are you really so ill, Will?” And the man answered, “I may live three months. I may go much sooner. It depends——”

Then my mother said, “This is your uncle, Dr. Singleton, Milly;” and I was very sorry for a man so near death, and I went and took his hand, but he did not seem to care about me. He only glanced in my face, and then remarked to Mother, “She seems a nice child.” I felt slighted, but I could not be angry at a man so sick.

When I went upstairs I told Ann that my uncle had come, and that he said he was going home to Kendal to die. “He will travel with us to-morrow as far as Kendal; Mother asked him to do so,” I added.

“I dare say. It was just like her.”

“Don’t you like my uncle, Ann? I thought he was a very fine gentleman.”

“Maybe he is. Be off to your bed now. You must be up by strike-of-day to-morrow;” and there was something in Ann’s look and voice, I did not care to disobey.

Indeed Ann had every one up long before it was necessary. We had breakfast an hour before the proper time; but after all, it was well, for the house and garden was soon full of people come to bid us “good-bye.” Some had brought lunches, and some flowers and fruits, and there was a wonderful hour of excitement, before the coach came driving furiously up to 24 the gate. It had four fine horses, and the driver and the guard were in splendid livery, and the sound of the horn, and the clatter of the horses’ feet, and the cries of the crowd stirred my heart and my imagination, and I believe I was the happiest girl in the world that hour. I enjoyed also the drive through the town, and the sight of the people waving their handkerchiefs to Father and Mother from open doors and windows. I do not think I have ever since had such a sense of elation and importance; for Father and I had relinquished our seats inside the coach to Uncle Will Singleton, and I was seated between the driver and Father, seeing well and also being well seen.

Never since that morning have I been more keenly alive in every sense and more ready for every event that might come; the first of which was the meeting and passing of three great wains loaded high with wheat, and going to a squire’s manor, whose name I have forgotten. There were some very piquant words passed between the drivers about the coach going a bit to the wrong side. On the top of the three wagons about a dozen men were lying at their ease singing the prettiest harvest song I ever heard, but I only caught three lines of it. They went to a joyful melody thus:

“Blest be the day Christ was born!

We’ve gotten in the Squire’s corn,

Well bound, and better shorn.

Hip! Hip! Hurrah!”

But as they sang the dispute between the drivers was growing less and less friendly, and the driver of the coach whipped up his horses, and took all the road he wanted, and went onward at such a rattling pace as soon left Shipley forever behind me.

25

CHAPTER III

WHERE DRUIDS AND GIANTS DWELT

“... upon the silent shore

Of memory, we find images and precious thoughts,

That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.”

I was greatly delighted with Penrith. It was such a complete change from Shipley, and youth is always sure that change must mean something better. In the first place the town was beautiful, and generally built of the new red sandstone on which it stands; but our house was white, being I think of a rough stucco, and it stood on one of the pleasantest streets in the town, the one leading up to the Beacon. Its rooms appeared very large to me then; perhaps I might not think so highly of them now. Its door opened directly into the living-room, and it was always such a joy to open it, and step out of the snow or rain into a room full of love and comfort. Since those days I have liked well the old English houses where the front door opens directly into the living-room. Ten or twelve years ago a lady built in Cornwall-on-Hudson a handsome house having this peculiarity, and I often went to see her, enjoying every time that one step from all out doors, into the sweet home influence beyond it.

The sound of the loom and the shuttle were never heard in the broad still streets of Penrith. Business was a thing rather pushed into a corner, for Penrith was aristocratic, and always had been. The great earls of Lonsdale lent it their prestige, and circling it were some of the castles and seats of the most famous nobility. It had been often sacked, and had many royal associations. Richard the Third had dwelt in its castle when the Duke of Gloucester, and Henry the Eighth’s last wife, Catherine Parr, came from Kendal. The castle itself had been 26 built by Edward the Third, and destroyed by Cromwell. All these and many more such incidents I heard the first day of my residence in the town from a young girl we had hired for the kitchen, and she mingled with these facts the Fairy Cup of Eden Hall, and the great Lord Brougham, Long Meg and her daughters, and the giant’s grave in Penrith churchyard; and I felt as if I had stepped into some enchanted city.

Up to this time I had never been to what I called a proper school. The dame’s school at Shipley I had far outstepped, and I was so eager to learn, that I wished to begin every study at once. There were two good schools in Penrith, one kept by a Miss Pearson, and the other by a man whose name I have forgotten. I wanted to go to Miss Pearson. She had the most select and expensive school. The man’s school was said to be more strict and thorough, and much less expensive; but there was a positive prejudice against boys and girls being taught together. I could tell from the chatter of the girl in the kitchen, that it was looked down upon, and considered vulgar by the best people. I was anxious about the result. Jane and I whispered our fears to each other, but we did not dare to express any opinion to our parents. At last I talked feelingly to Ann Oddy about the situation, and was glad to find her most decidedly on our side.

“I am for the woman,” she said straight out, “and I shall tell the Master so plainly. What does that man know about trembling shy little girls?” she asked indignantly, “and I’ve heard,” she continued, “that he uses the leather strap on their little hands—even when they are trying to do the best they know how. His own children look as if they got plenty of ‘strap.’ I’ve told your mother what I think of him.”

“What did Mother say, Ann?” we eagerly asked.

“She said such a man as that would never do. So I went on—‘Mrs. Huddleston, our society wouldn’t like it. He teaches girls to write a big, round man’s hand. You may see it yourself, Mrs. Huddleston, if you’ll lift his letter to you—good enough for keeping count of what money is owing you, but for young ladies, I say it isn’t right—and his manners! if he has any, won’t be fit to be seen, and you know, Mrs. Huddleston, how 27 men talk, he won’t be fit to be heard at times; at any rate that is the case with most men—except Mr. Huddleston.’”

With such words Ann reasoned, and if I remembered the very words used it would be only natural, for I heard them morning, noon and night, until Mother went to see Miss Pearson, and came home charmed with her fine manners and method of teaching. Then our dress had to be prepared, and I shall never forget it; for girls did not get so many dresses then as they do now, and I was delighted with the blue Saxony cloth that was my first school dress. Dresses were all of one piece then, and were made low with short baby sleeves, but a pelerine was made with the dress, which was really an over-waist with two little capes over the shoulders. My shoes were low and black, and had very pretty steel buckles; my bonnet, a cottage one of coarse Dunstable straw. It had a dark blue ribbon crossed over it, and a blue silk curtain behind, and some blue silk ribbon plaited just within the brim, a Red Riding Hood cloak and French pattens for wet weather completed my school costume, and I was very proud of it. Yet it is a miracle to me at this day, how the children of that time lived through the desperate weather, deep snows and bitter cold, in such insufficient clothing. I suppose it was the survival of the fittest.

My first school day was one of the greatest importance to me. I have not forgotten one incident in all its happy hours. I fell in love with Miss Pearson as soon as I saw her; yes, I really loved the woman, and I love her yet. She was tall and handsome, and had her abundant black hair dressed in a real bow knot on the top of her head; and falling in thick soft curls on her temples, and partly down her cheeks. An exceedingly large shell comb kept it in place. Her dress was dark, and she wore a large falling collar finely embroidered and trimmed with deep lace, and round her neck a long gold chain. She came smiling to meet us, and as soon as the whole school was gathered in front of the large table at which she sat, she rose and said,

“Young ladies, you have two new companions. I ask for them your kindness—Jane and Amelia Huddleston. Rise.”

28

Then the whole school rose and curtsied to us, and as well as we were able, we returned the compliment. As soon as we were seated again, Miss Pearson produced a large book, and as she unclasped it, said,

“Miss Huddleston will come here.”

Every eye was turned on Jane, who, however, rose at once and went to Miss Pearson’s table. Then Miss Pearson read aloud something like the following words, for I have forgotten the exact form, though the promises contained in it have never been forgotten.

“I promise to be kind and helpful to all my schoolmates.

“I promise to speak the truth always.

“I promise to be honorable about the learning and repeating of my lessons.

“I promise to tell no malicious tales of any one.

“I promise to be ladylike in my speech and manners.

“I promise to treat all my teachers with respect and obedience.”

These obligations were read aloud to Jane and she was asked if she agreed to keep them. Jane said she would keep them all, and she was then required to sign her name to the formula in the book, which she did very badly. When my turn came, I asked Miss Pearson to sign it for me. She did so, and then called up two girls as witnesses. This formality made a great impression on me, the more so, as Miss Pearson in a steady positive voice said, as she emphatically closed the book, “The first breaking of any of these promises may perhaps be forgiven, for the second fault there is no excuse—the girl will be dismissed from the school.”

I was in this school three years and never saw one dismissed. The promise with the little formalities attending it had a powerful effect on my mind, and doubtless it influenced every girl in the same way.

After my examination it was decided that writing was the study to be first attended to. I was glad of this decision, for I longed to write, but I was a little dashed when I was taken to a long table running across the whole width of the room. This table was covered with the finest sea sand, there was a 29 roller at one end, and the teacher ran it down the whole length of the table. It left behind it beautifully straight lines, between which were straight strokes, pothooks, and the letter o. Then a brass stylus was given me, and I was told to copy what I saw, and it was on this table of sand, with a pencil of brass, I took my first lessons in writing. When I could make all my letters, simple and capital, and knew how to join, dot, and cross them properly, I was promoted to a slate and slate pencil. In about half a year I was permitted to use paper and a wad pencil, but as wad, or lead, was then scarce and dear, we were taught at once how to sharpen and use them in the most economical manner. While I was using a wad pencil I was practicing the art of making a pen out of a goose quill. Some children learned the lesson easily. I found it difficult, and spoiled many a bunch of quills in acquiring it.

I remember a clumsy pen in my father’s desk almost as early as I remember anything. It was a metal tube, fastened to an ivory handle, and originated just before I was born. I never saw my father use it; he wrote with a quill all his life. In 1832, the year after my birth, thirty-three million, one hundred thousand quills were imported into England, and I am sure that at the present date, not all the geese in all the world would meet the demand for pens in the United States alone. Penny postage produced the steel pen. It belonged to an age of machinery, and could have belonged to no other age; for the great problem to be solved in the steel pen, was to convert iron into a substance as thin as the quill of a dove’s wing, yet as strong as the strongest quill of an eagle’s wing. When I was a girl not much over seven years old, children made their own pens; the steam engine now makes them.

A short time before Christmas my mother received the letter from Uncle Will Singleton she had been expecting. It came one Saturday morning when the snow lay deep, and the cold was intense. Jane and I were in the living-room with Mother. She had just cut a sheet down the middle, where it was turning thin, and I had to seam the two selvedge edges together, thus turning the strong parts of the sheet into the center. This seam required to be very neatly made, and the sides were to 30 be hemmed just as neatly. I disliked this piece of work with all my heart, but with the help of pins I divided it into different places, for the pins represented the cities, and I made up the adventures to them as I sewed. Jane, who was a better needlewoman than I, had some cambric to hem for ruffling, but the hem was not laid, it had to be rolled as it was sewn between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. Jane was always conceited about her skill in this kind of hemming, and as I write I can see her fair, still face with its smile of self-satisfaction, as her small fingers deftly and rapidly made the tiny roll, she was to sew with almost invisible needle and thread. Mother was singing a song by Felicia Hemans, and Father was in the little parlor across the hall reading a book called “Elijah, the Tishbite;” for he had just been in the room to point out to Mother how grandly it opened. “Now Elijah the Tishbite,” without any weakening explanations of who or what Elijah was, and Mother had said in a disconcerting voice, “Isn’t that the way it opens in the Bible, William?” There was a blazing fire above the snow-white hearth, and shining brass fender, and a pleasant smell of turpentine and beeswax, for Ann Oddy was giving the furniture a little rubbing. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and Ann rose from her knees and went to open it. The next moment there was evident disputing, and Ann Oddy called sharply, “Mr. Huddleston, please to come here, sir.”

When Father appeared, Mother also went to the door, and Jane and I stopped sewing in order to watch and to listen. It was the postman and he had charged a shilling for a letter, that only ought to be eight pence and while Ann was pointing out this mistake, my mother took the letter from her hand and looked at it.

“William,” she said, “it is a death message, do not dispute about that toll.” So Father gave the postman the shilling, and the door was shut, and Mother went to the fireside and stood there. Father quickly joined her. “Well, Mary,” he said, “is it from your brother? What does he say?”

“Only eight words, William,” Mother answered; and she read them aloud, “Come to me, Mary. The end is near.”

31

Father was almost angry. He said she could not go over Shap Fells in such weather, and that snow was lying deep all the way to Kendal. He talked as though he was preaching. I thought Mother would not dare to speak any more about going to Kendal. But when Father stopped talking, Mother said in a strange, strong way,

“I shall certainly go to my brother. I shall try to get a seat in the coach that passes through here at ten o’clock to-night.” I had never seen Mother look and talk as she did then, and I was astonished. So was Father. He watched her leave the room in silence, and for a few minutes seemed irresolute. Then Ann came in and lifted the beeswax, and was going away when Father said,

“Where is your mistress, Ann?”

“In her room, Mr. Huddleston.”

“What is she doing?”

“Packing her little trunk. She says she is going to Kendal.”

“She ought not to go to Kendal. She must not go.”

“She’s right enough in going, Mr. Huddleston, and she is sure to go.”

“I never heard anything like this!” cried Father. He really was amazed. It was household rebellion. “Ann,” he continued, “go upstairs and remind your mistress that John Henry has been sickly for two weeks. I have myself noticed the child looking far from well.”

“Yes, sir, the child is sickly, but her brother is dying.”

“Do you think the child should be left?”

“It would be worse if the brother died alone. I will look after John, Mr. Huddleston.”

Then Father went upstairs, and Mother went by the night mail, and we did not see her again for nearly three weeks.

I do not apologize for relating a scene so common, for these simple intimacies and daily events, these meetings and partings, these sorrows and joys of the hearth and the family, are really the great events of our life. They are our personal sacred history. When we have forgotten all our labors, and even all our successes, we shall remember them.

Mother was the heart and hinge of all our home and happiness, 32 and while she was away, I used to lie awake at nights in my dark, cold room and think of death entering our family. In his strange language he whispered many things to my soul that I have forgotten, but one thing I am sure of—I had no fear of death. My earliest consciousness had been a strong and sure persuasion of God’s goodness to men. And I had no enmity towards God; though a dozen catechisms told me so, I would not admit the statement. I loved God with all my child heart. He was truly to me “my Father who art in heaven.” Well then, death whom He sent to every one, even to little babies, must be something good and not evil. Also, I thought, if the dead are unhappy, their faces would show it, and I had never seen a dead face without being struck by its strange quiet. The easiest way to my school lay through the graveyard, and though it was in the midst of the town, I knew no quiet like the quiet of the dead men in that churchyard. I have felt it like an actual pressure on my ear drum.

In the day I talked to my sister of the changes Uncle’s death would make in our lives. When Christmas came, father would not permit us to go to any parties, and Jane was sure we would have to wear mourning, a kind of clothing I hated, I reminded her that the Pennants had not worn black when Mary Pennant died, and Jane reminded me that the Pennants were Quakers, and that when Frances and Eliza Pennant came back to school wearing their brown dresses, it was all the girls could manage, not to scorn them.

Of course we talked at school of our uncle, Dr. Singleton, and his expected death, and I do not understand how this circumstance imparted to us a kind of superiority, but it did. Jane put on airs, and was always on the point of crying, and I heard Laura Patterson correct the biggest pupil in the school for “speaking cross to a girl whose uncle was dying.” I dare say I had my own plan for collecting sympathy, for some of my classmates asked to walk home with me, others offered to help me with my grammer, and Adelaide Bond gave me the half of her weekly allowance of Everton toffy.

At last Mother returned home and, oh, how glad we were to see her! She came into the lighted room just as we were 33 sitting down to supper, and an angel from heaven would not have been as welcome. My father was somewhere in the Patterdale country, where he went for a week or two at regular intervals; and, oh, how good, how glorious a thing it was, to have Mother home again!

The first thing Mother did the following day was to send for black stuff and the dressmaker. I pleaded in vain, though Mother, being of Quaker descent, was as averse to mourning dresses as I was, but she was sure Father would insist on them, because of what the Society, and people in general would say. Jane made no objections. She was very fair, and had that soft pearly complexion which is rendered more lovely by black. As for Ann, she could only look at the wastefulness of putting new dresses away in camphor for a year. She said, “Girls will grow long and lanky, and in a year the skirts will be short and narrow, and the waists too small, and the armholes too tight, and the whole business out of fashion and likelihood.”

In a few days Father came home. The girl was pipeclaying the hearth and building up the fire for the evening, and Ann laying the table for Mother’s tea as he entered. He was so delighted to find Mother at home that he said to her, “Let the girls stay and have a cup of tea with us tonight.” Then when he had set down by the fire, Jane drew her stool close to him, and I slipped on to his knee, and whispered something in his ear I shall never tell to any one. Such a happy meal followed, but little was said about Uncle Singleton. Father asked if all was well with him? Mother answered almost joyfully, “All is well!”

“Poor fellow,” continued Father. “His life was defeat from its beginning to its end.”

“No, William,” cried Mother, “at the end it was victory!” and she lifted her radiant face, and her eyes rained gladness, as she said the word “victory” with that telling upward inflection on the last syllable, common in the North Country. I can never forget either the words or the look with which they were uttered. I thought to myself, “How beautiful she is!”

I waited after tea, hoping that Mother would tell us more about Uncle’s death, but she talked of our black dresses and 34 the bad weather, and then some neighbors came in, and I went upstairs to Ann. She had one of those high peaked sugar loaves before her, and was removing the thick dark purple paper in which they were always wrapped. The big sugar nippers were at her side, and I knew she was going to nip sugar for the next day’s use. It was, however, a kind of work it was pleasant to loiter over, and after talking awhile Ann said, “What did Mrs. Huddleston say about her brother?” Then I repeated what Mother said, and involuntarily tried to imitate her look and the tones of her voice. Ann asked if that was all, and I answered, “Yes.” Then I said, “Was he a bad man, Ann, or a good man, tell me;” and she said, “He was bad and good, like the rest of men. Don’t ask me any questions. Your mother will tell you all about him when the right time comes.”

And the right time did not come until eleven years afterwards.

In a week our dresses were ready, and we went back to school. We met with great sympathy. Jane looked beautiful, and received the attentions shown her with graceful resignation. I looked unlike myself, and felt as if I had somebody’s else frock on. But I had a happy heart, ready to make the best of any trouble, beside I knew I was unreasonable, since Ann, who was generally on my side, told me that I ought to be thankful I had any dress at all to wear, and so many nicer little girls than myself without one to put on their backs. And as for color, one color was just as good as another.

That was not true in my case, but I knew that it was no use telling Ann that story. Yet it is a fact, that I am, and have always been powerfully affected both by color and smell—the latter’s influence having a psychical or spiritual tendency. But how could I explain so complex a feeling to Ann, when I could not even understand it myself?

Queen Victoria ascended the throne of England a few weeks before I went to Penrith, but she was not crowned until a year afterwards. I remember the very June day so bright and exquisite it was! The royal and loyal town of Penrith was garlanded with roses, flags were waving from every vantage point, and the musical bells of the ancient church rang without 35 ceasing from dawn until the long summer gloaming was lost in the mid-summer night. Yet child as I was, I noticed and partly understood, the gloom and care on the faces of so many who had no heart to rejoice, and no reason to do so.

Without much explanation the story of ordinary English life at this period would be incredible to us, and I shall only revert to it at points where it touched my own life and character. Is it not all written in Knight’s and many other histories at every one’s hand? But I saw the slough of despair, of poverty and ignorance, in which the working class struggled for their morsel of bread. And the root of all their trouble was ignorance. For instance, the wealthy town of Penrith had not, when I first saw it, one National or Lancastrian school, nor yet one free school of any kind, but the little Sunday school held in the Methodist chapel two hours on Sunday afternoons. Fortunately it was the kind of Sunday school Raikes intended. There were no daintily dressed children, and fashionably attired teachers in it—not one. The pupils were semi-starved, semi-clothed, hopeless, joyless little creatures; their teachers were hard working men and women, who took from their Sabbath rest a few hours for Christ’s sake. For how could such little ones come unto Him, if there were none to show the way?

There was even at this date, 1838, villages in England without either church or school, though Methodism had swept through the land like a Pentecostal fire half a century before; and at this same time, the big cities of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol had not one ragged school in them. A parliamentary investigation two years afterward found plenty of villages such as Dunkirk with one hundred and thirteen children, of whom only ten could read and write; and Boughton with one hundred and nineteen children, where only seven went to a school that taught writing, and thirty-two to a Sunday school. Learning and literature were not in fashion then, especially for women. Yes, indeed, it is true that I knew in my youth, many women of wealth, beautiful women who managed their large houses with splendid hospitality and were keenly alive to public affairs, who looked on books as something rather demoralizing, and likely to encroach in some way 36 upon works more in the way of their duty. I was very often reproved for “wasting my time over a book” so that my reading had a good deal of that charm which makes forbidden fruit “so good for food, so pleasant to the eyes, so much to be desired to make one wise.”

And in Penrith I began a new set of books which charmed me quite as much as “Robinson Crusoe” and the “Arabian Nights” had done. On my seventh birthday my father gave me Cook’s “Voyages Round the World,” and this volume was followed by Anson’s “Voyage,” by Mungo Park’s “Travels in Africa,” and Bruce’s “Travels in Abyssinia.” Twenty-two years ago I stood one afternoon at the grave of Bruce in a lonely kirk yard a few miles outside Glasgow. It was a neglected mound with the stone slanting down above it. I remembered then, as I do now, how severely his book had been criticized and even discredited. But later travellers substantiated all that Bruce had said and added to his recital still more unlikely stories.

There was also another book which at this time thrilled and charmed me beyond expression. I doubt if there is a single copy of it in America, and not many in England, such as remain I dare say being hid away in the old libraries of ancient farm or manor houses. It was called “News From the Invisible World,” by John Wesley. It was really a book of ghostly visitations and wonderful visions. My father took it out of my hands twice and then put it, as he supposed, out of my reach; but by putting a stool upon a chair, and climbing upon the chair and then upon the stool I managed to reach it. I can see myself today in a little gingham frock, and a white pinafore performing this rather dangerous feat. We were dressed very early in the morning, but never so early as not to find a good fire in the study; and the coal used in the north of England, is that blessed soft material, which gives in its bright manifold blazes, the light of half a dozen candles. Lying face downward upon the hearthrug, I could read with the greatest ease, and often spent an hour in “the invisible world” very much to my liking before the day really began.

One morning while thus engaged, Ann Oddy came in and 37 I asked her to put the book back in its place. She looked at me suspiciously, and said, “Who put it up there?”

“My father,” I answered.

“What for?” she continued.

“Because it is about ghosts, Ann, and such stories as you often tell me. Put it up or Father will be cross with me.”

“Well, Amelia,” she said in a kind of dreamy way, “your father ought to know, but he isn’t a bit well lately, so I won’t bother him at this time.”

Then I promised to tell her the stories, and added, “They are all true, Ann, for John Wesley wrote them.”

“True!” she ejaculated. “Well, well, I am astonished at Mr. Huddleston’s putting anything John Wesley wrote out of the way. I am that.” About A.D. 1890 I asked a learned doctor connected with the Methodist Book Concern, if they had a copy of it, and he answered very sharply, “I never heard of the book.” Yet I know it existed in my childhood, and that during my seventh and eighth years, I read it frequently.

The first year of my life in Penrith went happily onward in the regularity of its duties and pleasures. At home I remember but few changes. Soon after the Queen’s coronation, I had another brother, who was called William Henry, and when he was about two months old, my father went to Manchester, and brought back with him the greatest of household comforts of that day—a dozen boxes of Congreve or Lucifer matches. Only those who have stood shivering over the old tinder box on a bitter winter night, trying to get a spark while the baby screamed in the darkness, can form any estimate of the pleasure which these few boxes of matches made in our house. My father took us all into a dark room, and then permitted each person to strike a light. Laughter and exclamations of wonder and pleasure greeted every fresh match as it burst into instantaneous flame, even Ann was enthusiastic. “This time,” she admitted, “Mr. Huddleston has brought home something sensible and good for everybody”—a covert slur upon Father’s gifts, which usually took the form of books, or a bit of spar for the parlor chimney piece, or perhaps a likeness of Mr. Wordsworth, or a view of Derwentwater. We had both 38 read and heard wonderful things of these matches for nearly three years, but the first put upon the market were intended only for the rich; for they were in more or less costly caskets, the cheapest of which was sold for a guinea. In a short time a phial full of matches were sold for five shillings, and when my father bought our first “light boxes” they were a shilling each. Then came the practical chemist and the factory system, and the penny box of matches was in every home. Yet I have no doubt that in many a home in England the empty five shilling box is affectionately preserved; for during their vogue, they were sensible and highly prized wedding gifts, among a large class of respectable people of limited means.

At the beginning of my second school year, I was promoted to a copy book. I could write pretty well with wad, and did not very often spoil a goose quill. That first copy book! Never shall I forget it. Its cover was canary color, and on the front was a picture of a negro. He was loaded with chains and hoeing cotton, while a white man stood over him using an impossible whip, and there were four lines by Cowper underneath the two figures:

“I would not have a slave to till my ground,

To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,

And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth

That sinews bought and sold, have ever earned.”

At that time I had never seen a negro, and my sense of amazement, fright and repugnance was so great, that I feel sure I had not even seen the picture of one. The tremendous excitement attending the enfranchisement of the slaves belonging to England was over before I was two years old, and after it, I think the nation must have repented their extravagant sympathy, for I am sure that at this time I had never heard either my father or any one else allude to the event.

Miss Pearson laid the book on my desk with evident pleasure, and I looked at the picture, covered my eyes with my hands, and burst into tears. I was never a crying child, and my teacher was astonished, and asked me rather sternly, “What is the matter with you, Amelia? Are you sick?”

39

“No,” I whispered. “I am afraid. Take it away.”

“Afraid?”

“I have not been bad,” I continued. “I do not like that picture. Please take it away.”

Then she sat down by my side and told me a story about the black man, and what England had just done for him. I hardly heard or understood her, until she said, “I shall leave the book with you. You must look at the picture every day until you at least feel pity for the slave. See, this is your copy for today. Let me see how cleanly, and well you can do it.”

I had ceased crying. I was ashamed of my own emotion, and I went courageously to work with a quill pen of my own cutting; but as soon as I returned home, I went to my mother and told her all. She soothed and petted me, but advised me to make no remarks about the picture. “There has been a deal of hard feeling about the negro, Milly, and we find it best to let that subject alone. No one talks of it now. Lucy Lowthian was here this morning. She is going to have a party on Saturday afternoon.”

“Are we going to it, Mother?”

“Yes,” she answered cheerily. “Look at this lace and white satin ribbon. I am going to trim your dresses with it.”

I instantly turned to the more personal and interesting subject, but I could not forget, nor yet have I ever forgotten that picture on my first copy book. Undoubtedly it was an exaggeration of even the Congo type, but why did I cry at the sight of it? I was neither a fearful nor a crying child. Why did I cry? It puzzled me then, but I know now, that there was undoubtedly some sudden soul shock, some prophetic apprehension, which my inner woman trembled before, and which my physical woman could only interpret by tears.

In my studies I was progressing well, even my musical efforts were beginning to make a little show. I had distinctly told my teacher that I wished to learn “tunes” and “songs” and without regarding my wishes, she had compelled me to make an astonishing study of what she called the gamut. To the study of the gamut was added an hour’s practice of the 40 scales daily, and as the necessary noise would have been distracting to my father, I went to my teacher’s home to make it. This practicing often stood in the way of pleasures, and Jane, who had urgently entreated not to learn music, had many self-complacent little observations to make on her own prudence. For while I was studying scales, major and minor, she went with Mother to shop, or to make calls. And she had a nice ladylike way of comparing things, that was very discouraging. Yet I had not the slightest intention of stopping my music lessons, and indeed I feel sure Father would not have permitted me to do so, except for some good reason. Once only I made a remark tending in that direction, and he answered,

“I allowed you to learn music, Milly, at your own eager request. Are you going to give it up because it is difficult? I should feel ashamed of you!” and he spoke with such scorn that I hastened to assure him, “I would not give up music for anything.”

My third year in Penrith remains very clearly in my memory. It was an anxious year to all, for Chartism was keeping the country in constant rioting and turmoil. I can remember well, the terror and hatred which the very name “Chartist” called forth; for the scenes of the French Revolution were yet red and flaming in the memories of men and women. The very day Victoria was crowned, the military were compelled to put down the rebellion led by John Thom, who claimed to be the Messiah, and if the numbers who followed him had been larger and better educated, the worst scenes of the French Days of Terror might have been repeated.[2]

41

For ten years after the coronation Chartism was a living, constant anxiety to the government and the people. Yet in the midst of this general fear, and the decay of business which it entailed, there occurred a serious quarrel agitating the whole country, about the Ladies of the Queen’s Bedchamber. The Melbourne government having lost the confidence of both Houses, a new Administration was to be formed, and Sir Robert Peel was entrusted with the duty. In performing it, Sir Robert removed the Ladies who had been long in attendance on Her Majesty, and gave their high positions, with the large emoluments accruing therefrom, to the wives of the nobles who had assisted him in forming the new government. The Queen was indignant and refused to part with her old friends. Sir Robert visited her, and declared a government could not be formed unless the high offices in her household were filled by ladies of the ruling party. Her Majesty in a firm, but polite letter told Sir Robert she could not agree to a course so repugnant to her feelings.

The discussions in and out of Parliament on this question, were long and violent. Every man and woman, every boy and girl in England, took part in them. The women were largely in favor of the Queen, and a great number of men, remembering her youth, thought she ought to be humored in a matter so personal. But in political and administrative circles, she was severely blamed, and that very often in unkind and even disrespectful and disloyal terms.

For some reason my father strongly disapproved her conduct. He said she was a child, and ought to be obedient to the advice given her by the active heads of the government; and over and over he declared there were far more important things to be attended to than the Ladies of her Bedchamber. I heard him telling my mother that the planters in the West Indies were ruined and asking relief from Parliament, the freed negroes having absolutely refused to work; and then in a voice full of anger he demanded why twenty millions of pounds had been spent to give the negro a complete life of laziness, while clever English mechanics were working twelve hours every day for a mouthful of bread—starving as they worked. And Mother 42 would shake her head and answer, “It does seem hard, William.”

“Mary,” he would continue, almost in a whisper, “Mary! Mary! only think of what twenty millions of pounds could have done for our own poor men, and their starving, ignorant children! We had no right to give it. It was not our duty, until we had done our duty to the needy and oppressed of our own people.”

And I wonder today, if Father knew that he was talking Chartism. At any rate, it was the only time, and only way, I ever heard him name the Great Emancipation of 1833.

None of these arguments moved my mother’s loyalty; she was a warm—my father called her a most unreasonable—advocate for the Queen’s rights. Ann was equally loyal, and greatly elated when Mother ranged herself on the Queen’s side.

“It is more than I expected,” she said, “for Missis do always say ‘Amen’ to whatever Mr. Huddleston says. But the Queen is right!” she added. “That I will declare and maintain;” and Ann, who was rolling pastry struck the table a mighty blow with the rolling pin, which if it intimated her way of “maintaining” would certainly be effective.

In our school the quarrel was a very simple one. There were only three girls in it who were for Sir Robert Peel, and the father of one was in the post office, the father of the other a supervisor in the excise, and the third girl was called “Peel,” and was, or thought she was, a connection of the Peel family. Miss Pearson expressed no opinion on the subject, except, that it was not to be named in school hours; but as we walked to-and-from school, we talked only of the Queen, and of any fresh news that might have come to us. By “news” I mean solely the effects of this quarrel in the schools of Penrith, for in the man’s school, it had full swing. The boys had constant fisticuff fights, and the master enjoyed and encouraged them. He said they were making good soldiers for Her Majesty and that they ought to be proud of their swollen eyes, and bruises.

So the quarrel went on, making a grim sort of amusement in days of great public anxiety and alarm; until finally a specially called meeting of the Cabinet, decided in a kind of half-and-half way, in favor of the Queen retaining the Ladies 43 of her Bedchamber, there being a precedent in the case of Queen Anne, who retained the Ladies of her Bedchamber a year and a half after their husbands had been dismissed from office. Father was then satisfied. There was a precedent. It was then and there I learned the word “precedent,” and its meaning. I wondered then, and I wonder yet at the power vested in these three syllables. It seems to settle constantly and satisfactorily difficult questions in law, and other departments of social affairs. In some way probably, every generation has associated it with,

“A land of settled government,

A land of just and old renown,

Where freedom broadens slowly down

From precedent to precedent.”

After the Cabinet decided the Bedchamber question, a dull quiet settled over Penrith, and I suppose also over the whole country; for even a little domestic dispute has usually this convalescent period of silence. And as the holidays were on, and we were leaving Penrith in August, Jane and I were set free from school for a short time. There was some talk of a visit to Ambleside and Ulverston, but my brother William was ill and suddenly became alarmingly worse, and after an interval of great suffering he went away from us forever.

The child had died at midnight, but when I awoke in the morning I was quite sensible of the change that had taken place. The presence of death was felt all through the house, and not only in that dim chamber veiled in white, where the dead boy lay. As I went down stairs, I opened very softly the door of this room. My father was kneeling by the little crib praying. His words fell wet with tears at God’s feet, as in low agonizing tones, he poured out his love and his grief. I stole noiselessly away, feeling shocked and unhappy, lest I had unlawfully witnessed a soul pleading with God. A little later, I went with Mother to look at my dead brother. In a simple little night gown he lay in his usual crib but, oh, how grandly tranquil, how distant, how far, far different, he was!

He was buried in Penrith churchyard, and his funeral was 44 after the manner then prevalent in the North Country. A little table covered with a white cloth, and holding salt, and sprigs of boxwood was placed just within the open door. This was to notify all passers-by of the presence of death in the house, and also to assure them, of the faith of the living in the resurrection, and in eternal life. On the third day after his death, the funeral took place, the coffin being carried by six boys of about ten years of age, by means of white linen scarfs passed through brass rings on the sides of the coffin, which was uncovered, but strewn with pansies. As they went through the town, the child-bearers sang a hymn very sweetly. Father and Mother, Jane and I, and a large company of friends walked behind. Willie’s small grave was not far from the famous Grant’s grave, and I think I could find my way there without hesitation. A little grave was all the child of ten months old asked, a little grave that we could step across, but it separated him from us, further than all the starry space.

After this event I knew that I had done with Penrith. School opened in July, but I did not go back to it, and I had a childish feeling of offence because Miss Pearson did not ask me to do so. I thought it was because she had many new pupils, and I had a heartache about it. Yes, there are plenty of school girls who will understand me. A child’s love for a teacher is a very strong and pure love, and even a fancied slight can hurt like a wound. Only two months since, I had a letter from a little girl whom I taught fifty-six years ago. She was then about nine or ten years old, she is now a very handsome woman, white-haired but full of hope and pleasure, and large social interests in the beautiful city of Los Angeles. And she loves me still, and has never forgotten me. I think such a love as that is well worth the winning.

I spent the next few weeks in wandering about the adjacent country, with Father. We went first to Eden Hall, and got a sight of its wonderful fairy cup, which carries the luck of the Musgraves; for if it

“breek or fall,

Farewell to the luck of Eden Hall.”

45

One never to be forgotten day I spent at Lowther Castle. The magnificence of its furnishings amazed me, but after all I was more interested in the three large caves near the castle, cut out of the red sandstone, and said to have been the residence of Owen Cæsarius, the giant whose grave is in Penrith churchyard. He was according to tradition a man of colossal size, who ruled Cumberland before Saxon times, when “there were giants in the land,” and no giant killer had appeared.

I had seen Long Meg and her daughters twice, but I begged Father to take me once more to Little Salkeld near which she keeps her long, long vigil. I cannot tell why these old Druid temples fascinate me, why I both fear and like them, nor yet say to what feeling their charm finds response in me. Long Meg is, however, one of the most important Druid temples in England. Meg is a square column of red sandstone eighteen feet high and fifteen feet in circumference, with no sign of a tool having been used on it. Her daughters are sixty-seven in number, some of them ten feet high, and they stand in a circle three hundred and fifty yards in circumference. Wordsworth wrote a poem about these stones, and Father taught me a few lines of it, all of which I have long forgotten, except his questioning,

“At whose behest arose on British ground

That sisterhood in hieroglyphic round;

Forth-shadowing the infinite, the inviolable God?”

Long and earnestly I looked at these,

“stones of power,

By Druids raised in magic hour,”

for I knew I should never see them again. Will any one tell me what is the influence they exert over many and widely different personalities? No, it is a thing to be felt, and not explained.

Two days after the visit to Long Meg we left Penrith for Ripon, one of the three great religious centres of Yorkshire, the other two being York and Beverly. I was glad to leave 46 Penrith, and yet no town in which I have ever sojourned, has left on my memory such a clear and beautiful picture. In its calm retirement all the charm of its storied past, and its picturesque present were so appealing, for any day and every day its streets were made notable by the people likely to be met on them—the Earl of Lonsdale, the great Chancellor, Lord Brougham, the fortunate Musgrave of Eden Hall, or the lordly Howards from their Castle of Greystoke standing in a park of five thousand acres. Other famous men of a different kind were also to be met there. Wordsworth was frequently in Penrith, for he married his cousin a Miss Hutchinson of Penrith. So were Coleridge, Southey, and other writers of that period. Wordsworth in my time was a very old man, and I thought also a very disagreeable one.

Young as I was, I noticed also the difference with which the two sets of notables were regarded by the public. If the Earl, or Lord Brougham appeared, every hat was lifted, every face was full of interest, and many women curtsied if they had to pass them. For the men of the land were easily recognized by their splendid equipages, and other insignia of their rank. The men of the pen walked without notice, along the streets until they settled in some book store.

And entirely apart from this living and present source of interest, there was that sense of the occult world brooding over the town, which I feel sure, few people staying long there, could escape. The old Druid priests were not dead; unseen and afar, they could still influence, and they who doubted this, had only to go and sit silent and attent in one of their deserted temples. I know, that while I was certainly impressed by Lonsdale and Brougham, I was far more so by the “stones of power” in old sacrificial, holy places, and by the three giant caves, close to Lowther Castle, wherein the giant Owen Cæsarius had dwelt. He represented to me the mighty men of Old Britain, for there were “giants” in the land in his day. Mythical! No, he is no more mythical than Julius Cæsarius. Have I not sat, and talked, and played around his grave in Penrith churchyard?

47

CHAPTER IV

AT RIPON AND THE ISLE OF MAN

“My Memory is the frame of a thousand pictures.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The blithe April weather of a child’s life.”

As soon as I saw Ripon, I disliked the place. There were no hills to which I could lift up my eyes, it was a little town squatting among fat green meadows, and by the still waters of three rivers, the Laver, the Ure, and the Skell. The houses were generally small, and roofed with red tiles, and the atmosphere of the place self-satisfied, and decently prosperous. The theological element was distinctly ascendent and I, though a daughter of Levi, did not like it. There were also at that time many ancient customs prevailing, and the queer little place only wanted a few monks strolling about the quiet streets, to make one wonder if they had stepped back into the twelfth century. The modern spirit touching so vividly the West Riding and other parts of England, had not reached Ripon. It retained a monastic air, though there was neither a monastery nor a monk in it. Still the people looked as if they were always going to church, and indeed they did go to church a great deal. I found out later that the whole history of Ripon was blended with churchism, though its one famous manufacture was spurs. “As true steel as Ripon rowels,” is a proverb still applied to men of mettle, trusty and faithful. When I was there it appeared to me that all the craftsmen were saddle-makers.

The dominant power in Ripon was not, however, the bishop; it was the Earl of Grey and Ripon, a man of immense wealth and of great political influence. I saw him frequently, but somehow he lacked the romance that fixed Lonsdale in my memory. I forgot him for nearly fifty years, and then this 48 thing happened. In 1891 I wrote to London for a full set of the Saturday Review, stipulating that it should be second-hand and in good condition. When it arrived at Cherry Croft, I opened the boxes that contained the books eagerly, and lifted one out to examine it. The set was fine and perfect, and contained a most elaborate and beautiful book plate of the Earl of Grey and Ripon. Nearly the whole sixty volumes were ornamented with the Earl’s plate, though in some it was more ornate, than in others. But by what chance these volumes had been cast out of the magnificent library of Studley Royal, the grandest residence in England, and found their way to my little cottage on Storm King, New York, I do not know. Their once lordly owner I had forgotten for fifty years, but now I often remember the handsome, aristocratic George, Frederick, Samuel, Earl of Grey and Ripon.

But withal it was a comfortable well-to-do place and Mother put away cheerfully all fault-finding. Yet our house was not well situated and was much too small. My father looked around dubiously. Ann Oddy wondered if Ripon chapel people knew that Mr. Huddleston had three children, and Jane cast her eyes down on the tesselated brick floor of the living-room, and remarked in a general manner, “The floor is made of brick.”

“This will never do, Mary,” Father said.

“Oh, yes, William!” Mother answered. “I will carpet the floor, and the woman who was here waiting to receive us, pointed out the brick floor and called it ‘beautiful.’ She said they are favorite floors in Ripon. I shall make all pretty and comfortable in a few days.”

Mother kept her promise. In a few days the little house was a pretty place, and even Ann could find nothing against it, but its small size. “There are three children,” she said, “and God willing there may be four, and where are we to sleep them all?”

“Plenty of room, Ann,” answered Mother. “Mr. Huddleston is going to make the parlor his study. His books will furnish the four bare walls handsomely.”

“And what about company, ma’am?” asked Ann. “There 49 will be lots of trouble, if they are put in the parlor, and the Master writing his sermon.”

“When Mr. Huddleston is writing a sermon, we will bring them in here, Ann.”

“And suppose we are just ready for dinner or tea? What then, ma’am?”

“Then Ann, we will ask them to join us,” and Mother laughed pleasantly, and added, “Your cooking, Ann, would be a great treat to them.”

In a fortnight the house being settled, the question was schools. There was no choice on this subject, there being only one ladies’ school. It was kept by the Misses Johnston, three very handsome women who were daughters of one of the old hunting, racing, drinking squires, called “fine old English gentlemen.” At his death, there was nothing left for his daughters, and they opened a school. Jane and I were entered as pupils there, but I did not find in any of the three, another Miss Pearson. They were unfitted for teachers and appeared to dislike the office, and though I learned the lessons set me, I made no particular progress in anything but music. In this study my teacher was a French emigrant, and I learned rapidly under his tuition.

We had not been half a year in this school, when a momentous question arose. A girl called Mary Levine came one day, and she was entered for all the senior classes, as well as for music, dancing, drawing and French. We all concluded that her father must be very rich, but Miss Grey, the daughter of one of the Canons of the Cathedral, said she had never heard of the Levines, and she did not believe they were anybody at all. For a few days suppositions as to Miss Levine’s social standing were rife. Then it was discovered that she was the daughter of Daniel Levine, a Jewish jeweler and money lender. Instantly every one drew away from the girl, and she was shocked and amazed at the scorn and animosity shown towards her. I saw her tearfully talking to Miss Johnston one evening as the dismissed school was leaving the room, and when I reached home I told Mother what I had heard and seen.

Mother advised us not to name the subject in my father’s 50 presence, but this advice was rendered nugatory by events which had to be met and decided on; for Mr. Downes, the banker, the Reverend Mr. Eamont, Canon Grey and several others removed their daughters the next day from school, pending Miss Johnston’s decision as to opening her school to Jewish children. Every day there were more defections, and the distracted ladies sent a messenger to each patron of the school, asking them to answer by “yes” or “no” the following question:

“Do you object to your daughters associating with the Jewess, Mary Levine, in the classes of our school?

“The Misses Johnston.”

The long roll of patron’s names came to Father among the last, and Mother noticed that the answer in every case had been a positive “yes.” Father took the roll, and without consulting any one, wrote hurriedly but decidedly, “Yes, I object.”

I do not believe there was one reply favorable to the Jewish girl, and yet I could see no fault in her, nor any reason for her dismissal; and the school was much thinned by the circumstances, and I disliked it more than ever. Nor did her ejection from the school restore confidence. Several of the older pupils went to a celebrated boarding school at York, and others to Harrogate, and an air of dissatisfaction pervaded the class rooms.

As the spring opened I was sick. Father said, “No wonder!” He himself felt the change “from the clear, mountain air of Penrith, to the damp heavy atmosphere of Ripon.” The doctor said I had some kind of an ague, and gave me Jesuit’s bark. I had never been sick in all my life, and the feeling of inertia, and the abominable Jesuit’s bark, made me miserable. I was taken from school, and told to “amuse myself.” But books had become uninteresting. I had a headache, and it hurt me to read, and the Jesuit’s bark made every day a sickening terror. We call Jesuit’s bark quinine now, and have it in little white capsules, and are not conscious of its taste; but any one needing quinine in those days had to take a decoction of the bark of the tree—a whole tumbler full 51 of the black, nauseous liquid three times a day. Jane had no ague, and was quite happy at school; for she was fond of embroidery, and was working a petticoat for Mother in a new kind of that art—the same kind that has been fashionable for the last three or four years, which is accomplished by cutting holes in the cloth and then seaming them around.

One day in early June, I was lying on a sofa which stood in the parlor-study, and Father was writing. I can listen now as I write, and hear the scratching of his quill pen upon the paper. Suddenly a gentleman came riding rapidly to our door, and asked for Mr. Huddleston. My father lifted his head at the sound of the voice, listened a moment, threw down his pen and rose to go out of the room, but before he could do so the stranger entered, and then it was “William!” “Thomas!” and they clasped hands and sat down together. I had no mind to go away, unless sent, and I closed my eyes and lay still as if asleep.

Their conversation soon became animated and argumentative, though it was about people and places I had no knowledge of; but finally reached a subject then interesting all clever and thoughtful minds—the Tractarian or High Church Movement. As I had read to Father several small pamphlets “Tracts for the Times” I was familiar with the names they constantly quoted—Newman, Keble, Froude, et cetera, but it was Newman they disputed over. The stranger seemed to dislike Newman. He said he was no better than a Calvinist, and had been brought up by his Calvinistic mother on Watts and Romaine and such teachers, that he was pale and thin, had a poor presence, and was more like a Wesleyan preacher than a pillar of the Church. Father spoke hotly, and said he never thought of Newman’s appearance, his influence was something like magic, and that you could not be fifteen minutes in his company, and not feel yourself invited to take an onward step. I liked the stranger for not liking Newman, for Newman’s writing was the hardest and least interesting reading I did for Father.

I was enjoying the dispute, when Ann Oddy tapped at the door, and told father he was wanted a few minutes. Then I stepped off the sofa, and went to the stranger.

52

“Well now!” he cried, “who are you, my little maid?”

I said I was Mr. Huddleston’s daughter, and my name was Amelia.

“And you were on the sofa all the time?” he continued.

“Yes,” I replied, “I am sick.”

“Nonsense!” he ejaculated, but I assured him the doctor said I had an ague, and I had been obliged to take Jesuit’s bark.

“Jesuit’s bark! That is enough to make any one sick. Come with me to Richmond farm, and I will give you new milk in place of it. You can get up early, and go with the dawn maids and see the big Durhams milked. I will have a pony saddled for you, and you can ride all over the farm at my side. And the red Morella cherries are just ripe, and the strawberries coming on, and the raspberries not a month behind. And there are hundreds of hens, and you could go with Tabitha, the hen-wife, and see her clear the nests, and feed the chickens—such a lot of them! And I have the prettiest and kindest of house-keepers; she is called Mary, and she will be good and kind to you. Will you come to Richmond farm with me?”

I told him that I would like it better than anything else in the world, and then I asked, “Would you like me to come?”

“That I would!” he answered heartily, and as he did so, my father re-entered the room with Mother on his arm. Mother had put on her new muslin gown; it was a white muslin, with a tiny pink rosebud in it, and her black hair was beautifully dressed in that Madonna style introduced by Queen Victoria. “I have the prettiest mother in all the world,” I thought, and I went to her side, and clasped her hand.

So the stranger, whom I heard introduced to my mother as Mr. Thomas Richmond ate dinner with us, and this proposal to take me for a few weeks to Richmond farm, was gladly accepted.


Rev. William Henry Huddleston

I was to stay a few weeks, but I stayed most of my time at this farm for two years and a half, and if to be innocently joyful and busy and perfectly free from all care and anxiety is to be happy, then surely these years were the happiest years of my life. A child in Paradise may be as happy, but no 53 earth child could have been more fortunate than I was. Everything was so much better than I expected; yes, I can see the widespreading house amid its trees and gardens as I write, and when I go to Heaven, I would like my angel to pass it on the road, and let me look once more into its sunny rooms.

I soon learned to manage my pony, and I usually rode into Ripon with Mr. Richmond on market days, took my music lesson, and then went home until I was called for. The housekeeper Mary taught me all about milk, cream and butter. I pulled cherries, ate cherries, and made cherry pies, and I knew every hen and chicken on the place. I was very friendly with the gardener, and from him I learned all about vegetables, fruits and flowers. If there was a superstition or story about any flower, he knew it; and he told it to me, generally with the flower in my hand. Thus a lady to whose house I often went to practice my music, gave me one day a pot of myrtle, and I took it at once to the old man. I said, “I want it planted.”

“Well then, Missie, you must plant it yourself,” he replied; “for when myrtle is planted, you must spread out your skirt, and look as proud as you can. I say put it in your window, for myrtle is the luckiest plant for the window, and water it morning and night, looking as proud as you can while doing so. Myrtle is a proud plant, and it loves proud people.” On another day, I was going into the house with a branch of flowering white hawthorn.

“Nay! nay!” he cried to me, “you mustn’t carry white hawthorn into the house. You might go to sleep where it is, and then would come great misfortune.” He looked very differently on a handful of rosemary. “That is all right, is all right,” he said. “Rosemary stands for success in everything.” In the very centre of the garden he had a little bed of grass, and he would not suffer tool of any kind to touch it. He called it “good man’s croft,” and told me that in order “to bring luck, we must always leave a bit of land unplanted for the fairies.”

After I had been about a month at the farm, Mr. Richmond said to me one wet day, “Milly, I have had all my grandfather’s 54 books taken into the library. I want you to sort and shelve them for me. Would you like to do that?”

I knew of nothing I would like half as much, for, as soon as I was well, the thought of books was again a joy to me. We went to the library together, and men were unpacking large boxes of books, and bringing a long table on which to sort them, and a set of library steps, pens, ink, pencils, paper, and so forth. I promised only to sort the books in the afternoon, or when too wet to take my usual morning ride with him about the farm. Then he gave me the key of the room, and left me among a thousand books.

I was so happy! I was so happy! So peacefully, innocently happy! I read more than I sorted; I found so many wonderful books, that it was impossible to pass over. I met Ivanhoe first in that room, and Little Nell, and Pamela, and the Scottish Chiefs, and in a pile of unbound Family Heralds I made acquaintance with the short love story. Never shall I forget what thrilling hours I spent in that room with the “Children of the Abbey.” A year or two ago a lady to whom I named this book, said she had a copy, and would send it to me. I sat down, full of expectation, but alas! though the book was there, I could not summon back the child heart to read it. The tale that stole my heart away when I was eleven years old had nothing to say to me when I was seventy-seven. Yet I touched it tenderly as I whispered, “It charmed me once—I will not spoil that memory,” and so closed it forever.

I thank God that ere any change came over days so beautiful and blessed, they ceased. The library was scarce finished, when I had to leave it; the farm life was just as happy and desirable, when I tearfully bade it good-bye forever. The pretty, clever Mary loved me well, and I had become a real companion to my affectionate friend, who liked me to call him “Uncle Thomas.” It was well to part ere any desire for parting came. Mr. Richmond said he would come for me the following summer, but I knew he would not. I felt sure he would marry Mary, and other interests would occupy him. I said good-bye to Richmond Farm in a fortunate hour. Its memory has sweetened my long, long life, and what I learned in its pleasant rooms, its 55 hay fields, and wheat fields, and cool, sweet dairy, has helped me in many a stress of life, that I then never dreamed of.

The inevitable has always found me ready and hopeful, and I was glad we were going to the Isle of Man. I had never consciously seen the sea, but its tides were surely in my blood. I was much excited at the prospect, and Father was as eager and restless as a boy. It called him now, as it had called his fathers before him, and he was impatient of delay. We went in a little steamer called The King Orry, sailing from Liverpool. And, as I walked with him about the deck, we were both silent with emotion. But I felt quite at home. The motion of the boat was natural, and, when I walked to the wheel, I could scarcely keep my hands off it. I knew I could manage it. The salt breeze, and the smell of the sea, went to my head like wine.

“Oh, Father!” I cried. “I wish that I might live always on the tide-top.”

“The tide-top!” he echoed. “Who taught you those words, Milly?”

“Nobody,” I answered. “They just came to me. Are they not right words, Father?”

“Yes,” he answered slowly. “Your grandfather used them frequently. The last words he said to my mother were, ‘Fear not, Milly! I shall try to keep my ship on the tide-top.’”

“But he did not, Father.”

“No—no! He found a sailor’s grave. I will go and bring John here.”

In a few minutes he returned with an armful of pillows, and then he carried my brother in his arms to the deck. I have never seen since such a transfiguration of Joy. The boy clapped his thin, white hands, and cried out, “The Sea! The Sea! The Sea!” His face glowed and shone, and he took deep breaths of the salt air. So he sat all day, feeding his heart on the sight of the blue, tossing waves, and some wild pageant of memories far far off, and hardly to be caught, as they threw the accumulated past upon his consciousness, very much as that last vision clangs and flashes for a drowning man.

A never-to-be-forgotten, quiet, thoughtful day, and in the autumn gloaming we landed at Douglas, and the next morning 56 took a carriage for the ten-mile ride, which would take us to Castletown, then the capital of Man, and the place of our destination. With a lavish hand Nature has beautified this wonderful little island, thirty-three miles long, by thirteen miles wide, with the most exquisite scenes of sylvan loveliness, while the Gulf Stream laves all its rocky shores, giving it a climate such as we may have in Paradise. In the hottest month of the year the temperature is a little below sixty degrees, in the coldest month it is a little above forty-one.

Our ride to Castletown was an enchanting one. It was on a day at the end of August, sunny and pleasantly warm. Such wealth of flowers! such multitudes of singing birds! I had never before seen or heard. And the sea was on every side of us! As we approached the capital we saw first the noble old fortress of the Lords of Man, lifting its huge bulk in the very centre of the town. It was but a small place, built of gray stone, in narrow winding streets, and so old that its very origin is lost in the mists of antiquity. Certainly it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, town in Great Britain. It looked to me as if it had always existed.

As we passed through the square of which the castle forms one side, we saw a fine regiment of Highlanders, in their picturesque costume, drilling, and a few ladies and some old gentlemen were sauntering along, stopping occasionally to watch some manœuver that interested them. An air of the utmost serenity pervaded the place, as we turned into a long crooked street called Malew Street, and stopped finally at a house whose door stood open to receive us. It was a large-roomed, sunny house, of three stories, and had a fine garden at the back, stretching almost to the river side. The rooms were comfortably furnished, and full of peace, and I caught and answered my mother’s look of pleasure and satisfaction. In a few days all was in order, and we settled down to what promised to be three years of delightful life.

For two years all our hopes were amply satisfied. I was at a good school: I was in the fishers’ cottages. I was in a boat with John and my father, or I was off with Father to the preachings at Ballasalla, or Ballabeg. I had many friends, and among 57 them was Chrisna, the daughter of the master of Rushen Castle. With her I wandered about the wonderful old palace, learning its history in the very rooms wherein that history was made. The whole huge fabric was an historical romance written in stone. Chrisna was a Manx girl, of long Manx descent, and she knew all the traditions and superstitions of her people. She believed in fairies as firmly as she believed in the Gospels, and indeed I never met either a Manx man or a Manx woman who did not believe in fairies. Chrisna told me with perfect honesty that she had seen them often, and heard their music, and she quite convinced me that she had.

Seventy years ago the Isle of Man was little more than a name to the average Briton. It had its own government, its own laws, and its own House of Parliament, which was called the “House of Keys.” There were no Custom Houses, and no duties. There were no Poor Laws. When I was there those in need were empowered to knock at the door of every householder, once a week, and receive what could be given. There was no stipulated sum, but a penny and a few groceries, or a little clothing, was cheerfully spared. The number of such callers were few, and they were kindly treated.

The small sum it cost then to live in the Isle of Man was a great temptation to retired army and naval officers, and Castletown was full of these interesting gentry. They gave to the place an air of refinement, which was still further increased by the professors and students of King William’s College. I saw this college burned to the ground on the second of January, A.D. 1844, and I remember well that I had no wrap on, and the night was so warm I did not miss it. Yet January is the coldest month in the mild Manx winter.

We went to Castletown in the autumn, and the following spring two events happened affecting our household. My mother had another daughter, whom Father christened Alethia Mona. Alethia being, with Jane or Joan, and Isabel, the three prominent names of the Huddleston women, just as William, John, Thomas, and Henry are the family names of the men. Mona was added, because it was the ancient name of the island of her birth.

58

Soon after this event Ann Oddy left us. I am rather ashamed to say that we were all privately very glad. She had become a kind of household tyrant, whom we had to constantly conciliate, and we had long ago discovered that the old family servant was just as serious a problem as the modern monthly one. Our emancipation from Ann’s rule came very unexpectedly. She entered the parlor one afternoon, with a letter in her hand, and, with great excitement, said: “Mrs. Huddleston, I am sorry, but I must go back to England at once.”

Mother told her she was not out of England, and asked why she must go in such a hurry, and Ann answered:

“You see, ma’am, Adam Bradley wants me. We were to have been wed ten years ago, but one night Adam he walked home from chapel with Sarah Sykes, and I had words with him about Sarah, so he married Sarah to spite me. But she’s dead now, and Adam wants me. I think it is best to go to him, Mrs. Huddleston.”

So Ann went. We hardly said to each other how glad we were, and we all pressed any gift we could spare on her. Mother even gave her one of her silk gowns, which I am pretty sure she missed a little later. But, until we knew Ann was safely away in the Douglas coach, we did not talk about her; then I shall never forget Mother’s smile, and sigh of relief, and Jane’s neatly expressed opinion, that “the Irish Sea was always rough with the wind in the present direction.” Jane had never liked Ann; and she knew Ann was both sick and terrified, when at the mercy of wind and waves. A middle-aged Manx woman was easily found to take Ann’s place, and Jane, who was now well grown and womanly, took charge of many things relating to the household.

It was about this time I began to seriously try to write. I commenced a tragedy which I called “Seneca.” I do not remember anything about the work, except that it was laid in ancient Rome, and that Seneca was a philosopher and a senator. I showed the first act to Father, and he gave it back to me with a smile, and the opinion that “it might have been worse.” I used to take pencil and paper and go out to Scarlet Stack, and there alone, with the sun and the wind and the sea and the sky, 59 try to reconstruct the men and women and life of ancient Rome. It was a presumptuous effort, but perhaps the gain to myself was in the effort; for I had become very ambitious. I had abandoned the missionary idea, and longed to write books, and to travel and to see the great cities and the strange peoples I had read about.

We had fully expected to remain at Castletown for three years, but, at the end of the second year, my Father was removed to the Whitehaven Circuit. I shall never forget the morning the news came to us. Mother was making sandwiches for Father, John and I were going to row as far as Ballasalla, then land, and go to the Silverburn River for trout. But Father was so shocked, he put off the trip. I wondered that he should do so, and said:

“Whitehaven is your birthplace, Father; it will surely please you to go there.”

“I would rather go to the most desolate spot on the earth,” he answered with a passion that silenced me.

“It is a much larger circuit, William,” said Mother, “and your income will be larger, and you will have an assistant—a very popular young man, your letter says.”

“I have heard of him, Mary. Popular young men are not always nice young men. He is a nephew of Sir William Morley, and his name is William Morley Punshon.”

Then I took an instant dislike to the popular young man called Punshon. “Such a name!” I ejaculated.

That afternoon Father called Mother in a strange, thick voice of alarm, and she found him looking ill and terrified. “I have had a singular sensation all down my right side, Mary,” he said. “It frightens me.” And my brave little mother said, “Nonsense, William! As we grow old, we have such sensations. I have them myself now and then; my father had them often. Come down and talk with me and the girls,” and she laughed softly and took his arm. But I am sure she knew that this “sensation” was the first touch of a hand that would finally prevail.

As for me, I threw off the thought of trouble by a conscious effort, just as I would throw off my clothes; for I was yet an easy-hearted child, who could say to sorrow, “Let it go.”

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CHAPTER V

SORROW AND CHANGE

“The Leaves of Memory seem to make a mournful rustling in the dark.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“We try in the darkness of Sorrow the wings that shall bear us out of it.”

We took leave of the Isle of Man with heavy hearts, and sailed direct from Douglas to Whitehaven, landing there in the evening of a wet August day. The town was finely situated, and the wide haven filled with ships of all kinds. There was even a man-of-war lying at the long new pier. But the scene was not cheerful; how could it be, after a steady, soft rain from morning to night? Two officers of the church met us, and, in a few minutes, we were at the dwelling which was to be our home for the next three years. It was a handsome-looking house, and stood midway in a block of similar ones. There was a table laid for supper in the living-room, but the room itself was a dreary one. I do not know why, unless it was the want of fire on the hearth, and the dark-green moreen curtaining. A gray-haired woman served tea, and said she was ready to stay with us, if so be Mr. and Mrs. Huddleston were agreeable.

So in a few days the house was in order, and Mother professed to be much pleased with our new quarters. She pointed out the large size and number of the rooms, and the quiet of the locality, and, with a pleasant laugh, said she supposed we were among the aristocrats of Whitehaven.

“My cousin’s curate lives two doors below us,” Father said, and then, for the first time, he spoke of his cousin, Dr. Andrew Huddleston, who was at that time rector of the parish of Whitehaven, and also had the living of another parish a few miles distant, both being the presentation of the Earl of Lonsdale. 61 He said he was a bachelor, of about fifty years of age, and was seldom in England; his curates performed his duties for him. But he was in Whitehaven when we arrived there, for I saw him walking up Duke Street with Father, two or three days after our arrival. There was a singular resemblance between them, though Dr. Andrew Huddleston was portly and robust, and dressed in extreme clerical fashion, while my Father was tall and thin, and ascetic in appearance, with the slight stoop forward of one used to looking into things invisible. But the tie was felt and acknowledged; I knew it by the way they stood with clasped hands a moment or two at our open door.

There were many other Huddleston families in Whitehaven, all of them sailors, excepting one fine young man whom the Earl was educating, and who was painting a portrait of Lonsdale the first time I saw him. It happened that my father and mother received an invitation to dine at Captain Thomas Huddleston’s. Father said the thing was impossible, that the company and the conversation alike, would be antagonistic to his office, and his personal feelings; and the kindness which was intended, would be turned into offence. So I was sent with a note of regrets, and orders to make myself as agreeable as possible.

The latter injunction was easy to obey. I found that Captain Huddleston’s family consisted of his mother, and sister, and the youth I have mentioned, who was the grandson of Captain Huddleston. Their house was a large one, in a queer court close to the waters of the harbor, and the big low rooms looked like museums; for it seemed as if every rare and lovely thing from strange lands and strange seas were there; and the footstool of the old lady was a living tortoise of great size, which had an inscription on its shell, showing it to be nearly ninety years old.

The old lady was dressed in a gown of gay colors, open very low in front, and filled in with clear-starched muslin. Her apron was of black silk, trimmed with black Spanish lace, and she had a cap of white Spanish lace on her plentiful white hair, and a very long gold chain around her neck. Her knitting lay on the table beside her, but she was adding up a bill as I entered the room, and though she looked at me, she did not speak until the total was satisfactorily reached.

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With this family I became familiar, and I wish I had space to say more about them. I spent much time in their company, and liked nothing better; especially when young Tom Huddleston, a midshipman on The Royal George, came home. This handsome young sailor was my first dream of a lover. I cried when he went away, and was not comforted by his promise to bring me “lots of lace from Malta.” Poor lad! He never came home, but died in the West Indies of yellow fever.

There was really a little sailor settlement around Captain Tom’s home, and I was soon welcome in it, a strange, happy-go-lucky company, full of sharp transitions; for in their lives they knew not what a day or an hour might bring forth. However unexpectedly my visits were made, I was sure to find some gathering rejoicing over the return of a husband or son, or perhaps mourning over his detention or death. And among people so affectionate and emotional it was easy for me to rejoice with those who did rejoice, and to weep with those who wept. They did not attract Jane; they were too extravagant and reckless, and Jane liked everything done decently and in order.

Perhaps this sailor society prevented me from making as high an estimate of the Reverend William Morley Punshon as I ought to have done. He came a great deal to our home, and used to recite for our entertainment fine examples of prose and poetry from the great writers. As long as John was able to bear it, he frequently read aloud, and I considered him an extraordinarily clever man. And, if one looked only at his fine eyes and forehead, he was also a very handsome man. I am sure all the religious young women in Whitehaven thought so, and he was much praised and courted, the chapel being crowded whenever he preached. Young ladies wore white veils then, and I used to watch them from the organ loft coming into the chapel, and compare them to an army with white banners; for I played the organ, which was immediately behind the pulpit, so that everything was before my vision.

During the Christmas holidays of this year, 1844, my brother Henry was born. We welcomed him as a gift and a compensation, and the shadow of suffering and death passed gradually away. After the holidays I went to a fashionable school kept by 63 Miss Penelope Flinders. I only remained there three months, and, as far as study was concerned, they were of little service to me; for Miss Flinders had a lawsuit in progress at this time, and she made me her confidant, and discussed endlessly the pros and cons with me. I was very sorry for her, and feverishly anxious that she might succeed. She told me that her lover had been prevented from marrying her by the bitter opposition of his mother; that he had left England in consequence, and, when dying in India had made a will, leaving every shilling of his wealth to her. The mother was fighting the carrying out of this will, and Miss Flinders could not sleep or eat, and how, then, could she teach pending the court’s verdict? One morning I went to school a little late, and found the class rooms empty. The school had been dismissed forever. She had won her case. I sat and talked with her a long time, and she told me she would never teach another hour, for she had now five thousand pounds a year to be happy with.

I went to no other school, but I read a great deal, and kept up the practice of my music and drawing. There was a good public library, and there was my father’s library, and the public one suited me best now; for I wanted Scott, Dickens and Thackeray, and I also read many novels by Mrs. Gore, a writer nearly forgotten, but whose pictures of the lives led by the highest society of that day were interesting and instructive. One day Mr. Punshon was sitting in our parlor when I came in with my hands full of books. He looked at them and asked, “Does your father know, Amelia?” I answered, “No, but Mother does. She says it is right. We do not trouble Father about little things. He is not very well lately.”

“Amelia,” he continued, “I want some books out of the library, but I do not like to go for them.”

“Novels?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

“I will get them for you. I am sorry for people who want novels, and do not feel able to ask for them.”

He said something about his position, and my father not liking him to go to a public library for novels, and I understood the situation. I wonder now why I did not fall in love 64 with him. He could be so charming, and I certainly thought his recitations marvelous, and his own poetry full of genius. But I liked Tom Huddleston in his open collar, and sailor jacket, with a sailor’s song on his lips, far better. Once I wondered about it to Jane, and she looked at me incredulously, if not scornfully, as she answered, “The idea of being in love with Mr. Punshon!”

“Why not?” I demanded.

“For one thing, Milly, he does not wear straps.” Gentlemen at that time wore their trousers strapped down under their feet. “His trousers are sloppy, and he looks quite common.”

“He is handsome,” I returned, “and he has fine eyes, and beautiful brown hair; it is curly, too.”

“I dare say he puts it in papers every night. Miss Annie Townley thinks so. But if he was ten times as handsome, I would not marry him. He is a Wesleyan preacher, and could never give his wife a home of her own. I hate living in a Chapel House.”

Under conditions and surroundings like these, our lives went on. John was dying daily, and Mother was very anxious about Father, who seemed possessed by a never ceasing passion for preaching. It appeared to her, that he worked and preached as if he feared he would not have time to say all he wanted to say. The “sensations” of which he had complained at intervals, grew more frequent, and in the autumn of our second year in Whitehaven, he partially lost the use of his right hand. Then I wrote his letters and sermons as he dictated them to me. But, oh, how it pained him! I could not bear to see the sorrow in his eyes, and what was coming he knew not; for the doom that walks by our side from the cradle to the grave, never warns us. At this time of my life my thoughts turn to his memory with a great tenderness. His heart was then given to all humanity, his soul was all God’s, and his life but a flesh and blood conductor of eternal spirit.

At the close of the second year, John died after great suffering, and he was laid among his kindred in a small cemetery in Charles Street. As a burial ground it was no longer used, except by the families who had originated it more than one 65 hundred years previously. It was a neglected enclosure, over-grown with tall grasses and rank weeds, and surrounded by the decaying untidy houses of poverty. A more dreary, ghastly place I never saw, and my heart ached for the little lad laid there. I was thankful my mother was too ill to go to the mournful service, but Father was consoled by the fact, that he was among his kindred; and it seemed to me, there was no one but Huddlestons buried there. Every stone I read was in memoriam of a Huddleston, and always that same persistence of the name “Henry.”

Not more than a month afterwards, our baby Henry was laid beside his brother in the desolate place. I have no heart to write of his death. He was taken in the midst of health, and went laughing to seize the bowl of boiling milk, from which he drank a cruel death. It is better to be silent about such calamities; at the time we were all dumb with grief. Yet it was an accident, and accident is always God’s part in any event; so to this knowledge we bowed our hearts in submission. There is a difference, however, in silence. Mother’s quiet was full of heavenly hope and trust; Father’s speechless, tearless grief, was almost despair, and many times afterward, I heard Mother rejoice over a trouble treading close upon Henry’s death, because it roused the physical man to wrath, and broke up the spiritual torpor into which Father had fallen.

This trouble came in a letter, which was handed into the parlor where we were together one afternoon three weeks after Henry’s death. Mother and Jane were sewing. I was copying music—a song of Balfe’s, I believe, and father was walking up and down—up and down the room. All was so still I could hear the ashes dropping from the grate to the hearth. Then came the postman’s knock, and the delivery of the letter to Father.

He read it without a word, growing every moment grayer and more angry. As he finished, he slowly tore the paper into fragments, his passion growing with every movement of his hands, and stamping on them, gave way to an inconceivable rage, accompanied by words that shocked and terrified us. It was not Father, it was some madman who had taken possession 66 of him. Mother went to him, put her hands on his shoulders, and said softly, “William! William!”

“Mary! Forgive me!” he cried. “You see now, what I have to struggle against. Every day I have this temper to fight; it will conquer me some time, and then I shall be lost—but this trouble is my own fault. You have warned me, and I would not listen to you. Yes, I have been warned twice by dreams I understood, but would not obey. If I could suffer alone! If I could suffer alone, I would not care. It is my great punishment. You and the children must suffer with me.”

“What punishment? What has happened, William?” asked Mother.

“I have lost every shilling. That scoundrel Philip Blackpool has gone to Australia with my money, a month ago.”

“My dear, we can live without it.”

“We cannot live without it, Mary,” he answered. “What is the good of talking nonsense?”

Then Mother was silent. She sat down and lifted her work, Jane followed her example, and I went on copying my song, while from the next room came the faint sounds of Alethia and Mary playing. Before our silence and assumed indifference his anger waned; he said again, “Forgive me, Mary! I will go to my study now, and come down when I am better. Disturb me for nothing.”

Mother was wretched. She put down her work, and I went to her. “What does Father mean?” I asked.

“He means that we shall now be poor, Milly. This money stolen from him was the best part of our living. I do not know how much it was, for he never told me the amount, and often I have advised him to put it in some reputable bank. But Philip Blackpool was his friend, at least he supposed so. I have always doubted it. We must send away one servant to-morrow; we shall have to do with much less new clothing, and many good things that we have thought necessary, we must learn to do without. Great changes will have to be made; my dear girls, let us make them cheerfully.”

Then I spoke to Mother about turning my education into money, and she was pleased with my readiness. “Father is 67 ill,” she said, “and I fear he will not be able to preach much longer. I have thought of these things often,” she continued, “and wondered how we were to live, when he had only his retiring income, and this idea has come to me—that if we knew how to conduct a small ladies’ boarding-school, it might suffice. Jane and I could look after the house and children, and you, Milly, could, with the help of teachers, conduct the school. Of course you would have to be trained for such a task.”

We were all pleased with this idea, and discussed it over our tea, in which Father did not join us. Then it appeared that this school project was an old thought with Mother. She asked us if we remembered a certain Miss Sarah Berners who stayed a week with us when we were in Penrith, adding, “She was my friend through all the years in which I was at school, and we used to talk of starting a school together, and being independent of our stepmothers; for we both had stepmothers, and not very kind ones—but I married, you know.”

“Yes,” said Jane, “and what did Miss Berners do?”

“She opened a school at Downham Market, Norfolk, fifteen years ago, and has done well. Suppose, Milly, you went to her for a year, and learned how to manage a school.”

I answered, “I would like to do so, Mother. I would like it very much.”

So Mother wrote to Miss Berners, and received a glad consent to her wish. I was to go as second teacher, and assist in the music, drawing and English classes; and she promised to give me twenty-five pounds a year with my board and lodging, and the opportunity to study the French language if I wished, as I would room with Miss Stromberg, a Russian, who spoke it, and nearly every other European language, perfectly.

When this news came, Father was told of our plans. There was some opposition, but not much, and I began with a hopeful heart to prepare for the change before me. This event appeared to break up the storm of sorrow and ill fortune which had assailed us. We had feared Father’s next appointment lest it should be some large manufacturing city, demanding more strength than he had to give, but when it came, it was to Kendal. Nothing could have been better. It was my mother’s 68 birthplace; she had many friends there, and my father was a great favorite with Kendal Methodists; and there was a pleasant preacher’s house in a pretty garden, surrounded by poplar trees.

It was a joyful removal. We bid farewell to the little graves we had to leave behind us, and then turned our faces, as it were, homeward. And as I was not wanted in Norfolk, until early in September, I went to Kendal with my family, and helped to settle them in their new home. I was very happy in my own prospects. I had no fears, and I had a great many hopes and pleasant expectations. My life was yet to me like a book of uncut leaves. I had finished the preface, and the first chapter was to open in Norfolk. I put behind me all past sorrows, and was just an eager girl leaning over the narrow rim of my small world, and gladly anticipating the wide, wide world into which I was going. And I was made strangely happy, because on the night before I left home, when I lifted the little red Bible that lay upon my dressing-table, my eyes lighted on this verse, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah, 43:1.)

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CHAPTER VI

IN NORFOLK

“No one knows what capacities they have for doing and suffering till the occasion comes. When water is ice, we have no idea what latent heat is in it.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Life—all things here are but beginnings.”

I was sixteen years and five months old, when I left home to go to Downham Market, and take my place among the workers of the world. The thought pleased me. I was tired of being a mere looker-on at life’s great game, and wanted my share in it. It was on the fourth of September, A.D. 1847, and my father was to go as far as Hull with me. There he would see me on board a little steamer sailing down the Wash to Lynn Regis, from which place a carriage would carry me the few miles inland to Downham Market.

I had put on long dresses that morning, and coiled my hair in a knot under my bonnet, and looked quite eighteen; and I think Father was proud of me. I certainly was very proud of Father’s company; not entirely because of his beautiful countenance, I valued far more, that air of distinction which never left him, and to which every one deferred. We had a pleasant journey to Hull, where we arrived soon after noon. I had wondered why this way to Downham Market had been chosen for me, but as soon as we reached Hull, I knew why. It was a large seaport, excepting London and Liverpool, the largest in England; and Father wanted me to see the ancient town, and its wonderful docks.

We went to an hotel and had lunch, and then to the Queen’s and Humber docks, and I got my first glimpse of what a great commercial city must be on its water side. I heard all the languages of Northern Europe on those great walls. I saw 70 woolpacks from Germany; hides, hemp and tallow from Russia; corn from Dantzic, and other Baltic ports; and strange thin bars of iron from Sweden. Father told me this metal would all go to Sheffield to be made into steel. On the Humber dock I saw great bales of cotton and woolen cloth from Manchester and the West Riding of Yorkshire; and other bales of lace and net, from Nottingham. They were going to France and Germany, and all over Northern Europe.

After the docks, we went to the famous Trinity House, a very rich and powerful guild, that supports disabled seamen of the merchant service and their widows, and has been doing this good work for nearly five hundred years. For it is not only wealthy in bequeathed property, but receives a shilling a month from the wages of all seamen leaving the port. We went through the wonderful old place, and were told there were nearly one hundred inmates, and nearly one thousand outside pensioners. The whole place was as clean and neat as the decks of a man-of-war and every apartment, even the council room, was strewn with fresh green rushes, after the fashion of the days of its erection.

I noticed in the entrance hall a Greenland kayak hung from the ceiling. It was picked up at sea with a man in it in A.D. 1613. The man refused to eat, and died in a few days; but the figure in the kayak wears his clothes, et cetera. I made some remark to Father afterwards about Hull sailors being in such a latitude at that date, and he said “they were commonly there then, and indeed were famous whalers as early as A.D. 1590.”

“Are they whalers now?” I asked.

“They are not extinct as whalers even now, though they are fast passing away. Why, Milly,” he added, “it was the whaler Isabella, Captain Humphries, from the port of Hull, that found and saved Sir John Ross and his company of Arctic explorers, after they had been shut up in the ice for four years. He brought them home with him to Hull, and Hull gave them a grand triumph, opened their hearts and homes to them, and the whole nation went into rejoicing. You were only two years old then, Milly, and do not remember, but I do. They had won 71 nothing; they had lost every thing, but they had endured cheerfully till their deliverance came; and endurance is victory. Don’t forget that, Milly.”

We visited the Charter House next, and saw many curious things, but I have forgotten them. I saw too much, and Hull remains in my memory like an amazing dream of masts a-rake, intertangled rigging, black barges, ponderous black hulls floating silently past, as if they had no weight. Influences from times long past, and places far off, found their way unerringly to me. The streets and the gray afternoon seemed unreal—like a dream all floated away.

I have a far clearer memory of the dinner we had on our return to the hotel. In my long life, I am sure there are not a dozen dinners I recollect as accurately as this one. Yet it was a very simple meal—just hare soup, and roast duck, and green peas. My father also had celery and cheese, and a glass of port wine, and I had two small raspberry tartlets. But I have that dinner over again today as I write, have it in the same little dingy parlor, with its two open windows. I hear the noise of the streets; I see the picture of Victoria above the chimney piece, and the colored, fancifully cut tissue papers, screening the empty grate; I am sitting at the neatly set table, with its daisy pattern damask cloth and napkins, its old-fashioned knives and forks, and queer-shaped drinking-glasses, and cruet stand. I have never happened to taste hare soup since that day, but I can taste it now. It was a well-cooked meal, eaten with smiles and pleasant conversation and little happy glances at each other. It is dinner number one in my book of memory, though there were neither flowers nor finger bowls on the table. Indeed I do not remember having ever seen a finger bowl at this time and I am not sure, but what I should have considered them as an unpleasant, unmannerly introduction.

Presently we heard a church clock strike, and Father took out his watch and looked at me. “It is time we were going, Milly,” he said cheerfully and I rose and put on my bonnet and gloves. At the wharf we found all in confusion, and The Queen of the Wash ready to sail. There was only time for Father to see me safely on board; then with a few cheerful words and 72 a smiling face he put me in God’s care, and bid me good-bye. I watched him as long as I could see his tall, straight figure among the moving crowd, but he never looked back. I should have been astonished if he had. It was always onward and upward and forward with Father; there was no looking back in his nature, and his physical attitude generally illustrated the feelings and desires of the inner man.

I went at once to my cabin, and being thoroughly weary with my day’s travel and sightseeing I fell asleep, and did not awaken until a woman roused me with the information, that we were near Lynn Regis. It was barely light when I stepped on to the pier, and the ancient place seemed to be fast asleep. No one was in sight, and I asked the captain to send a boy to bring me a carriage. He did so, and I was shortly at The Cross Keys, a hotel standing in the Tuesday Market Place; but feeling still tired and only half-awake I asked for a bedroom, and slept until ten o’clock. This day I had a sense of the most absolute freedom. I could do as I liked; there was no one to obey, and no one to please but myself, and sleep appeared to me at that hour, the most desirable of luxuries. But when I awoke at ten, I was satisfied and fully refreshed, and I dressed myself prettily, and went down stairs and ordered breakfast. After it, I made inquiries about reaching Downham Market, and found there was a kind of stage running between Lynn Regis and Downham Market. The next would leave at noon, which would hurry me, and the last one at three o’clock, and this I resolved to take. For it seemed a great waste of opportunity, not to see something of the old town, when I had the day at my disposal.

I was tired of ships and of water, and wandered up the High Street looking at the shops, and when I came upon a church in Black Goose Street with the door standing open, I went inside. It contained nothing attractive and I was about to leave the building, when an old gentleman led me back to make me notice its three aisles, and the rich and peculiar tracery of the windows and clerestory, and many other things of that kind. But I was not much interested, until he showed me a slab in the pavement, “In memoriam of Thomas Hollingsworth, 73 an eminent bookseller, a man of strictest integrity in his dealings, and much esteemed by gentlemen of taste, for the neatness and elegance of his bindings.”

At this point I remember asking my guide if that inscription was good grammar, adding it does not sound right to me, but then I do not understand grammar.

“Do you know what it means?” he asked sharply.

“Oh, yes!” I answered.

“Then it’s good grammar,” he said decisively.

This remark about grammar, however, brought on me a little lecture concerning a Dominican friar called Galfridus Grammaticus, who lived in Lynn Regis, and compiled and printed the first English and Latin dictionary; and this learned monk introduced another, who may have a rather general interest at this date—Nicholas of Lynn, a Carmelite monk, who in A.D. 1330 sailed to the most northern land in the world—the first Polar expedition on record. Friar Nicholas says, that at the Pole he discovered four indraughts of the ocean, from the four opposite quarters of the world; and I have had good reason during the last three years to retell this story of the first Polar visitor, and to point out that he discovered more than the two latest visitors, and that his narrative is better authenticated.

After leaving St. Nicholas’ Church I sauntered up a street leading me back to the hotel and in doing so passed a jeweler’s shop. My eyes fell upon a bracelet—an old-fashioned bracelet very wide and illuminated by a large stone. I had never possessed a piece of jewelry in all my life, but now I had some money, and I longed for this bracelet. Many times I left the tempting window, but always returned, and finally I went into the shop and asked its price. It was five shillings, and I had twenty shillings. Why not buy it? I hesitated, but at last paid the five shillings and went proudly out of the shop, with the bauble in my pocket. When I reached the hotel, I put it on my arm and felt just a little disappointed at the result. However, I fancied myself wearing it with my silk dress, and thought it would give me an air of great gentility. Then the stage was ready, and I and my silly bracelet went together to Downham Market.

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It was perhaps well, that I saw nothing but St. Nicholas’ Church for the mental notes I made there were so few, and so individual, that they settled themselves persistently in my memory. Also, as I had adopted the profession of a teacher, it was creditable to know who made our first dictionary. The Polar expedition lay dormant in my remembrance, until the disputing of the last three years made me recall the information given me so many years ago. Then I came to the conclusion, that any one of the three claims would be just as good as the other, so that if England should stand by her monk’s discovery, it would be hard to disprove her claim; but—

“The fault of the English is the fault of the Dutch,

They never know when they are claiming too much.”

It was about half-past four when I reached Downham Market. The ride was interesting, for the country was quite different from any that I had ever seen. Such green, such deep, living green of the pastures! Such tall strong trees, garlanded at this time of the year with hop vines, twining from branch to branch, and dropping down from their tips, so that the hand could reach them. I saw two fine old manor houses and many lovely cottages. A small, sweet, purple grape climbed over the front, and over the thatched roofs of most of them, and this astonished me, for I had never before known that grapes would grow in the open air in any part of England.

When we approached Miss Berners’, I knew the place. I had dreamed of it when I was a child—a large double-Georgian house, standing amid lawns and trees, and surrounded by a hedge higher than a man. As we came closer I saw from my point of vantage on the top of the coach, about twenty girls of varying ages, scattered about the grounds; some were playing battledore and shuttlecock, others reading, others walking about in pairs, and a couple of nearly grown girls, were taking riding lessons in a paddock, at the side of the house. It was a pretty scene, and the whole party struck me as freely and genuinely happy. I felt a little nervous at the prospect of walking 75 through this bevy of scrutinizing girls, but I saw Miss Berners come to the front door, and I went forward with as much confidence as I could assume; and as soon as I clasped her hand, and looked into her smiling face, I was quite at ease.

After a cup of tea I was taken to my room. My trunk was already there, and Miss Stromberg, my room-mate, was sitting at the open window darning her stockings. She was an odd-looking woman, small and very thin, with slant black eyes, and a great quantity of very coarse black hair. Her face had a flat look, but was full of fire; and her complexion was bad and dark beyond belief.

But if one notices the circumstances, people of nearly the same age readily fraternize with each other. Two old men will sit down in a car and in a few minutes open a conversation, but an old man and young man sitting together, have no courtesies or conversation for each other. It is much the same with women; two mothers will talk of their children, two girls of their lovers, two old women of their past, but an old woman and a young girl sit far apart, no matter how close they may be together.

So when Miss Berners left Miss Stromberg and I alone, we had plenty to say to each other. I asked her if she liked the school and she answered, “I have been here one week, but that is long enough for an opinion. Yes, I like it.”

“What is it that you teach?” I continued.

“I teach the elegant French language to these slow, stupid English girls. It is incredible, but it is the truth, that they can not understand that French is to be spoken with the eyes, the shoulders, and the hands, as well as the tongue. One impertinent little girl as fat as an ox, told me it was not decent to talk in such a way, and that people would call her a mountebank, if she did so. I wish to swear a little, when I think of such stupidity.”

“French!” I ejaculated. “Is that all?”

“That is all. Many other things I could teach, but I keep quiet about them. I have seen that it is wise to do, but a very great folly to overdo. Maria Stromberg has learned many things since she began to teach. Will you not dress a little for the 76 evening? Put on a white dress if you have one. White is your color.”

“Will you not dress first?” I asked. “In this small room, two cannot dress together.”

“Dress, while I finish my stockings. I wish that the Strombergs of Riga and Uleaborg could take notice that their daughter is compelled to darn her stockings. Is there any more plebeian occupation? And my feet abhor a darned stocking. They will pinch me all the time I wear them.”

As I dressed we chattered, yet when I had finished my toilet, I was rather pleased with the result. But Miss Stromberg rose impetuously, threw down her darning, and pushing me into a chair, uncoiled the hair I had so carefully arranged.

Mon Dieu!” she cried. “It is impossible. Look here!” and in a few minutes she had it raised in puffs, and knots, that added two inches or more to my height, and imparted to me an air of great intellectuality.

“How can it be?” I cried. “I do not look like the same girl.”

“No, but you look as you ought to look. You were masquerading in a madonna front, and a Grecian knot at the nape of your neck. Do you not know that throwing back the hair from the brow, reveals whatever is good in you?”

Then I lifted my bracelet and asked her to fasten it. An expression of pity, or contempt, flashed over her face, but she said kindly, “Ah! but you can not wear it here. Jewelry is forbidden. Put it at the bottom of your trunk; it will be safe there.”

She did not resume her darning, but slipped into a silver gray dress of lustrous silk. A pair of gray slippers stood on a table, and I was sure no full grown human foot could get its toes into them, but she stepped into them with the greatest ease. Then we went down stairs, and Miss Berners introduced me to the girls, and after tea we had a pleasant evening together.

I shall not detain my readers with any account of this school. It was the usual boarding school of its date, under very delightful surroundings and conditions. I remained until the 77 following June in Downham Market, working hard, but willingly, and forming many agreeable acquaintances, but not one among them, that had any influence or bearing upon my future life. I remember their names, and their personalities, and can go all through their simple or splendid homes, but that is all. Doubtless we were merely introduced to each other for our next reincarnation. Then we may have a more fortunate meeting.

I liked all the people I was brought into constant contact with, but if I had not liked them, Miss Stromberg would have been sufficient. I really loved the clever little woman. She spoke five languages; she played with the magical tang and touch of a gypsy with a violin; she danced like a fairy; and when she sang her North Russian songs, you wept with pity for the lonely souls, on the great snow plains, who out of their own deep sadness, caused their very music to weep. She made all her dresses, and we envied their cut and style, and she knew perfectly all the feminine arts of the toilet.

It was not her fault that I did not become a creditable French scholar. She did her best with me but I had no aptitude for languages; and like the other “stupid English girls” I found it silly to talk with four of my members at once; my eyes at that time had not learned speech, my shoulders I had been told from my childhood, to keep down and well back, and my hands had a hundred duties of their own. But for many, many other things, I thank her even to this day. I kissed her good-bye in June. I was sure we would meet in September, but I never saw her again—never, never, even heard from her. But I remember yet, how patiently she rubbed off the crudities of my insular education, and how day by day her kind tactful ways, led me to a far lower estimate of my own attainments; for measuring myself by Maria Stromberg, I could not but see how little I knew, how unpolished I really was, and especially how far behind the mark in that control of temper and sweetness of thought and intention, that made all Maria Stromberg said and did, agreeable and welcome. I have never forgotten her; I wonder if she still lives! Wherever in God’s universe she now dwells, I hope she is happy, and still remembers me.

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On the last evening of my stay in Downham Market, Miss Berners asked me to walk with her in the garden, and while doing so, she told me she intended to remove her school to some London suburb. She thought probably to Richmond. I was glad to hear this. The thought of London was an enchantment, and I promised to come to her as soon as I could in any way help the settlement of the new home. We parted mutually pleased and hopeful, and the next morning I took a train for London, and from thence one direct to Kendal.

I had twenty pounds in my pocket book, and I felt that my ten months’ faithful work had given me a right to turn homeward, and then as soon as I did so, I was impatient of any delay. I found the whole family at tea, and how happily I joined the party, any one can imagine. I had so much to tell about the school, and was so proud that we were going to remove it to London. Downham Market had become almost contemptible, and I spoke of it as a dull, country village, where nothing ever happened but a horse or a cattle fair. After tea, Father went to his study, and I followed and laid the twenty sovereigns beside him.

“They are yours, dear Father,” I said. “I do not need them, and they will help Mary’s and Alethia’s school bills.”

He looked at them, and at me, and his eyes filled. “Milly! Milly!” he answered, “you are a good child, and I thank God for you, but you must keep your money; Father does not need it. You know about your Uncle Bell, do you not?”

“I know nothing of Uncle Bell, Father. I wrote to him once, but he never answered my letter.”

“Then I must tell you, that on the fifth of last February, your mother’s birthday, he called on Mother and gave her the row of cottages standing on Tenter Fell. Now, Milly, the income from there, just about balances the loss I made through that villain, Blackpool. So, my dear, we have enough, and even a little to spare; what more does a child of God want?” and as he spoke, he gently pushed the sovereigns towards me.

“No one told me about Uncle Bell,” I said. “I wish I had known.”

“I remember, we thought it best not to name it. You would 79 not have saved twenty pounds if you had known of the gift, and you might have missed some fine lessons, that only a sense of poverty teaches.”

I soon went back to Mother. I found her sitting quiet in the gloaming. I told her about the twenty pounds, and said, “Dear Mother, you and I will divide it. Will you take half?”

“I will take it gladly,” she answered. “There are so many little things a woman wants, that I do not like to ask Father for.”

“I know that, Mother,” I answered. “Have I not seen you alter the dressing of your hair, because you broke one of your side combs, and did not wish to trouble Father about a new pair. I can recall twenty things, that were a distress to you to want, and which you did without rather than——”

“Milly, that ten pounds puts all right. I shall get what I want out of it.”

“Did not Uncle Bell leave you some money, Mother?”

“Did Father tell you so?”

“Yes, he said it covered the loss he made. Now you will have a small income, Mother. Will it begin soon?”

“It began at once. The cottages were a gift. Father went the next morning and drew February’s rents.”

“How much did they amount to, Mother?”

“I do not know, Milly. He never told me. He has drawn them now for five months, but I have never seen a farthing of the money. I have felt sometimes, as if it would be pleasant—just to see it, and have it in my hands,” and the tears welled slowly into her soft brown eyes.

“But I do not understand,” I continued. “Father would not touch my money, yet he takes all of yours without leave or license. What does it mean?”

“It means that I am a wife. All I had, or might have, became your father’s as soon as I was his wife. You are yet a spinster, and have some rights in your own earnings.”

“But suppose you have no legal rights, all the more Father ought to give your every right. It is unkind, unjust, utterly contemptible!” I cried in something of a passion. “I am ashamed of Father!”

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“No! No! All men do as he does, and many do a great deal worse. Father has never seen, or heard of wives treated any differently. If he knew better, he would do better.”

“Then, Mother,” I said, “he ought to know better for he will not escape punishment on the plea of ignorance. I have often wondered why John Bunyan makes Ignorance go into hell by the back door. He is right. Such ignorance as you make an excuse for Father is a sneaking sin. It suits back doors. I would rather be a brazen thief, and go in swearing by the main entrance. Father ought to be told the truth, and you ought to ask for your money.”

“It is too late, Milly. Say no more. I have got so far through life without money. Until I was married, I had to go to my father for every shilling—since then, I have gone to your father. But I have ten pounds now. I never had as much money before, to spend as I liked. I feel quite rich.”

This conversation sunk into my soul. A great pity for this sweet, patient, penniless mother, suffering so unnoticed and uncomplaining the need of many womanly trifles, made me childishly angry. The next day I went to Father with “Pilgrim’s Progress” in my hand, and asked him what Bunyan meant “by putting Ignorance into hell in such an ignominious manner?” I followed this question with others, which made him look at me with a queer, thoughtful expression, and then relapse into a silence so marked, as to be virtually a dismissal.

It is a joy to me this day to remember that on this visit, I was able to do many little things for Mother which made life pleasanter to her; for Father was certainly much worse, and it appeared almost wrong to permit him to preach. Yet I could see that in the pulpit the spiritual man had not lost control; for the same lucid, telling sentences followed each other with a fiery eloquence, as in the past years. “Mr. Huddleston isn’t sick in the pulpit,” people would say as they walked thoughtfully home, from one of those last passionate exhortations.

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CHAPTER VII

OVER THE BORDER

“The latest Gospel is, know thy work, and do it.”

Late in August I had a letter from Miss Berners saying, she was now at home in Richmond, and wished me to come to her, as soon as I could. This summons to duty was pleasant, although I left home with a heavy heart. A presentiment of sorrow was on me, and I could not help following my soul back and forward, in endless ways of reminiscence and foreboding. About my father especially, I had a sort of sacred terror. And if any of my readers think that I was too much bound to my family, let me remind them that our families are the chief thing, except in societies like Lacedæmon, which went in for “efficiency” and righteously perished from the face of the earth. Father! Mother! Child! Is there any holier Trinity than this?

I arrived in Richmond after a hard day’s travel, late in the evening. It was almost dark when my cabman found the house in a rather out-of-the-way suburb. It did not jump to my eyes pleasantly, as did the house in Downham Market. It was a lonely place, and there was no sign of light or habitation about it. But Miss Berners welcomed me gladly, and as I drank a cup of tea beside her, she spoke to me of her prospects. They were far from hopeful, for only three of her old pupils were coming to Richmond.

“Miss Stokes has opened a school in my old home,” she said mournfully, “and the girls have just gone back there.”

“She was their principal teacher when you were there,” I answered.

“I know. It was very clever of her to step into my shoes, but I fear it will ruin me.”

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“It is a wonder you did not anticipate this move,” I ventured. “It was so natural.”

“It was very unkind and dishonorable, if that is natural,” she answered, nor was she able to see the matter in any other light.

It was an uncomfortable settling to work. The furniture of the old home did not look as if it belonged to this mournful relic of a once splendid mansion, and there ought to have been many things bought, which Miss Berners would not spend money for, while the result of her speculation was uncertain. For the new scholars came in so slowly, that I took on myself all the teaching there was to do, excepting French. The busy school, the public recitals and receptions, we had been promised, were very far off; and the days were set to notes of constant disappointment. The work was hard, for I taught individually; the school hours were lengthened, and music lessons were to be given when their work was over.

I was not happy, but I had a letter to deliver, which I believed would bring me a little change and pleasure; and on the second Sunday afternoon after the service in the Wesleyan Chapel was over, I waited for the preacher, who was the famous Dr. Farrar, and gave him the following note from my father:

Dear Brother Farrar,

My daughter Amelia is likely to be teaching in Richmond this winter. I know you will give her counsel, and show her kindness, if needed. Your brother in Christ,

William Henry Huddleston.

Dr. Farrar read the note with a pleasant countenance, and then smiled at me. “So you are Amelia?” he asked, and I answered, “Yes, sir.” Then he called three ladies who were standing a little apart, and said, “Esther, this is Amelia Huddleston. You remember my correspondence with her father, I am sure.”

“Oh, yes, about that weary Tractarian Movement. I remember it very well,” she answered, and then turning to me continued, “I am glad to see you, Amelia. Come home with 83 us, and spend the evening with my girls.” This was the beginning of a friendship that enabled me to endure cheerfully the weariness and monotony of my duties. For amid many outside annoyances I built silently on my trust in God, and I did my day’s work loyally.

Richmond was then, and may be yet, the seat of a great Wesleyan college for the preparation of young men for the ministry; and of this college Dr. Farrar was the principal. His family consisted of his wife and two lovely daughters, the eldest being just my own age. We were friends at once, our mutual knowledge of Mr. Punshon, forming an excellent basis for our intimacy. And after this introduction, I spent all my spare hours at Dr. Farrar’s, where I was always made freely welcome.

Joyful or sorrowful the days go by, and at the end of October we had eight pupils, but only three of these eight were boarders, and the great empty house that should have been full of youth and happiness, was a lonely anxious place. And it was at this time I heard that the sorrow so long expected had arrived. My father after preaching to a crowded chapel had hurried home, and fallen across the threshold in a strong, and not to be disputed epileptic fit. Then with heart-breaking reluctance, he had signed his resignation from the active ministry, and had seen another take his place. In great anguish he had prayed that this cup might pass from him; but, no, he had to drink it to the very dregs. Yet Mother wrote me, that he had not missed the vision of the comforting angel; for vision is the cup of strength only given in some great calamity.

I felt severely the grief that I knew filled every room in my home, but God had sent it, and He knew what was best. This trust was not a mere formula of words; it was a veritable and active faith with me. I trusted God. I leaned my child heart upon the everlasting Love of “our Father in heaven” and the days went on, and I did my work, and believed that all would come right.

Miss Berners’ affairs, however, grew every week worse and worse, and just before Christmas, I went into her room one morning, and found her lying on the bed weeping bitterly. She 84 opened her eyes, and looked sadly at me and I asked, “Is it worth while continuing the fight? You are growing thin and gray, and you have not gained a step.”

“O Amelia!” she answered, “I have made a great mistake.”

“Every day is making it worse. Why not stop it?”

“My expenses are double my income.”

“Then it is robbery to continue them.”

“What would you do? Tell me truly, Amelia.”

“I would close the school this very hour,” I answered. “I would tell those three Downham Market girls to pack their trunks, and send them home by the noon train. At nine o’clock I would send those five unhappy-looking day scholars home also. Give all you have to your creditors, and go home yourself, and rest awhile. Then you can doubtless retrieve this great mistake.”

“And what will you do, Amelia?” she asked.

“I do not know yet,” I answered. “I must think.”

After the Downham Market girls had been sent home, I went to my room and began to consider my own affairs. I remembered first, the loss in my father’s income. That was an irreparable loss. I thought of all the expenses incident to constant sickness in a house, of the education of Mary and Alethia, of the necessity of Jane’s presence to assist Mother and I said to myself, “You, Amelia, are the one person not needful, and you must in some way provide for yourself.” I opened my purse, and found I had fourteen shillings. How was I to provide for myself? I was a stranger in Richmond. I knew no one but the Farrars. Perhaps Mr. Farrar might—and then I tried to imagine what Mr. Farrar might do for me. I thought until my head burned, but thank God! there was no fear in my thoughts. That paltering, faltering element, was not among my natural enemies. Far from it, I found something magnetic in extremities. If I was ever indifferent to events, it was because they were only moderate. To possess my soul in patience was a difficulty; to possess it in resistance and struggle was more natural, and more agreeable.

I bathed my hot head and face, and then did what I ought to have done at first—I went to my Father in heaven, and 85 told Him all my sorrow and perplexity. And as I talked with Him, tears like a soft rain fell upon my prayer, and I rose up full of strength and comfort, whispering as I dressed myself for the street, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? The Lord is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I went quickly to Dr. Farrar, and I found him at home; then without hesitation I told him all that troubled me. He answered, “You are right, Amelia, and I can find work for you, if you are not too proud to take it.”

“Pride has nothing to do with my duty,” I replied.

“Then listen,” he continued. “You must have noticed that during the last ten years there has been a tremendous output of national energy and wealth for the education of the lower classes. National schools, and Bell and Lancaster schools, are going up all over England; and we Wesleyans, could not sit still when all other churches were working. Indeed we are going to build a school in all towns where the chapel membership is able to support one.”

“I believe there is such a school in Kendal,” I said.

“Our wisest men have decided, that a certain form of teaching called the Stowe method, will be best for the class of children we wish to reach; and this method is taught in the Normal School at Glasgow, where we have now nearly forty young men and women studying it. Now, Amelia, if you will go to Glasgow to learn this method, I will promise you a good school, and a good salary, and you could bring your father and mother to wherever you are located, and make your homes together.”

Then with the daring decision of young fresh faculties, I cried out, “O Dr. Farrar! I should like that better than anything else.”

“The children may be mostly poor children,” he added.

“I used to long to be a missionary. I can call it a mission work. Oh, I should enjoy it! But—” and I looked doubtfully at him—“but this course of instruction, will it cost much money?” I asked.

“Our Board of Education will look after that,” he answered. 86 “They pay the Normal School so much for every pupil, and they will also give you one pound every week for your rooms and food. You can live on that, I should say?”

“Very well indeed.”

“The Board will also allow you five pounds for traveling expenses, but——”

“Yes, Dr. Farrar, but what?”

“When you have won your diploma, and have been appointed to a school, the Board will expect you to gradually pay back what it spends for your education.”

“That is right,” I answered. “I should like to pay it back, but if I should die, would my father have to pay it for me?”

“No, no, child! Death pays all debts. You are more likely to marry, than to die.”

“And what then, Doctor?”

“If you marry well, the Board will not count its loss in your gain.”

We talked over this subject thoroughly, and I assured him of my perfect satisfaction, and even pleasure, in the proposition. “If that is so,” he said, “go and pack your trunk, take it in the morning to the Easton Square Railway Station, and leave it in the baggage room; then come to me at this address,” and he wrote a few lines for my direction. “The Board meets there to-morrow at ten o’clock to examine applicants, and you will be questioned a little, no doubt, but I think they will not puzzle you.”

“Not unless they are grammarians, and ask me to parse a sentence.”

As I was leaving he asked, “Have you money enough to take you to London?”

“I have fourteen shillings,” I said. “Miss Berners can give me nothing.”

“Fourteen shillings is enough. The rest of your traveling expenses will be provided.”

So I went back to the defunct school, and packed my clothes, and helped Miss Berners to pack all her personal belongings. We talked very little. The past was done with, the future 87 uncertain, but she promised to send the money due me to my mother as soon as she saw her friends in Reading.

“Will you remain in Reading?” I asked.

“No!” she answered. “I will take passage on a good ship, that intends to be at sea for a year, or more. I wish to be where I can never get a bill, or a dunning letter, or hear the postman’s knock.”

We rose early in the morning, and had a hurried cup of coffee and then said good-bye. It was an uneasy and uncomfortable parting, and I was astonished that I could not feel any regret in it. There was only a sense of something finished and done with, and I believe Miss Berners forgot me, as soon as my cab was out of sight. But within a week she sent the money owing me, and said she was going to Louisiana. At that time Louisiana was as little known to the average Englishman or woman, as Timbuctoo. We asked a young man who had been shooting game in Canada, “Where is Louisiana?” and he answered, “It is one of the West Indian Islands, belonging to France.” Then I reflected that Miss Berners spoke French pretty well, and could probably take care of herself.

I left my luggage as directed by Dr. Farrar, and went to the Wesleyan Board of Education. It had begun to rain by this time, and the place looked mean and unhappy. But there was a good fire in the small waiting-room, and three young men, and one young woman already there. For a moment I had a sickening terror of what I was doing, but I quickly put my foot upon it. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” I asked almost angrily, and my soul knew better than to shirk, or shrink before that question.

All was more favorable than I expected. Dr. Farrar had evidently spoken to the Board, which consisted of six or eight nice, clerical old gentlemen. Probably all of them had daughters of their own, for they were very kind, and before considering my case, spoke in the most sympathetic manner of my father’s affliction. Every one had some pleasant memory of him, or some particular message to send. And they were so cheerful, that I looked into the faces of my inquisitors with confiding smiles. Upon the whole, the examination was an easy one, and 88 nobody named grammar. I came off with flying colors, and I really think the Board believed themselves to have secured an unusually bright and clever teacher. There was nothing more to do, except sign a paper enrolling myself among the Wesleyan pupils at the Glasgow Normal School, which paper also contained the Board’s obligation to pay me one pound weekly. My traveling expenses were given to me in hand, and then I bid all good morning, feeling truly in my heart the sweetest and strongest gratitude, for their kindness towards me.

I got a train for Kendal about one o’clock, but did not arrive there until late. The door had been locked, and Mother unlocked it with such a joyful cry of “Milly! Milly! Milly!” as brought every one to meet me. I shall never forget that home-coming. Father came down stairs again, the fire was rebuilt, and a nice little meal prepared, while Jane, Mary and Alethia hung round me as if I had been lost and found again.

The best part of that happy meeting was the pleasure it gave Father to hear of the sympathy and praise, that had followed the mention of his name to the Board of Education. I repeated every pleasant word twice over. He did not ask me to do so, but I knew the friendly messages were the sweetest music in his ears. And when I finally told them I was going to Glasgow, Father said,

“It is a Providence, Milly! I had a letter not a month ago from my old friend John Humphreys, who is now Collector of Excise for the port of Glasgow. Either he, or Mrs. Humphreys, will look for proper rooms for you. They will know just what you want.”

The letter to the Humphreys asking this favor was written at once, and in four days we received something like the following answer to it:

Dear William,

We have rented your daughter a parlor and bedroom with the sister of my grocer. His shop is in Sauchiehall Street, and they live above it. They are most respectable people, and have no other boarders. It is also near the school. She will be very comfortable there. Let us know exactly when she is coming, and 89 either Mrs. Humphreys or I will meet her train, and see her safely housed.

Your true friend,

John Humphreys.

Then it was decided I should go to Glasgow on the third of January, 1849, by the ten o’clock morning train, which would allow me to reach my destination before it was dark. Until that day I rested myself body and soul in the sweetest influences of love and home, and when the third of January came, I was full of new strength and new hope, and ready for whatever had been appointed to happen unto me.

My dear mother went with me as far as Penrith. She intended to visit my brother Willie’s grave, and perhaps spend a night with her friend, Mrs. Lowther. Fortunately we had the railway carriage to ourselves and, oh, how sweet were the confidences that made that two hours’ drive ever memorable to me! At Penrith we parted. Penrith is a mile or more from the Caledonian Line, but there were vehicles there to meet the train, and I watched Mother pass from my sight with smiles, and the pleasant flutter of her handkerchief.

Then by a real physical effort I cast off the influences I had indulged for a week, and began to allow my nature to imbibe the strength of the hills through which I was passing—hills beyond hills, from blue to gray—hills sweeping round the horizon like a great host at rest. Down their sides the living waters came dancing and glancing, and, oh, but the lift of His hills, and the waft of His wings, filled my heart with joy and strength. Now and then we passed a small stone house, rude and simple, with a moorland air, and I felt that the pretty English cottages with their thatched roofs and blooming gardens, would have been out of place in the silent spaces of these mountain solitudes.

It grew very cold as we neared Carlisle. Every one I saw was buttoned-up and great-coated, and I was sensible of as great a change in humanity as in nature. I had missed all the way from Kendal the workingman’s paper cap, the distinctive badge of labor in those days. If there were workingmen 90 around Carlisle they did not wear it. All the men I saw wore large caps of heavy blue flannel, sometimes bordered with red—an ugly head-gear, but apparently just the thing wanted by the big, bony men who had adopted it. I saw a crowd of them at Gretna Green, where a woman got into the train, and rode with me as far as Ecclefechan. She was not a pleasant woman, but I asked her about this big blue cap, and with a look of contempt for my ignorance, she answered, “They are just the lad’s bonnets. Every one wears them. Where do you come from?”

“London,” I replied with an “air.”

“Ay, I thought so. You’re a queer one, not to know a blue bonnet, when you see it.”

Then I had the clue to a dashing, stirring song which had always puzzled me a little, “All the Blue Bonnets are over the Border.” It meant, that these blue-bonneted giants, were over the English border, raiding and harrying the shepherds and farmers of the northern counties. And I smiled to myself, as I remembered the kind of welcome always waiting for them, whenever the slogan passed from fell to fell:

“Cumberland hot,

Westmoreland hot,

Prod the Scot!

For all the blue bonnets are over the Border!”

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CHAPTER VIII

LOVE IS DESTINY

“Love is the secret of life. Love redeemeth. Love lifts up. Love enlightens. Love advances the soul. Love hath everlasting remembrance. Love is a ransom, and the tears thereof are a prayer. Oh, little Soul, if rich in Love thou art mighty.

“Love is Destiny. The heart is its own fate.”

In the cold, hard light of the winter afternoon, we reached Glasgow; entering the city by the Buchanan Street Station. I stepped quickly out of the carriage, and saw Mr. Humphreys looking for me. He was about fifty-six years old, tall, and rather stout, with a pleasant face, and snow-white hair. I walked towards him, and the moment he saw me, he smiled, and nodded his head.

“I was looking in the first-class carriages,” he said.

“I was in the second-class,” I answered. “I could not waste money on the first, just for a short ride.” Then he laughed, and, clasping my hand, asked, “How many trunks have you?”

“One,” I answered.

“Any parcels, valises, or bandboxes?”

“Nothing of the sort.”

“I never heard the like. What kind of a girl are you? Stand right here until I bring a carriage; then I will take both you, and your one trunk, to Miss Pollock’s.”

In a few minutes he came with a carriage, and we were driven rapidly up Sauchiehall Street, until we came to an Arcade. Here we stopped, and, as there was a large grocer’s shop there, I knew it was at the end of my journey.

“Pollock,” said Mr. Humphreys, “let a couple of your big lads carry Miss Huddleston’s trunk upstairs;” and then I was introduced, and told Miss Pollock had been looking for me, and my rooms were ready and comfortable.

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I thought I would go through the shop, but no, Mr. Humphreys took me to a stone stairway in the Arcade—a stairway pipe-clayed white as snow—and, after climbing three flights, I saw an open front door and a nice-looking woman, about forty years old, waiting to receive me. Mr. Humphreys would not go into the house, but told me to be dressed at five o’clock the next day. “Mrs. Humphreys wishes you to dine with us,” he said, “and we shall also have a few friends, so you must make yourself smart. Five o’clock!”

Then I heard him going rapidly down the stairway, and I turned to Miss Pollock with a smile. She took me into a little parlor, plainly furnished, but clean and neat. There was a bright fire in the grate, and a small, round table, set for one person, before it. She brought me tea and lamb chops, and some orange marmalade, and delicious rolls, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The next morning I unpacked my trunk, put my clothing in convenient places, and took my books into the parlor. I had a silver lamp that Miss Berners gave me, and many pretty little knick-knacks, and I was delighted with my sitting-room, when I had arranged these ornaments.

At four o’clock I had a cup of tea, and then dressed myself in readiness for Mr. Humphreys’ call. I was a little at a loss to know how to dress, but white could not be out of place on a girl, so I put on a white lustrous alpaca, trimmed with narrow bands of white satin. My hair was well and becomingly arranged, and I had my satin slippers, and long, white, lace mitts, in a bag over my arm. I thought I looked very pretty, and Mr. Humphreys said so, as he gave me a fresh camilla to pin in front of my dress.

As I entered the Humphreys’ house Mrs. Humphreys gave me a hearty welcome, and, as soon as I was ready, introduced me to a number of middle-aged ladies and gentlemen, who were sitting or walking about in the large parlors. I wondered at seeing no young people, but every one was so kind, I never thought of disappointment. I was particularly attracted by a Mrs. Semple, a tall, dark woman, with unmistakable signs of having been a great beauty. The moment I was introduced to her, she said,

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“You can leave the lassie wi’ me, Mistress Humphreys. I’ll make her as wise as mysel’ anent the notables in the room. I’m feared there’s few to brag about, but there’s nae use in letting strangers ken we’re just common folk.”

In pursuance of this intention, she said, as I was seated beside her, “Look at Peter McIntosh. Do you see the man?”

“I do not know him,” I answered.

“Then I’ll make you acquaint. Peter is a good man to know, and his wife is weel worthy o’ him. Peter is a notable shoemaker. He makes shoes by the thousands, and sends them to America for sale.”

“Really?”

“Yes. His factory is in the Goose Dubs. He’ll take you to see it willingly. Ship loads o’ his shoes go to the Yankees, but they are getting on to his ways, and he had better make shoes while he can, for they’ll beat him at his own game soon. The little body in violet silk is his wife; she is aye trotting after him. How long have you known John Humphreys?”

“A few hours, but he is an old friend of my father’s.”

“Weel, that’s a fine beginning. John is another Glasgow notable. He’s only an exciseman, if you come dawn to facts, but they ca’ him a Supervisor. It’s a grand place for John, and he fills it wi’ great credit to himsel’. The big man he is talking to is called Sage. His wife hasna’ ta’en her e’en off you since you came into the room. She’ll be telling hersel’ that you will make a braw wife for her son Alick. Alick will be here anon. Tak’ care, or you’ll lose your heart to him. Thanks be! there’s the dinner bell at the last, but it is three minutes past ordered time. Annie Humphreys ought to be reprimanded—only her husband daurna do it,” and she lifted her long velvet train, and took Mr. Sage’s arm as she expressed this opinion.

I never was at such a dinner before, and I never saw such dinners outside of Scotland. I do not remember a thing we had to eat, except ice cream, and, as it was the first time I ever saw, or tasted ice cream, there is no wonder it has a place in my memory. It was a lingering pleasure of food eaten with constant merriment that charmed me. Then, when there was 94 nothing on the shining mahogany but the nuts and fruits and the big toddy bowl, then, indeed, if it was not the feast of reason, it was the flow of soul. Song followed song, and story followed story. At first the songs were comic, such as the “Laird o’ Cockpen,” or “O Johnnie Cope, Are You Waking Yet?”, but, as the music opened their hearts, these easily passed into the most passionate national songs; and, in an hour, there were only sentimental Scotchmen present. Every one was then tearful about Prince Charlie. Two generations previously, the dinner would have been broken up as a Jacobite meeting. But, oh, how I enjoyed it! A little later I said so to Mrs. Semple, and she answered,

“Dinna delude yoursel’ anent thae men wiping their eyes, as they sing, they are only specimens of the after-dinner Scot.”

“They are full of patriotic feeling,” I said.

“To be sure, after dark, and over the toddy, but they have been in Union Street, and Buchanan Street, Virginia Street, and the Cowcaddens all day long, doing what? Getting their shilling’s worth for their shilling, ay, their farthing’s worth for their farthing. Where was their patriotism then? Wait till the Sawbath Day, and I’ll show you the Scot who is a Son of the Covenant, and who wouldn’t lose his soul—on that occasion—for the whole world.”

Just as she said these words, she rose hurriedly to her feet, crying pleasantly, “There’s my Willie! We’ll hae the dancing now,” and immediately a bevy of girls and young men pushed aside the portières, and curtsied to the company. Then the elder men and women went into the out-of-the-way corners, and played “Catch the Ten” or “Bagatelle,” though some men of fifty years old, or even more, danced with great spirit in the national reels and strathspeys. I danced once with Mr. Humphreys, and was stepping a pretty measure with Mrs. Semple’s Willie, when Mrs. Sage’s son, Alick, entered. Immediately I caught his look of pleasure and admiration, and something I knew not what, passed between us, so that, when he was introduced to me, we both felt it to be a supernumerary ceremony.

I have been a little diffuse concerning this dinner, because it 95 represented fairly the household hospitality of that time. I dare say that they have a more stylish mode now, but I doubt if, with the elegant restraint of later days, they have preserved the old delightful flow of song and story, and that intense national spirit, which made one involuntarily listen for the bagpipes, though the music was all in the imagination. Many such entertainments I went to that winter; always on Saturday nights to the McIntoshes’, where there was sure to be a boiled turkey stuffed with oysters and served with oyster sauce. In another house, to which I went frequently, they had roast turkey stuffed with plum pudding, and an old negro cook in Texas told me his old master always had his turkeys stuffed in the latter way. If any one thinks it could not be good, I advise them just to try the recipe.

The two following days being Saturday and Sunday I rested, looked over my clothing, and wrote long letters home. I also wrote Dr. Farrar, and told him how comfortably all had been arranged for me. I was a little nervous about my entry into the Normal School, but when Monday morning came, I was ready for what it demanded, and more curious than frightened. It was a foggy morning, and the big building amid the small, poor buildings around it, loomed up gray and forbidding in its bare black yard, where a lot of children were trying to be playful, in the most discouraging surroundings. The janitor took me to the recitation hall, opened the door, and left me. There were groups of men and groups of women standing about, talking in an unconstrained way; others sat alone on the benches of the great gallery, which rose, bench above bench, nearly to the ceiling. No one spoke to me, and I sat down and looked curiously at the women, who could be guilty of such unkindness. I am sure many of them wished to speak, but did not know how to take the initiative. If they would only have trusted their hearts, and said a word of welcome, they need not have feared they were breaking any social law. Kindness is always fashionable, and always welcome.

In a few minutes an exceedingly tall, fair, thin man slowly entered, and every one went instantly to their places. I presented to him Dr. Farrar’s letter of introduction, and he threw 96 it on a small table, and said irritably, “Third row, left corner.” Somehow I walked straight to the place indicated.

I am not going to describe this school, or the method of teaching used there. I have but an imperfect remembrance of all concerning it, and the system is likely superseded long ago by something better. Yet, I was much interested in the hall recitations and exercises; and the teaching of men and women together, on the basis of perfect mental equality, was then a great novelty, and far from being universally approved. My own impression was that in every department the women excelled the male students. Certainly Professor Hyslop appeared to think so, and to please himself hugely and frequently, by illustrations of the fact.

During my first hour in that room, I saw him call a young man to the blackboard, and give him an algebraic problem to solve. He failed completely. Another young man was called, and also failed. Then the Professor said, with an air of assurance, “Miss Grace Laing,” and a girl of about eighteen stepped lightly forward, made a few figures, and, to me, cabalistic signs. The Professor’s face brightened, and he said decidedly, “correct,” and Miss Grace Laing walked back to her place. The men, however, were not ungenerous, for a half-audible murmur of admiration followed the Professor’s verdict of “correct.”

The theological lessons were exceedingly interesting, for theology touches the average Scot on both his weakest and strongest side, and a barely veiled dispute was always lingering between the Calvinistic and Arminian students. Every lesson, however, in that school turned to argument; the system provoked it, and was intended to do so.

I liked the life at the school, but very early felt within myself that it was only a stepping-stone to my real destiny; and the remembrance we give to stepping-stones, is washed out by every other tide. But I did all my duty and enjoyed doing it, so the days were full of pleasant work, the evenings of pleasant company, and the time went swiftly by, though it left none of those sharp, indelible etchings on memory which direct personality gives. I was in a crowd there, and all my recollections of the place are evasive and uncertain.

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With the advent of June I began to look forward to home and home influences; then I received an invitation to join an excursion party, going with Captain Scott on his own steamer to “Fife and all the lands about it,” north as far as St. Andrews, and then further north, even to the Orkneys and Shetland Islands. I could not bear to think of missing such an opportunity, and I wrote Dr. Farrar and asked him to obtain liberty for me to accept the invitation. He sent me a kind permission to do so, saying he had no doubt many would afterward see the places I visited through my eyes. And, as I have written “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” “A Daughter of Fife,” “Prisoners of Conscience,” “Paul and Christina,” “Thyra Varrick,” “Sheila Vedder,” “The Heart of Jessie Laurie,” and so forth, from material and impressions gathered on this voyage, Dr. Farrar’s estimate has brought forth fruit a thousand-fold. I need not enter into details here: the above books will amply reveal to their readers the noble men and women of “the ancient kingdom,” and of the Ultima Thule of the Shetlands.

When the trip was over I did not return to Glasgow; we landed at Leith, and from Edinburgh I got a train direct to Kendal, where I arrived about tea time. I found all better than I expected. My father had assumed the duty of visiting the poor and the sick in their affliction, of comforting the broken in heart, and of going as far as a mortal man may go with the dying. Mother thought he was happy in his self-imposed charge, but he must have had terrible hours among the books he no longer used; for he was only fifty-five years old at this time, and still retained much physical strength and beauty.

I had two weeks of perfect peace and happiness, and then, just as I was thinking of returning to Glasgow, I received a letter from Mrs. Humphreys, telling me that the government had removed Mr. Humphreys to Liverpool, and that they were on the point of leaving for that city. She said further, that she had had a conversation with Mrs. Semple about me, and that Mrs. Semple was anxious I should stay with her; she pointed out the advantages of living in such respectable care and surroundings, and urged me to accept Mrs. Semple’s offer.

Here was another stepping-stone towards destiny: where 98 would it lead me? Mrs. Semple had a large circle of friends, and entertained and went out frequently. I should meet at her house a different class of people; traders, perhaps, but traders with gentry behind them; ministers, lawyers, and men who had to do with books and literature, and doubtless women who might be more stylish, and perhaps less kind, than Mrs. Humphreys or Mrs. McIntosh. It looked pleasant enough in prospect, and, I may as well say, it proved pleasant enough in reality.

I found, on my return to Glasgow, that Miss Pollock and her brother were on their way to Australia; then, my course being quite clear, I went to Mrs. Semple. She received me joyfully, and at first would not hear of my paying a farthing for my board; but I soon convinced her that she would have to take the sum it had cost me to live with Miss Pollock. Of course, even then, I had greatly the best of the bargain—handsome rooms to dwell in, an excellent table, and ready sympathy in all my perplexities, likes and dislikes. In a way I made the balance more even by giving to my hostess those little helps and personal attentions I would have given to my mother, if in her place, and we were mutually pleased and satisfied.

When I returned to the school, Professor Hyslop looked glumly at me, and hoped I had “enough of stravaging,” and was ready to attend to my duty. I assured him I was glad to do so, but I was not glad in my heart. A kind of dissatisfaction lurked in all my plans. I wanted, I knew not what. I worked steadily, but with a kind of eager looking forward to something beyond the work.

One morning Mrs. Semple and I were eating a luxurious little breakfast. The sunshine and the fresh air came in through the open window, and some working men were going up West Regent Street, whistling delightfully. I was happy, but thoughtful, and Mrs. Semple said, “You’re thinking lessons, and that isna in our bargain—lovers would be mair wise-like. What did you dream last night?”

“Why,” I answered, “I had a singular dream. I was thinking about it, when you said lessons.”

“Tell me, then.”


Mrs. Barr at 18

“I dreamed of going into a large warehouse, full to the roof 99 of bundles of gray and white wool. Many men were at desks writing, but no one spoke, and I walked forward, until I came to a door covered with green baize, and pushed it open. Then a young man, who sat writing at a handsome desk, turned and looked at me, saying in a pleasant, authoritative way, ‘Come in, Milly. I have been waiting for you.’ The dream passed away as he spoke.”

“What kind of a young man? Handsome?”

“Yes, very handsome. He was dressed in a suit of shepherd tartan.”

“That is likely enough. Every other man you meet, is wearing shepherd tartan. It is precious few that look decent in it.”

“My dream-man looked well in it.”

“A red or green necktie with it, of course.”

“No, a black one.”

“Wonderful! It is either red or green wi’ most men. My Willie would have naething but white. He thinks he looks ministerial in the black and white, and he is trying to behave accordingly. You must have noticed him?”

“Yes, I have. Perhaps Willie’s dress gave me my queer dream.”

“Reason the dream awa’, of course. That’s what fools do wi’ a dream. I think you dreamed of the man who will be your husband.”

“Then,” I said, “my husband is not among the men I know. I never saw the young man of my dream before.”

“There’s few people in town yet,” explained Mrs. Semple. “They are at Arran, or Bute, or somewhere down the water. It will be September ere they get back to Glasgow.” At these words she lifted the morning paper, but in a few moments threw it down in great excitement, crying, “Milly! Milly! the Queen, and Prince Albert, and the Prince o’ Wales are coming to Glasgow; every blessed wife, and mother, and maid, will be here to see the Royalties. We, also, we must see them! We must hae a window; some one must get one for us!”

“Do you know any one who can?”

“Yes. When you come back from school, we will go and ask him.”

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“Need I go?”

“I’ll not go a step wanting you.”

So I came home without delay, put on a clean white frock, and went with Mrs. Semple to a street called Virginia Street. The warehouse we entered was so old that the stone steps at its entrance were nearly worn away. A kind of porter stood at the door, and Mrs. Semple told him she wished to see his master. He led us through a long room piled to the ceiling with bundles of wool, and through a green baize door into a handsome office, where the young man of my dream sat writing.

He turned as we entered, and Mrs. Semple said, “Weel, Robert, how’s a’ with you?”

For a moment he did not answer. He was looking at me—perhaps expecting an introduction, but his smiling face appeared to be saying, just the words I heard in my sleep, “Come in, Milly! I have been waiting for you.”

Really what he said was an effusive welcome to Mrs. Semple, and a polite offer of his chair to me. It was a large office chair, but I took it; after a little while he asked me if I was comfortable, and then laughing lowly added, “Now I shall forever dream dreams in that chair.”

“Weel,” answered Mrs. Semple, “maybe the dreams will come true.” Then she explained the reason for our call, magnifying very much my desire to see the Queen. And Mr. Barr assured her there would be tickets for a good window at her house before nine o’clock that night, if it was possible to get them. It was a pleasant call, a fateful call, for I knew I had met the man whose fate—good or bad—I must share. A feeling of deep sadness overcame me. I said I was sick, lay down on my bed, and fell into a deep sleep.

Before nine o’clock Mr. Barr brought the tickets, and, on the day appointed, went with us to see what there was to see. It was not much. Her Majesty disappointed me. Prince Albert was not as handsome as his pictures represented him to be, and the Prince of Wales was in a bad temper, and showed it as plainly as a boy nine years old could do. The Queen wore a royal Stuart tartan shawl; it was heavy and cumbersome, and she looked ungraceful in it. But this bit of sightseeing was 101 the beginning of a new order of things. My life took a turn then and there, and, as I look back, I could weep at the memory of that fateful royal visit; but through the years that hour had been fixed, and the dormant love in my soul needed but a look to awaken it.

Until the New Year Mr. Barr was all the most devoted lover could be, then there was a pause in his attentions. It would be folly to say I did not care. I did care. I went about my duties with a heavy heart. “It is his mother,” said Mrs. Semple. “She is a hard, old soul, and she wouldna be willing for Robert to marry an angel from heaven, if she hadna plenty o’ siller. Forbye, you are English and an Arminian, when you should be a Calvinist, and, worse than that, you are over-educated.”

“I thought the Scotch believed in education.”

“They do—for men—not for women. They prefer them to watch cheese parings and candle-ends. It doesna need an educated woman to sweep, and darn, and cook, and save a farthing, wherever it can be saved.”

One evening in February Mr. Barr called. He said he had been “on a long business journey through the West Riding,” and those two words softened my heart, and we began to talk of some mutual acquaintance there. Then, before he knew it, without his will or effort, love broke into audible words. It was the healing love, the comforting love, and one little word, and one long kiss, made all things fast and sure. But that night I knew the old troubler and heartache of the world had me in his power, and would have, until life with all its troubles and heartaches was over.


I had told Robert that the first thing was to get my father’s and my mother’s consent to our marriage, and he went to Kendal the following day for this purpose, arriving there about four in the afternoon. Father was out visiting the sick, Mary and Alethia were at school, and Jane had been recently married, and had gone to live in Manchester. Mother was making some school pinafores for Alethia, and Robert’s knock did not interest her at all. Lots of people in those days came after Mr. Huddleston, and she thought it was some case of sickness or trouble. 102 But when the girl opened the parlor door and Robert entered she was astonished. However, my name and the letter he brought from me put him at once in Mother’s favor, and in a few minutes he was telling her how dear I was to him, and that I had promised to be his wife in July, if my father and mother approved it. He stayed to tea with my parents, and had a long conversation with them, and they were thoroughly satisfied that I had chosen well and wisely. As if I had had any choice in the matter! The event had been destined, even when I was born, and Robert Barr only a lad of seven years old.

In my mother’s letter to me on the subject, she said, “I will tell you something, Milly, that I suspect neither Mr. Barr nor your father will tell you, yet you will be glad to know it, and you ought to know it. It is this. Your father told Mr. Barr about your indebtedness to the school board, and Mr. Barr asked how much it was. When Father said he thought about seventy pounds, Mr. Barr laughed, and answered, ‘Suppose, Father, we sent a donation of two hundred pounds to the school board. Won’t that be best?’ Then Father laughed, and Mr. Barr took from his valise a small book, and wrote a check for two hundred pounds, asking Father to send it the next day, which Father did.”

In this letter I was urged to come home at once, and so I went next day to the school to remove my name from the list of Wesleyan students. Professor Hyslop looked angrily at me.

“You will get no diploma,” he said.

“I am going to be married, sir,” I answered.

“I have heard—I have heard!” he continued, “and I think a marriage certificate will be the best diploma for you—Reverend Dr. Barr’s son, is it not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, Miss, where will your Arminianism be? You will become a Calvinist!” And, with this Parthian fling, he left the room so quickly I had no opportunity for a denial.

After this event I returned home, and the days went by in a dream of happiness. Robert came every Friday or Saturday to Kendal, and we rode over to Windermere, if it was fine weather, and strolled about its laurel woods, whispering to each 103 other those words which lovers have always said, and always will say, even till time shall be no more—unless, the march of what is called “progress and efficiency” put love out of the question altogether. It was a wooing that fitted wonderfully into my happy girlhood, blending itself with my childhood’s memories, with the wind and the sun, and the mountains and lakes I loved. And I took with a grateful heart the joy sent me—a joy glorified by all the enchanting glamours and extravagant hopes of youth and love. It was always the old antiphony of love:

“I love you, sweet, how can you ever learn

How much I love you?” “You I love even so,

And so I learn it.” “Sweet, you cannot know

How fair you are.” “If fair enough to earn

Your love, so much is all my love’s concern.”

“My love grows hourly sweet.” “Mine, too, doth grow,

Yet love seemed full so many hours ago.”

Thus lovers speak.—Rossetti.

If the weather was wet we discussed damasks and cretons and books about furniture, which Robert brought with him every week—the colors to be dominant in various rooms—and every trifle of housekeeping; and were as happy as birds building their first nest. Or, I showed any new addition to my wardrobe, about which I had been very fortunate. For it happened that thirty years previously my mother’s uncle had spent four years in Glasgow, and had been very happy there; so he was pleased I was going to marry a Glasgow man. When he met Robert he liked him, and he liked me “for choosing so fine a fellow,” and as a reward gave me a hundred pounds to buy things for the wedding. I went to Bradford for a couple of weeks, had my wedding frock made there, and brought home with me alpacas and mozambiques, baréges and chantilly muslins, and lots of other pretty things. But what pleased me more than anything were the full sets of ready-made underclothing which Mrs. Humphreys sent. I had never even heard of ready-made clothing, and I was delighted with the beautifully trimmed slips and gowns, and so forth, which far exceeded anything I 104 had ever seen. Indeed they were talked about so much that many Kendal ladies asked to look at them.

My sister Jane had married quietly, almost secretly, only my father and sisters and a friend of the groom being present; but Robert would hear of no such privacy. He wished the whole town to witness his happiness, and I was not averse to his desire. So the dawn of our wedding-day, the eleventh of July, 1850, was ushered in by the beautiful chimes of Kendal church, and the ringers, being well paid, marked, every hour of the day by a carillon until night covered the earth. The ceremony was nine o’clock in the morning, but the church was full, and the sidewalks full, and every one had a smile and a good wish for us.

Robert looked exceedingly handsome, and his sister and brother-in-lave, David Colville, the great iron and steel manufacturer of Glasgow, were at his side. I had only one bridesmaid, a lovely Yorkshire girl, who had been my playmate in childhood. Robert had one attendant also, a young Scot, called James Sinclair. I wore the usual white satin dress consecrated to brides, but it was not made as bridal dresses are made now. It was of ordinary length, and had three deep ruffles of lace on the skirt. A small polka jacket—they were just coming in then—made of white lace, and trimmed with white satin, covered my neck and arms, and a very small bonnet of white lace, trimmed with orange flowers, was on my head. My sandals were of white satin, and my gloves of white kid, but I had no veil. I walked to the altar on my father’s arm; I left it leaning on my husband’s. That seems but a small change, but it typified the wrench of life and destiny. For that hour had broken the continuity of life. I could never! never! go back to where I stood before it.

There was a pretty wedding breakfast at my father’s house, where everything was profusely adorned with large white pansies; for, in Kendal there was, and likely yet is, a miraculous profusion and perfection of this exquisite flower in July and August. My father blessed the breakfast, which was happily and leisurely taken, then Robert glanced at me, and I went upstairs to put on a pale blue dress, a white silk India shawl, and 105 a little bonnet trimmed with blue flowers. The shawl was of wonderful beauty and of great value, but what girl of nineteen would now wear a shawl? Yet, it was far from unbecoming, and it shared my fortunes in a remarkable manner.

It was considered proper and elegant in those days for brides to show great emotion, and even to weep as they left their home and father and mother. I could not do so. I loved my home and my kindred with a deep and strong attachment, but I knew from that moment when I first saw the man who was now my husband that, among the souls allied to mine, he was of

“... nearer kindred than life hinted of;

Born with me somewhere that men forget,

And though in years of sight and sound unmet,

Known for my soul’s birth-partner well enough.”

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CHAPTER IX

THE HOME MADE DESOLATE

“There is a warm impression, an instinctive sagacity, by which we anticipate future events.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Life is filled with issues.”

With renunciation life begins. For nineteen years I had been a receiver: I was now to learn the grace of surrender, and of giving up. I was to drink the cup of pain, and to go through the valley of humiliation. As far as my home and kindred were concerned, we had counted the price together, and accepted the inevitable toll of marriage, understanding well, that marriage, as well as death, makes barren our lives. This fact was soon illustrated by the attitude assumed by my old friends in Glasgow. I thought I should be treated even with additional éclat, and they had apparently cut me out of their lives. I met Mrs. Sage one morning, soon after my return from my wedding journey, and greeted her with glad excitement. She was polite, but restrained, and when I asked her to call on me, regretted she had no time. The girls were going off to school, and her son Alick was going to Australia as representative of the Western Bank of Scotland. She gave me this information with a great deal of pride, and just a tone of resentment, then said, “Good morning,” and virtually passed out of my life.

I was much troubled by her behavior for a week, then I went one morning to Campbell’s for some muslin, and there I saw Mrs. McIntosh. She was such a good-hearted, sweet-tempered soul, I never doubted her kindness; but she, also, was changed. Civil, of course, but she never once spoke of their Saturday evenings, or asked, “When are you coming to see us?” I told Robert of these meetings, and he smiled and said that the behavior of my friends was quite natural. I was no longer available 107 for young parties. I was out of the race, as it were, and my presence among the youths and girls was restraining and unpleasant to them. “You will have to be contented with the married women, now, Milly, and I think the girls are glad of your absence.” That was all his comment, and he did not seem to think it a matter of any importance.

Now I had always held my own with the girls—with the married women it was different. I thought them cold and critical, and, unfortunately, I gave them plenty of opportunities for criticism. I was ignorant of many things that were only to be learned by years of social experience, unless one was to the manner born. My dress, though handsome and becoming, was not like unto theirs, and I was innocently, but constantly, offending some national feeling or tradition. Thus, when I went to Campbleton to pay a week’s visit to my sister-in-law, I wore at a special entertainment a satin gown of the Royal Stuart tartan. I thought I was paying Scotland a compliment, but I could hardly have done anything more offensive to every Campbell in Campbleton. They could not believe any one was so densely ignorant, as not to know that the Campbells hated the Stuarts. To the local dominie I was an ignoramus, because I was not familiar with the smallest fact regarding the Great Disruption, and the founding of the Free Kirk. He wondered where I had been born, “not to have heard of Chalmers and Guthrie and the Highland Host they led to a great spiritual victory.” Yet, honestly, never even in Dr. Farrar’s, where embryo clergy congregated, had I heard of the Scottish Disruption. And this ignorance was astounding to them, if it was real, and impertinence, if it was only pretended.

I dislike to make the acknowledgment, but even Mrs. Semple was changed. She was offended because she was not asked to be present at our wedding. I explained to her the circumstances making her visit impossible—the smallness of my father’s house, and the likelihood of sickness at any hour, and she appeared quite satisfied at the time; but, when Robert brought his sister and brother-in-law to Kendal, she thought she ought to have been included in his party. I think she ought, and I would have been glad of her presence. There was somehow a mistake, 108 and the fault was said to be mine; and I saw that Robert would be annoyed if I made a question about it, so I accepted the wrong and the blame.

Three months after my marriage I should have been quite disheartened but for the kindness of two admirable women, who had the intelligence to divine the whole situation. They were Marion, the wife of Walter Blackie, and her sister, Isabel Brodie. John Blackie, the father of Walter Blackie, had been the guardian of my husband, and the publishers of my husband’s father’s books, consequently there was an old tie of friendship between the families. But, in spite of this, Marion Blackie warmly and openly stood my friend. She advised me in private, and defended me in public. Indeed, she told my critics that they and herself, also, must appear as peculiar to me as I did to them. “Of course,” she continued, “the Barr women don’t like her. She has not a feeling in common with them, and how can she defend herself against innuendoes? I only hope they will not sneer and shrug her husband’s love away.” Only these two women remain in my memory to sweeten the story of my three years’ residence in Glasgow, as a wife and mother.

These were the social conditions in which I found myself, and I did not long struggle against them. Those who should have been kind to me were irreconcilable enemies; and they were old leaders of public opinion, and understood thoroughly the people with whom they lived. I felt that my case was hopeless, because victory in it might bring defeat in a nearer and dearer relation; for Robert would have certainly stood by me, if my attitude demanded his support; but I was sure I could not prevent a sense of anger and injury, if his interference was called for. It was not worth while provoking such a danger; I resolved to retire and make myself happy in other ways. I had a very handsome home to care for, and in it there was a library of about two hundred of the latest books in fiction, poetry, and travel. I began to use my needle, and grew expert in embroidery. I ran down to Kendal now and then for a day, and Father paid me one visit, and Mother several. In two or three months I had forgotten society, and it held its regular sessions without remembering me.

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But the time passed happily—long sweet days in which I thought as I sewed, or read, or sang, or sometimes took a walk up to the old cathedral, or even through the busy thoroughfares of Argyle and Buchanan Streets. In the evenings I read aloud to Robert, or he taught me how to sing the Scotch songs he loved. We had a copy of Hamilton’s large edition of them, and I began with the initial lyric of “Braw Braw Lads of Gala Water,” and then went straight through the book, which took us about a month. Then we began it over again, and I do not remember wearying, at least not of the older songs, for they were never written: they sprung from the heart and went direct to the heart.

Sometimes we walked quietly to Glover’s Theatre, especially if there was a play like “Rob Roy,” with the great Mackay in the title rôle. I shall never forget the night I saw this play. The theatre was decorated with Rob Roy tartan, and every woman wore conspicuously some ornament of Rob Roy ribbon—a large bow, long streamers from her fan, or a handsome satin scarf of the red and black checks, and I think there was not a man present without a Rob Roy rosette on the lapel of his coat. If there was, he must have been some benighted Englishman who had no acquaintance with Walter Scott and his famous robber hero. The human stir and enthusiasm was wonderful; the players moved and spoke as if they were enchanted, and they carried every soul in the theatre with them. It was good to feel, if only for a couple of hours, something of the intense emotion of which the soul is capable. No wonder the Scotch are so Scotch; they nurse their patriotism continually, feed it with song and story, music and dancing, and the drama, and they regard the Sabbath Day as peculiarly a Scottish institution. Surely all this was better than exchanging suspicious courtesies with critical acquaintances.

As the days lengthened and grew warmer, we went at the week ends to Bute, or Arran, or Stirling, and very often to Edinburgh; for, at the latter place, we always heard a fine sermon at the old Greyfriar’s Kirk. The first anniversary of our marriage we spent in Kendal and Windermere, and somehow, after that event, there was a shadow I could feel, but could not 110 see or define. Things appeared to go on as usual, but a singular sense of uncertainty troubled them; and, though I have said, “things went on as usual,” they did not quite do so. There was one change—it was in Robert’s movements. A few months previously he had gone into partnership with a man in Huddersfield, who had large woolen mills, and he left his business in Glasgow for two days every two weeks to go to Huddersfield. At first he always returned buoyant, and apparently well contented. I supposed, therefore, the woolen mill was doing well; but, true to his Scotch instincts, natural and educated, he had never explained anything about the transaction to me. It was, of course, necessary to say why he took this regular journey to England, but, beyond that information, the subject was not named, and I do not know unto this day, what kind of woolen goods were made in the Huddersfield mills.

This reticence about their business, is, I think, a Scotch trait of the most pronounced kind. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say, that no Scotchman ever tells his wife the truth, and the whole truth, about his affairs. Robert in this respect only followed out his strongest inherited instincts, the example set before him on every hand, and the precepts inculcated by parents and guardians. When we were first married, I tried to win his confidence and share his hopes and plans, and I was kindly but decisively made to understand that I was going beyond my sphere. And, as I write, and remember the position occupied by English and Scotch wives of sixty years ago, my heart burns with indignation, and I wonder not at any means they now take to emancipate themselves. I knew women at this time who spent weeks and months in fears and anxieties, that could have been dispelled by one word plainly and honestly spoken. But, when a husband says only, “Yesterday I was rich, today I am poor; you must do as well as you can,” his silence about his position has been not only cruel, but humiliating. He might make just such a speech to an affectionate and faithful dog. This is a digression, but it will not be lost, if it makes one man reflect, or one woman resolve.

As for myself, I was not destitute of rebellious thoughts. Once Robert had brought his Huddersfield partner home with 111 him to dinner, and I had carefully scrutinized the man, and his speech, and manner. After he had left, Robert, in a kind of incidental way, as if it was a matter of no consequence, asked me what I thought of Mr. P.

“Do you wish me to tell you the truth, Robert,” I answered, “or shall I only say pleasant words?”

“Tell the truth, Milly, by all means,” he replied, “though I suppose you are going to say unpleasant words.”

“I am, but they are true words, be sure of that, Robert. I think Mr. P. is a rascal, from his beard to his boots. Nature has set his eyes crooked; she has put her mark on the man, and said plainly, ‘Beware of him!’ His voice is false. I watched his feet, he turned them out too much, and he had trod his shoes down at the sides. ‘He could not tread his shoes straight,’ is a Yorkshire proverb for a rogue. I would not trust him with a penny piece, further than I could see him.”

“You saw all this, Milly, while he was here a short hour or two?” And Robert laughed and drew me to his side. So the subject dropped, but I could see that my suspicions had allied themselves to similar ones in his own mind.

One incident of this year I must not forget—the meeting with Mrs. Stowe and Mr. Beecher. I saw them first on the platform of the City Hall, where I had a seat with some friends on the invitation committee. I was not attracted by Mrs. Stowe, who was quiet, and apparently bored or tired; but Mr. Beecher won every heart. Afterwards, at a reception, I had a long talk with him about America. Once more I saw him, and the conversation was renewed, and finally Mr. Beecher said, “I think you will come to America. If you come to New York, hunt me up; I shall not be hard to find. You will want help in seeing New York, and I will do anything I can for you.” Seventeen years afterwards I reminded Mr. Beecher of this promise, and he cheerfully and helpfully redeemed it.

So the time went on, and I was happy, for the pleasure of “use and wont” of things tried and confidential was mine. I found myself constantly singing, for I was busy about a very diminutive wardrobe. I delighted in making some of the tiny 112 articles with my own hands, sewing into them prayers and hopes and blessings for the child who was to wear them, and whose advent was expected about the New Year. In these days I thought a great deal about my own infancy. I recalled its first exquisite beginnings, its wonder and joy in the mere fact of living. I thought of the dream I had, when I was too young to find words to tell it, and blessed God I was not too young for Him to think of me.

Even the dark November days, with their thick yellow fogs, and muffled melancholy sounds, could not sadden me. Nor was I much depressed by that haunting fear, which all women—however often they are mothers—are subject to before the birth of a child. I might die; many mothers did. What then? I answered my heart fearlessly, “I shall have had a perfect life, a happy childhood, a true love, a blessed marriage. The finite over, the infinite will begin. I shall be satisfied.” And I am sure I could then have trod the common road into the great darkness, without fear and with much hope.

But one day in this November I awoke both fearful and sad. It was with difficulty I preserved the cheerful morning face, that I had been taught from early childhood was the first duty of every day and, as soon as Robert left for his office, and I knew I should be alone until evening, I lay down upon my bed and wept with an unreasonable passion. I knew not why I wept, but my soul knew. She heard what was coming from afar, and knew that I was now to leave the walled garden of my happiness, and to take my share in those great sorrows, which are needed to give life its true meaning.

I had noticed, when at breakfast, that Robert was unusually silent, and I had not felt able to rise above the atmosphere of gloom and worry; but in the afternoon it struck me, that perhaps I only was to blame, and I resolved to dress prettily and be ready to carry the evening through with songs and smiles. So I rose and put on a gown that Robert liked to see me wearing, a handsomer garment than I usually wore, but I told myself that if trouble should be coming, I would meet it dressed like one who meant to conquer. And I remember that all the time I was brushing out my hair, I was saying over and over a few 113 lines that came ready to my lips, though I knew not when, or where, I had learned them:

“Empire o’er the land and main,

Heaven who gave, can take again;

But a mind that’s truly brave,

Stands despising,

Storms arising,

And defies the wind and wave.”

I had forgotten the last line, but my mind involuntarily supplied it. And at that moment I felt able to defy sorrow, and to shut the door against it. But alas! how poorly we love those whom we love most. Our love sinks below our earthly cares, and we bruise ourselves against the limitations of our own love, as well as against the limitations of others.

I was sitting very still, thinking these things out, and talking reproachfully to my soul—who has always been a talkative soul, fond of giving me from the little chest wherein she dwells, reproofs and admonitions more than I like—when I heard Robert put his latch-key in the lock, and enter the house. He was an hour before his time, and I wondered at the circumstance. Generally he came to me in the parlor first, and then went to dress for dinner, but this night he went straight to his room. I stood up and considered. Fear tormented me with cruel expectations, and I would not give place to that enemy, so I went quickly down the passage, singing as I went, and at the door asked cheerfully,

“Are you there, Robert?”

“Yes,” he answered; “come in, Milly.”

Then I entered smiling, and he looked at me with all his soul in his eyes, and, without speaking, covered his face with his hands.

“Robert!” I cried. “Dear Robert, are you sick?”

“No, no!” he answered. “Sit down here at my side, and I will tell you. Milly, I have lost nearly all I possess. The Huddersfield mills have failed.”

“Never mind them,” I said; “your business here is sufficient, and you can pay it more attention.”

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“It has today been sequestered by the English creditors.”

“What is ‘sequestered’?” I asked. I had never heard the word before.

“It means that I cannot have any use of my business here, until the court decides, whether it can be made to pay the debts of the Huddersfield concern. O my dear, dear Milly, forgive me!”

“My love, you have done me no wrong.”

“I have. I have taken risks that I ought not to have taken. You thought you were marrying a rich man, Milly.”

“I married you, yourself, Robert. Rich or poor, you are dearer than all to me. I do not count money in the same breath with you.”

“You love me, dear?”

“Better tonight, than ever before.”

“I am sick with anxiety.”

“Let me share it. That is all I ask. And you must be brave, Robert. Things are never as bad as you think they are. You are only twenty-seven years old; you have health and friends. We can half the expenses. Let the English place go. You will get your business here back soon, will you not?”

“I hope so. I cannot tell. I must leave you, and go to England tomorrow and you ought not to be alone now.”

“Nothing will harm me. Go, and find out the worst, then you know what you have to fight. Dinner is ready. You need a good meal; you will feel better after it.”

“How can I? I fear that I am ruined.”

“Now, Robert,” I said, “that depends on yourself. No man was ever ruined from without; the final ruin comes from within, when you turn hopeless and lose courage. I have heard my father tell young men that, many times.”

I suppose that most American husbands and wives would have spent the evening in talking over this trouble, and considering what steps were wisest to take. Robert did not speak of it again. During the meal, when the girl was coming in and out with the various dishes, he talked of a big fire in the High Street, and the appearance of Harrison in “The Bohemian Girl,” saying he was sorry I could not hear him sing “I Dreamt 115 I Dwelt in Marble Halls.” When dinner was over, he asked me to go on with the book I was reading to him. It was “The Newcomes,” and I lifted it, and he lay down on the sofa with his cigar. But I did not know what I was reading. The lights seemed dim, my voice sounded far away, there was a tumult in my senses that was prelusive of fainting.

“I am not well, Robert,” I murmured, “I must stop,” and I laid “The Newcomes” down, and have never touched a book of Thackeray’s since.

Robert rose immediately. “I must leave for England very early in the morning,” he said. “I will try and get some sleep first.”

The next morning he went away before daylight, and I had to bear the uncertainty and suspense as well as I could; and these journeys continued until the twentieth of December, when all court business stopped until after the twelfth day in January. I did not write home about this trouble. Father had been ill, and Mother was coming to me, on the second or third day of the New Year; and I hoped afresh every morning, that some good news would come to brighten the sad story. But all I heard was that professional accountants were going over the books of both the Glasgow and the Huddersfield business, and that it was tedious work, and required Robert’s presence constantly to explain transactions. This appeared sensible and necessary, and I made the best of the week ends, when Robert usually hurried home, traveling all night, so as to reach me early Saturday morning.

So Christmas came and went, the saddest Christmas I ever spent in all my life; but Christmas was not Christmas in Scotland, at that date. It had too strong a likeness to Episcopacy, yes, even to Popery, for the Calvinistic Scot; and savored of monkish festivals, and idolatrous symbols. I never saw a nativity pie in Glasgow, but those I made; and I really think they caused Robert a twinge of conscience to have them on the table. He certainly never tasted them. But the New Year was a modest kind of saturnalia, kept very much as the Calvinistic Dutch settlers of New York kept it in the days of the Dutch governors. It was a quiet day with us, and I could not help 116 contrasting it with the previous New Year’s when we had our minister, and the Blackies and Brodies, and a few others to dinner, and all drank the New Year in, standing with full glasses. At the moment we did so, my conscience smote me. I was cold and trembled as the clock slowly struck twelve, for I had always been used to solemnly keep the Watch Night, and, if not on my knees in the chapel, I was certain to be praying in my own room. “The ill year comes in swimming,” says an old proverb, and I have proved its truth.

On the third day of the New Year, Robert’s mother called in the afternoon. Robert had gone to Stirling, and I was alone and much astonished to see her; but I said, as cheerfully as possible, “Good afternoon, Mother, and a Happy New Year to you.” Then, noticing that she was much agitated, I grew frightened about Robert, and said anxiously, “You look troubled, Mother; is anything wrong with Robert?”

“Is there anything right with the man now? I got this letter from him on New Year’s Day—a nice-like greeting it was to send me.”

I looked at her inquiringly, but did not speak, and she asked, “Do you know what is in it?”

“No; Robert did not tell me he had written to you at all.”

“Of course, he didn’t! Mother may be heartbroken with shame and sorrow, but you! You must not have your precious feelings hurt.”

“Robert,” I answered, “would not willingly hurt a hair of your head, Mother. I know that. If he has told you of more trouble, I wish to share it with you.”

“You shall,” she replied. “He writes me that he fears the creditors—sorrow take them!—are trying to attach the furniture of this house, and he asks me, if they do, to buy it for him, at their valuation. That is a modest request to make, on the first of the year!”

“Mother, no one can touch this furniture. It is mine. It was given to me before my marriage, made legally over to me in my antenuptial contract. The furniture, silver, napery, books, and every item in the house is especially and carefully named, as the property of Amelia Huddleston.”

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“Where is the contract?”

“With John Forbes, the writer. Go and see it.”

“I am thinking that the English law makes all that was yours, on your marriage day, become Robert’s, and all that is Robert’s belongs to his creditors, until the creatures are satisfied. But I came on a kind errand, if you will take it so. I came to tell you that, though you have been the ruin of my son, I will not see you put on the street. I will buy the furniture and rent it to you.”

“I would not rent it from any one. It is mine. If I am robbed of it, I will not countenance the robbery, by renting it.”

“What will you do with yourself?”

“I shall come to no harm.”

“You can maybe find a boarding-house?”

“I shall not need one.”

“And there is your own home.”

“I shall not go there.”

“I think Robert might have told you of this sore strait.”

Then, in a sudden passion of anger, I cried out, “I think so, too. He treats me as if I was a doll or a dog. He tells me nothing. I have the cruelest part of every sorrow to bear—the part not sure. It is a shame! It is a great wrong! My heart is sick with anxiety that does no good. At the last, he has to tell. I cannot bear it!”

“All the women have it to bear.”

“Then shame to the men who lay on them such a useless burden.”

“We have a saying that women’s counsel is ill luck.”

“It is the want of it that is ill luck. I never saw that Huddersfield man but once, yet I told Robert to beware of him.”

“People say that you have been a gey, extravagant wife, Amelia.”

“People lie!” I answered hotly. “I have saved two hundred and eight pounds in eighteen months, out of the money given me for housekeeping expenses.”

“Then Robert has been extravagant, and given you too much money.”

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“He gave me exactly what he gave you, for the same purpose. He told me so.”

“And you have saved two hundred and eight pounds! Well, well! Where is it?”

“In my bank.”

She looked at me not unkindly, and I said, “Mother! Mother! If you and Jessy would have only directed me, I would gladly have obeyed your desires. If you would have only stood by me, no one would have seen any faults in my way of dressing, and doing things. Amelia Barr is no different from Amelia Huddleston, and under that name every one loved and praised me.”

“Well, well, married women are little thought of—except by the one man—and not always much thought of by him.”

“Try to like me, Mother. I could so easily love you, and I will do all as you wish it,” and, as I spoke, I went to her side and lifted her hand.

“Please God,” she answered, “there is plenty of time to put wrong right. Will you give me a cup of tea now?”

“Forgive me, I forgot.”

“That is just it,” she answered. “You forget. You should have offered it to me, when I first came in.”

Then I did all I could to redeem the forgetting, and she said, “Take a cup yourself; it will do you good, and tomorrow send for John Forbes.”

“I do not trust John Forbes.”

“Neither do I,” she answered quickly, “it is little he knows of the English law about any matter. What will you do then?”

“Go to a Councillor, who never yet deceived me.”

“I understand, but I’m not sure if that is right, Amelia. Going to God about chairs and tables, and the like of such things is not at all respectful.”

“We are told to pray about our bread and clothing, because ‘God knows we have need of such things.’”

“Your own way, be it. Tell Robert I am willing to help—if needs be.”

“There will be no need, Mother.”

“You’re a queer woman.” She rose as she spoke, and said 119 it would soon be dark, and she must hurry, for lots of drunken men and women would be on the streets seeing it was the New Year. Then I fastened her cloak and furs, and said,

“Kiss me, Mother.”

A look of the uttermost discomfiture and confusion came into her face. She hesitated, and fingered her bonnet strings, but finally bent her head slightly, and allowed me to kiss her. Then suddenly I recollected that the family kiss was a thing practically unknown in Scotch households, and that Robert had more than once told me that he never remembered his mother kissing him, in all his life. But the momentary disconcertion passed, and I believed I had won a step in the old lady’s favor, and I was glad of it, for she had some excellencies, and her faults were the faults of race, education, and life-long habit and experiences.

Within an hour after her departure, my own dear mother came to me, and two days later, my daughter Mary was born, “a bonnie wee lassie, world-like, and wise-like,” said the old nurse pleasantly. She kept her sixtieth birthday a week ago, and may God spare her to keep her eightieth as well, and as joyfully. After the birth of Mary, her father’s affairs began to settle, and it was not necessary for him to travel so constantly between Glasgow and Huddersfield. And the furniture question gave me neither trouble nor anxiety. I took it to the Highest Court, and the Best Councillor known to man, and I never heard of it again. Robert did not speak of it to me, and I asked him no questions. There are times in life when it is wisest to let sleeping dogs lie, and I thought this subject was one of such occasions. About May Robert received his certificate of just and lawful bankruptcy, and was free to reopen his warehouse and recommence his business.

But I could see it was hard and discouraging work. An American can hardly estimate how cruel an English bankruptcy is. On its business side, I could only form opinions from Robert’s depression and remarks; but I could see, and feel, and hear on every hand, the social ostracism it entails. The kindest heart quickly drops the friend who has failed. The man is never forgiven by his family. Years cannot efface the stain, nor future 120 success give back his former social position, or ever dispel the uncertainty of his business reputation. Now bankruptcy is not the unpardonable sin in the United States that it is—or was—in England and Scotland, and one of the things which struck me most forcibly, when I came to America, was the indifference with which men spoke of “being broke,” or having failed here or there, or in this, or that line of business, taking misfortune as cheerily as good fortune, and beginning again and again until they at last succeeded.

With small economies, small anxieties, and one man’s ceaseless struggle against misfortune, the next year passed away. Hitherto, I had always felt a contempt for struggling men; I had told myself, that their opportunities were so many, there was no excuse for the strife. If one thing, or one place was unfavorable, they could go elsewhere; the whole world was a market-place for their hands, or their brains. But during this year I discovered my mistake. Robert was tied by invisible bonds, and he had not the strength—perhaps not the will—to burst them asunder.

As for myself, I was busy with my house, and my child, my music, and books, my needle, and my correspondence with my home, and I could have been quite content with these sources of pleasure, if Robert had been in any measure satisfied and successful. But he could not hide from me the anxiety which was making his life a burden hard to bear. It was then the idea of exile, of a new country, new surroundings, and an entirely new effort, unhampered by the débris of an old failure, took possession of my mind; for this one year’s dismaying results satisfied me that nothing but the most radical changes would be of any use. But I was daily expecting the birth of my second child, and I told myself that nothing could be done for another month. I was, however, mistaken. Robert came home one night in such evident distress, that I was sure it arose from some social slight, and I asked, “Whatever has vexed you so much today, Robert?”

“Why, Milly,” he said, “three things: My old Sunday school teacher, to whom I am much attached, passed me without a word, and then turned back and said angrily, ‘Man Robert! 121 I’m disappointed in you. I’m sair disappointed! I thought you were going to be a rich man, and a pillar o’ the Kirk.’ I said, ‘It is not my fault, Deacon.’ ‘It is your fault,’ he continued, ‘whatna for, did you buy Alexander Hastie’s business, if you didna ken how to run it? Hastie is now our member to Parliament, and you hae disgraced the whole city o’ Glasgow, by letting a business so weel kent in his name, go to the dogs. I wonder me, what your good father would say to the disgrace you hae brought on his name, and I am sorry, Dod! I’m heart sorry for your poor mother.’”

“O Robert! How cruel! How unjust!”

“I cannot live down such prejudice, Milly. It is impossible. He had scarcely left me, when I saw Mrs. Semple coming towards me. She hesitated a moment, then went into a small jeweler’s shop to avoid the meeting. This afternoon Mother came to my office, and we had some very hard words, about a piece of property that is solely and entirely my own.”

“Have you anything left, that is your own?”

“This piece of property is. Once, when I had plenty of money, I helped Donald McLeod to save it, and when he died, three months ago, he left it to me.”

“Hold to it fast, Robert,” I said. “I beg you not to touch it for anything.”

“Donald told me he had left it for an ‘emergency,’ and I am keeping it till that time arrives.”

“That time is now here, dear Robert. As soon as my trouble is past, let us go far away from Scotland, and begin a new life. You are not twenty-nine years old, and I am only twenty-two. Shall we give up our lives to a ceaseless, contemptible struggle, that brings us neither money nor respect? Somewhere in the world, there is peace and good fortune for us. We will go and find it.”

“Are you really willing to leave Scotland, Milly?”

“I will go to the end of the earth with you, Robert.”

Then he leaped to his feet, and his face was shining, and he kissed me tenderly, “Where shall we go?” he asked. “Canada? India? Australia?”

“What do you say to the United States?” I answered. “Tomorrow 122 I will send to the library for books on all these countries. We will read and consider, and try to be ready to leave Scotland, about the middle of August.”

“At the middle of August? Why that date?”

“Because, about any new movement, it is good to have some one point decided. That is a foundation. We are going to seek good fortune about the middle of August. Let us regard that date as positive, Robert. It is our first step.”

He was by this time in an enthusiasm of fresh hope, and we sat talking till nearly three in the morning, and, if any acquaintance met him that day, they must have thought “Robert Barr has had some good luck. He was like his old self today.” Indeed the prospect of this new life brought back again the old cheerful Robert. Every day he came home with some fresh idea on the subject, or told me of something done to forward our plans. Among other incidental arrangements, he insisted on keeping our intention from the knowledge of his family. He feared his mother’s influence and interference. John Blackie had been urging his release from any further care of the Barr estate, and Robert’s name would be necessary to many papers in connection with this change, and unavoidable delays result. It also gave an air of romance to the flitting, which took it out of the rôle of ordinary emigration. And I will be truthful, and confess, that it pleased me to think of his mother’s and sister’s futile dismay, when they discovered we had escaped forever the shadows and petty humiliations of a conventional Scotch life.

On the twenty-second of May, 1853, my daughter Eliza was born, a bright, beautiful girl, who certainly brought her soul with her—a girl who all her life has been the good genius of extremities—never quailing before any calamity, but always sure there was a road over the mountains of difficulty, which we could find, as soon as we reached them. And, I may add, she always found the road.

I recovered rapidly, for I was fed daily on fresh hopes, and, in spite of the uncertainty surrounding these hopes, I was happy, for I believed in my dreams. Then there came a letter from Father, asking in his modest, unselfish way, for the return of Mother. It was enough to alarm us, for we knew well 123 he had felt the necessity, though he voiced it with so little urgency; and, as this letter is the only scrap of my Father’s writing that has survived the constant chances and changes of nearly half a century, I will transcribe it:

My dear Amelia,

I can assure you the very sight of your letter afforded us unspeakable delight. Yes, we do feel grateful to that Divine and attentive Providence, which has been with you the last few weeks. We may, and do, attribute much to means, but what are all means without His sanction, and His blessing? To Him be all the praise! I hope, my dear, if spared, you will evince your gratitude by a devotion of all to Him. Give yourself, give your dear little ones to Him. You know well what is meant by that. God bless you! God bless the little stranger! She has come into a cold world; still she has friends who love and pray for her. Kiss her for me.

As to Mother, I am sure she has done all in her power, and she would do it so differently to any one else. I can assure you, at the time she left me, it was no small trial; but it was for Amelia, and only on this ground could I have been induced to make the sacrifice. Now, that you are so far improved, do not detain her. I fear another painful visitation. Think of Father. He has thought of Amelia. Give my love to dear Mother. The little girls are going to school, and send their love to you, and to dear Mr. Barr.

Amelia, I am what I ever was to you,

Father.

O Father! Father! If, in the stress of my labors and sorrows, I have forgotten your lovely, patient, helpful life, forgive me this day. Let my tears wash away my fault, and be still to me, what you ever were,

Father!


As soon as it was possible for me to do so, I faithfully read all I could read about Australia, India, Canada, and the United States, and very early came to the conclusion, that we must sail westward. I held in reserve a possible Canadian settlement, but I was sure that we must first go to New York. Australia, I had 124 no hesitation in putting out of consideration; its climate, its strange natural conditions, and its doubtful early population, as well as its great distance from England, were definitely against it. But India to me was a land of romance. There were inconceivable possibilities in India. Anything wonderful could happen in those rich cities of the upper Ganges. The Huddleston ships had been early fond of Indian voyages, and Robert had several friends in Calcutta and Benares, who were making fortunes rapidly. We could not put India summarily out of our desires and calculations. My notes about it lay side by side with those of the United States, and for some time neither Robert nor I could honestly say “I prefer this or that, before the other.”

One night we had swiveled a great deal between New York and Calcutta as points of landing, Robert having had that day a letter from Andrew Blair, an old school friend, who was doing well in Delhi, and I went to sleep thinking that the children would require nothing in the way of an outfit but some white muslin. Then I dreamed a dream, and when I awakened from it I said softly, “Are you sleeping, Robert?” And he answered at once. “No. I heard you cry out in your sleep, and I was going to speak to you, if you cried again. What frightened you?”

“I thought we were in Calcutta, and we stood alone on a silent street, knowing not where to go. The sky was black as pitch, the air hot and heavy, and red as blood, and a great cry, like a woman’s cry, rang through it, and seemed to be taken up by the whole earth. Then a voice at my side said, ‘Look!’ and I saw that Calcutta was built entirely of great blocks of coal, and that, in the center of each block, there was a fierce fire burning. I must then have cried out, and awakened myself.”

For a few moments Robert did not speak, then he said in a hushed voice, “We cannot go to India. Blair told me in his letter that the whole country was restless, and the army mutinous, and that he felt a little uneasy. But that is such an old complaint, I did not heed it, and did not think it wise to trouble your decision by just a say-so.”

“Well, then, Robert,” I said, “you got the word, both for you and yours, and, as you did not heed it, another messenger was sent. I wonder if putting our own judgment first of all, 125 and not delivering the entire message, will be counted as answering ‘No’ to the heavenly command.”

“Don’t say unpleasant things, Milly,” was Robert’s reply, and I was silent until he added, “We cannot go to India now, I suppose?”

“I would not go, for the whole wide world.”

“Then it must be America.”

“Yes, somewhere in America.”

In a very positive voice, Robert said, “It must be Canada. I am not going to give up my English citizenship for anything.”

“That is right,” I answered. “You can keep it anywhere. It is fine in you to guard your English citizenship. I have none to guard. It makes no difference to me where I live.”

“My citizenship is yours.”

“Oh, no! I do not exercise any of your citizenship rights, and they do not protect me.”

“I exercise them for you.”

“Well and good, but I am glad you do not eat, and drink, and sleep for me, and I would not like you to dream for me. You would not likely tell me the whole dream.”

“Now you are cross, Milly, and I will go to sleep.”

But I lay long awake, and felt anew, all through the silent hours, the horror and terror of that prophetic dream. For I need hardly remind my readers, that it was awfully verified in the unspeakable atrocities of the Sepoy rebellion, barely two years afterwards. And I do not believe Robert slept, but he could not endure allusions to the wrongs of women—a subject then beginning to find a voice here and there, among English women “who dared.”

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CHAPTER X

PASSENGERS FOR NEW YORK

“The bud comes back to summer,

And the blossom to the bee,

But I’ll win back—O never,

To my ain countree!

“But I am leal to heaven,

Where soon I hope to be,

And there I’ll meet the loved,

From my ain countree!”

Events that are predestined require but little management. They manage themselves. They slip into place while we sleep, and suddenly we are aware that the thing we fear to attempt, is already accomplished. It was somewhat in this way, all our preparations for America were finished. We did not speak of our intentions to any one, neither did we try to conceal them, excepting in the case already mentioned. But somehow they went forward, and that with all the certainty of appointed things.

A month after Mother left us, Robert brought home one day the tickets for our passage from Liverpool to New York, in the steamship Atlantic, then the finest boat sailing between the two ports. “You have now, Milly,” he said, “nearly four weeks to prepare for our new life. We shall sail on the twentieth of August”; and his face was glad, and his voice full of pleasure.

“And what of your preparations, Robert?” I asked.

“They go well with me. I have today made an arrangement for the closing up of my business on the twenty-second of August. And that day Forbes takes possession. He will sell my stock, and pay all I owe, which, thank God, is not much! Mother and Jessy will be in Arran; we shall be on the Atlantic. 127 I shall have all I love and all I possess with me, and I will cast these last miserable two years out of my memory forever.”

“But, Robert,” I asked timidly, “have you money enough for such a change?”

“Quite sufficient. Donald’s legacy has turned out much better than I dared to hope. A syndicate has bought the land for building purposes. I expected three thousand pounds for it; they have paid me five thousand, and I have already transmitted it to the Bank of New York. Next,” he continued, “I will sell this furniture, and we will take the proceeds with us.”

“But we must get rid of Kitty first,” I answered. “If Kitty saw an article leave the house, she would write to your mother, and she, with David and Jessy, would be here by the next boat.”

“Listen!” he replied, with a confident smile. “On Monday, the fifteenth, you will tell Kitty that you and the children are going to Kendal. Let her help you pack your trunk, give her a sovereign, and bid her take a month’s holiday. She will be glad enough to get away. On Tuesday morning let her go to the Kendal train with you, bid her good-bye there, and advise her to take the next train for Greenock, from which place she can easily get passage to Campbeltown. She will not hurry out of Greenock, if she has money, and it may be two weeks before she sees Mother.”

“I shall reach Kendal on Tuesday afternoon, and you, Robert, when?”

“I will come for you on Thursday. On Friday we will go to Manchester, stay all night there, as you wish to see your sister, and early on Saturday morning take the train for Liverpool. The Atlantic sails about four in the afternoon; do you understand?”

“Yes, I understand what I am to do. What are your own plans?”

“As soon as you have left on Tuesday morning, I will bring home the large packing cases already ordered. These I will fill with our personal belongings, which you must quietly place in your own wardrobe, and the drawers and presses in the spare room. The boxes are very large, and you need not deny yourself anything that is comfortable, or dear to you.”

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“I know the boxes; I have seen them.”

“Impossible! They are not yet made.

“I saw them last night. They were of rough, unpainted wood, and very large, and, as I looked, a man came in and soldered thin iron bands around them.”

“Upon my soul, Amelia, what do you mean!”

“What I say. They were standing in this room.”

“You dreamed this?”

“Yes. Then I saw you, and the children, and we were on a ship sailing up a wide river, and we passed an island with many drooping willow trees close by the water side, and southward there were the outlines of a great city before me, and I knew the city was New York.”

“It is no wonder you dream of New York. You think and read and talk of it so much. But the packing cases, and the man soldering on the thin iron bands! That puzzles me. I never told you anything about them.”

“No, you never told me, but Some One who knew all about them, showed them to me. After you have packed the boxes on Tuesday, what then?”

“I shall go with them to Liverpool. A steamer leaving here on Tuesday night is in Liverpool Wednesday morning. A dray will take them to the Atlantic’s pier, and put them with her freight, after which duty done, I will start at once for Kendal. I may be there on Wednesday night, but allow something for detentions, and say some time Thursday.”

Robert’s plans appeared to be well considered and not difficult to carry out, and I began that day to go through my girlhood’s treasures, choosing some and leaving others. And, when Kitty was out marketing or walking with Mary I placed them ready for the big packing cases, that I knew were coming for them. Was I happy while thus busy? No. I knew that I was on the road appointed me to travel, but it was a new road, and a far distant one from the father and mother and sisters I loved so sincerely. Nor was I a woman who liked change and adventure. My strongest instincts were for home, and home pleasures, and the tearing to pieces of the beautiful home given me with so much love was a great trial. But to have shown this 129 feeling might have saddened and discouraged Robert. In those days I was learning some of the hardest lessons wives have to become acquainted with, notably, to affect pleasure and satisfaction, when they are not pleased and satisfied; to hold up another’s heart, while their own heart faints within them; to give so lavishly of their vitality, hope, and confidence that they themselves are left prostrate; and yet, to smilingly say, “It is only a little headache,” and to make no complaint of their individual loves and losses, lest they should dash the courage or cool the enthusiasm of the one who, at all costs, must be encouraged and supported.

For I did not forget that all Robert’s energies at this time were required for one end and object, and that the smaller asides of individual feelings must not be allowed to interfere with that purpose. So I made no remark about the sale of my furniture. It was my contribution to our new life, and I resolved to give it cheerfully. Robert had told me I had four weeks, but, in reality, I had only three, for I was to leave on Tuesday, the sixteenth of August, for Kendal, and the fifteenth was to be spent in packing. But the three weeks felt too long. What I had to do, I did quickly; and then there was the weary waiting on others. Life became agitated and exigent, and the atmosphere of the house restless and expectant. Every room was full of Presence, evidently the wraiths of the departed were interested in what was going on; for,

“All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floor.”

During the whole three weeks of preparation I was singularly prescient both by day and night, but only once did I mention this condition to Robert. I had lain down on my bed in the afternoon, weary with thought and feeling, and had fallen fast asleep. Then I heard a commotion in the house, the moving of furniture, the voices of men calling to each other, and, above all, I heard one strident voice of command, accompanied by a 130 kind of stamp upon the floor. Presently my room door was opened, and a remarkable man entered. He was tall and rather stout, his face was large and white, his dress clerical, his whole manner intensely authoritative. He walked round my room, and stood a moment and looked at me. It was an inquisitive look, quite without interest or kindness. Then he began to give orders, and I awoke.

To Robert I said that night, “I saw your father this afternoon,” and I described the man who was directing the moving of the furniture; laying particular stress upon the stamp in his walk. Robert looked at me with amazement, then told me that the peculiarity in the walk was caused by his father having a false leg. “He received an injury to his knee while playing golf,” he said, “and his walk with the artificial limb, was of the character you observed. But I never told you of it.”

“No, you never told me, Robert, but there are tiding bringers whom we do not summon. ‘God also speaks to his children in dreams, and by the oracles that dwell in darkness.’ We do not realize it, yet there is no doubt that our daily life is the care of angels, and the theme of their conversation. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation?”

“Then what of those who are not heirs of salvation?”

“There are no such unfortunates. God is ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ Once I heard my father quote that verse in the pulpit, and after a moment’s pause he cried out, ‘a great all that,’ and a very old man spoke out loudly, ‘Glory be to God! A great all. It covers every soul.’ Then Father quoted the words again, and there was a wonderful happiness, and the dull old chapel seemed to glow, and the faces of the people were lifted heavenward.”

And Robert called me a dear little Methodist, and drew me close to his side, and kissed me. “No wonder!” he continued, “my father felt no interest in you—but that was a strange dream, Milly.”

“Dreams are large possessions, Robert,” I answered; “they are an expansion of life, an enlightenment, and a discipline. I thank God for my dream life; my daily life would be far poorer, 131 if it wanted the second sight of dreams. The dreams I have had during this movement of ours have kept me serene and satisfied. They have shown me what is appointed, and things appointed come to pass.”

“In three weeks we shall see if your dreams come to pass.”

“Yes, but three weeks is a long time.”

Indeed I felt it to be almost a cruel lengthening of suspense; for I did not understand at the time I was learning one of the most difficult lessons the soul has to master—that of “waiting patiently for the Lord.” It is easy to ask, but to wait patiently for the answer, is a far more difficult duty. However, when I had carefully arranged in the places indicated our household treasures of napery, clothing, silver, and so forth, I wished I could go to Kendal. But I saw Robert’s face change as soon as I mentioned Kendal.

“We made a plan for our movements, Milly,” he said, “and I do not wish a single point altered. It might disarrange all I have been working for.”

Then I declared I was quite content, but I was not always content. In spite of my undoubted confidence in the wisdom of the change we were making, I had days of utter weariness. My life, with all its orderly habits and duties, seemed to be the same; but I knew that its foundation was destroyed; reading had ceased to interest me; I had no more sewing to do; my soul often sank back upon itself, and sometimes even retired from sympathy and affection. All have had such hours, and know what they mean. As for me, when this dark mental and spiritual inertia attacked me, and I could not pray, I just told God so, and waited until some blessed wind of Heaven unlocked the mood, which bound me like a chain.

One afternoon, about a week before I was to go to Kendal, Robert’s mother called, and the moment she entered the room, a look of amazement and anger came over her face.

“Amelia!” she cried, “Amelia, what are you doing? Do stop that foolishness at once. It is fairly sinful, and nothing less.”

What I was doing, was spinning some half-crowns on the polished table for the amusement of Mary, who was sitting in 132 her high chair and laughing with delight. I looked up at Mother, and explained how I had given Kitty a sovereign for some marketing, and she had brought the change in silver pieces, so I was just showing Mary how prettily the crowns and half-crowns could dance.

“Don’t you see that you are teaching the child, before she is two years old, that money is a thing to play with? And, what is more, suppose she puts one of those shilling bits in her mouth, and it gets into her throat; nothing could save her. And it would be your fault, and not God’s will, at all.”

“Thank you, Mother,” I said, as I rapidly gathered up the coins. “It was very thoughtless of me; I will never do the like again. Will you have a cup of tea, and will you stay all night?”

“No,” she answered, “I just came to see if Robert was at home. It is not possible to find him in his office lately, and I want a few words with him.”

“I have not seen him since early this morning,” I said; and I ordered her tea, and tried to introduce a more pleasant conversation. But the incident of the coins mortified me, and I could see Mother anxiously glancing at them, as they lay on the chimney-piece; so I carried them to my desk, locked the desk, and put the key in my pocket. As I was doing this, I was thinking that it might be the last time I should see her, and was trying to find some homely, sympathetic subject, that would bring us, at least for this hour, closer together.

But it was not a pleasant visit, and Robert was troubled and silent for a long time, after I told him about it. Then I was troubled, for I knew so little of Robert’s family affairs, that I was like a woman walking in the dark any step might be a false one; any moment I might stumble. But often, I had heard my father say, “When you do not know what to do, then stand still.” So I was still, and appeared to be puzzling over a new pattern of crochet work.

For I was determined that Robert should take the initiative, and after a little while he did so. “Milly,” he said, “I have been trying to discover what makes Mother and you always at swords’ points. If you do not quarrel, you come so near it, 133 that you might as well, perhaps better, do so. You do not quarrel with any one else, why cannot you two agree?”

“The disagreement is probably behind, and beyond us, Robert,” I answered. “We are not responsible for it. You have heard me speak of Ann Oddy?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, Ann would say, that your mother’s angel and my angel did not agree. I think Mother’s angel is probably a wise, stern spirit, who has made Mother look well after her own interests, and despise frivolities; and I am sure my angel is one easily entreated, and anxious to give me everything I want—when she can—but she cannot always manage it.”

Robert laughed and said, “Then I suppose your angel and mine are good friends.”

“Yes,” I answered; “they both approved our marriage, and did all they could to forward it.”

“Suppose they had not approved it?”

“Then your mother’s angel would have had her way, and we should have been separated.”

“If you hold such opinions, Milly, you must also believe that angels still retain human feelings?”

“Why not?” I answered. “They are not perfect. They are still going forward, even as we are.”

“Then they cannot be equal.”

“Far from it. Some are in authority, some under authority. Some are tidings bringers, others are invisible helpers of all kinds. Some minister to little children, others to men fainting in the van of a hard life, and many console the dying. I have heard it said that ‘we come into the world alone, and we die alone.’ We do neither. No, indeed!”

“You little preacher! Where do you get such ideas?” asked Robert.

“Ideas do not float about in the air, so then some intelligent being sends them to me. They are the fruits of some soul. A good message will always find a messenger.”

“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth,

Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.”

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Every one knows that in times of great anxiety, conversation is sure to turn either on some trivial occurrence, or else on some speculative subject. It was so with Robert and myself. We did not talk more than was necessary about our own affairs; as long as they were in uncertainty and transition, they were at the mercy of contingencies, which we could neither alter nor hurry. A few words every evening informed me of any progress made and then I knew it was wise to turn the conversation upon some irrelevant subject, that would provoke argument.

But joyful or sorrowful time goes by, and at last it was the fifteenth of August. I saw the dawn breaking, and I whispered to myself, “Awake, Amelia! There is a charge for your shield today!” and with this cheerful exhortation I rose. After breakfast, I called Kitty, and she helped me to pack the trunk that was to go with me, wherever my destiny led. Kitty thought Kendal was its limit, and she made a remark about the quantity of the children’s clothing, and the small number and plainness of my own gowns. I made no explanation, but said,

“Now, Kitty, look after your own things. You must be ready to leave the house with me by ten o’clock tomorrow morning. After my train has left, you can then take the carriage direct to the Greenock Station for your own journey.”

There was very little more for me to do, and the day threatened to be sixty hours long. So about noon I resolved to take a walk up Argyle Street, go through the Arcade to Buchanan, and get my luncheon at McLaren’s. It was to be a kind of farewell walk over the well known pavements and I thought if I saw a pretty brooch or bracelet made of Scotch pebbles, I would buy it as a memorial of the happy days, I had spent in Glasgow. The unhappy ones, I was determined to forget. I went into a jeweler’s on Buchanan Street, and turned over a lot of those queer ornaments made of various colored agates set in silver. They were all heavy and ungraceful, but I paid a pound for a pair of bracelets, and I wonder even today what made me do it. I have no love for what is called jewelry, it always looks barbaric to me, and this Scotch jewelry is neither pretty nor rare, nor had I ever before thought of buying it. We do 135 queer things in those hours of anxious suspense, that can find no natural outlet or relief.

As I came out of the jeweler’s with my purchase in my hand, I met Mrs. McIntosh face to face. She smiled, and put out her hand, and I could have cried with pleasure:

“Oh, how glad, how glad I am to see you!” I exclaimed. “Let us go into McLaren’s, and have a hot pie and a cup of tea, and talk about old times.”

So we did, and I told her how I had fretted over their desertion, and how pleasantly I remembered the dances with both old and young Peter, and that I never, never, had such happy evenings in any other house in Glasgow. We laughed, talked, recalled this and that, and ate our pies and drank our tea to delightful memories, that neither of us had forgotten. More than thirty-five years after this happy lunch, I was in Glasgow again, and I had a call from Mrs. McIntosh’s grandson, and an invitation from his family to come down to their seaside home to spend a few days with them. For an unavoidable reason I could not accept the invitation, but I was glad to think they had remembered me so long, because they were still young and fresh in my memory, and never will be old.

My meeting with Mrs. McIntosh made me very happy, and the day got over better than I expected, although Robert was half an hour later than usual. Every wife knows what that unusual half-hour means. It is as long as half a dozen hours; it is filled with fears and shadows of fears, about accidents possible and impossible. For it is not the troubles we are fighting, that weary and depress us; it is the ills we fear, and that never come, that give us our worst hours—the ills that have no message for us, that are passing by our dwelling even while we wait for them. I doubt if there lives a man or a woman who cannot say,

“Oh, the anxious hours I’ve spent,

For ills that never came!”

Indeed when Robert did come he was more cheerful than I expected, and after dinner he told me that he had sold the 136 furniture just as it stood to the man who made it, adding, “he will not remove it until Monday, the twenty-second.”

I smiled faintly, but could not speak, and there was a little silence. Then Robert said, “Sing us a song, Milly.”

“I can not sing tonight, Robert.”

“Try ‘The Kail Brose of Old Scotland.’”

“No,” I answered, “there is only one song that fits tonight—‘Lochaber No More.’”

“Sing it then.”

I shook my head, saying, “It’s overwhelming sadness, would be intolerable. You must be happy, if you dare to sing ‘Lochaber No More.’ If you are not, its broken-hearted melody will haunt you for weeks.”

Then we were silent again, until I suddenly looked up, and found Robert regarding me with eyes so full of love and pity, that I dropped my crochet and covered my face with my hands. I could not bear it. He tenderly took my hands in his, and with kisses and affectionate words, told me that he was not insensible to the generous manner with which I had surrendered all his gifts to me.

“Let the gifts go,” I answered; “I have you.”

“My darling!” he said, “let us take a last walk through the rooms, and bid them farewell. We will fix every item in our memories, and I promise you an American home far more beautiful than this.”

I believed him. Without doubt he would keep his word. So I was comforted; and we went together into every room, recalling how we had decided on the creton and papering for one room in the Windermere woods, and for another, sitting on the grassy slope of Kendal Castle. There was some incident of our love, or home, connected with every picture, with every bronze, with every chair and table. We smiled and wept together. Yes, we both wept, and I am not ashamed of the fact. Of course it was intensely sentimental, but in that quality lay our salvation. If we could have gone through those rooms at this farewell hour, without tears and reminiscent smiles, ours would have been a hopeless case; for it is the men and women who are steeped in sentiment and religion, that do things. They 137 are the high-hearted and hopeful, they can face every emergency, and conquer every situation. It is the materialist and the atheist, who flinch and fail, and who never succeed, because they have lost the Great Companion who alone could give permanence and value to whatever they have done.

The next morning we were up with the dawn, and after a leisurely breakfast reached the Caledonian Line in good time. Here we dismissed Kitty, and Robert stayed with me, until the train was ready to start.

“You need not be anxious about your trunk, Milly,” he said. “I will speak to the guard about it, and also about your dinner at Carlisle.” Very soon I saw him talking to that official, as if they were old friends, and the two men came to the carriage door together. Then Robert bid me good-bye, and with a bright smile promised to see me in Kendal Wednesday or Thursday. The next moment the door was locked, and the comfortable English guard cry, “All’s Right!” ran along the line until it reached the engineer, who answered it at once by starting the train.

The journey was an easy and pleasant one. I was well cared for, the children were quiet and sleepy, and I found Mother and Alethia waiting for me. About this my last visit to my home, I shall say little. A multitude of words could not reach the heart of it, and indeed we were all less disposed to talk than usual. I was exceedingly anxious. I had a fear of Robert’s mother, and while I was taking a walk the next day with Father, I told him a good deal about her. I thought he did not listen with his usual sympathy, and I asked “if he thought we had done wrong to come away without her knowledge?”

“Was it your doing, Milly?” he asked.

“Partly,” I answered. “Yes, Father, it was mainly my doing.”

“I don’t approve it, Milly,” he said. “A mother is a sacred relation. It is a kind of sacrilege to wound her feelings. You would need good reasons to excuse it.”

“We had good reasons, Father. Ask Robert when he comes tomorrow.”

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“Yes, I will.” Then he gave me some personal advice, not necessary to write here, but which I hold in everlasting remembrance.

That night when all the house was asleep, and I was sitting with Mother, I told her Father’s opinion about our deceiving Robert’s mother. She was quietly angry.

“Do not mind what he said on that subject, Milly,” she said. “Your father thinks a deal more of mothers than he does of wives. Ever since we were married, he has gone into mourning about his mother on certain days, and he wanted the whole house to mourn and fast with him. I would not hear of such nonsense. We none of us knew the woman. Ann Oddy flatly refused; she was well aware I would stand by her. As for you children, I told your father plainly, you would, if you lived, have plenty of live troubles to fret you without mourning for a dead one, you knew nothing about. But all the same he never forgets certain days—you remember?”

“Yes, Mother, I remember very well.”

“I hope none of you will keep my birthday, or death day, in any such sorrowful way. Try to make happiness out of it, and if you can not, let it be forgotten.”

As we sat talking very softly at the open window of the dark room there was a knock at the door. I hoped it was Robert, and I waited breathlessly for his voice and step. But it was not Robert.

“It is a man from The King’s Arms. He has brought a letter. I think it is for you, Milly,” said Mother.

She was striking a light as she spoke, and I took the letter from her hand.

“It is from Robert,” I said. “He is at the King’s Arms. He would not disturb us so late tonight, but he will be with us after breakfast tomorrow morning.”

“That was thoughtful and kind all round,” answered Mother, and she continued, “we had better try to sleep, Milly. There are three hard days before you.” Then she suddenly turned to me, and said in a little eager way, “O Milly, I do want to go to Liverpool with you! I do want to go so much! Do you think Father will spare me?”

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“Mother, dear Mother! He must spare you! I will ask him in the morning.”

In the morning Robert came in like sunshine, just as we were finishing breakfast, and in the pleasant stir of his advent, I asked Father for Mother’s company to Liverpool. “We shall be off before noon, Saturday,” I said, “and she can return to Manchester, stay with Jane over Sunday, and go to Kendal on Monday. Let her go with us, Father.”

Father was easily entreated, and then Mother was as excited as a little child. She wanted new strings to her best bonnet, fresh laces for her gray bombazine dress, and there was a button off her best gloves. So in these and kindred duties for the children, the day passed. We smiled and made believe we were pleasantly occupied, but Father knew, and I knew, it was the last day we should ever spend together. The heart-breaking pathos of those three words—the last day, lay underneath all our pleasant words and smiles. We were really dying to each other every hour of that last day. In after years when the fire of life has cooled down, we wonder why we felt so keenly, and how we endured it!

Fortunately the strain was in a measure lifted early the next morning. We were to leave at nine o’clock and every one was busy dressing or breakfasting. When the carriage was at the door, and I had kissed my sisters, I looked around for Father. “He is in his room,” said Alethia, and as she spoke, I heard him walking about. I went to him, and when he saw me enter, he knew the parting moment had come. He stood still and stretched out his arms, and I clung to him whispering “Father! My Father! I must go!”

Tenderly he stooped and kissed me, saying, “Dear, my dear! My Milly! I know not where you are going, and Robert could not tell me. But this I know, wherever your lot may be cast, ‘your bread shall be given, and your water sure.’”

Then Mother called us, and we went down together. Mother and the children were in the carriage. Robert was waiting for me. Without a word Father kissed us both, and the carriage went hurriedly away but I watched as far as I could, the white lifted head, and eager eyes of the dear soul I was never to see 140 again in this world. He lived about nine years after our parting, and died as he wished to die—“on a Sabbath morning, when the bells are ringing for church.” Perhaps he had some primitive idea of the glory of the Church Celestial, and some hope that he might serve in it. Only to be a doorkeeper in His House, would be heaven to his adoring love.

“O Strong Soul, by what shore

Tarriest thou now? In some far shining sphere,

Conscious or not of the past,

Still thou performest the Word

Of the Spirit, in whom thou didst live.”

. . . . . . . . . .

We reached Manchester in the afternoon, and Robert went to see some old business friends to bid them good-bye, while Mother, I, and the children were thankful to lie down and sleep a little for we expected Jane to dinner, and I was anxious to have a pleasant evening with her. I had not seen her since her marriage, and I wondered what change it had made.

She was the same quiet, authoritative woman I remembered so well, and it being a warm evening she was dressed in a lilac muslin, which was very becoming to her. Her plentiful pale brown hair was neatly arranged; I am sure there was not one hair out of its proper place. I was glad she was not changed; above all I relished the rather advisory manner of “eldest sister” which she still retained. I would have been disappointed if Jane had not found something to counsel, or censure, or warn me about. She looked into my face with the kindest blue eyes, and remarked,

“You are still very pretty, Amelia, and quite young in appearance, too; almost too girlish for a married woman.”

I laughed a little and asked, “Did you expect marriage to make me ugly and old, Jane?”

“I have known it to do so.”

“Not in your case, any more than in mine,” I answered. “You are handsomer than I ever saw you.”

“Yes, I dare say that is so. I was worn out when I married. 141 Poor Father’s affliction is most trying on those who have to witness it, and assist him.”

“Alas!” I said, “Mother feels it much. She will not live long, unless she has some help.”

“Father will have no one but Mother near him. Men are selfish always, and particularly selfish when they are sick. Their wives have to be Providence to them. I pity you, Amelia.”

“What for, Jane?”

“Of course it is to please your husband you are going to America. You never would have thought of such a piece of folly.”

“When I was six years old, I thought of going to India and China and many other places.”

“As a missionary. That makes all the difference. If I understood Mother, you and Mr. Barr are going to America, in order to make more money; leaving a Christian land, to live among pagans for a little money. I do not think that is a justifiable cause, Amelia.”

“But Jane, we are not going among pagans. The United States is a Christian country, and——”

“Oh, I have read the missionary reports! In the big cities, like New York, I suppose the people are Christianized, but on what they call the frontier, I am told there are few churches. Will you go to the frontier?”

“I think so.”

“Well, dear, do not lose your assurance. Among Indians, negroes, cowboys, and atheists of all kinds, hold fast your assurance. Let all see that you are a child of God.”

“You need not fear for me, Jane. I will be good, or at least try to be so.”

Then Mother and Robert came into the parlor together, and a servant followed them with dinner. Robert was in high spirits. He had spent three or four happy hours among old business friends. Jane looked at him with evident pleasure and he drew her out in her best vein, which was a kind of humorous criticism; she gave him personally its first clever shafts. We had a cheerful meal, and I wondered how Mother and I could laugh, when these were probably—and as time 142 proved—our last hours together. Ah! I have learned since then, how often women laugh when care or poverty or cruel pain, fiercer than the Spartan fox, is gnawing their trembling, suffering hearts.

I do not remember whether Jane’s husband or any of her three children were with her. If they were, I have totally forgotten them, which under the circumstances is very likely. When it was time for her to go, I went with her to the dressing-room, and as she was tying her bonnet, she said approvingly, “I like your husband, Amelia, but I fear he is just a little ‘gay.’ Is he not?”

“Yes,” I answered, “he is a little gay, but I like it. Jane are you going to Liverpool to see us off. If so, you could bring Mother back with you.”

“I asked Mother about the time of sailing,” she replied. “Mother said it would be about noon. That renders it impossible. I have so many duties at home, and I am a late riser. I think it is a great folly to make a parting that is a grief to both of us, hours longer than it need be.”

“You are right, Jane,” I answered. “We will say good-bye here,” and I kissed her fondly; for I loved her. We had a thousand memories in common, and she was inextricably bound up with my happy early life. I did not see her again for nearly forty years, and I have sometimes wished I had not seen her then; for the long slow years had brought her many sorrows, and had dealt hardly with the beautiful Jane of my youthful memories. But it was evident to me that she lived among things unseen, as well as things seen, and that the mystical appetite for religious service, which she possessed in her youth, had grown steadily. She valued things at their eternal, not their temporal worth. I was then in the first flush of my literary success, but I felt humbled before her. She was still my eldest sister.

After Jane had gone, we talked the midnight away but I was very weary and fell fast asleep in my chair, Mother’s low, soft monotone in my ears. For the last time, she had charmed me to sleep. I slept that night until the daylight woke me. Then there was a little hurry, and we only reached the Atlantic 143 half an hour before she sailed. We were all cheerful; Mother had set that tone for our last hours together. “I shall not shed a tear,” she said. “Robert has promised me that you shall come to visit us in two years, and he always keeps his word.” Like a little child she accepted a promise; she never thought of its being broken. She was delighted with our cabin, and delighted with the ship, and was talking comfortably to me about the quickness with which two years would pass, when there was the ringing of a bell and an officer politely reminded her, that the call was for those going on shore. She started to her feet with a little cry—a cry like that of a wounded animal—I shall never forget it, and then sobbed,

“Milly! Milly! Two years, dear!”

I could not speak. I cannot write it. They led her away. In a few moments we were parted forever in this world.

I stumbled down to my cabin, and found Robert with the children. There were tears in his eyes, but none in mine. I bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his mother, but I did not find tears till I was alone with God, and had my baby at my breast. For Fate or Force seemed closing around me, and but one way stood before me—the way this man I had chosen for my husband, should choose to go. He had already taken me from my father, my mother, my sisters, and my home; the friends of my youth, the land of my birth, what, and where next? Then I glanced at the babe in my arms, and she smiled at me, and with that love and hope counseled me, for in my soul I knew:

“’Twould all be well, no need to care,

Though how it would, and when, and where,

I could not see, nor yet declare.

In spite of dreams, in spite of thought,

’Tis not in vain, and not for naught,

The good wind blows, the good ship goes,

Though where it takes me, no one knows.”

Very soon Robert, who had carried Mary to the deck with him, returned and I was able to meet him with a smile. “It will be lunch time in ten minutes, Milly,” he said.

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“I will not go to lunch today,” I answered. “They will bring me something for Mary and myself, and after lunch we shall try to sleep. So, Robert, do not disturb us till four o’clock.” However, after lunch I was far from sleep, though the children were good enough to let it take care of them. Then I sent for the stewardess and asked her to hire me a woman from among the steerage passengers, who could assist me in nursing and caring for them. She said, “That can be quickly done;” then she pointed out a siding for the sofa, which slipped easily into places prepared for it, and so made a safe cot for Mary to sleep in.

In two or three hours I had a proper nurse, had put the cabin into comfortable order, and had made all other necessary arrangements for as regular a life as was possible on shipboard. Then I was tired, too tired to dress for dinner, but when the gloaming came I went to the deck with Robert. The blessed sea breeze, full of the potent magic savors of ozone and iodine, soon lifted up my weary body, and my soul and my flesh caught hope and courage, and I talked bravely with Robert of the new life before us.

An hour later I saw a little company gathering near us, and as they turned their faces to the vanishing land, a clear vibrant voice full of pathos started Thomas Haynes Bayly’s unforgettable song, “Isle of Beauty, Fare Thee Well.” They sang it with wonderful feeling, and drew a silent crowd of listeners around them. And as they sang my sorrow seemed to escape on the sweet, sad melody, to vanish, to flutter away, and I went back to our cabin, saying softly as I went:

“Land where all my loved ones dwell,

Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!”

I found Mary sleeping, but the baby was awake, and I thought it would then be well to carry out an intention I had cherished for some time. I sent away the nurse, and asked Robert to unfasten the small trunk which we had with us. As soon as this was done I said, “I want some night clothing out, Robert; will you hold Lilly for a few minutes?”

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He looked at me inquiringly, and said, “Lilly! Is it to be that? She was baptized Eliza.”

“I know,” I answered, “but think a moment, Robert. That name would soon become a trial. It is too full of unhappy memories. The child might suffer in more ways than one from being linked with it, and your mother will never know.”

“Perhaps you are right. We might love her too much, or go to the other extreme. But why Lilly?”

“Because Lilly is the Scotch abbreviation for both Elizabeth and Eliza. So she will retain her baptismal name.”

“Very well,” he replied, “that is a good reason for Lilly.”

So from that hour to this, my second daughter has been called Lilly.

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CHAPTER XI

FROM CHICAGO TO TEXAS

“Our Happiness foundered by one evil Soul.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“God accomplishes that which is beyond expectation.”

“Whatever we gain through suffering is good; we have bought it; we have paid the price.”

One voyage across the ocean is very much like another, and the majority of my readers have doubtless taken several. Some may even remember the old steamship Atlantic, for I think she was making her regular trips when the war of 1860 began. The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them. We met good and evil fortune on the Atlantic, and Robert perversely chose the latter. The good fortune came in a Mr. and Mrs. Curtis of Boston. They had been to Geneva, Switzerland, to place their sons in some famous school there, and were returning home. It is fifty-nine years since we traveled together, but I have the clearest and pleasantest remembrance of them. Mr. Curtis and Robert were much together, and Mrs. Curtis sat a great deal with me and my children, helping me to take care of them, and telling me about Boston housekeeping and social life. I was charmed with her descriptions, and longed to settle in Boston beside her.

Our evil fortune was represented by a man of about sixty years of age whose name I will not write. He had a military title and reputation, had been Governor of his state, was very rich, and had great political influence. He sat opposite to us at the dining-table, and I noticed him the first meal that I ate in the saloon. For he watched Robert with eyes like those the evil angels may look out with, and Robert appeared quite unconscious of the hatred in their glances. But I said nothing 147 about my observations, for within the past few days I had discovered that there was one phase of life, in which my husband was a stranger to me. I had known him hitherto in a very narrow domestic and social circle. I saw him now among business men, lawyers, financiers, and men of the world and fashion. I was astonished. I wondered how I had dared to contradict and advise, and even snub a man whom every one appeared to court and admire; for I can truly say, he held the crowd in his open hand.

For several days his enemy watched him, then I saw them frequently together and apparently on the most friendly terms. One afternoon when I was on deck and watching them in eager conversation, Mrs. Curtis sat down at my side. She looked at them, and then at me, and asked, “Do you like that acquaintanceship?”

“No,” I answered. “He is a bad man.”

“The Governor?”

“Yes.”

“Perhaps you should not say that—you may not be right.”

“I am right,” I replied. “I think he knows every sin that has a name.”

“I wish,” she continued, “that Mr. Barr did not listen so eagerly to him. We were in hopes of your coming to Boston, but now that he has caught the Western fever, nothing will cure him but an experience of the West. Mr. Curtis thinks you are both unfit for Chicago.”

“I know we are.”

“Poor child!” she exclaimed. “I intended to have taken such good care of you.”

Then tears sprang to my eyes. I leaned my head against her breast, and if she had been an Englishwoman, she would have kissed me.

It was, alas, quite true that Robert had fallen completely under the spell of his enemy. His lure had been the wonderful West, which Robert was now determined to visit, before we definitely settled, “We will go as far as Buffalo, Milly,” he said to me, “see Niagara, and cross into Canada. We may find just what we like in Canada. If so, we shall still be under 148 the British flag. If we do not like Canada, then we will go westward to Chicago.”

I pleaded for a trial of Boston, but Robert would not listen to me. “Every one on the ship says, ‘Go west,’” he replied. “Let us see with our own eyes, and judge for ourselves.”

I was grieved and offended at the time, but I can understand now the influence primarily working against Boston. He longed for rest and travel and change. All his life he had been kept strictly to his lessons, and his business. He had never had a holiday, unless his mother and sister and her children were with him, and this going where he liked, seeing what he liked, doing what he liked, and resting whenever he wished to rest, possessed irresistible charms. He could not deny himself. He could not go to Boston and settle at once to business of some kind. I do not blame him. He had had no youth. He was naturally poetic and romantic, but

“Even his childhood knew nothing better,

Than bills of creditor and debtor——”

while the modern spirit of travel and recreation was just beginning to make both age and youth restless and expectant.

Yet at that time I could not reason thus, and the refusal of the kind offers made us by Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, appeared to me a wilful flinging away of good fortune. Also, I apprehended nothing but danger and sorrow from any step taken on the advice of a man, whom nothing could make me trust. Alas! an apprehended danger can not always be a defended one. I believed firmly that heaven chalked the line that brought us to New York. I saw no white road leading us to Chicago. I felt that in turning away from Boston we had lost opportunity’s golden tide.

On the fifth of September, A.D. 1853, we landed in New York. The Atlantic’s dock was on the East River, and we went to a large hotel some where in the lower part of the city. I think just below Trinity Church. Robert was like a boy out on a holiday. Everything delighted him. We rode about seeing what there was to see, and among other things the Crystal 149 Palace; but as we had spent three weeks at the original in London in 1851, we were disappointed. However, I was greatly pleased with the dry goods stores and astonished to find dresses ready made, more so when I discovered I could slip comfortably into them, and that they looked as if they had been expressly made for me. It was always such a labor to have a dress made in England, that I laughed with delight at this sensible convenience, and bought many more than I needed. I was afraid I might never have such another opportunity.

As I call to remembrance the events of those few days in New York of 1853, I smile and sigh over our ignorance and our happiness. For instance when driving about the city one day, I saw exposed for sale what appeared to me some wonderfully large plums. I asked Robert to buy some, and he did so but when I tasted them, I was astonished and disappointed. They did not taste like plums; they did not taste nice at all. In fact they were tomatoes, and I was about to throw them away when the Irishman who was driving us asked for them, saying, “They would be fine with his supper’s beefsteak.” Then I laughed, for I remembered Mr. Pickwick and what came of his beefsteak and tomato sauce. But I had really never before seen a tomato, for in the North of England they could not ripen, and I think it is only under glass they ripen in the southern counties. At this day they are plentiful in all parts of England, but they are imported from the Channel Islands and the Continent.

Such small blunders were common enough, and gave us much amusement; for seeing that I could not alter Robert’s arrangements, I entered into all that interested him with that simplicity of heart, which accepts the inevitable and enjoys it. Besides, I was then only twenty-two years old, and twenty-two has hopeful eyes, and sees things on their best side. But in less than a week, we had exhausted the New York of 1853, and we went to Buffalo. I remember our ride up the banks of the Hudson very well, but no kind angel whispered me then, that I should, after thirty-five years had come and gone, make my home there.

I was delighted with Buffalo, especially with the picturesque 150 beauty of its frame residences. A house made of wood was a wonder to me, and their balconies and piazzas, their little towers and pinnacles, and their green outside blinds, made me long for such a home. But we only remained two days in Buffalo, and then went to Niagara, which disappointed me at first, though the roar of its waters remained in my ears for many days. The change into Canada was remarkable. I know that in England the crossing of the Tweed, makes you immediately sensible that you are in Scotland; but this sensation of passing rapidly from one country to another, was much stronger in stepping from the United States into Canada, and the Scottish atmosphere was intensified as soon as you entered a house or spoke to any one.

“Well, Robert,” I said, “we did not cross the Atlantic for this kind of thing. Let us go back to New York.”

“This kind of thing, seems very comfortable and respectable,” answered Robert, a little piqued, “but as you do not like it, we will go on to Chicago. You know, Milly, we have come into an unknown world, and we must take it as we find it.”

It would be tedious to follow our wanderings from place to place for the next six weeks, but at last I rebelled against any more travel. “I am tired to death, Robert,” I said. And he smiled and told me, that I never looked better. “And the children are too tired to sleep; Mary is crying to stop,” I added. That was a thing to be looked after. For to an English and Scotch husband—and for anything I know to the contrary, to all kinds of husbands, the children are sacred objects, and of far greater importance than the wife. The children are his; they are flesh of his flesh, and blood of his blood. They represent his family, and if they were lost, there is no positive certainty of there being more. But wives are only relatives by marriage, and wives are certain and plentiful. At least I never saw a man, however old and ugly, that did not consider himself eligible for any woman he fancied. So when Robert heard the children were weary, he blamed himself—and me, at once.

“We have been very thoughtless,” he said. “We ought to have considered their youth. Of course they could not endure the travel we enjoyed. What do you think? Shall we stay in 151 Chicago? It appears to me as likely a place as any I have seen.”

“Very well,” I answered. “Only, dear Robert, let us have a home, one of those dear little wooden cottages. Four or five rooms to begin with, will do.”

He laughed at what he called my “primitive ideas” and went to look for a cottage, while we stayed in the Sherman House. But for two days he found nothing “fit to live in” and on the third day, said he was going to the North Side. “They tell me,” he added, “it is the aristocratic part of the city, and I suppose rents will be high.”

“Well,” I replied, “we have a saying in England, that we should choose a house beyond our means, dress up to our means, and live below our means.”

About noon he came home satisfied. He had found exactly what he liked—“a new house, just finished, the only brick house on the North Side.”

“Brick!” I exclaimed.

“Yes. So comfortable. Mr. Wadsworth’s big house is just a little nearer the lake, General Butterfield’s directly opposite, and the Ogdens’ not far away. You will like it, Milly.”

“Have you decided to rent it, Robert?”

“I have rented it. After lunch, leave the children with Nora, and let us go to buy the furniture.”

In going through this house, I saw that it was large enough for a family of fourteen, and I proposed that we only furnish at present the rooms we were going to use. Reluctantly Robert agreed to this proposal, and reluctantly also, he submitted to my “primitive ideas” regarding the furnishing. But in two or three days, we had at last a comfortable home, though the little wood cottage had not materialized.

Then Robert rented a small office on Lake Street, and advertised himself as an accountant, and soon appeared to be very busy and very happy. Every night when we were sitting together, he told me wonderful stories about the big fortunes made so rapidly in Chicago, and was so excited over them, I could not help an anxious look at his shining eyes and flushed face. Generally I discredited these reports, and answered, 152 “There is no easy way to wealth, Robert. Don’t believe in impossibilities.”

“They happen every day in Chicago,” he would reply. “I wish that I had come here ten years ago. I should have been a rich man now.”

It was in this exaggerated spirit he met his new life, and there was no Mr. Curtis near to check his impetuosities. I wonder whether I was happy at this time. I have no doubt I appeared so, but I must have been very lonely. It was different with Robert. Every day he made fresh friends and he began to join societies for this and that purpose, and seemed to be in constant request. But it was Thanksgiving Day when I received my first caller, a Miss Dagget, the sister of the principal grocer in Chicago. She lived so close to me, that we could stand at our doors and converse without raising our voices.

From her conversation, however, I learned that I had been thoroughly discussed. Mrs. Nicholson had thought from our taking such a large house, that I might be going to keep boarders, and Mrs. Ogden had said she had heard, I was very well educated, and what a charity to the North Side it would be, if I opened a school and saved the children, the danger of crossing the dreadful draw-bridge. I said nothing at the time about Mrs. Ogden’s idea, but it took possession of me, and the result was that I opened a ladies’ school on the second of January, 1854. I limited the number of pupils to four boarders, and twelve day scholars, and made the terms prohibitive to all but the class, whose patronage I desired. They were indeed the cause of much conversation, but those paying them were proud of the circumstance, and liked to make it known by their complaints. It was their privilege, and did me more good, than harm.

A week before school opened, my number was complete, the spare rooms were furnished for the four boarders, and I had written to a New York Agency to send me a resident teacher who could speak French and teach music. My first pupil was one of the boarders, a Miss Sarah Morgan, a lovely affectionate girl about fifteen years old. I have not thought of her for many a year, but as soon as I began this sentence, she came 153 smiling into my memory, and I see her childish face with its apple bloom complexion, and her fair brown hair, just as I saw her the first day she came to me.

After the opening of my school there was no lack of callers and social invitations, but as it was impossible to accept all, I declined all; yet in many other ways, I received constant tokens of appreciation and good will. I began to be really happy. My children, my house, and my pupils kept every moment busy; and when the session closed early in June, the school had proved itself a financial success, and there were few women on the North Side more popular than myself. Of course I enjoyed it. Work was always a necessity to me and it is my belief, that when people work hard, they like to do it.

One afternoon during the vacation a brother of one of my pupils passed, and asked me if I had “read today’s paper;” I said, “I have not;” and he replied, “Then I will leave you mine.” After he had gone, I opened it without interest, but instantly saw Robert’s name in large type. It was above an account of a Know Nothing meeting; he had been speaking against the society, and the man I feared, in favor of it.

The speeches did not concern me, it was the fact that this man was in Chicago, and associated with Robert, that filled my whole consciousness. I looked backward a few weeks, put this and that together, and was then sure he had been in Chicago a long time. Robert’s silence troubled my very soul. Confused intuitions, obscure presentiments, took possession of me. My mind reached backward and forward, and began to foresee and foretell, and I had a cold shudder at my own thoughts.

Then I went into the house, for my anxiety usually runs into motion. If I sit still and bear it, I have become stupefied, while motion calls up whatever comfort or strength I can lay hold of. But during the last busy half-year, I had lost something of my general spiritual aptitude, at least the stream of that life ran deeper and darker, and I could remember nothing that had any message for me. For I had not then read, or I should not have forgotten John Milton’s fine advice against an unhappy looking forward to doubtful or questionable misfortunes:

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“Be not o’er exquisite

To cast the fashion of uncertain evils,

For grant they be so, while they rest unknown,

Why need a man forestall his day of grief,

And run to meet what he would most avoid?”

I said nothing to Robert until after supper, then when he was placidly smoking, I told him what I had read. Was it true, I asked.

“Yes, Milly, it was true,” he replied.

“Then that man is here? In Chicago?”

“Yes.”

“Has he been here long, Robert?”

“About three months.”

“And you never told me?”

“You hate him so bitterly. Why should I annoy you by speaking of him?”

“But, Robert, if talking about him, was also talking about yourself?”

“I did not say it was.”

“Have you anything to do with him? Tell me truly, Robert.”

“Yes, I have unavoidably found myself compelled to have a great deal to do with him.”

“How?” I persisted.

“You have read ‘how’ in one way, Milly. He himself asked me to answer his speech. He thought that I, being an alien, would make a proper opponent. I am a fair speaker, and I think I have learned a little about American politics.”

“Robert!” I said, “you have no more knowledge of American politics, than a Hindoo has of skating.”

He did not contradict me; he never did that, but he changed the conversation, and I had hard work to keep my temper under control. Perhaps I did not succeed very well; for when he bid me good night he said, “Milly, we will not be cross about nothing. I do not interfere with your scholars, and you must give me the same freedom. I have to transact business with 155 men I do not personally like, and the man you hate so unnecessarily, has never done me any harm.”

“Robert!” I answered, “listen to me this once, and I will say no more. Remember what Peter Grey told you. He said, ‘I have escaped from him, as a bird from the fowler’—furthermore, that he hated young men, and found his pleasure in their destruction—that he stalked them as a Highland Chief stalks stags for his amusement. Such a man must either be insane, or have a fiendish disposition. Are you going to be his next victim?”

“My dear Milly,” he answered, “you let your imaginations and superstitions rule you too much. I have often heard you say, that we only meet the people in this world, we are meant to meet.” Then he kissed me, and I felt that I had done more harm than good. I had promised not to speak on this subject again, so I had virtually released him from any similar confidence. In the dark I went over and over our conversation, and wrung my hands miserably at the mistake I had made. Yet perhaps it was a fatality. Perhaps I was too imaginative and superstitious. Well then, there was nothing to be had, and nothing to be saved by interfering with destiny. I tried to dismiss the subject, and to take my life day by day and be happy.

In September the school opened with a full roll, and the session was a remarkably pleasant one. On the following Christmas Day I had a third daughter whom we called Edith. After this event, all went well until the extreme heat compelled the closing of the school a few days before the usual time. Both I and my children felt it severely and Edith was very ill. She never quite recovered, but slowly withered away like a plucked flower. In August a terrible fear came into my heart, and on August the twentieth, while my dear mother was watching every mail for some word of my promised visit, I was watching my dying daughter.

But much as I suffered, Robert suffered more. He was devotedly attached to this child, for she showed from her earliest consciousness a singular love for him. She was never quite happy but in his arms. She wept whenever he left her. How 156 ever sick or sleepy she was if he entered the room she entreated him with smiles and little happy cries to take her in his arms; and when all was nearly over, at the last moment, she opened her eyes, looked at him, and with a smile passed away forever.

We were broken-hearted. I know not how I endured the next few days. It was a new sorrow. I would hear of no comfort. Robert bore his grief trustfully and manfully, but I would not listen to anything he could say. I could not pray. I could only think of the little soul struggling through the nameless woe with the angel of the river, and of the multitude of little children at the same hour passing with her,

“... as a stream across the stream,

Or as visions across a dream,

For as clouds of doves to their windows fly,

The clouds of souls unto God flit by.”

She was such a tender little soul, if she stumbled in the river who would care for her? Numberless mothers must have had such fears, and the sweetest and tenderest of singers, answered them a few years ago:

“Day and night Christ standeth,

Scanning each soul as it landeth;

Over the floods He bendeth,

With a face that hath once been dead.

. . . . . . . . . .

“And when the children come

To pass through the dreary River,

Christ stretcheth forth His hand,

A gentle piercèd hand,

And draws them safe to Land.”

To those who know nothing of this loss, my grief may seem unreasonable; but the fathers and mothers who have turned away from an open grave, blind with tears, and with heart and flesh failing them, they will understand.

Yet I had not been left without intelligence of the coming sorrow. Three nights before her death, at the midnight, as I 157 lay thinking with the child asleep in my arms, the warning notice came. I knew then, that some of my family were called, and my thoughts went at once to my father. I either did not, or would not associate it with my child, until the symptoms of her dissolution were at hand. If it was an inimical Presence that predicted such relentless, inexorable doom, who would carry my little child safe through the river of death, and up to the celestial city? And as I mused on these things, a sweet Spanish tradition read years before came into my memory—that an angel sat outside the gate of heaven with shoes for the barefooted babies, who came there unshod—and I remembered that Edith had been laid to rest unshod, and had a passionate fit of weeping.

But comfort was at hand. The thought of the gate of heaven made me remember that heaven had twelve gates, and that they were always open. So then, when God took from us our beloved, He did not shut them up in the heavenly city. Its twelve gates stand open, and the angels ascend and descend; and go in and out on their heavenly messages. Jacob saw them; weeping mothers and good and suffering souls have seen them. No doubt, the child would be safely carried home. And I blessed God for the smile with which she went. Surely

“The Shepherd from His Fold,

Had smiled and drawn her unto Him.”

It was this thought which enabled me to dry my eyes, and to set my hands to the duty they had to perform. For the school was to meet late in September, and I had not done anything, as yet, towards the welfare of the next session. Yet I knew that if it was to be successful, I must set the key-note of enthusiasm and delight in the work, or all would be done with the left hand only; knew that if I went into the school room alert, and smiling, and with the air of a teacher expecting great things, I would have cheerful, busy, ardent girls around me; while if I showed depression and indifference, my attitude would have the same effect upon their spirits and ardor, that the putting down of the soft pedal has on the tones of a piano. 158 For it is not what a teacher does, it is what she makes her scholars do, that is of lasting value.

Knowing these things well, because taught by experience, I tried to give myself to my duties with all my heart, and

“So nigh is grandeur to our dust,

So near is God to man,

When Duty whispers low, ‘Thou must,’

The Soul replies, ‘I can.’”

The school opened well, so well, that the proprietor of the house we rented, asked me if I would like him to build a larger house with suitable school room attached. And this question revealed to me my innermost and as yet unacknowledged feeling—that we should not remain much longer in Chicago. I told myself that the climate was too cruel, the summer heat and the winter cold were alike dangerous. Croup lurked in the nursery all the time; I never went to bed without its remedies at hand; and again the school had unavoidably out-stripped its limits. At present it was too large; its demands exhausted even my young, fresh faculties, and physical strength. If I increased it, I should require more room and more assistance. I told myself these were my reasons for desiring a change, but down in my soul I knew they were only the reasons I should assign to the world at large—the deep, underlying motive beyond all others, and above all others, was Robert’s evident and constant anxiety. He came home every night mentally exhausted. It was not his grief for Edith’s loss; no, he sought me in that trouble, and we comforted each other. It was no God-sent trouble of any kind, or he would have done the same thing and I thought, and feared, but knew nothing certain.

One day about the middle of November, he returned home in such evident distress, that I could no longer keep silence. “Are you ill, dear Robert?” I asked.

“No, Milly,” he replied. “I am as well as a man can be, who is worried to death nearly.”

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He was lying on the sofa, and I went close to him, and with kisses and sweet words begged to share his worry.

“Is it business?” I asked.

“Yes, and no. I could manage the business end, if it was not for that man. You know who I mean?”

“Yes, I know. What is the matter now? Tell me, dear.”

“I must. You will have to know, for in that quarter it is now kill, or be killed. He has made life too intolerable—and I struck him today. He promised me full payment, and he is able to keep his promise.”

“Then you must go away. He provoked that blow, because his revenge is ready. You must go at once—tonight—do not wait for the morning.”

“I have no money. I cannot go. I will not be driven away by him.”

“You do not want that creature to spill your life in the dust of Chicago! You do not want to commit murder! That part of the subject is settled. Where then will you go? You must have thought of this necessity as certain.”

“I have. I will say I am going to Kansas City, and go a little way in that direction—then cross to a line by which I can reach Cairo, and at Cairo take a boat down the Mississippi to some southern town. There I will wait for you, and we will go forward to Texas.”

“Wait at Memphis,” I said.

“Why Memphis?”

“I do not know, Robert. The word came inadvertently to my lips. It is therefore a word from Intelligence beyond mine. Say Memphis, Robert.”

“Very well.”

“Go tomorrow night,” I urged, “at the latest.”

“I will try. I must see Peter Grey in the morning, and leave my affairs with him.”

“Do you trust him?”

“Not much. As for money——”

“I have one thousand dollars saved, Robert. Take half of it. With the rest I will close up the house and school affairs, and come to you. Be ready for Texas when I come.”

160

“God be thanked for you, Milly! You have given me a new life!” he said lovingly. We talked the matter over in every light, found out the best trains, and I promised to have a small valise packed for him. He was to come home to get it and the five hundred dollars at six in the evening.

All day I went about like a woman in a dream. When the clock struck six, every stroke was on my heart. Then I waited for the turn of the key in the lock, and the sound of footsteps. All was strangely silent. I was sick with fear. Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven o’clock struck, but Robert did not come—did not even send any message. I could wait no longer. Something must be done, but what? Whom must I go to now, that it was near midnight? My own household was fast asleep. Peter Grey was not now at his office. I did not know where he lived. There were no telephones in those days. I watched and watched for a policeman, but none came to this quiet corner of the North Side; and I could not leave a house full of girls, and my own children alone. I slept none all night. I was on the alert for any call that might come. It was bitterly cold. I went down stairs and brought up coal, and sitting down by the fire, suddenly found my dress, which was of silk, burning. I put the fire out, and then saw it was six o’clock. The servants began to move about; I went to my room. Oh, if the daylight would come! And I had to go to the breakfast table, and give the orders for the day’s work. I do not know how I did it. I was dressing to go to Peter Grey’s office when he called.

The thing that I feared had come to me. Robert was in the power of his enemy, and there followed an interval of ten days of supreme agony and suspense; then Robert was triumphantly justified in the sight of all men. But I will not, can not, enter into details. The men are both dead—dying almost at the same moment, though Robert was in Texas, and the other one in a far northwestern state; but I have no doubt whatever, that Robert’s soul in passing called his soul, for he told him he would do so. I will go into no details of this tragedy, for there is no good to be gained by compelling myself to live over again those terrible ten days and nights. Time cancels, and I have forgiven. But if anything could make me do this 161 thing, it would be solely and entirely, that I might glorify the wonderful way, in which the Great and Holy One wrought out our salvation, and that by means so insignificant, that even the hatred of hell had overlooked them. “We were brought low, and He helped us.” He raised up also a host of unknown friends, and the way that had seemed impossible was made clear and easy. I did things at that time that appear incredible to me now, and all I did prospered.

In those days I did not think of tears, but it was then I learned to pray, to take heaven by assault, to press forward and upward, bent on prevailing. Such prayer is the gift of God, and when He gives it, He gives all it asks with it. This was one of those chasms of life, for which we must have wings—the wings of prayer.

The day after our victory was Thanksgiving Day. The scholars had all gone home, and Robert and I were sitting still and almost speechless in our parlor with the children playing quietly beside us. We were both weary, and looked very much like two strong swimmers who had just—and only just—escaped the treacherous under-current carrying them to destruction. I was hardly able to open my eyes, and too tired to lift the hands that hung by my side. Robert was more restless. Finally he rose and walked about, saying softly, and in a kind of rapture, “A wonderful Thanksgiving! We won a great victory, Milly—by God’s help!”

“Yes, God won it for us. A great victory, Robert, but after a victory, the new situation will bring the new struggle. We must be ready for it. What will you do now?”

“We must remain here for the present.”

Just as he said these words, his assumed friend Peter Grey entered. He had come to congratulate Robert in the first instance, but when he had spoken of the enthusiastic partizanship of every one, he asked, “How soon can you get away, Robert, for your life is not worth a cent here.”

“I have made up my mind to stay here, Grey.”

“Let me tell you something—in fact, I came here specially to tell you; better get away tonight. Tomorrow there will be an attempt to arrest you for debt.”

162

“Debt?”

“Yes, if that does not work, you will go out some day, and never come back.”

“I will go armed.”

“A pistol will not help you. Some rough in the crush of the North River Bridge, will push you into the black Illinois River, and you will not be seen again till the ice breaks up. Then it will be an accident. Such accidents happen too frequently to be all accidents, and there are plenty of men—among our low aliens, who would give you ‘the push’ for a dollar. If you stay here, you must not leave the house.”

Grey only voiced my own fears, and I seconded his advice as urgently as I could. Robert was unusually calm and answered, “It may be as you say, Grey, and I will go tomorrow night.”

“West, I suppose?”

“I think of Kansas City.”

“That is a good place.”

When he went away, I looked steadily at Robert and asked, “Will you wait until tomorrow?”

“No, love, I will go tonight. There will be no crush on the bridge tonight. It will be as empty as it is on Sunday.”

“Why did you tell him tomorrow?”

“It is a case of life and death. I will trust no one.”

“Oh!”

“He is a black Highland Celt. He would sell his brother for a bawbee. I believe he is a spy for my enemies. Take care of him—talk as you do not mean before him.”

Then we went upstairs together, and I repacked his valise, and showed him the one thousand dollars I had saved. “I call it my emergency fund,” I said, and I counted out five hundred dollars. He quietly pushed four hundred dollars back to me. “One hundred is sufficient for me,” he said. “It will take me to Memphis, and there I shall find work and friends.”

It was then five o’clock, and I had tea brought to the parlor fireside, and saw that Robert had a good meal. There was no necessity for hurrying it, and without tears, and with sad little efforts to be hopeful and cheerful, we ate what might be our last meal together. As we finished it, the children came in to 163 say good night and I turned away until that loving ceremony was over. Then I brought him his hat and coat, and we were both silent as he put them on. Indeed there was no room for words. All had been said. And equally it was no time for tears. We looked at each other and parted. Until his strong, swift steps were no longer audible on the wooden pavements, I stood at the open door. When I could neither see nor hear him, I went in, called a servant, and had the children’s cots removed to my room and when the fire had been rebuilt, and plenty of wood brought, I locked myself in. That night I went to bed without prayer. I only told God, as I undressed, that I was too tired and too sorrowful. And God knew, knew all about it, and gave me the sweetest night’s sleep I ever remember.

For while I had sunk even below the tide of dreams, some power removed all the miserable débris of the late calamity, swept away seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and made the way before me clear and straight. When I opened my eyes, the old cheerful morning call of my girlhood came pealing through my memory, “Awake, Amelia! There is a charge for thy shield today!” And I knew instantly that all my old fearlessness had come back to me. In that deep tide of unconscious sleep I had renewed myself. I looked young and cheerful, and felt able to manage all I had to do.

The first thing was to write to every pupil, thank them for their sympathy and support, and bid them a final farewell. It was not likely I should meet any of them again, and I never have; though from time to time in later years, I have had many refreshing words from dear old ladies, once my pupils. I wrote to each girl and enclosed a bill for the sum due me for two months’ teaching et cetera. I had small hopes of these bills being honored in time for me to receive them, but I was pleasantly surprised to find them, with but one exception, immediately and generously answered. Five out of the number sent me the price of the whole session. Three offered pecuniary assistance, if I needed it, and every remittance was accompanied by affectionate wishes and remembrances. The one letter of refusal, ran as nearly as I can remember thus:

164

Mississ Barr,

As you have not kept your bargains about your teaching, I shall not keep my bargains about paying for same.

The things to be taken, and the things to be left, was my next consideration, and I went out and bought two large trunks for the household and personal belongings, that were to go with us to Texas. My great perplexity was to get something small enough for one person to carry, and yet large enough to hold such clothing for myself and children as would be necessary while traveling. The miraculous contrivances for women’s comfort in such circumstances, common enough today, were then unknown; and I found myself left to a choice between carpet bags, tin band boxes, and small trunks. Considering that I would in any case be obliged to hire a man to carry either bag, box or trunk, I chose the latter, buying also a small bag I could hang over my arm, to carry medicines, comb and brush, and such trifles as it might be necessary to reach quickly, or to use frequently.

Then I went through the house, room by room, selecting what was worth while, leaving everything not likely to be of practical value in the making of a new home. Many a heartache this task gave me; and after the trunks had been packed, I pushed into odd corners all kinds of pretty mementoes; one I specially remember—a tortoise shell box, mounted and trimmed elaborately with silver. It had been given me by my bridesmaid, and she was now dead. Somehow, I could not let her gift go into the hands of strangers.

When the packing was finished, I began to look for a letter from Robert. It came long before I expected it, for he had found when he reached Cairo, that there was no boat going South for two days, and so had taken a train for Memphis. We had not thought of this contingency, but I was glad of it, for I immediately dispatched the two large trunks to Memphis by train, notifying Robert to look out for their arrival. In his letter, a very cheerful hopeful letter, he said that he was delighted with Memphis, and was busy opening a new set of 165 books for the great cotton house of Calvin Fackler and Company.

I was now happy and busy, but there was much yet to be done; much that was very difficult and hard for me to face. One thing was the little chest of silver. It would be out of all place in our new home, and the money it would bring more useful. I had also some jewelry I should hardly care to wear on the frontier. It also could be turned into money. I did not care to ask Peter Grey, or any one I knew to sell these things for me. So I wrote to the best jeweler and silversmith in Chicago, told him what I had for sale, and asked him to come and see the goods. He answered my letter in person, looked at the silver and made me an offer which I accepted. Then he asked for the jewelry, and I showed him what I possessed. It was beautiful, but not very valuable, the best pieces being a set of white cameos, necklace, bracelets, and brooch. Robert gave them to me the day before our marriage, and I had to bite my under lip as I laid them beside the silver. I had not worn them a dozen times, and as jewelry I did not care for them, yet—well, it was only sentiment, gold would be better. All my pretty trifles of rings and brooches and bracelets went without much regret. I reserved nothing but the diamond hoop guarding my wedding ring, and those Scotch agate bracelets, which I considered valueless and threw into a corner of my trunk. That was the end of these things for me. I wonder who wears the white cameos today, and I hope the silver brightens the family table of some happy and prosperous home.

This was the hardest duty I had to do; after it, all went easily to its appointed end. I was afraid I should have to tolerate a public auction of my furniture, but the house was suddenly rented, and the new comers were glad to buy all I wished to sell, and to settle at once in a home unknowingly prepared for them. I was by this time nearly ready to shake the dust of Chicago from my feet, and I gave place to the new tenants cheerfully and went to the Richmond House for a couple of days.

It was on Christmas Day, 1856, that I began my new exodus, 166 a bitterly cold gray day. The train left at two o’clock, and the streets were quiet and almost deserted, save for a few pedestrians hurrying to their homes or friends. My thoughts were full of the child I was leaving behind me in that desolate, sandy place of graves, outside the city, where I had suffered and lost so much.

Travel was travail then. There were no Pullman cars, and few conveniences, and even something to eat was not always to be counted on for long distances. But I was young and full of life and spirit, and everybody was eager to help me. The first night I got the porter to bring me pillows and I laid my children on the sofa at the end of the car, and then sat down opposite to watch them. I could hardly keep my eyes open; indeed I think I was dropping asleep, when a kindly-looking man said, “Let me watch your children. I am used to waking all night, and sleeping all day. I will take good care of them.”

So I left them in his care, and slept as soundly as the children did. All the way to Cairo he looked after food, and fresh food, and fresh milk, and anything needed for our comfort. I do not remember how long we were in reaching Cairo. I think two days and two nights, but it might be nearly three days, for it was dusk when we came to the place. At that time it was not much of a place, and Dickens’ description of it, under the name of Eden in “Martin Chuzzlewit” was not, I dare say, much, if in any way, an exaggeration. It stood at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers down in the mud of their overflowing waters.

My friend looked troubled as we approached the place. “You have a hard bit to get over here,” he said. “I will help you as far as possible, but we must hire a couple of negroes to help us.”

There were plenty of negroes loafing about the little station, and he called a big black man and said, “Uncle, give this lady your arm, and be sure to keep her on her feet.” Another negro was called to carry the trunk. Then I asked anxiously,

“The children?”

“I will take care of the children,” he said; “now follow me.”

167

It was the hardest feat I ever performed. The road was down a steep hill, ankle deep in liquid mud of the stickiest description. The steamer lay at the foot of this hill, and the flaming pine knot lights, the shouts of the negro stevedores, and the swearing, quarreling teamsters, the screams of men and women fast in the mud, and the escaping steam and ominous ringing of a bell, were but items in the hellish confusion. Almost fainting, and wanting one shoe, I reached the boat at last, and sat down with a feeling of slipping away. But the children were all right, and the trunk was there, too, and the man who had helped me so bravely and kindly smiled, and said, “Now you will be comfortable, and I must go, or I shall miss my train.”

I have always had a fear that I thanked him very badly, but so good a man would forgive me for being frightened and unable to find the best words. I never asked his name, and I do not remember that he asked mine, but if we meet in any other life, I shall know him by the kindness in his eyes, and the gentleness of his voice and manner.

In a few minutes the purser gave me a nice roomy cabin, and a kind helpful old negro woman took me and the children to its comfortable seclusion. She knew just what I needed, and just what to do for me; and after I had put on clean clothing, she brought us a delicious dinner in our cabin. It was one of the dinners I remember in my life. I think I never tasted food so delicately and tastefully cooked, and the children thought so with me. We ate and laughed and talked about the journey, until we were satisfied and sleepy; then I just whispered the last verse of the fourth Psalm, and lay down and slept until bright sunshine was flooding every corner of our little chamber.

I was thoroughly refreshed and arose with all the vivid senses of a new life. The children also rose full of excitement and expectation, and after I had dressed them prettily, we went to the saloon and had a wonderful breakfast, and then to the deck of the steamer. One of the dreams of my childhood had come true. I was afloat on the Mississippi, “The Father of Waters,” as I was politely informed at least half-a-dozen times within the first hour of my voyage. But what a misnomer! 168 Rolling on amid virgin forests, and young cities just emerging from primeval mud, I silently wondered what such venerable streams as the Euphrates and Scamander would say to this assumption of paternity. Of the Mississippi River itself, I brought away no idea except a dream of interminable woods, clothed in solemn gray moss, scrambling cities perched on red or yellow bluffs, and miles of flat dreary land baking in the blazing sunshine. I was, however, repeatedly assured that the land was amazingly fertile, and my faith being naturally strong, I believed it in spite of appearances.

But if nature was monotonous and uninteresting, I was surrounded by humanity offering abundance of material for delightful speculation. I never before saw such handsome, courtly men, such lovely, languorous, beautifully dressed women. I never before saw women treated as if they were angels and children as if they were cherubims, and what could I think of men who appeared to serve every woman upon their knees. It was not only the young and beautiful who were thus adored. There were several aged women present, and they received the same attentions, affectionately mingled with a respect that was almost veneration. It bewildered me. I longed for all the Scotchmen and Englishmen I ever knew to be on the Mississippi with me. I took great pains when I wrote my next letter home to enlarge on this peculiarity of Southern gentlemen, and to give it all the praise it merited. The journey lasted more than a week I think, but in its pleasant monotony I have forgotten the exact number of days.

We reached Memphis during the night and cast anchor in the river, landing early in the morning. Robert was watching and waiting for us, and looking younger and better than I had seen him for a long time; as it was a charming morning, we walked with him to our new home, a little cottage pretty and comfortable, which he had rented furnished from a couple who were going to New York for four months. Memphis seemed familiar to me. Surely I must have dreamed of that brick city, and of those large white houses set in such roomy gardens, even then beautiful with snowdrops and many colored crocus flowers. But the thing that perplexed my memory was the 169 great number of peacocks. They seemed everywhere present—perching in every big tree, trailing their resplendent feathers over the lawns, and spreading them out by the big gates open to the highway, as if to arouse the envy and admiration of the featherless creatures passing. Where had I seen this kind of exhibition before? Never in England, never in Scotland, never in Chicago. Well, then, I must have dreamed it.

We did not intend to remain in Memphis, and I was quite pleased with the furnished cottage for a resting place. For I needed rest of body, mind, and feeling, and it was a luxury to lie in the sweet warm air, and be conscious of a daily renewing of flesh and spirit. I was happy to see Robert so happy and free of care, so satisfied with the work he was doing, so at one with Calvin Fackler, his employer. And as the spring came, Memphis grew more and more lovely; it was a city of flowers and blossoming shrubs, swaying willow trees, and gorgeous peacocks. The inhabitants darkly handsome, gentle in manner, and never in a hurry, seemed born for such a soft luxurious home.

Only one dark spot was in this charming city, and Robert strictly charged me not to approach it. Of course I promised to obey him, and of course as soon as I had done so, I began to look for some excuse to enable me to break my promise. Every time I passed that forbidden street the desire to go through it became stronger, and finally I began to find pretexts for passing it, when I had no occasion to do so. One day as I sauntered by the forbidden place, I saw two women go down it; instantly I resolved to follow them, for they appeared to be of the highest respectability.

I had not gone far, before I understood why the restriction had been laid on me. The forbidden street led directly into a kind of dull, open place, surrounded by small dark houses. There was a slight elevation about the center made of wood, and on this sort of table a negro woman was standing. I knew instinctively that I was in the slave market. There was no need to go further. I stood still and looked around. On the doorstep of most of the cabins, women were sitting silent and 170 apathetic. They were not talking or singing or even sewing. Their hands lay idle or were clasped together. They paid no attention to me, asked no favor, and appeared to be in most cases stolidly indifferent. They were women who had lost all hope, and I said fearfully to myself, “Just so, women will sit in hell when they have lost their souls.” And I was ashamed and repentant for the curiosity that had led me into such a piteous place.

I resolved to confess my fault to Robert that night, but I did not do so; something made the confession undesirable at the time, and the longer I put it off, the less inclined I felt to be sorry about it; the result being that I never found a convenient season for an acknowledgment of my fault. A confession to God is so easy—you have nothing to explain. He understands all. He accepts your contrition, and forgives you freely. But, if we confess to man, we must be questioned and make explanations, and very likely be led to prevaricate, to make things better or worse, as suits the case, and so the confession becomes as bad or worse than the fault.

In March, the dearest wish of my heart was granted me. We brought from that desolate place of graves in Chicago, to the garden-like cemetery in Memphis, the small coffin holding the remains of our dead child, and laid them under a shadowy elm tree. Blue-birds were singing on its branches as we planted the roses above her, and the sunshine fell with a softened glory over this flowery city of the dead. After this event the days came and went in an easy, happy way that has left few memories; but in May, and the first days of June the heat became unbearable, a damp, sunless heat prostrating beyond expression. I noticed that dwelling-houses were closed rapidly, and heard every day of some acquaintance going to the mountains, but the real cause of this movement was not named to me until early in June. Then one morning Robert came home an hour after leaving it, and his face was white and grave, and he spoke too seriously to be doubted, or argued with.

“Milly, we must leave here at sunset. Cholera has broken out in the little town north of us, and is said to be already epidemic; here, in Memphis, there are at least a dozen known cases 171 of yellow fever. Last summer there was a dreadful epidemic of it, and this summer its recurrence seems certain.”

“In Memphis, Robert?” I asked.

“Yes, here in Memphis. Mr. Fackler says we are not safe twenty-four hours, and he told me to come home and prepare to leave by tonight’s boat. He has had the fever, and is, he thinks, immune, but he takes his family to the mountains tomorrow. Is there much to pack, Milly?”

“Very little,” I answered. “One trunk has never been opened, and from the other I have only taken a little clothing.”

Indeed, before one o’clock all we possessed, except what would go with us, was on its way to the pier, where the goods for the Natchez were lying. Then I told Cinda, the negress who had served us ever since our arrival, the state of the case, and gave her permission, after cooking our dinner, to pack all the groceries left, for her own use, taking her promise to go home the next morning. So, after our meal, there was nothing to do but to put the house in order, turn the key in the door, and give it to my neighbor. Before five o’clock we were ready to leave Memphis forever, and I could not help turning my face towards the spot where we had laid the dust of our dear Edith. In this silent farewell I was inadvertently joined by Robert. Our eyes met, but for a few moments we were silent. Then Robert said, “She is not there!” and I bent my head, and turned to the living. Cinda was carrying Lilly, and Mary walked with us, holding her father’s hand. In twenty minutes we were on board the Natchez. I did not like her. She was not a nice boat, and there was an atmosphere that I resented, though I knew not why I should do so. She seemed to have very few passengers, and I only saw three women among them. There was a lack of the usual stir in her leaving. I missed the negro songs and shouts and laughter. All was too still. I missed the crowds usually on the bluff or pier, when a boat was going to sail. Why were they not present? We had a large, comfortable cabin, but it did not please me. I said to Robert the sheets and pillow cases were not clean, but he would not let me ask for different ones. And the heat was terrible.

We had a fairly good meal, just as the sun sunk, and, while 172 eating it, I heard great confusion, and the noise of many people coming on board. They were not accompanied by any of the pleasant sounds usual on such an event—no merry good-byes, no loving messages, no eager calls for recognition. On the contrary, there was sobbing and crying, and one long-drawn wail, inexpressibly mournful and savage, from a number of voices together. I looked at the purser, who sat at the head of the table; he seemed unconscious of the disturbance; none of the passengers appeared to be astonished, and Robert kept his eyes on his plate and would not look at me.

After supper I went on deck. A few men were scattered about; the captain and officers appeared to be busy and watchful; there was an air of constraint; and oh, the heat! The damp, foggy, suffocating heat! There was no comfort outside, and I went in and undressed the children. As I was doing so, Robert looked into the cabin, and said, “I am going to the upper deck to smoke.”

“Robert,” I asked, “what kind of a ship is this? On the lower deck I saw quite a crowd of people.”

“What kind of people?”

“How could I tell? All was dark. I just saw that the crowd consisted of men and women—mostly women.”

“Well, dear, the boat is, I am sorry to say, a slaver; that is, it carries the negroes collected in the states of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky down to the New Orleans slave market for sale.”

“Why? There is a market in Memphis.”

“It pays to send them to New Orleans. Mr. Fackler told me it was a slaver, but advised us to take it, rather than to wait for the next boat, which, under the circumstances, might be delayed. We are fleeing for our lives, Milly, do not forget that, and we cannot be too particular, lest we lose them.”

I said only, “Oh!” but Robert understood my dissatisfaction, and went to the deck unhappy.

I was too cross to care. Never in all my life, before or since, have I been so long and so willingly ill-tempered. I asked myself for no reason; I never tried to make an excuse for the mood. I just gave way to the feeling, and rather enjoyed my 173 wickedness. Mary looked at me with strange questions in her gray eyes. Lilly crept into my arms, or clung to my skirts. I petted them when Robert was not present; when he was, it pleased me to speak sharply, or not answer their questions at all. Evidently, then, it was Robert who had offended me. Poor fellow! He tried being cheerful and bringing me little bits of ship gossip. I perfectly scorned to see there was anything in life worth smiling at. Then he tried being a little aloof, and only looked at me with hasty glances, and I was troubled. I could not gaze into his sorrowful eyes, and not see in them “Love’s philtred euphrasy.” But one day pitiful love, nay loving pity, bid the tides of memory cast on my soul a little spray of tears. It happened thus:

I had dressed the children, gone to the deck with them, and been compelled to come back to the cabin immediately. The air quivered with heat; the river, rolling rapidly onward, was like a river of death; there was no whirr of bird’s wings over it, no sound of a bird’s song on its banks, and vegetation there was apparently withered. The blacks on the lower deck were absolutely silent and motionless, except for a woman’s long drawn wail, always quickly stopped by a man’s passionate command. The captain spoke to no one; the officers passed constantly to and fro, always bent on some duty; in fact, even my short observations convinced me, that every man on the ship was watching the lower deck. I said to Mary, “Let us go to our room, dear,” and she answered, “Please, Mamma, and put on my nightgown; these things”—pointing to her dress and shoes and stockings—“they hurt Mary so much.”

I was granting the child her request, when Robert looked into the cabin. “I heard you and the children were on deck,” he said. “I was glad you were taking a little change. Why did you come in?”

“I could not endure the sight of the river.”

“It is a grand river, Milly; you should not speak ill of it.”

“It is like the river of sorrows—’ Acheron sad and black and deep.’ I hate it with my whole soul,” and I spoke with passionate force, throwing down Mary’s coral necklace to emphasize 174 my words, and scattering its scarlet and gold beads on the floor.

The child uttered a cry, and Robert said, “Hush, Mary! Papa will pick them up for you.”

“The Acheron, Milly?” he queried, as he gathered the scattered beads; “I have heard of it, but I cannot place it. Where is it?”

“In hell,” I answered.

I said no more, for Robert dropped the beads he had gathered into Mary’s pinafore, and then went to the door. As he stood with it open in his hand, he said, “Forgive me, Milly. I have brought you much sorrow, an Acheron of it! Poor child! I meant to make you happier than all our dreams. God help us both!”

As he spoke I lifted my eyes to his face, and an instantaneous penetrating sense of my sin made my soul tremble. For it was a handsome, loving face, though it looked, after all, as one made for suffering; half-pleading and half-defiant—the face of a man I could hurt, but could not move.

Robert!” I said, and I knew that my voice had its old loving tones.

“Milly!” And he closed the door, opened his arms, and I buried my contrition in his tender words and kisses. It was he, and not me, who made excuses for my behavior; then he told me, that we should be in New Orleans the next day, and would take as long a rest as possible at the St. Charles Hotel.

At that time I wondered, and was ashamed and sorry for the temper I had not been able to control, but I was far from understanding its cause, and perhaps blamed myself a little more than I deserved. For I am sure now, that my mind was infected by the anger, grief, and misery with which I was traveling; that my soul had retired from her surroundings, and so left me to the tyranny of physical emotions. The mind, as well as the body, is subject to malignant diseases, and, in some fretful moment, when I had surrendered myself to disaffection, deposed will, and given all power to feeling, I had caught the mental malady so rife a few yards away from me.

Mental, or spiritual crowding, is just as injurious as physical 175 crowding—perhaps more so; and, as people are made ill, or money-mad in a great city by breathing sickly, cast-off commercial atoms, so I was made angry, moody, sullen or passionate, by the cast-off thoughts of the wrathful, miserable crowd of sufferers almost at my elbow. Had I known then, what I know now, I would have called constantly for the help of Him who was able to say to such spiritual invasions, “Retro me, Sathana,” “Get thee behind me, Satan,” and drawn from the simple exercise of this power, the love that is omnipotent against all evil. And, if this excuse does not seem rational to my readers, let all who have never been cross under the suffering caused by excessive heat or cold, or the strain of things known and unknown, reprove me. The number of such accusers will be few, and their words mildly uncertain.

Two days after this explanation we were resting in the cool shadowy rooms of the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans. I saw nothing of this city. Fever was present in many quarters, and Robert was anxiously looking for some ship ready to leave the port. He found a fine bark bound for New York, and also a small steamer going to Galveston, early on our third day in New Orleans.

“Which shall it be, Milly?” he asked.

“Have you any doubt, Robert?” I replied.

“A little. It seems I made a great mistake in not going to Boston. Is it too late now?”

“Yes, dear. Fortune does not stand twice on a man’s threshold. New York was our point of turning, and we turned to the West, instead of the North.”

“Mr. Curtis would not renew his offer, I suppose?”

“If he did, you would have to tell him all that has taken place.”

“That would be foolish.”

“It would be honorable.”

“Milly, I have seen all my life, that it is very near as bad to be accused as it is to be guilty. In a few words, a man is accused of some cruel or dishonorable deed—four or five words will do that wrong—but the accused, however innocent, cannot go about with the proofs of his innocence in his pocket, and 176 expect people to take an interest in them. That unspeakable man knew this; he calculated on its influence, even if his plot failed.”

“Do not let us speak of him. His very name is malign on our lips. Robert, we have been traveling thousands of miles towards Texas. Shall we turn back now? Or shall we go on?”

“To go to New York, Milly——”

“Is to turn back.”

“Then we had better go forward to Texas.”

“It seems the only road open to us.”

So Robert took passage for us on The Lone Star, bound for Galveston, and I had a singular failure of heart and hope. I had longed so to go to Boston, but that prayer had fallen from out my prayers and had come to nothing. Chicago had been our first station on a wrong road; all it promised had turned to failure, and it had taken the hand of God to lift us out of the ruth and ruin we met in places to which we were not sent. Yellow fever and cholera had driven us down that dreary, steaming, terrible river. Would Texas indeed give a future to our mistaken past? Then my eyes fell upon my children playing with such careless sweet content in the cool, dusky room. They had no fear as to where their father and I were going to take them. They believed in our love and wisdom. Would God be less kind to us than we were to them? Impossible! Then why not give Him the same child-like confidence and affection? For, if I did not know where we were going, I did know

“We could not drift,

Beyond God’s love and care.”

That surely was sufficient.

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CHAPTER XII

A PLEASANT JOURNEY

“... all that is most beauteous imaged there

In happier beauty; more pellucid streams

In ampler ether, a diviner air,

And fields invested with purpureal gleams.”

We left New Orleans that evening, and, on the second morning thereafter, we were far out on the Gulf of Mexico. The blessed north wind was gently rocking The Lone Star. I could smell the sea, and hear the beating of its great heart, as deep called unto deep. Then, raising myself in my berth, I could see the white horses chasing each other over the blue waters. The port hole being open, I had been drinking oxygen all night, and I was a new woman, fit for anything, and afraid of nothing that could come to me.

I dressed myself and the children as quickly as possible, and we went to the saloon for breakfast. Then I sent for Robert to join us, but he had breakfasted with the captain; so we ate the good meal leisurely, and then went on deck. Oh, what a joy it was! How the children ran and played in the cool, fresh breeze! How happy, and how well Robert looked! And how heavenly it was, just to lie on the mattress the captain had placed for me in a snug corner, and shut my eyes, and let the wind, and the sea, and the sun revivify and remake me. I could hear my soul laugh low within me, and, when I was a little more rested, I knew it would break into song. In the meantime, I slept, and slept, and the wind and the waves sung me some lullaby of my fathers—some ancient song of love and courage, such as I used to hear Tom Huddleston sing in the Huddleston quarter in Whitehaven. It seemed years and years ago; though, when I tried to count them, I could only make out that it might be six or seven, since I heard the gay sailor lad singing to me,

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“Round the world and home again,

That is the sailor’s way.”

The Lone Star was a slow ship, and the wind was a little contrary, but we were not troubled by delay. For a short space it was good to be out of the world, and away from all its cares and obligations; we were growing younger and stronger with every hour’s respite. The passengers were few in number, and consisted mainly of a respectable party of German emigrants bound for the beautiful colony of New Braunfels. They kept to themselves, but, in the still moonlit evenings, sung the folk songs of their native land in the most delightful manner.

This pleasant journeying soon came to an end. One morning when I awoke, the ship was as still as “a painted ship upon a painted ocean.” We were lying at anchor off Galveston bar, and, after breakfast, the captain told us if we wished to land at Galveston we had better get all our trunks ready. I was in favor of our landing at Galveston. From the sea the city had a tropical and most attractive appearance. “It is a city in a garden,” I said to Robert, and he was equally pleased with its pretty white houses, and flowery beauty, for the perfume of its gardens was distinctly felt on the ship.

It was nearly noon ere our captain’s signal received any attention, then a small boat arrived, and every man in it was dressed in white linen. They held a very serious conversation with our captain, and I was sure, from his air of annoyance and perplexity, that there was some trouble to be met; and, in a few minutes, we were made aware of its nature.

“Gentlemen,” he said, to a little group of passengers, of which Robert and I were a part, “gentlemen, we are in an almighty fix. There is yellow fever in Galveston—plenty of it, already—and likely to be much more, and that’s a fact. So none of us will be allowed to land there, unless we have homes in the city, and have been made immune by a previous attack.”

The gentlemen in white then examined the passengers, and only four were permitted to land. Our case was hopeless: we were Europeans, and particularly liable to become infected, as were also the body of emigrants on board. What were we to do? 179 There were two alternatives. We could return to New Orleans on The Lone Star for the chance of some ship going to New York, or we could continue our journey into the interior of Texas.

“How can the journey be continued?” asked Robert.

“A small steamer will be sent this afternoon,” was the answer. “It will convey all wishing to go inland up the Buffalo Bayou to Harrisburg. The leader of the German emigrants tells me they will be met at Harrisburg with vehicles to carry them and their baggage to New Braunfels.”

“But we are traveling alone,” continued Robert, “and how can we proceed?”

“Where are you going to?”

“To Austin.”

“Well, then, the railway goes some distance beyond Harrisburg—a few miles—and it may yet be in service. If so, you will take it to its terminus. There the mail coach for Austin and San Antonio will call for mail, and no doubt it will have room for you. Travel is not very lively at present.”

“Do you know the days and hours when the mail coach is due at this terminus?” Robert asked.

“No, indeed!” was the smiling reply. “Bud Terry makes his own hours. But he’s sure to come along sooner or later. I did hear that Bud was down, but I don’t take any stock in that report. There’s a deal of business just now between Washington and Austin, and Bud knows his duty, and, gen’rally speaking, does it.”

All this was very uncertain consolation, and Robert looked at me in bewildered anxiety. I had a singular satisfaction in the affair. It had been taken out of our hands. We were shut up to one road, and, unless we were willing to go back, and gaze after our life and work and will sailed by, we must take it. If we refused, I did not dare to search through what hopeless, desultory ways our path might lie; for so it happeneth to those who fear to follow the one road open to them.

“You see, Robert,” I said with a smile, “there is nothing left for us to do, but to go to Harrisburg. Have we sufficient money to return to New York?”

180

“No.”

“Is it safe to return to New Orleans?”

“No; and the captain says he will not go back to New Orleans. He is going to Pensacola.”

“Where is that?”

“In Florida, I think.”

I did not then know where Florida was, but knew that it was an aggravating thing to question an anxious, undecided man about trifles, not relevant, so I checked my desire for information and remarked cheerfully, “Then, dear, it is Harrisburg. That far is certain. When we reach Harrisburg, the way will open, that also is certain. One of the German women emigrants told me, that there would be a number of wagons waiting for them at Harrisburg. If we can do no better, they will let us travel with them.”

So we waited for the boat to take us to Harrisburg. It did not arrive until late in the afternoon. Then, with a little effort to be merry over our adventures, we were transferred to the small, very narrow steamer, that was to take us up the Buffalo Bayou. And, as soon as I was on her deck, I threw off all care and responsibility. I felt that we were in charge of some power, who knew all about our affairs, and who was quite able to manage them—especially as we were not.

That sail up the Buffalo Bayou was well worth while. No one taking it in those early days can ever forget it. Certainly it is part of my everlasting remembrances. We reached the Bayou shortly before dark, at least it was light enough to see the famous plain of San Jacinto, on which Houston and his eight hundred gentlemen, wiped out the Spanish army under Santa Anna, and gave to the American settlers in Texas that religious and civic liberty which was their right. I noticed that the captain bared his head as he passed it, and, during the evening, he told me the gallant, stirring story, which I have retold in my novel, “Remember the Alamo.” It made a wonderful impression on me, and I thought how grand it would be to live among men who had at least once in their lives scorned the mean god Mammon, and, for the faith of their fathers, and the civil liberty 181 without which life was of no value, offered themselves willingly for their God and their country.

“We are going to live among heroes,” I said; “and, O Robert, after a life among weavers and traders, will not that be a great experience?”

Robert, who had been listening to the same story, answered, “I suppose it may, Milly, but there are heroes at the loom and at the counter both. I have known them.”

Then we were actually in the dense shadows of the Buffalo Bayou, and no one felt like talking. It was a narrow, very narrow, still, black water. A thick growth of trees on both banks of it met above our heads, and shut out all light, but that from the pine flambeaus, burning not only on board, but at intervals along the shore, showing us, with lurid, smoky lights, that we were forging our way through a water full of alligators. Their ugly black eyes dotted it, and they lay along the banks of the stream, barking at us, as we passed. It was the most unearthly sail the imagination can picture, in no way made more human by the half-clothed negroes managing the flaming torches, and the hot, heavy atmosphere, sickly with the scent of magnolias.

Landing at Harrisburg, we found there was fever in every house. Under the very roof which sheltered us from the poisonous night air, a man was dying of the vomìto. Though he was at the other end of the long building, we could only too distinctly hear the awful struggle of the suffering soul to escape from its tortured body. I know not how it was, but I had not then the slightest fear of the sickness. The children slept soundly, and Robert and I sat by them, talking in whispers, and praying silently for the poor soul crying out in its piteous extremity. Soon after midnight a dreadful silence stole through the house, and we fell asleep. For I knew, and was sure, that the agony of the strong man was over; that

“Pale from the Passion of Death,

Cold from the cold, dark River,

Staggering blind with Death,

With trembling steps yet fleet,

Over the stones of darkness,

He had stumbled to His feet.

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For day and night Christ standeth,

Scanning each soul as it landeth,

With a face that hath once been dead,

With a mouth which once did cry

From that River in agony,—

‘The waters go over my head.’”

In the morning we were awakened by a pale, sorrowful woman, barefooted, and in the simplest garment, bringing us fresh water, some biscuits just out of the oven and a cup of tea. But she brought us neither milk or butter. “They hev been in the way of it all night,” she said; “they’re full of death. Sure!”

She had wept till she had no tears left, and the worst was over. “He is gone,” she added. “Jim, he’s gone! Eat a mouthful and get away. It isn’t safe here—and you be strangers, too.”

We did as she advised, and found a queer little empty train ready to start for a terminus some twenty miles further inland. Here there was a rude shanty of unpainted wood, the last station of a line only just being built; but, to our great delight, we found a large coach drawn by four horses waiting for us. It was driven by a Mexican, beautifully dressed in black velvet, adorned with silver lace and silver buttons. Moreover, he had the manners of a Spanish grandee, and his way of addressing us as Señor and Señorita, and the nonchalant skill with which he managed those four wild mustangs, were things to see and to never forget. He asked me to take the box seat beside him, but Robert insisted on my going inside with the children. He did not believe in the safety of our charioteer.

But never again in this life, never, never again, shall I have such a glorious ride. For to one coming from the old world at that time, Texas was a new world. That afternoon, after mounting a steep hill, and then thundering down it at lightning speed, the horses were allowed to rest and draw breath for ten minutes. Then I got out of the coach, and was transported by the wonderful beauty and majesty of the scene before me. The flowery prairie rolled away magnificently to the far-off horizon, here 183 and there jumping into hills, over which marched myriads of red cattle. Masses of wild honeysuckle scented the air for miles and miles, and a fresh odor of earth and clover, mixed with the perfume of wild flowers, was the joy we breathed. But, best of all was the clear, sweet atmosphere. It went to the heart like wine. It made us laugh, it made us sing, and I never heard on any other spot of earth such melodious fluting as the winds of Texas made all around us.

Surely it was the giants of the unflooded world, who cleared off and leveled these boundless plains as a dwelling place for liberty. Looking back to that charmed drive over them, I thank God, even as I write, that I was then permitted to see earth as it may be, when He shall make “His tabernacle with men.” And I remember this hour that, when I could find no words fit to express the delight with which my heart was filled, that wonderful Old Book that is the interpreter of all human feeling came to my help, and I touched Robert’s arm, as we stood together, and said, “How beautiful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” I have no doubt it is much changed now, settled and improved; but it lives in my memory green and sweet as the fields of Paradise, with the fresh wild winds gurgling melodiously through all its lovely spaces.

The moon was full that night, and we took advantage of the light and the cool breezes to go as far as the horses were able. I think it must have been eight o’clock, when we stopped at a planter’s house standing on the edge of a creek or bayou. The moonlight sifted down on its white walls, its slender pillars, and flowering vines, and there was a little company of men and women sitting on a broad piazza. Late as it was, we were served with a good meal, and a large, cool bedroom. I went to rest with the children, as soon as I had eaten, but Robert sat till midnight with the men, smoking and talking on the moonlit piazza.

The children were soon asleep; then I lifted the window shade and looked out. I saw before me a long avenue of sweet gum and chinquâpin, magnolia, and tulip trees, and all through them were the whitewashed cabins of the negro slaves. Some 184 of the women were sewing, though, for the most part, men and women were huddled in little ebony squads, around the doors of their quarters. They were talking softly in their abbreviated patois, or humming their sad minor melodies, while the moon far up in the zenith—calm, bright, worshipful—cast a softened radiance which gave sufficient light for young eyes either to sew, or to read. The living picture filled me with melancholy, and I went in dreams to some lonely desolate place, where all was sand and silence.

We were off early in the morning, and our road lay through pine woods; a very primitive road, as yet, and a very hard one on both travelers and horses; however, horses are not expected to be particular about roads in Texas. At one o’clock we stopped, and spread the lunch brought with us on the ground; some negroes, who were cutting down trees, brought us fresh water and attended to our horses. One of these negroes, a young black Hercules, whose soul Nature had forgotten to make bond, took me a few yards into the wood to show me the fairest picture—a little natural clearing with a pretty piece of water in the center, and, standing all round it, motionless as statues, a flock of white cranes! Speaking of the circumstance afterwards, a passenger who had joined us that morning, and who was also going to Austin, told me, that the home of the crane is on the Texas prairies. He said nothing could traverse the prairies without being challenged by their tocsin shout of Kewrrook! Kewrrook! Kewrrook! which he likened to a pistol shot in the rare air. Furthermore, that the Comanche and Apache hated the note, which gave both man and beast warning that they were on the murder path. Strange sights and sounds these guardians of the prairies must see and hear, as with slow and stately tread, they pace their rounds, as much a part of the prairie as the ostrich is of the desert; for when the deer have fled to the timber, and the buffalo gone west, and the wolves are on their trail, the cranes still flock on the prairies.

We were among the pines all afternoon, and in the gloaming came to a much larger settlement than I had hitherto seen. If I remember rightly, it was called Bastrop. With a great rush and clatter we drove to a large house or hotel, and found good 185 food and comfortable rooms, and many signs of drawing near to civilization. One of these signs was a release from the continuous meal of bacon. Throughout our journey there had been myriads of cattle around us, but nothing except bacon to eat—hundreds of thousands of milk cows, but rarely, indeed, either milk, butter, or cheese on the table. Here we found a fine roast of beef, and some venison steaks, both deliciously cooked; also young corn ears and early squash. I returned thanks for these things with all my heart, for a good meal and a good book deserve not only a blessing, but a thanksgiving.

After we had eaten I went with the children to the room assigned us, and was hearing their evening prayers when a woman softly entered. She respected the duty that engaged me, and sat down almost noiselessly.

“I’m kind of lonesome,” she said, when I turned to her. “Mollie is away, and I wanted to see your little girls. They are mighty pretty, well-behaved young ones, and they do mind what you say to them! Sure!”

I was pleased with her remarks, and I put Lilly in her out-stretched arms, and, though the child was very weary, she behaved beautifully, and fell asleep in them.

“My children were sot on their own way from the jump,” she continued, “so contrary-minded that their hair grew upward, instead o’ downward. That’s a fact! Look at my Jack’s hair in the morning, and you’ll see it stands straight up. And babies are hard to raise in Texas; you don’t like to put them out o’ their way, it might be the death o’ them, for you can never call your child your own in Texas, until it has passed its second year.”

“And by that time they have got used to having their own way,” I commented.

“So they have, and they will scream you blind and deaf, until they get it. But you are feared to lose them. I’ve lost five outen my seven. That is so. I’ve only Jack and Mollie left, but they keep me considering day and night. They are not bad; they are real good, only they are sot on havin’ what is not good for them. And, nat’rally, I know what is best, or else 186 the Great Master above us has made a mistake in sending them to me. That’s how I look at it.”

By the time this sentence was finished, Lilly was so fast asleep that I lifted her from my visitor’s arms, and laid her upon the bed beside her sister. Then we continued the conversation about the natural inclination of all children to have their own way, until I was quite convinced the children of my companion had kept up a guerrilla fight with her, from their birth until the present hour.

“There’s Mollie,” she continued, “smart and pert as a cricket, and nothing would do her but a New York school. Her father was alive, then, and I asked him to interfere; what he said was, ‘Let her go to New York. I don’t see from the samples of New York women sent us, that they are a picayune cleverer than ours are, but, if Mollie wants to go, she’s going. I can back her with all the gold she needs.’ That’s the way her father interfered. He just let her go to aggravate and contradict me. His hair stood straight up. I have told Mollie ever since she put shoes on never to marry a man whose hair grows up, but I’ll just bet she does that same thing, even if she goes all the way to New York to find him.”

“Then she went to New York, I suppose?”

“Yes, she went, and she stayed more than two years, and got what they call a diploma. Mollie is always drawing people’s attention to it, but it kind o’ shames me. It looks like there was somebody better than Mollie that thought they could give her a character, or a certif’cate that she had done about right while at school. Now Mollie is as good a girl as breathes, and as smart as girls can be made, and there’s nobody better than Mollie on this planet, and I just can’t bear this certif’cate business. How would you like it?”

I made this matter clearer to her, and she said, “I wish you had come here ’fore Jake died. This same thing bothered him above a bit, and he used to say if any man thought his Mollie needed a certif’cate of doing well, he would tell him Mollie was the best woman God ever made, and, if he contradicted, he’d bore a few holes into him. I reckon he would have done it! Sure! But he took ill and died suddent one night, just after 187 Mollie came home. I miss Jake whiles, though he left me well-to-do, and a full sorrow is easier borne than an empty one.”

“What do you call well-to-do?” I asked.

“Jake had twelve thousand horned cattle, and a herd of eight hundred horses, land enough for horses and cattle to get lost in, and a very comfortable lump of spizerinctum in New Orleans Bank.”

Spizerinctum!” I ejaculated.

She nodded, and explained in one better known word, “specie.”

“Then Mollie is rich?”

“Richer than rights be, for Jake left her half of all he had, and the other half he left to me.”

“And Jack?” I asked.

“He left Jack nothing. Jack and his father were not comfortable together. They never had the same notion about anything. They had contradicted each other for twenty years, and in course they could not agree concerning money. I have heard them toss a dime between them for an hour, and then fling it to the devil; that is, where no man could find it. But Jack is real good. He is, sure! As I say, he will contradict, but he’s as straight a man as lives, between here and anywhere; and he would not let a mortal touch a hair of my head, if it was to wrong me. No, ma’am, he would make any man forever silent, who said no to his Mammy’s yes. Come, and I will show you my parlor.”

I did not like to refuse the invitation, and I did not like to leave the children, but, after being assured of their perfect safety, I felt some curiosity about a Texan parlor. So I went with her through an adjoining room, where a number of men were sitting at a table playing cards—very tall, wiry men, with prominent features, long hair, and a fierce, determined expression on their thin, sallow faces. They did not even glance at us as we walked past them, but I saw the gleam of ornamented knife handles in their belts, and was pretty certain that revolvers kept them company and that derringers lay handy, either in breast or hip pockets. Yet they sat still and speechless, holding some little bits of paper in their long, strong hands. There 188 were two candles on the table, but the rest of the room was in semi-darkness, and the strange gathering in that patch of gloomy light made a picture I have never forgotten. If it had been a painted picture, its gloom and its suggestions of quarrel and bloodshed, might have labeled it, “A Scene in Hades.”

Out of this room we went into the parlor. The first object I saw was a handsome grand square piano. “It is Mollie’s!” said Mollie’s mother, “and she can make it talk, you may just bet on that.” The walls were adorned with pictures of Mollie’s drawing, and the upholstered chairs and sofa shielded by crochet lace of Mollie’s handiwork. I was expected to be astonished at this display of wealth and culture, and I tried to make good this expectation. Indeed I really felt a great respect for the girl who had lifted herself so far above her surroundings. I asked where she was, and said I should like to see her, and was told she was in New Orleans, and that her brother Jack was going in a few days to bring her home.

“Jack’s powerful fond of his sister,” she continued; “he thinks all creation of Mollie. I am feared he will never find a man good enough to marry her. He has run two young fellows off the place, who he thought were sneaking ’round after her. He is going to Orleans in a few days. I wish she had been home. She would have fancied you.”

I said I was sorry she was in New Orleans, but I did not mention yellow fever’s presence in that city. All nature and all humanity hates the carrier of bad news. It is the feet of those that bring glad tidings that are blessed and beautiful upon the mountains.

The next morning we were called early, but found quite a number of people at the plentiful breakfast-table—some were going with us to Austin, others were boarders belonging to the place. My kind hostess had saved seats beside herself for us, and I noticed that Robert nodded and spoke familiarly to a handsome youth assisting her to serve the meal. Of course it was Jack. I knew instinctively it was Jack, though he was amiable looking, and wore his pale yellow hair parted down the middle of his head.

At first I thought his mother had been romancing about his 189 “sot, determined ways, and quarrelsome temper,” but, towards the end of the meal, I noticed him lift his steel-gray eyes, and look at a man who was noisily relating one of his own adventures. Nothing more was necessary, not only to confirm all his mother had said, but to rouse the imagination concerning the likelihoods and probabilities a man with such passionate eyes could summon. For, if the eyes are the windows of the soul, I saw a soul of tremendous will and temper looking through them. However, he was polite, and even kind to us, and I left a message with him for his sister Mollie; then Mollie’s mother put into my hands something good for luncheon, because, she said, there was no nooning place, and it would be four o’clock, as like as not, before we reached Austin. “And I hope that is the end of your journeying,” she added, “for to go further is to fare worse. You keep that fact in your mind. Maybe I’ll be up to see you some day. I want Jack in the legislature. He is the very man to get on there, considering the way it is put up at present.”

As we talked we were standing just within the store door, waiting for the coach, and though it was so early a number of sallow, long-haired, fiercely whiskered men were stalking up and down, the tinkle of their great bell spurs, the ring of coins on the counter, and the kindly tones of my companion’s voice chiming softly together. Even at this moment I seem to be trying to disentangle them, until the whole is lost in the clatter of the coach, and the beating of the horses’ feet upon the hard road. So we left the hospitable lady with many kind words and wishes. At last she kissed the children, and I, remembering my own mother, kissed her; for about a good woman, who has taken the sacrament of maternity, there is the odor and sense of sacrifice. We may touch her lips, and do her honor, and be sure that we are honoring ourselves in the homely rite.

At noon we stopped on the banks of a great river. There were large troughs here, full of water, and a couple of negroes sitting on the grass and playing cards. Evidently they were waiting for our arrival, for, as the coach approached them, they stepped quickly to the heads of the horses, unharnessed, fed, and watered them, while we had the hour to eat our lunch and rest. 190 I looked around, but saw no house; yet there was a very large one, belonging to a sugar planter, hidden away among the trees; and, just as we were preparing to go forward, I saw a negro lad running with frantic speed towards a closed gate near the troughs. I walked towards this gate and watched his approach. He was spent of breath, and could hardly speak, but, after a mouthful of water, he gasped out,

“How—long—’fore Chris’mas, Missis?”

I told him, and then asked, “Why do you want to know?”

“I’se gwine home at Chris’mas!” he cried. “I ain’t ’long to dese people—I’se only hired to them.” These last remarks he uttered with all the childish scorn and dislike imaginable, and then sobbed out once more, “I’se gwine home at Chris’mas!”

“Where is your home?” I asked.

“In Austin,” he answered. “There’s people in Austin—there’s Mammy and Mass’r Tom, and Miss Mary, in Austin. I want to go home. I don’t ’long here!”

“Whom do you belong to?” I asked.

He told me, and then I had to hurry away, but I carried with me the piteous face of that unhappy child, peering through the gate palings, with no hope in his heart but Christmas, and Christmas five months away.

The last twenty miles of our drive gave no indications that we were approaching the capital of the state. On the banks of the creeks there were sheep and cattle ranches, and here and there rough farm houses, but the country was uncultivated, open prairie, or cedar covered hills. People now going to Austin will reach the beautiful city by the railway, and I have no doubt it has chosen the ugliest entrance it could find. But we had almost an idyllic introduction to what was then one of the loveliest dwelling-places of men in the whole world. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon that we came to the Colorado River, and our horses walked leisurely across its clear, limpid waters. Then we mounted a hill, and a scene of unwritable beauty was before us on every side. Other portions of Texas are lovely as Paradise, but nowhere had I ever seen such exquisite and picturesque arrangement of wood and mountains, grassy stretches, and silvery waters, and crowned hills. From 191 every mouth, there was an instant and spontaneous cry of delight.

The city was built on hills, surrounded by a rampart of higher hills, crowned with the evergreen cedar, and the shining waters of the Colorado wound in and out among these hills, and then swept grandly round the southern part of the city. For a minute or two Señor Tomas—as if compelled by his own innate love of what was picturesque—drew reins on the top of the hill on which there stood a little church. It was painted a pale pink color, and did not look inconsistent. It must have been full of the perfume of the China berry trees, and it stood at the gate of the town like a visible prayer. I have no doubt it has been replaced by a much grander structure, but there must be many living yet, who remember, with me, those happy Sabbaths when we went up together to the little pink church on the hill, and served the Lord with gladness, and came before His presence with a song.

For that short pause I must always thank Señor Tomas Sandobel, though it may have been neither prayer nor a sense of beauty that was his compelling motive. For I noticed, that as soon as the horses were full breathed he gathered up the reins tightly, and, with a peculiarly exciting cry, began his descent at the highest possible speed to the main avenue. Fortunately it was but a transient trial. In a few minutes we stopped at the Smith Hotel, a rather large wooden building standing on Congress Avenue and Pecan Street, I think. Under the wooden awning in front of the building there were a number of men sitting in tilted-up chairs, and, as Señor Tomas stopped the coach, a pleasant-looking gentleman was opening the door. He lifted Mary and Lilly out in his arms, and then, removing his hat with his left hand, offered me his right hand to assist in my descent. It was just such a kind, respectful greeting as an English landlord of that time would have given his coming guests, and it went straight to my heart. Robert asked him if we could have rooms, and he said he would show us the best he had in a few minutes.

He had a pleasant word for every passenger, and a few directions to give, then he lifted Lilly in his arms, and we followed 192 him to a large, low room, directly above the entrance. It was spotlessly clean, and, though the floors were bare, they were scrubbed until they looked like ivory. The chairs were of unpainted wood, and their seats of rawhide—not at all handsome—but very comfortable; and the large bed looked so white and cool it made me drowsy.

“This room is delightful, Robert,” I said. “I hope Mr. Smith can spare it.” Then a sudden thought came to me, and I continued, “The children! We must have a room for them that opens into our room.”

Mr. Smith smiled benignly. “We can do better for you than that, Madame,” he said; “there is a trundle bed, you know.”

“A trundle bed!” I repeated. “What is that?”

Then he stooped and drew from under the bed a very low bedstead, and showed me that it had a good spring and mattress, and clean, soft linen; and I was astonished and delighted. I thought I had never seen any contrivance equal to it for convenience and comfort, and I told Robert that I must have trundle beds under all our large beds when we furnished. And both men smiled broadly at my enthusiasm.

So we took the room, and my little trunk was brought to me, and I began to bathe and dress and make ready for dinner, which I was told would be at six promptly. A Chinese gong summoned us to the meal—a gong in the hands of a negro boy, whose face shone with delight in the noise he was making. But his grinning and gesticulating brought a laughing company into the dining-room. There was nothing in this room but what was absolutely necessary. The floor was bare but clean, the chairs of a plain wooden variety, and the china, glass, and damask very suitable to the room. The only extravagance about the service was an arrangement like an East India punka above the whole length of the table—a movable wood frame, hung with clean towels, and kept in motion by two negro boys. It certainly made the room cool, and prevented the intrusion of a single fly.

The dinner itself was excellent, though the courses were left to every one’s taste and capacity. There was roast beef, and 193 chicken pie, bear meat, and antelope steaks, and I noticed that some old men who ate bear meat ate honey with it, so I resolved to try the luxury some day when I was quite alone. I did so, and found it very good, but an old Texan told me, that the most aristocratic dainty of the Spanish Texan was bear’s paws preserved in Madeira wine, and a little brandy. The paws then look like walnuts, but are said to excel any tidbit known to epicures. I am sorry that I never had an opportunity of verifying this statement by personal experience. The dessert to our dinner is not worth naming; it was a pudding of some kind, but the majority left it alone, and seemed very well contented with the bowl of delicious clabber and fresh milk. There were no liquors of any kind on the table, but plenty of tea and coffee, and I do not think any one ate their dinner without drinking their tea at the same time. I took kindly to the custom, and have never quite resigned it, except under medical advice, which I follow with that desultory reluctance usually given to ordinances with which we are not quite satisfied.

After dinner the children were eager to go to the trundle bed, and their delight with it would have made any looker-on believe the little ungrateful ones had never had a decent bed in all their lives before. It was so “nice,” so “soft,” so “easy to get into,” so “cool,” so “sleepy.” I felt almost angry at their unreasonable pleasure in this very ordinary convenience, and was quite “short” with the offenders before they found the “sleepy” part of their new bed. Then I sat down at the open window and began to think. Very quickly I discovered that I had been guilty in the same kind. Had I not been lauding this bit of Texas as an outskirt of Paradise all afternoon? No one could have supposed I had lived in Kendal, and Penrith, wandered in the laurel woods of Windermere, and walked the storied streets of Edinburgh. I smiled contemptuously at my raw enthusiasm, and felt as if my native land had been wronged by it.


So I began to write a poem to Mother England, and had got the three first lines to my satisfaction, when Robert entered the room. He was smoking a huge cigar, and the odor of it was strange and unpleasant. But he was as pleased about his cigar 194 as the children about their trundle bed, and I listened rather coolly to his praises of the men he had been talking with. “A new kind of humanity, Milly,” he said. “I never saw men like them. I think I will go and talk to them an hour or two longer.”

And, when I looked into his buoyant, happy face, and remembered that he would have to live and work with this new kind of humanity, I understood at once the necessity of sympathy and agreement. I told him that I felt inclined to write poetry, and would doubtless go to sleep about the sixth line, “so go, and talk, and enjoy yourself, Robert, dear,” I added. “I am glad you have such good company.”

“Better company there could not be, Milly,” and, with these words, he kissed me, and ran lightly down stairs. Did I write any more poetry? No, I went to sleep. But I have not yet forgotten two lines of the poem to Mother England I began that night, and have never yet finished,

My heart is like a weaning child,

That never can be weaned:

I did not dream at that date of a time when Robert Bonner would pay me ten dollars every week for a poem, and that for a period of nearly fifteen years. When that time arrived, I had outgrown the longing and the need—I had been adopted by New York.

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CHAPTER XIII

IN ARCADIA

“’Tis not for nothing that we Life pursue.

It pays our hopes with something still that’s new;

Each day’s a gift we ne’er enjoyed before,

Like travelers, we’re pleased with seeing more.”

There are no little events in life, those we think of no consequence may be full of fate, and it is at our own risk if we neglect the acquaintances and opportunities that seem to be casually offered, and of small importance. And, as for what we call “accidents,” they are God’s part in every occurrence so called. I am led to this reflection by a circumstance that happened just at this time. When the coach which brought us to Austin was on the point of leaving Bastrop, a man rode rapidly up to it, and, flinging his bridle to a bystander, made a leap to the outside seats, and landed close to Robert. Robert smilingly made room for him, saying as he did so, “That was a clever jump. It is a jump you mustn’t make a miss of—if you try it.”

This introduction preceded a day of pleasant conversation together, and, when the coach stopped at Smith’s Hotel, the Honorable William Bentley stopped there, and at the dinner table we found him again at Robert’s side. The big cigar Robert was smoking when he came to tell me he was going to sit and talk an hour or two, was made from tobacco grown on the Bentley plantation; and, in the course of that evening’s conversation, he told Robert he was the member for his county, and had come to Austin to take his seat in the legislative hall.

“When I got religion,” he continued, “the folks began to talk of sending me to Austin. I was not onto the thing at first, but got sort of dragged into it and at last I gave up, as any Christian might do, specially one new to the business. Now I 196 like it, and there’s no one more ready to devote himself to his country than William Bentley. I want you to know that. So come to the Capitol with me in the morning, and you will see and hear something worth while. If you don’t you may call me short stock, even if I am six feet three in my stockings.”

Robert repeated this speech to me with certain Texan interjections I need not insert, and I asked, “Will you go with him?”

“Certainly, Milly. I expect to enjoy it very much. He says he will show me legislators who are alive, and not a lot of respectable graven images, like they have in Washington. He told me, that young Terry was going to speak for the Rangers, and that the men who did not like plain truths would have to get up and squander, for they would be sure to have the bleeding frontier served up to them, in every heartbreaking style, Terry could manage; and they say he can tell Indian tales that make men shiver, and shout, ‘Shut up, Terry!’ Milly, I have had one of the pleasantest days that I have known in all my life. Is it not strange, dear?”

“Not at all, Robert,” I answered. “The land is so lovely, and the people so friendly, that any good thing seems possible.”

In the morning I watched him, as he dressed with more than usual care, though he was always particular on this subject, more so than I could patiently endure when “hurry” was the order, and I had the children to dress as well as myself, and yet was always kept waiting for some trifling adjustment that seemed to me unnecessary. Comparing notes on this subject with numberless other women, I have come to a fixed and solid conviction that vanity and love of dress is a male, and not a female, foible, and I think, moreover, that Nature in all her departments supports this theory. I am at least quite sure that any woman still young and beautiful would have prepared herself for a possible interview with a Texan legislator, in much less time than my young and still handsome husband found necessary. But the result was perhaps worth the labor, and I watched the Honorable William Bentley and Robert walking up the avenue together, with smiles of satisfaction.

Robert had the English air of reserve, and of entire complacency 197 with his apparel and appearance. His high silk hat typified the quality and fashion of all the garments beneath it, and I have no doubt that he was the only man in Austin wearing gloves that day. His honorable companion was at least a picturesque contrast. He was tall, and thin, and aquiline, loosely and carelessly dressed in a white flannel shirt, dark tweed trousers, and a broad leather belt without furnishings. Gentlemen then wore Wellington boots—no amount of vanity could have made women put on such affairs—but the Honorable Bentley wore very low-cut shoes, and I hardly think his hands had ever dreamed of gloves. However, he wore on his head a handsome black sombrero, with a silver cord and tassel round it.

Looking at the two figures, as they slowly trailed up the avenue, I was forcibly impressed with the fitness of the Texan dress for the Texan climate, and I decided that it would be proper for Robert to adopt as much of it as was suitable to him. I thought he would be pleased to do so. I was as much mistaken when I named the subject. I found Robert wedded to his waistcoat, ashamed to go to the street without a proper coat, and quite sure he would not feel respectable without his suspenders. As for a belt taking their place, that idea was out of the question.

Occupied with such thoughts, I sat sewing at the open window, unconsciously inhaling the sweet air, and bathing myself in the warm, brilliant sunshine. The children were playing with Mrs. Smith’s little daughter in a shady yard at the back of the hotel, and I was alone and full of thought and speculation. The small white dress I was making, I had begun on that morning when Robert returned home with the news that drove us from Memphis so hastily. I had thrown it and my sewing materials into the trunk that was going with me, thinking I should certainly find many hours in which I could finish the garment. But on that dreadful sail down the Mississippi I could not have touched a needle, and ever since the travel had been so continuous, and so unrestful, that sewing had been impossible.

But now! now, I should be at rest, and, as soon as the wagons with the emigrants for New Braunfels reached Austin, we should receive our trunks, for they had taken charge of them 198 at Harrisburg, and could then rent a house and make a new home. Of course, this idea at once recalled our first home in Glasgow, then my mind went reluctantly to Chicago and the pitiful home-breaking there, then to Memphis and the “flee-for-your-lives” hurry with which we had abandoned the home made there. But I was still hopeful. This place was so different. The people were so different. Life itself was different. No one was in a hurry, and I had already caught the spirit of the place, for my needle was taking its time, and going leisurely down a seam it would have once run rapidly over.

“I am going to be happy at last!” I whispered, and then I perversely added, “Perhaps.” Have we not all of us, at some time in our lives, said ill-omened words, which we would gladly have recalled, if it had been possible? The Greeks prayed Demeter not to permit them to use such words, and I instantly prayed to be forgiven the doubting syllables, while within me I heard distinctly the sorrowful spirit’s reproach, “O thou of little faith.” So I dropped my work, and sat silent as a chidden child, a little sorry, a little afraid, and beneath all some hot anger at whatever influence prompted the ill-boding expression.

As I sat I heard the gong announcing lunch, and I wondered why Robert had not returned in time for the meal. He did not come at all, and I went to my room cross and disappointed. I told myself, that however much Robert had been interested, he ought to have remembered the difficulty I had in attending to both children during a meal. He knew how anxious I was, and also how lonely. There was always the little company of men on the sidewalk for him to join, but there was no similar provision for women in the house. Oh, I had a score of small grievances to complain of, and, I am sorry to admit, that I took the hour after lunch to interview every one of them.

Then Mrs. Smith came to my room, and she had a letter in her hand, “It is for you,” she said pleasantly, “and, what do you think? It was brought by one of the House messengers.”

“The House messengers!” I repeated.

“Yes; by one of the boys who wait upon the members. I hope Mr. Barr is all right.”

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I had opened the letter, as she was speaking, and I answered cheerfully, “All is well. He says he will be here before five o’clock.” Then we had a little conversation, and, when she was going, I asked her to send the children to me, in order that I might dress them for the afternoon.

Then I read my letter over and over again. It contained only two or three lines, but Oh, how good they were!

Milly, darling,

Do not expect me until near five o’clock. I have met the most extraordinary good fortune. Be happy, dear. All is well.

Robert.

I stood with this blessed piece of paper in my hands a few minutes, speechless, my heart brimming over. Then I spread it open on my bed, and kneeling down beside it, I let my tears of contrition and gratitude wet the happy message. The gift of prayer is not always in our power, and at that hour it was far from me, but I thanked God with repentant tears, and then rising with a glad spirit, I put under my feet every doubtful complaining thought.

About five o’clock I heard Robert’s footsteps on the pavement, and also his voice answering those who spoke to him, and his steps were light and firm, and his voice had those happy inflections that only hope realized can utter—sweet and thrilling and full of promise. I was at the door of our room to meet him, and he took me in his arms and whispered, “Dearest, I am so happy to bring you good news.”

“Tell me, Robert. Tell me all about it,” I said, and we sat down together, and he continued, “You know, Milly. I went away with Bentley this morning soon after nine, and we had walked barely two blocks when he said, ‘We will shake up Lawyer Scot for half-an-hour. I want his advice, and you might find his acquaintance a mighty good thing.’ So we entered a small building and were evidently in the lawyer’s office, though no one was visible. Bentley told me to ‘have off my hat and take a chair,’ and he would hunt up Scot. There was a New York paper lying on the table, and also a copy of 200 the Scotchman. I lifted the latter and Bentley went into another room, where I soon heard him talking with great emphasis. In twenty minutes he came back to me accompanied by a man about forty years of age, a man so visibly and plainly Scotch that I could not help smiling when he looked at me.”

“Did he return the smile?” I asked.

“He walked to the table, poured out a glass of water, and gave it to me, then filling one for himself, he touched my glass and said, ‘Here’s to the men o’ Glasgo!’ Then I touched his glass and answered, ‘Fife and all the lands about it!’”

“Was he Fife, Robert? What did he say?”

“He said, ‘O man, you’re right! You’re right! I am Fife! Bone and blood, nerve and brain, I am Fife!’”

“Then, Robert?”

“I offered my hand, and he clasped it between his two large brown hands, and said, ‘Sit a few minutes. I want a word with you.’ So he asked my name and what I was in Texas for. I told him that we had been driven from Memphis by fever and the threat of cholera, and had not escaped the terror either in New Orleans, Galveston or Harrisburg. He readily understood the position, and inquired next if we intended to return to Memphis, as soon as it was safe to do so? I told him we intended to remain in Austin if I could find any way in which it would be possible to make a living.

“‘How did you make it in Memphis?’ he asked and I answered, ‘As a professional accountant.’

“‘Accountant!’ he cried, leaping to his feet. ‘Great Scot, you are the very man now wanted! Come, Bentley. I must go to the House with this news. And I must see Raymond before he goes to his office.’

“He was so impetuous, that it was impossible to question him, and in such a hurry that I had hardly time to put my hat on properly; so in a few minutes we were mounting the long flight of steps leading to the Capitol entrance. Here we met Mr. Raymond, who is state treasurer, and Mr. Scot almost shouted, ‘Here’s your accountant, Raymond! Here’s a leal Scot from the city o’ Glasgo, and later from the city o’ 201 Memphis! Here’s the very man you and your legislators are wanting!’”

“And then what, Robert?”

“Then Bentley laughed heartily, and introduced me to Mr. Raymond, and while Scot and Bentley sat down on the top step, and fanned themselves with their Panama hats, I had a talk with Mr. Raymond, the result of which was that he took me to a committee room, and showed me its long table piled high and higher with bills and papers.

“‘We have had three men here,’ said Mr. Raymond, ‘and all of them have thrown up the job. Will you try it?’ I told him I would gladly do so, and then he hoped I would manage it; and I answered, I had never yet seen the tangle of figures I could not manage.

“‘I believe you will clear up this mess,’ he said, ‘and if you do the House will be grateful. In the meantime we will pay you five dollars a day—hours from ten to four including an hour for lunch. Will that be satisfactory?’ I said it would, and he replied, ‘Then do get to work at once.’ I then asked permission to remove my coat while working, and he laughed like a boy and said, ‘Sure! I shall wonder if you don’t take off your waistcoat, and your necktie, also.’ Then I was left to study the laws governing my work and explaining what I had to do.”

“Can you explain it to me, Robert?” I asked.

“I think perhaps you might understand it, if——”

“Of course I can understand it; that is not what I mean. Is it interesting? Is it worth while? Or is it all dollars and cents?”

“It is all dollars and cents—commissions paid to certain men for buying goods for the military board, advances made by different houses, et cetera. You see, Milly,” he continued, “the Republic of Texas has just been bought by the United States. Some of her debts the United States assumes, some she must pay, or has paid herself; and there are agreements covering a score of points of this kind. It is a very intricate piece of business, I assure you.”

“But you can do it, Robert?” I asked.

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“Quite easily, when I get the agreements clearly in my mind. I shall do that in a few days, and I like such work. I like it, Milly, as other men like sport, or scientific experiments. Now, Milly, you can look for a house; the trunks will surely be here in a week or ten days, and then we will make another home.”

If I have made friends with my readers by this time they will not need to be told how happy I was, how grateful in my heart of hearts to God, the Giver of all good things, how sure I felt that this wonderful stepping into a fine position was only His doing. I recalled Mr. Bentley’s jump to the roof of the coach, and the little scornful feeling with which I regarded it as a bit of “show off.” I recalled my own shyness at all his kind advances during the “nooning” and my petty, angry wonder that Robert should find him so entertaining. Yet the Honorable Mr. Bentley had been the road to Lawyer Scot, Councillor to the House, and Scot the road to State Treasurer Raymond; and quite independent of my approval the way prepared had been strictly followed to the end proposed, and with that rapidity of events which can only spring from intelligence and power beyond human foresight. Nothing in all my life has so irresistibly convinced me, that the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, and that He delighteth in His ways, as this wonderful preparation made ready for us, when we arrived at the place appointed. No intimation of it had been given us, which was fortunate, for if we had been expecting something of the kind, we might have worried and interfered, and tied the hands, or delayed in some way those beyond who were arranging our affairs. For this reason the big events of life are rarely announced beforehand, but when least looked for, the thing we have vainly sought, steals quietly into our possession.

In ten days we heard that the trunks were at Bastrop, and I immediately began to look for a small house. Empty houses, however, were not plentiful, almost everybody owned their own home, and such as were to rent, were few and far between. All of them were in the hands of Lawyer Scot, and I called on him one morning to ask about a little place that seemed 203 suitable. Because he had taken so kindly to Robert, I tried to look as pretty as possible. I put on a clean white frock, with blue satin belt and bows, and a very pretty white sunbonnet. For the white sunbonnets of the Texan girl were things of beauty, and as they were removed on entering a room, I soon learned that the very act of removal communicated a pleasant surprise and a revelation of unsuspected charm. I was wishful to win the good will of one who had been so readily a friend to us. I succeeded very well. He looked up a little glumly as I entered, but when I lifted my sunbonnet, made him a curtsey, and said with a smile, “I am Robert Barr’s wife,” he was delighted. He offered me his chair, and his fan, he had fresh drinking water drawn, he put up windows, he pulled down shades, he was all smiles and graciousness. And I permitted his attentions. I knew that every one made him like me better, and I wished that he might praise me to Robert, for it does the best of husbands good to be reminded by other men, that they have somehow managed to win a paragon.

Then I told him about the house and he said, “It was not good enough.” He told me to remember I would have many calls from the ladies connected with the Administration; and I answered I did not want a house that lady callers might approve, but one suitable for a home for Robert and my children. This sentiment agreed with his natural, primitive ideas of wifehood, and he heartily approved my views, but still he would not hear of the cottage I had selected. Finally he admitted that its water supply was poor, and that the house itself had not a good name. “People who mind freets,” he continued, “talk about it being unlucky, and point out that every one that lives in it, comes to grief of some kind.” But he was willing to warrant that I was above noticing things of that kind.

“Indeed, Mr. Scot,” I answered, “you would lose your warranty. I notice them very much. The atmosphere of a house tells me plainly, what kind of people live in it.”

“Of an empty house?” he asked.

“There are very few empty houses,” I answered, “very few indeed. I knew of one on the busiest corner of a busy 204 street in Chicago. It looked empty. It looked dead. You felt sure neither mortals, nor the bodiless were in its vacant rooms.”

We continued this conversation until the lawyer appeared to remember with a shock, that we were talking of things startlingly foreign to a lawyer’s office, and he ended his next sentence with the information that he had the McArthur place to rent—“a clean, nice house in good company, and without an ugly past to reckon with. I will go with Robert,” he added, “and we will look it over together.”

Robert subsequently took the house. He said I could make any shelter look homelike, and though small, I also saw that it possessed some possibilities. It was a wood building of two stories. There was one large room into which we entered at once, a thing so English that it won my instant approval. It was well lighted by four large windows, and had a little stoop at the front door with a balcony above it. The roof of this room was unplastered, but the want was partly hidden by a ceiling of strong domestic. The walls were covered with the same material, and then papered. On one side there was a wide fireplace, and a door leading into a room beyond.

This room was smaller and no attempt had been made in it to hide the boarding and shingling, except that they had been whitewashed, and of course that decoration could be again applied. An unpainted stairway in this room led to two large rooms above, and a door opened into a yard containing the kitchen, and a small stable. Robert saw all the inconveniences in their unvarnished literalness. I saw them as picturesque irregularities to be accepted with the rest of their environment. Indeed when our trunks arrived, and I stood once more on my own hearth, I liked the idea of bringing a pretty home out of such apparently incongruous materials. I knew that I could do it. With great and repeated suffering I had bought this knowledge. I had paid the price. Good! What we buy, and pay for, is part of ourselves.


Mr. Robert Barr

Chairs and tables and such things were to be purchased and I chose the home made articles. Among them was a high four-poster bedstead, that reminded me of the century-old bedsteads in English farmhouses. But I liked it because it 205 could be draped with white netting to exclude flies and mosquitoes. But I did not get a trundle bed to roll under it. My enthusiasm concerning trundle beds had cooled, and Mary and Lilly had their individual cots in the room going out of mine.

I remember the three weeks in which I was making a pretty home out of these four rooms of boarding and shingles as one of the happiest periods of my life. I had plenty of fine bedding, and table damask, china and plate, some favorite books, and bits of bric-a-brac, a few pictures and rugs, and a good deal of Berlin wool work, and fancy needlework. At night when we had had dinner, and talked over Robert’s experiences at the Capitol, Robert put up shelves here and there for me, hung mosquito nets and shades, and with paint and brush beautified many rough and soiled corners.

Never before had I been so proud of my handsome, clever husband, and I am sure that with elbows bare, and an apron on, I was more charming to him, than I had ever been before. On looking back I find one sure evidence of our perfect love at this time—we hung a number of pictures, and did not have one frown, or cross word about the work. Now if anything will make two people certain of each other’s want of taste, or incorrect eyesight, it is hanging pictures; and if any two doubt this, I advise them to spend an afternoon together in the employment. Robert and I, in these perfect days, never had a doubtful word about any picture, unless his request that a water color portrait of himself, might be turned to the wall when he was in the house, may be taken as coming from some dissatisfaction. It is only necessary to say, I pretended not to hear his request, and that the cherubic boy in a short jacket and square cap disappeared in a way beyond my finding out.

Some weeks of pure happiness followed our settlement, calm-hearted weeks, full of rich content. I made a great many acquaintances, and a few intimate friends. In such a community as the Austin of that date, this result was unavoidable. For color not money was the dividing line, and the consequence was a real democracy. Every good white man was the social 206 equal of every other good white man, but one drop of negro blood put its owner far below social recognition.

And women are never democrats. There is always in their societies an exclusive set. This set in Austin was not as I expected composed mainly of the families connected with the Administration. It was a much more mixed affair. Its leaders were Mrs. Tom Green, and Mrs. George Durham. Mrs. Green was young, clever, and intimately and decidedly Texan. She was witty and sarcastic, and many were afraid of her criticisms. She dressed well, and entertained delightfully, in Texan fashion, the ladies she chose to honor.

Mrs. Durham was the wife of George Durham, an Englishman from my own North Country, and an attaché of the comptroller’s office. Robert was his associate, and they were excellent friends. I saw little of him, but he frequently sent me birds, venison, and other spoils of his rifle. For he was a fine sportsman, and spent his hours of recreation hunting on the prairie, “shooting for glory” as Texans say of a man, who hunts not for food, but for amusement. The Durhams lived in a small log house on the road to the ferry. Every one coming into town, and every one going out of town passed Mrs. Durham’s. Her sitting-room was as entertaining as the local news in the weekly paper. There was no restraint in Mrs. Durham’s company; people could be themselves without fear of criticism. She was not pretty, not stylish, not clever, not in the least fashionable, but she was the favorite of women, who were all of these things. There were no carpets on her floors, and there was a bed in the room wherein her friends congregated. She did not go to entertainments, and I never saw a cup of tea served in her house, yet she was the most popular woman in Austin, and not to be free of Mrs. Durham’s primitive log house, was to be without the hall mark of the inner circle.

Taking all things together, the life lived by the women of Austin at that date was a joyous, genial existence. All had plenty of servants, and they could not then give notice, nor yet pack their little parcel and go without notice so then houses once comfortably ordered, remained so for lengthy periods. Their chief employment appeared to be an endless tucking of 207 fine muslin, and inserting lace in the same. Very little but white swiss or mull was worn, and morning and evening dresses were known by the amount of tucking and lace which adorned them. Some of the women chewed snuff without cessation, and such women, neither “tucked,” nor “inserted.” They simply rocked to-and-fro, and put in a word occasionally. It must be remembered, that the majority of women who “dipped” had likely formed the habit, when it was their only physical tranquilizer, through days and nights of terror, and pain, and watchfulness; and that the habit once formed is difficult to break, even if they desired to break it, which was not a common attitude.

In 1856, I knew of only two pianos in the city of Austin, one was in the Governor’s mansion, the other belonged to a rich Jewish family called Henricks. I think there were certainly more scattered in the large lonely planter’s houses outside the city, but in the city itself, I remember only these two. There was no book store in the city, and books were not obvious in private houses; and if there had been any literary want felt, there was wealth enough to have satisfied it.

How did the women amuse themselves? I often asked myself this question. There was no theatre, no hall for lectures or concerts, no public library, no public entertainments of any kind, except an occasional ball during the sitting of the legislature. Yet for all this, and all this, I reiterate my statement that the women of Austin fifty-six years ago lived a joyous and genial life. It was their pleasant and constant custom to send word to some chosen lady, that they, with Mrs. A. and Mrs. B. were coming to spend the following day with her. If the day was hot, they arrived soon after nine o’clock, got quickly into loose garments and slippers, took out their tucking, and palm leaf fans, and subsided into rocking-chairs. They could all talk well, and by noon were all ready for the delicious dinner sure to be prepared. It consisted usually of young chicken fried in butter, venison roasted with sweet herbs, or the broiled breasts of quails, which cost them about ten cents a dozen, or, if later in the season, a pot-pie of wild turkey. Strong coffee always accompanied the meal, and if any lady could by good 208 luck, or good management, secure milk or cream for a tapioca pudding, or a dish of cup custard, the occasion was memorable. About four o’clock they began to dress, and the carryall arrived; because after half-past-four the invasion of the male might be expected, and it was a point of honor to throw a little mystery around these meetings. Robert once asked me how we had passed the time.

“In different ways,” I answered.

“You talk of course?” he continued.

“Yes, we talk.”

“What about?”

“Many things.”

“Can you not tell me some of them?”

“It is not worth while, Robert.”

“You do not wish to tell me?”

“Perhaps.”

“It might be, that you are afraid to tell.”

“It might be.”

“Tell me, Milly. Don’t be provoking.”

“You never tell me, Robert, what George Durham, and Mr. Simcox, and Wash Hill, and the rest of your companions talk about. You always say, if I ask you, ‘It is not worth telling.’”

But when the evening shadows fell, and we sat outside under the great planets shining above us—and apparently twice the size they appear in more northern latitudes—the sweet influences of the Pleiades were too powerful to resist, and I generally then confided to Robert any touching or amusing incident, that had been talked over by us. But sometimes Orion was in the ascendant, and his binding virtues helped me to keep silence, and to be provoking. It must have been Orion at these times, for there is naturally nothing secretive about me.

Our topics were nearly always strictly local, and men dearly love local topics, for instance there was a very pretty old lady frequently present, no matter where the meeting was held. She was a Mrs. R——, aged about sixty-five, the wife of an old Texan Major who had been in every scrimmage that had occurred between the Trinity and the Rio Grande. He was 209 a hale, handsome man far in his eighties, and had virtually lived with his rifle in his hand—on the whole a rather unmanageable human quantity, except in the hands of his pretty little wife. Being near neighbors she was in my house nearly every day, and perhaps the most welcome visitor we had. She was a Highland Scotch woman, from the city of Perth, still beautiful, and always dressed with piquant suggestion of her native land. Robert paid her great attention, and she sent Robert, three or four days every week, a basin of the Scotch broth he loved so naturally, and to which I had never been able to impart the national flavor.

One day when there was a small gathering in my parlor she joined it. Every one immediately noticed that the pretty pink color of her cheeks had vanished, and that she looked jaded and half-angry. For a moment I thought she was going to cry. Not at all! She flushed pinker than ever, and in an hysterical voice, blended of anger and pity, and the faintest suggestion of laughter, said,

“Ladies, I’m picking my steps over an unkent road. I will not believe that anybody has traveled it afore me.”

“It is the Major, of course!” sighed Mrs. Tannin, shaking her head sadly.

“Yes, Mrs. Tannin, it’s the Major. The man is in perfect agony. He has been raving about his room for three days and nights, and Dr. Alexander says the trouble is like to go on for weeks, or even months.”

“Whatever is the matter, Mrs. R——?” I asked.

“That Comanche arrow, I reckon,” said Mrs. Smith.

“Perhaps it is the dengue fever,” suggested Mrs. East.

The little woman shook her head. “It is neither one, nor the other,” she answered. “It is nothing natural, or ordinary. I’m sorry for the man. ’Deed am I, but I cannot for the life of me, help a quiet snicker when not seen. Ladies, the Major is cutting a whole set of new teeth.”

“Impossible!”

“’Deed it is the very truth. The doctor lanced his gums this morning, as if he was a baby, and I saw the teeth all ready to be born, as it were. The Major was swearing and groaning, 210 and the doctor, who is very religious, telling him ‘to be quiet,’ and me trembling with fear, and begging Ben for his pistol.”

“Did he give it to you?”

“Finally he threw it down on the table, and told me to ‘hobble the thing,’ which I did by locking it up in my own drawer, and putting the key in my pocket,” and she tapped her pocket significantly, to intimate that it was still there.

“Was it Dr. Litten,” I asked, “who operated?”

“No,” she answered. “It was Dr. Alexander, and he was very irritating, calling Ben an old baby, who made more fuss about cutting teeth than the whole twenty-two babies in Austin, whom he knew, that day, were sucking their mother’s milk and cutting their teeth. I thought then the Major would strike him—sure! And again when he was wiping his lance, and said, very kind like, ‘Major, I do pity you,’ my man answered furiously, ‘Be off with your pity, and don’t come here again with it.’”

Some one remarked that it was a dreadful situation, and then the little wife declared, “It wasn’t like Ben to make a fuss about pain. He had come home one day,” she said, “with a Comanche feather sticking out of his back, and had suffered everything but death, and been as meek and mild as any Christian could be. And yet now!” she continued, “he is raging around like a mad bull; he is smashing my china vases, and flinging his broth out of the window, and swearing at the new teeth till he hasn’t another word left—forbye, he vows he will have the first and the last of them pulled out, as sure and quick as they come. O ladies, it is dreadful! Dreadful!” And then she looked at us with such a comical, lugubrious expression, that further restraint was out of the question. For Mrs. R—— was between laughing and crying, and I am afraid we all laughed a little with her. But the incident, though so unusual, was, however, a fact, though how it came to pass, let the doctors tell. We could do nothing but sympathize and offer to make all sorts of nice, soft, mushy dishes for the Major’s sore gums. When Robert came home I did not try to keep the Major’s condition from him, and I felt sure he was contemplating the effect the 211 news would make in his office the next morning; for undoubtedly men love gossip, though they usually call it politics.

I do not know how far this pleasant, homely visiting was imitated by the women living on the outlying ranches and plantations, but I think it likely something of the same kind exists in all tropic countries, where the dwellings of friends are far apart. It was, however, only a superficial quality of the real Texan woman, who was, when I knew her, more than half a century ago, brave and resourceful, especially when her environment was anxious and dangerous. They were then nearly without exception fine riders and crack shots, and quite able, when the men of the household were away, to manage their ranches or plantations, and keep such faithful guard over their families and household, that I never once in ten years, heard of any Indian, or other tragedy occurring.

I have dwelt a little on the character of the Texan woman, because she was in superficial matters and in all her environments a new creation to me. No one knows better than I do, that woman, in all essential characteristics, is the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet the readiness with which she lends herself to the variations of race, climate, caste, creed, nationality, and conditions of every kind, is the greatest charm of her feminality. Thus, in detailing the scene with Mrs. R——, I was instinctively led to picture a group of Scotchwomen, sitting socially together and listening to a similar story. I could see them, not in comfortable lounging gowns, but corseted, collared, cuffed, and belted to the last point of endurance and sewing, of course, for a Ladies’ Aid, or Dorcas Society. If, into the midst of such a group was flung the news of a man near ninety years old cutting a new set of teeth, I know it would be received with looks of frigid disapproval. If assured that it was not an unseemly joke, but an undoubted fact, they would still disapprove such a departure from the decorum of old age.

Perhaps some one might suggest there was a mistake, “it being a circumstance clean beyond the bounds of probability”; then, if told the medical man had seen the new teeth, the question would be, what medical man? And, if he was not one attending their family, his skill would be as certainly doubted, 212 as would be the orthodoxy of any minister, they did not “sit under.” If, finally, the incident got a tardy, grudging admission, some one would “suppose the fact—if it was a fact—ought to be reported to the Royal Society of Surgeons and Physicians in London”; and some one else would be certain to answer, “The Royal Society is already well acquainted with the like of such cases. It has published accounts of them more often than you think. My mother has read the same—whiles.”

This assertion, not being deniable, would elicit the reflection that there was then nothing beyond the ordinary in the circumstance, except that such a thing should happen to the Major, “who had always been the most proper of men, a member of St. Jude’s Kirk, and of the very best society”; and this reflection would probably end the matter. There would be no sympathetic words, and no offers of nice, soft, mushy things to eat for a man nearly ninety, who could so flagrantly violate the ordinary Scotch traditions with regard to teething. How women of other nationalities would receive such a piece of news, I leave my readers to decide. One thing is certain, no two groups of different race and environments, creed or education, would take even such a simple household matter in quite the same spirit and manner. Let men be thankful for the variableness of women. It provides them continually with something to admire, or to wonder over.

Among such scenes and people as I have been describing I spent nearly ten years; and the first three or four of these ten were, in some respects, the happiest years of my life. Their very memory is a blessing unto this day, for often, when I am heart and brain weary, it steals upon me, swift and sweet and sure as a vision. I smell the China trees and the pine. I hear the fluting of the wind, and the tinkling of guitars. I see the white-robed girls waltzing in the moonshine down the broad sidewalks of the avenue, and the men, some in full evening dress, and others in all kinds of picturesque frontier fashion, strolling leisurely down its royally wide highway. I am sitting in the little wood house, with its whitewashed ceilings and unpainted stairway and one sits at my side, who left me forty-five 213 years ago. Oh, believe me! He who raised the shade of Helen, had no greater gift than mine!

About the middle of October Robert finished the work intrusted to him by the Ways and Means Committee of the Session of 1856, and finished it so well, and so completely, that Senator J. W. Throckmorton, Chairman of the Senate Committee, and the Honorable C. W. Buckley, Chairman of the House Committee, entered in their report to the House, the following acknowledgment:

The balance sheet will show the exact pecuniary condition of the affairs of the Board in every point, and it is unnecessary to say more upon the subject, than to invite an inspection of it. The Committee were extremely fortunate in procuring the services of a gentleman to act as their Secretary, so well qualified to perform the duties, and so thoroughly versed in book-keeping as Mr. Barr. His qualifications have lightened their labors, and an inspection of the exhibit prepared by him, is only necessary to prove how fortunate we have been in procuring his services.

I was exceedingly proud of this notice, and it was very fortunate for Robert, for Mr. Shaw, the comptroller, immediately offered him the second desk in his office, so that he had his friend, George Durham, for his confrère. I had not even an hour’s time to be anxious, for Robert went at once from the committee room to the comptroller’s office, and in all probability the future was settled for many years. That was what I thought, and I put out of my memory all the sorrowful past, and counted the present as its compensation.

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CHAPTER XIV

THE BEGINNING OF STRIFE

“Pride in their port,

Defiance in their eye,

I see the lords of humankind pass by.”

I had written home many times since we left Memphis, and had fully described all that we had seen and heard, as well as all that had happened to us, and I had received several letters in reply to mine. But all had made me a little anxious about my mother’s health, and I knew that she was fretting about our being so far from England. “Death cannot so completely separate us, Milly,” she wrote; “indeed, when I am dead, I shall often be close to you.” She was right. Time and distance are two sharp swords. Distance cuts apart, and time teaches forgetfulness.

Now trouble of all kinds is voluble, and has plenty of words, but happiness was never written down. Happiness is like religion; it is a mystery, and should not be explained or reasoned about. I find it difficult to put into words the pictures of the life full of all things good, which God gave me for the next four years, and I am glad that it had the little shadows necessary for its full flavor and strength. For it is a poor, weak happiness that is devoid of small worries and disagreeables; these things being the tonic bitters without which we should weary even of our pleasures.

So I had differences of opinion with my hired slaves. I did not understand the negro woman then, any better than I understand the Finnish or Irish woman now. I thought right was always right, and that all women, of whatever race, ought to do right; and Robert’s advice about “making allowances” was not agreeable. Robert himself did not always deserve, or, at least obtain, my approval; and my friends did and said things 215 I thought they ought not to do and say. The children would play down at the creek, soil and tear their dresses, and then be sure to show themselves when they were not fit to be seen. Sometimes the dinner was a failure, sometimes the weather was all wrong for my purposes, sometimes I did not get the letter I was expecting.

For my twenty-sixth birthday Robert had bought me a piano, and it did not arrive in Austin until two weeks after it was due. I had not touched a piano for more than a year, and my fingers ached for the ivory keys. Those two weeks were hard to bear. I forgot all my other blessings. I knew that if hope brightened life, patience strengthened it, but I did not want to exercise patience at this time, and I worried all the pleasure out of the gift before I received it. I was sorry enough afterwards, but I could not undo the wrong. I had spoiled the gift by those self-inflicted wounds, which are always lost griefs. The piano has gone, I know not where, but the memory of my fretful unreasonableness is still with me, and can still cause me moments of keen sorrow and chagrin.

On July the second, A.D. 1857, I had a son, and all other joys were forgotten in the delight of this event. Early in the morning I had sent Mary and Lilly to the hotel to spend the day with Jenny Smith, and neither Robert nor I remembered them, till the negro woman, at eight o’clock at night, reminded us of their absence. Then I laughed and looked at the boy lying at my side, and Robert laughed and said that he had “forgotten”; my thoughts flew back to the birth of my eldest brother at Shipley, and to my jealousy of the attentions he received. It was my mother then. Now it was I. I looked again at the boy, but I resolved to be particularly affectionate to the two girls when they reached home, which they did about nine o’clock, weary and sleepy, and wondering why they had been neglected so long. Nor were they any more impressed with their first brother, than my sister Jane and I had been with ours. Mary asked what he was called; and when I answered, “His name is to be Calvin,” she said, “Oh!” and Lilly said, “What a queer name!” Then I asked if they did not remember Calvin Fackler, their father’s friend in Memphis, and they 216 went sleepily to their bed, without any further notice of their new brother.

Soon after this event I received my first copy of Harper’s Weekly. It had no illustrations then, but I have never forgotten a story I read in its pages, called “The White Cat.” A few numbers later the illustrations began—the clever but terrible ones relating to the Sepoy rebellion. These illustrations were reproduced from a prominent London paper, and I had no intimation then of a coming day when the arrival of the regular pictures from London papers at Harper Brothers, would mean to me a respectable part of my income. These first pictured scenes of the mutiny had, however, to Robert and myself a powerful personal interest. Often we recalled the dream which had prevented us from going to Calcutta, and sent us westward to New York instead. For, when we cannot be guided by the ordinary course of events, the bars of the body are unlocked at dark, sleep falleth on the sensitive soul, and it is warned, or taught by dreams, which are the walking of God through sleep.

After Calvin’s birth I began to be very uneasy about my mother’s health. She no longer spoke of our meeting again; she wrote shorter and shorter letters, and her clear, fine writing was shaken and changed. It had always had one marked peculiarity—a frequent disconnection of letters that should have been united—a signal and exclusive sign, occultists say, of a spiritual nature ever ready to detach itself from the material, and endowed with high psychic powers. This diagnosis would be very true in my mother’s case: she lived in the visible, but was always ready for the invisible. Such tendencies, however, were in her day unrecognized, and those who possessed them were shy of admitting the fact. The church universally considered all phenomena it did not promulgate as a new kind of sin. Even John Wesley’s psychic intelligence was regarded as a lapse of his usual wisdom, and his book embodying it carefully consigned to oblivion. So Mother told me visions and warnings she never named to Father and rarely to my sister Jane, who was not mystical in any form. If a vision or dream was in the Bible, Father and Jane believed it firmly, if it was not in the Bible, they had serious doubts. And I have always felt that this 217 want of spiritual confidence between my father and mother was a great wrong to their love. It wounded it in its noblest attributes; it denied it expansion in its purest aspirations; it ignored too often the spiritual bond between them, which, if given its due regard, is far, far stronger than any tie mere flesh and blood can form. But we cannot cross a stile till we come to it, and the world is even now only just beginning to seek after that sixth sense, lost in the abyss of some great moral fall.

At this time Mother was not fifty-two years old, and an Englishwoman of that age should be in the plentitude of her beauty and vigor. But she had worn life away in an unbroken service of love, for which she was physically most unfit; for, in those days there were no trained nurses, no anodyne to ease severe pain, except laudanum; no alleviations, either for the sick, or for those whose affection bound them to help and comfort the sick. She was not fifty-two and dying, and she knew it. But many afflictions and one Love had made strong her faith, and she said in her last letter to me, “I am no longer anxious about your dear father. The everlasting arms are his support and refuge. My watch is nearly over, your little sisters must take my place. They know who will help them. We shall meet again, Milly, but not in this world, darling, not in this world.”

With the Holy Name on her lips, she went away simply and solemnly, as if fulfilling some religious rite. I received the news of her departure one day when the house was full of company. I put the letter in my breast and said no word about it, for it was only to God I could speak of this sorrow; the common words of sympathy the news would have evoked, could not have comforted me. Even when Robert’s tears mingled with mine, for he loved her dearly, I was not consoled. For a long time, daily life felt thin and haggard. I had no mother to write to, and my heart was troubled because I knew that I might have written to her oftener. I might have given her hopes that would have made death easier. Oh, why had I not done these things? For it is not the flowers on the coffin, but the flowers we strew on the daily life of our dear ones that show the true affection. And it was too late! O daughters of good mothers, give while God permits you, the kind words, the smiles of understanding 218 affection, the little attentions and gifts, that will brighten your mother’s last days. I do not know why I should have written “daughters of good mothers.” God makes no exceptions in his positive command to “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.”

I might have done more! that was the bitter refrain that for a long time made all my memories of the sweetest, tenderest mother sorrowful. But she has forgiven me long ago, and the vast breadth and depth of the river of death is now constantly bridged by our thoughts of each other. We walk far apart, but when I think of her, I know that she is thinking of me, and I wave my hand in greeting to her. Does she see the lifted hand? I believe she does. Why do I believe it? Because the soul is a diviner, and the things it knows best are the things it was never told. Whatever it divines, is revealed truth. Whatever it is told, may either be doubted or received.

For nearly a year after the birth of Calvin, there was not much change in the domestic life of Austin. The days slipped into weeks and months, and were, as the waves of the ocean, all alike, and yet all different. But early in 1859 changes so great were present, that it was impossible any longer to ignore them. There were bitter disputes wherever men were congregated, and domestic quarrels on every hearthstone, while feminine friendships melted away in the heat of passionate arguments so well seasoned with personalities. There were now three distinct parties: one for remaining in the Union; a second which demanded a Southern Confederacy, and a third which wished Texas to resume her independence and to fly the Lone Star flag again. It was a quarrel with three sides, and the women universally entered into it, with so much temper, that I could not help thinking they had all exercised too much long suffering in the past, and were now glad of a lawful opportunity to be a little ill-natured.

It may be strange, but it is the truth, that I seldom heard slavery named as a reason for secession. The average Texan had but a slight security for his slaves. The journey to the Rio Grande was not long or difficult for a man bent on freedom, who was sure to be succored and helped by every party of Indians or Mexicans he met. Arriving at the river, he had only to 219 walk across some one of its shallow fords, and touch land on the other side a free man. The number of slaves who freed themselves by this way was considerable every year, and I heard many slave owners say that they would be well satisfied to give their slaves freedom on such terms as the English slave owners obtained. What really excited them was the question of state rights. They were furious with the United States Government’s interference in their state’s social and domestic arrangements. They would not admit its right to do so, and were mad as their own prairie bulls, when compulsion was named. I heard arguments like these, both from men and women constantly; they talked of nothing else, and the last social gathering at my house was like a political arena.

So I was not sorry when on April the sixteenth, my daughter Alice was born, and I could retire for a few weeks into comparative solitude, and peace. Robert brought me the news from the Capitol every day, and it was as uncertain and changeable as the wind. One day war was inevitable, and Houston was coming from Washington to lead the Unionist party; and perhaps the next day it was the pen, and not the sword, that would settle the matter. I began to grow indifferent. “The quarrel is all bluster,” I said to Robert, “and their talk of war will fizzle out, some way or other, into a question of dollars and cents.” And I was vexed because Robert shook his head at my opinion, and replied, “Well, Milly, I heard George Durham say something like that this morning, and an old Texan in the crowd told him he was all wrong. ‘We are against seceding just now,’ he said, ‘but we shall be drug into it, and then we’ll be so all-fired mad, we’ll fight like a lobos wolf, who, the longer he fights, the better he fights.’”

“You always look at the dark side, Robert,” I complained; and he sighed and answered wearily, “It is generally the right side, Milly.”

One night, after a long, anxious day, I was conscious of that peculiar disturbance of heart and body, which warns of latent enmity or coming danger. My flagging soul felt

“As if it were a body in a body,

And not a mounting essence of fire.”

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and though Robert was near me, I thought myself the most forlorn of women. All the sorrow of the world seemed to surround me, unseen, yet full of motion, and the terror of the dark grew, and my soul trembled in all her senses. Then I fell asleep—the dreary sleep of an unhappy, fearful woman. I was on a vast plain, dark and lonely, with the black clouds low over it, and the rain falling in a heavy, sullen downpour; and, as I stood with clasped hands, but without the power to pray, a great white arch grew out of the darkness. It seemed high as heaven, and wide as the horizon, and I wondered at its beauty and majesty. But, as I looked, I saw a black line down the center of it grow to a visible break, and this break grow wider and wider, until one-half of the arch fell to the ground, amid groans and cries, far off, but terrible. At the same moment I saw a Presence of great height, dim and shadowy, standing beside the ruined arch, and he cried for the birds of prey in a voice that filled all space. Turning north, and south, and east, and west, he cried, “Come! and I will give you flesh to eat!

From this dream I awoke in a maze of awe and wonder. I rose and went to the open door, and stood leaning against its lintel, carefully thinking over every detail of what I had seen and heard. It was hardly dawn, and that most pathetic of all objects, the waning moon, was sinking low to the horizon, and the whole world was wrapped in a gray mystery. For a few moments I saw Nature in those ineffable moments when she was asleep—so still, so cool, so soft and vapory in all her tints—her very face shrouded in a mist-like veil. I turned to Robert; he also was asleep, but I felt that I must tell him the message given me, while the spirit of it was still on me. I awakened him, and he listened in silence to what I had to say; but when I ceased speaking, he sighed and answered,

“It is war, then, Milly, and may God help us!”

“It is war, long and cruel war, Robert. What shall we do? Will you return to England? You know Sister Mary told us in her last letter, that your mother wished you to come home, and would do all she could to help you.”

“Nothing could induce me to go back to Scotland,” he answered positively.

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“Then where shall we go?” I asked.

“Let us remain here, in Austin. I like the people, and I like the country. I am willing to share its fortune, war or peace—if you will share it with me.”

“Robert!” I said fervently, “your country is my country, and your friends are my friends.”

“Well, then, dear, we have been warned, and we must not neglect the warning. We must make all the preparation possible.”

“You must have a good deal of money saved, Robert?” I asked.

“No, Milly, I have not. I have invested all the extra money I made in land,” he answered. “I was working for our own little plantation some day.”

Then I asked if, in the changes likely to occur, he would be in danger of losing his position in the comptroller’s office, and he said, “It is possible. The United States Government has been kind and generous to me,” he added, “and I have no intention of taking any oath against it.”

“But if Texas should become a republic again?”

“She will not. Her enormous wealth is yet undeveloped. She has no money to carry on a government. I know that positively.”

We sat talking of probabilities until the dawn grew to sun-rising, and then we rode out to Mr. Illingworth’s place, and had our cup of coffee with him and his wife. And one of the first things he said was, “I tell you, Barr, there will be a turning up and out in the government offices when Houston comes home.”

“He is coming, then?” asked Robert.

“Yes. You will see him some morning soon, sitting in front of Tong’s grocery, looking like a lion, and wearing a Serape Saltillero[3] like a royal mantle. I can’t help admiring the man, 222 though I do not like him. In a far-off way he reminds me of Oliver Cromwell.”

“Where is he now?”

“In some small room in a Washington hotel, faithfully attending every session of the Senate, and every meeting of the Baptist church, and unceasingly whittling hearts and anchors, and other such toys out of a bit of pine wood.”

“Whittling in church, and the Senate House?”

“In both places, in every place, and you will see him soon whittling in front of Tong’s grocery.”

We did not see him until the fall, when he ran for the governorship of Texas against his old enemy, Governor Runnels, whom he quickly talked out of political existence, and then seated himself in the Governor’s chair. I do not intend to trouble my readers with the political events of that date, excepting as they affected my own life; and, although General Houston is the grandest and most picturesque figure in American history, I shall refrain myself from magnifying either his exploits, character, or personality. Are they not written in the books of the historians, and in my own novel, “Remember the Alamo”? However, for a short space it will be necessary to note the conditions of affairs in Austin; for it was then the background of my story, but I shall do this without prejudice, and without unnecessary length of words.

An immense crowd came into Austin to witness Houston’s inauguration, and for long it did not altogether leave the city. The sweet, quiet, flower-scented streets were no longer haunted on moonlight nights by white-robed girls, and lovers singing “Juanita” to their tinkling guitars. They were full of rangers and frontiersmen, of deserting United States soldiers, waiting to join the Confederate army, and of little squads of Lipan or Tonkaway Indians, who were the spies and scouts of the United States army in their constant warfare against the cruel and hostile Comanche and Apache tribes. Yet a very handsome party of Apaches, under the watchful eyes of an Indian agent, visited Houston; for, over all Indians, Houston had an extraordinary influence. I do not remember being told that they had come with offers of peace and alliance, but I think they would not 223 have been permitted to enter Austin under any other pretext. For there was speaking, and often quarreling at every gathering point, and not unfrequently the warning sound of a rifle or pistol shot. And, if a real scrimmage had arisen among the white men of the three parties, it would have been an enjoyable circumstance to either Apache or Comanche.

So I also kept quietly at home, teaching my two eldest girls and a few others, for about three hours daily. I did not in any respect keep a school as I did in Chicago, but I had always about four or five girls whose education I looked a little after. I did this first, for the sake of teaching, which was then, as it is to this day, a delight to me, provided I have a bright, eager scholar. Secondly, I retained my friends of all parties through their daughters. Thirdly, I loved then, as I do yet, the company of girls. I was their confidant and friend, as well as their teacher. They brought me intelligence from all quarters, and they told me their sweet, little personal secrets. I have never forgotten some of these girls, and they have never forgotten me.

Thus I passed three or four hours every day in a manner I particularly liked, and for the rest it went in looking after my dear children’s physical necessities, in humoring and pleasing Robert, and seeing that his special comforts were attended to, and in bearing, as well as human nature could do, the laziness, ignorance, and cunning diableries of the negroes in the kitchen. There was little visiting, the proud, retiring nature of the Southern woman showing itself as soon as strangers and crowds became common in Austin. In these days the pretty young girls in their white frocks and white sunbonnets vanished from the streets; and the men who strutted about them, or loafed on chairs a-tilt under the trees, moving round with the shadow all day, showed plainly the daily deterioration of masculine humanity left to its own devices and desires.

Houston’s complete defeat of Runnels was considered a great triumph for the Unionist party, and his influence undoubtedly put off secession for another year. This was the year 1860, during the whole of which there was the same restless looking forward to the war, every one felt was inevitable, if Mr. Lincoln was elected President. I kept quietly at home. 224 Robert brought me the news and not infrequently a visitor whom he thought would interest me. One afternoon he wrote, saying, “The Indian agent and three of the chiefs in town will take supper with us,” and I was asked to set a plentiful table. In this visit I took the greatest possible interest. I brought out my best damask, and the richly gilded china that Robert’s mother had given me for a wedding present. She regarded it as almost too splendid to use, and I could not help a little laugh, when I imagined her sensations, if she could see these half-clothed savages drinking tea out of them. Then I regretfully sighed, “Poor Mother!” For my heart had turned a little towards her, since she had wished Robert to come home. I adorned the table with flowers, and saw that chicken in every form was prepared, and cakes, and pies in profusion. The party arrived promptly, and I was introduced to the members who composed it. The agent was a charming young man, full of all kinds of information, but in the Indians I was much disappointed.

They were uncivil, self-centered, and could speak no English. And they did not know how to eat the good things provided for them, for they ate and drank every item of the meal by itself—vegetables alone, meat alone, bread alone, and the only dish that appeared to please them, was some cream and white of egg savored with vanilla and whipped as stiff as possible. They laughed over this delicacy, exchanged grunts of satisfaction, and handed me their glasses to be refilled. After supper I played and sang for them. They watched me curiously, but without pleasure, and were more interested in finding out where the music came from than in the music itself. So Robert opened the instrument, let them inspect the interior to see how the hammers struck the wires, and they watched with fear and wonder, and exchanged looks and interjections that expressed these emotions. To me there was something pathetic, and yet obscene, in this shameless exhibition of big, strong men clad like warriors, showing the fear and wonder of little children. I told Robert to bring no more friendly savages to see me, and that night I prayed with all my heart for any white woman who might fall into their power.

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During the summer of this year, 1860, there was a sudden lull in events, but it was only the lull of warriors breathlessly watching. On the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency, they sprang as one man to arms. Secession was now certain, and Houston found himself compelled to summon a general convention, which met in Austin on the twenty-seventh of January, 1861. It submitted secession to a popular vote, and adjourned. I was present at this decision, and wondered at the crowd of excited men submitting to the delay.

“We are laggards! Laggards in duty!” cried an old frontiersman; and Houston replied with calm dignity,

“Sir, we are acting as trustees for posterity. It becomes us to do all things decently, and in order.”

A loud, confused rattle of side arms was the only audible reply. It might have been an assent to Houston’s opinion, but it was more likely to be a promise, that the duty would be fully redeemed.

I did not wonder at the old man calling Texans “laggards,” for, immediately after the election of Mr. Lincoln, South Carolina seceded; Mississippi followed her in three weeks; Florida went out on January the tenth, 1861; Alabama, on January the eleventh; Georgia, on January the nineteenth; Louisiana, on January the twenty-fifth; so that, when Houston called the Texas convention, six states had already made preparations for meeting on February the fourth, at Montgomery, Alabama, to organize a provisional Congress of Confederate States. Robert told me that, in a conversation in the Governor’s office, some one spoke scornfully of this meeting, and Houston replied,

“Sir, it is an unlawful meeting, but it cannot be a contemptible one, with such men as ex-President Tyler, Roger A. Pryor, and our own Wigfall leading it.”

“Is that all, Robert?” I asked, for I was always delighted to hear anything about Houston.

“Very nearly. Some one added, ‘There is Jefferson Davis, also.’”

“Oh! What did Houston say?”

“He said, ‘I know Jefferson Davis, and I did not mention 226 him, because I know him. He is proud as Lucifer and cold as a lizard.’”

Then I had one of those unreasonable certainties, that are all-convincing to the people who have them, and sheer foolishness to all ignorant of their irresistible testimony; and I said, “Houston is right; my lips shiver if they utter his name. He will bring ill-luck to any cause.”

On the eighteenth of February, General Twiggs, the United States commandant, surrendered to Houston all the national forces in Texas—twenty-five hundred men, and national property valued at $1,200,000. Five days afterwards, the vote on secession was taken. There were forty thousand for secession and fourteen thousand against it. These were anxious, eager days, and it was impossible to avoid catching the popular fever. The convention met again on the second of March, and on the fifth it at once adopted measures for entering the Southern Confederacy, to which new government all state officers were commanded to take the oath of allegiance on the fourteenth of March.

With two friends I went to the Capitol to witness the ceremony, and, as we had seats in the front of the gallery, we looked down directly upon a desk just below us, on which the Ordinance of Secession was spread out. One of my companions was a most passionate Unionist, and she pointed out the document with an unspeakable scorn and contempt. The House was crowded; it was really electrified with the fiery radiations of men tingling with passion, and glowing and burning with the anticipation of revengeful battle. And the air was full of the stirring clamor of a multitude of voices—angry, triumphant, scornful, with an occasional oath or epithet of contempt.

But when Houston appeared there was a sudden silence. It was the homage involuntarily paid to the man himself, not to his office. Firmly and clearly, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States; but the Lieutenant-Governor, a certain Edward Clarke, was eager to do so. He was an insignificant creature, whose airy conceit was a direct insult to Houston’s sad countenance and dignified manner; and I remember well how contemptible he appeared, as spry and pert, he 227 stepped up to the bar of the House to take the oath. Just as he reached the desk, on which the Ordinance of Secession lay, my Unionist friend, a bright, clever girl, of about sixteen years old, leaned forward and spit directly on the centre of it. There was a little soft laughter from the women sympathizers who saw the action, and Clarke’s handkerchief lay for a moment on the historical parchment, but there was no remark, and the incident caused not the slightest interruption.

“Why did you do that, Lucille?” I asked.

“To express my opinion. Did you see Clarke’s handkerchief?”

“Yes.”

“Then I suppose he got what I sent. And it is in Clarke’s handkerchief! In Clarke’s pocket! Poor spittle! What an ignominy!

Two days afterwards Clarke was made Governor in place of Houston. Changes in all the government offices were likely to follow, and I could not help feeling anxious concerning Robert’s position. About certain things he could be so stubborn. Men are made that way. They have prejudices, and they call them principles, and then—sink or swim, they stick to them.

Now an unreasonable detestation of slavery was one of Robert’s prejudices or principles. He would not allow that under any circumstance it could be right, and all his sympathies were with the slave. The majority of our small matrimonial frets were on this subject. If he had been compelled to tew with, and to bear every hour of the day the thieving, lying, and laziness of the three in our kitchen, his pity for their condition would have been much modified. I used to tell him this whenever the subject came up, but I could not make him understand my position, because he lifted his argument out of the personalities in our kitchen, and laid all their sins on the condition of slavery. If he had been an unmarried man, I am sure he would have gone to the Union army, but, being caught by circumstances in a southern city, where he had been generously and kindly treated, he felt, I think, much like Naaman, the Syrian, when he begged God’s pardon because circumstances compelled him to bow down in the house of Rimmon.

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But, if the question of slavery became a test question, there was no telling what might happen, especially if it became a case of conscience, for Scotchmen have an historical record for enjoying “persecution for righteousness’ sake.” Then there was his English citizenship. He had always refused to give it up, and how could he expect a new government to pass by his allegiance, for the sake of his financial knowledge. These questions troubled me much, as I sat sewing through the long, sweet spring days.

One morning I walked to Henrick’s store very early. They were just opening it, and I sat down and waited. Suddenly through the clear, cool air came the sound of military music, and the tramp of marching men. It was the Second Texas, mustering for their march to the seat of war. What a sight it was! Not one man in it weighed under one hundred and eighty pounds, and the majority made the scale beam kick at two hundred pounds. They were all very tall, wiry men, with not one ounce of superfluous flesh on their big frames—straight as their own gun barrels, with up-head carriage and full of that kind of spirit we call “mettle” in a horse. My eyes filled with tears, and involuntarily I prayed for the men as they passed. Alas, the Second Texas has a record unsurpassed for bravery and misfortune! Its fine young captain was killed at Corinth, and not a single man ever returned to Texas. Some years after all of this splendid band of men had passed from life and almost from memory, I had an opportunity of reading a letter which contained the following passage,

“On the second night of the fight at Gettysburg, I was roused from my sleep to help a friend look for his missing comrade. We went to the battlefield and stepping among the shattered wrecks of humanity, we turned up the dead faces to the moonlight. Suddenly we heard a broken voice muttering, ‘Second Texas! Second Texas!’ It was the man we wanted. A cruel minie ball had ploughed out both his eyes, and he was otherwise fatally wounded. He was almost dead, and among the last of the gallant company, that I had watched march so proudly and joyfully to meet their fate.”

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I came home from Henrick’s store much depressed. The brooding calamities of the Second Texas had affected me. I felt the doom that hung over them, though I would not entertain it. Near home I met two girls whom I knew. Their brothers were in the company; they had driven them into it, and they were now crying because they had succeeded in doing so. “What unreasonable creatures women are!” I thought. However, in a great many cases, it was the women of a family who compelled the men to enlist as soldiers, by a course of moral suasion no man with any feeling could endure. They would not eat with them, speak to them, or listen if spoken to. They ignored all their personal necessities, or met them with constant tears and voiceless reproaches, and what man could bear his family weeping over him, as if he was already dead to their love and respect? The middle-aged, and the old men needed no such treatment; they were generally hot and ready to fight for their ideas. The young fellows wanted a tangible fact, and the saving of their slaves did not tempt them easily to risk their own lives.

On April the fifteenth, 1861, my daughter Ethel was born. She was the loveliest babe I ever saw, and I was so proud of her beauty, I could hardly bear her out of my sight. Before she was two months old, she showed every sign of a loving and joyous disposition. If I came into the room she stretched out her arms to me; if I took her to my breast she reached up her hand to my mouth to be kissed. She smiled and loved every hour away, and the whole household delighted in her. Robert could refuse her nothing; no matter how busy he was, if she sought his attention, he left all and took her in his arms. I forgot the war, I forgot all my anxieties, I let the negroes take their own way, I was content for many weeks to nurse my lovely child, and dream of the grand future she was sure to have.

Yet during this apparently peaceful pause in my life, the changes I feared were taking place. The new Governor was dismissing as far as he could all Houston’s friends, and Robert had been advised to resign before his sentiments concerning slavery, state rights, and his own citizenship came to question.

“As things stand,” Mr. Durham said to him, “your good will is taken for granted. You have been prudent, and no one 230 has been curious enough to make inquiries. Better retire for a while; you will be wanted when things are more settled.”

So Robert “retired,” but he did not tell me so, until Ethel was two months old and I was in more radiant health and spirits than I had been for some months. Of course I was shocked at first, but easily convinced all had been done for the best, especially as Robert had all the private accounting business he could do, and he had never yet failed me. In all the changes I had seen, I had never wanted anything necessary for comfort. So I said cheerfully to myself, “God and Robert are a multitude,” and my bread will be given, and my water sure.

The summer came on hot and early, and was accompanied by a great drought. Pitiful tales came into town of the suffering for water at outlying farms, the creeks having dried up, and even the larger rivers showing great depletion. Then the cattle and game began to die of thirst, and of some awful disease called “black tongue.” Thousands lay dead upon the prairies, which were full of deep and wide fissures, made by the cracking and parting of the hot, dry earth.

The suffering so close at hand made me indifferent to what was going on at a distance, and also all through that long, terrible summer, I was aware that Robert was practicing a very strict personal economy. So I was sure that he was not making as much money as he expected to make, and when he asked me, one day, if I could manage with two servants, I was prepared to answer,

“Dear, I can do with one, if it is necessary.” And I was troubled when he thankfully accepted my offer.

To be poor! That was a condition I had never considered, so I thought it over. We could never want food in Texas, unless the enemy should drive his cannon wheels over our prairies, and make our old pine woods wink with bayonets. Then, indeed, the corn and the wheat and the cattle might be insufficient for us and for them, but this event seemed far off, and unlikely. Our clothing was in far less plentiful case. My own once abundant wardrobe was considerably worn and lessened. Robert’s had suffered the same change, and the children’s garments wanted a constant replacing. But then, every 231 one was in the same condition; we should be no poorer than others. A poverty that is universal may be cheerfully borne; it is an individual poverty that is painful and humiliating.

Slowly, so slowly, the hot blistering summer passed away. It was all I could do, to look a little after my five children. I dressed myself and them in the coolest manner, and the younger ones refused anything like shoes and stockings; but that was a common fashion for Texan children in hot weather. I have seen them step from handsome carriages barefooted, and envied them. People must live day after day where the thermometer basks anywhere between 105 degrees and 115 degrees, to know what a luxury naked feet are—nay, what a necessity for a large part of the time.

Not a drop of rain had fallen for many weeks, and, when the drought was broken, it was by a violent storm. It came up unexpectedly one clear, hot afternoon, when all the world seemed to stand still. The children could not play. I had laid Ethel in her cot, and was sitting motionless beside her. The negroes in the kitchen were sleeping instead of quarreling, and, though Robert and I exchanged a weary smile occasionally, it was far too hot to talk.

Suddenly, the sky changed from blue to red, to slate color, and then to a dense blackness, even to the zenith. The heavens seemed about to plunge down upon the earth, and the air became so tenuous, that we sighed as men do, on the top of a high mountain. Then on the horizon there appeared a narrow, brassy zone, and it widened and widened, as it grew upward, and with it came the fierce rush and moan of mighty winds, slinging hail-stones and great rain-drops, from far heights—swaying, pelting, rushing masses of rain fell, seeming to displace the very atmosphere. But, Oh, the joy we felt! I cried for pure thankfulness, and Robert went to a shaded corner of the piazza, and let the rain pour down upon him.

When the storm was over, there was a new world—a fresh, cool, rejoicing world. It looked as happy as if just made, and the children were eager to get out and play in the little ponds. Robert and I soon rallied. The drop in the temperature was all Robert needed, and I had in those days a wonderful power—not 232 yet quite exhausted—of recuperation. If a trouble was lifted ever so little, I threw it from me; if a sickness took but a right turn, I went surely on to recovery. So as soon as the breathless heat was broken, I began to think of my house and my duties. The children’s lessons had been long neglected, and my work basket was full to overflowing with garments to make and to mend.

Very quickly I was so busy that I had no time for public affairs, and then the war dragged on so long, that my enthusiasm was a little cooled. Also I was troubled somewhat by Robert’s continued lack of employment. Food and clothing was dearer, and money scarcer than I had ever before known them, and Robert had become impatient and was entertaining a quite impossible idea—he wanted to rent a farm and get away from the fret and friction of the times. I pointed out the fact that neither of us knew anything about farming, and that Texas farming was special in every department. But in those days it was generally supposed that any man could naturally farm, just as it was expected that every girl naturally knew how to cook and to keep house. At any rate, the idea had taken possession of him, and not even the probability of prowling savages was alarming.

“All that come near the settlements are friendly,” he said, “or if not they are too much afraid of the Rangers to misbehave themselves.”

“But, Robert,” I answered, “very few of them think killing white women and children ‘misbehavior.’”

There is however no use in talking to a Scotchman who has made up his mind. God Almighty alone can change it, so I took to praying. Perhaps it was not very loyal to pray against my husband’s plans, but circumstances alter cases, and this farming scheme was a case that had to be altered.

Events which no one had foreseen put a stop to this discussion at least for a time. In the soft, hazy days of a beautiful November, a single word was whispered which sent terror to every heart. It was a new word—the designation of what was then thought to be a new disease, which had been ravaging portions of the Old World, and had finally appeared in the New. 233 I had seen it described in Harper’s Weekly, and other New York papers, and I was afraid as soon as I heard of it. Robert came home one day and told me Mrs. Carron’s eldest daughter was dead, and her other daughter dying. Every hour its victims seemed to increase, and by December all of my friends had lost one or more of their families. I remained closely at home, and kept my children near me. Though they did not know it, I watched them day and night.

On the eighth of December near midnight, I noticed that Ethel had difficulty in nursing and appeared in great distress, and I sent for the doctor with fear and trembling.

Diphtheria!” he said; and the awful word pierced my ears like a dart, and my spirit quailed and trembled within me. For no cure and no alleviations had then been found for the terrible malady, and indeed many people in Austin contended that the epidemic from which we suffered, was not diphtheria, but the same throat disease which had slain the deer and cattle by thousands during the summer.

In the chill gray dawn of the ninth, as the suffering babe lay apparently unconscious on my knees, the Angel of Death passed by, and gave me the sign I feared but expected—a warning not unkind but inexorable. The next twenty-four hours are indescribable by any words in any language. A little before they ended, the doctor led me into another room. Then I fell on my face at the feet of the Merciful One, and with passionate tears and outcry pleaded for her release—only that the cruel agony might cease—only that—dear, and lovely, and loving as she was, I gave her freely back. I asked now only for her death. I asked Christ to remember his own passion and pity her. I asked all the holy angels who heard me praying to pray with me. If a mortal can take the kingdom of heaven by storm, surely my will to do so at that hour stood for the deed. Breathless, tearless, speechless, I lay at last at His Mercy. And it faileth not! In a few minutes Robert entered. He looked as men look who come out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I thought he also was dying. I stood up and looked anxiously into his face, and he drew me to his heart, and said softly, “All is over, Milly. She has gone.”

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What I suffered for many weeks only God knows, but at last he took pity on my grief, and comforted me. One night Robert had gone to some public meeting, the children were asleep, and I was walking up and down the parlor floor, whispering to my heart my dead baby’s name. There was a lamp on a small marble table which I had pushed aside, in order to get the full length of the room for my restless feet. On this table there were a few books, and one small one was lying open, face down upon the marble. Without thought I lifted it, and finding a leaf crumpled, I mechanically began to straighten it. In doing so, my eyes fell on two lines; from the rest of the page they stood out as if illumined, and this was the message they brought me,

“Weep not for her, she is an angel now,

And treads the sapphire floors of Paradise.”

I saw nothing but these two lines. I wanted nothing more. They held a strange and heavenly comfort for me. I kissed them reverently and put the book in my bosom. Later I saw that they were part of a poem by a prominent writer for Blackwood’s Magazine, called Moir, a name well known in the early part of the nineteenth century, and always dear to my memory. I never learned the whole poem; I just took with a grateful heart the two lines given me.

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CHAPTER XV

THE BREAK-UP OF THE CONFEDERACY

“The little feet that never trod

Earth, never strayed in fields or street,

What hand leads upward back to God

The little feet?”

My readers must now be familiar with my surroundings, and after a lot of consideration I have decided to relate much of my future experience from the diaries I wrote in the very atmosphere of the times I am depicting. Day by day the notes were made, short because I only wanted them to stimulate memory and gratitude in the future. They have no pretense whatever to being literature, even of the simplest kind, for I never imagined that it could be possible, I should let any one but God and myself see them. They are commonplace, but they are truth itself. They are about household things, and the war is but transiently mentioned, but they are human documents, and there are the history books for those who want to know about the war.

I thought at first I would not copy the religious sentiments so constantly interwoven, but when I tried to omit them, it felt like putting God out of my life and book, and I could not do that, no, not for the whole world. My first thought was that in this era of godless youth, and material age, these spiritual aspirations and regrets mingling with common daily life would provoke laughter. My second thought refuted this opinion; there are plenty of good men and women yet, I concluded, and to such a sincere religious sentiment, whether expressed by mouth or pen, is respected. It may not always be acceptable, but it is never ridiculous.

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NOTES FROM MY DIARY OF 1862

Jan. 1st. Sat up to see the New Year in, and earnestly asked the love and blessing of God on it. Mary poorly, and I sat by her making a sacque for Lilly, and a little slip dress for Alice. Then I read an hour to the children in “Nicholas Nickleby.” Dr. and Jenny Alexander called at night. Robert bought a hog, and had it cut up—must be salted tomorrow.

Jan. 10th. A month ago today dear Ethel entered into rest. Robert and I walked out to her grave, and strewed it with mignonette. When we came back, Robert dug some potatoes out of the garden, and in the evening I read “Nicholas Nickleby” to the children.

Jan. 12th. Sunday again. Ah, how little like Sundays that are past! I feel no interest in church. I am afraid this is wrong. I went out to Ethel’s grave, and while there saw Mrs. Walker’s baby buried. Died of throat trouble. Lucy Goodrich walked home with me.

Jan. 21st. Robert had a conversation about changing this house for a farm with a man I did not like. I have left this matter with God. I was sewing and hearing children’s lessons all day. In the evening I read to them “Darius the Great.”

Jan. 27th. Could not sleep, and got up soon after one o’clock and sewed for two hours. Very high south wind, which always makes me uncomfortable. All day long I was nervous and cross and alas! I may say it was a lost day, for I neither made myself nor any one else happy.

Jan. 31st. Teaching and sewing. Read “Cyrus” to Robert at night, children at Mrs. Palm’s for a candy pulling.

Feb. 1st. Teaching and sewing; Robert looking anxiously for a home in the country. I do not say anything against it to him, but I have my daily talks with God about it.

Feb. 26th. Bad political news. Fort Donelson and Nashville taken. It has made us very low and anxious. Still, though much discouraged, I am not hopeless. In some way or other, God always provides.

Mar. 3rd. Borrowed Mrs. Henrick’s carriage, and drove out 237 to see the Bishop and Mrs. Gregg. Called on Mrs. Gillette coming back. Jenny Alexander spent the evening with us.

Mar. 13th. Nashville and Columbus evacuated. Robert trying to sell our house, and working for Palm balancing books. We went in the evening to Ethel’s grave, and planted jessamine and roses. Jenny Alexander came out to us.

Mar. 16th. Sewing and hearing children’s lessons, and at night reading to them and Robert “Fortunes of Nigel.” About eleven o’clock we were awakened by the shouts of the Pony Post; Robert said they meant good news, and he began to dress himself. Then all the bells in town started ringing, and there was the greatest excitement. The children were all awake, and I threw on my double gown and we went on to the piazza to watch and listen until Robert came home. It was such a lovely night, the mocking birds were singing rapturously, and I think every dog in town was barking. When Robert came home, he said Price and McCulloch had whipped the enemy in Missouri, and taken thirty thousand prisoners, and Beauregard had taken fourteen regiments in Tennessee. Texas may well rejoice, if it be so, but the Lord of Hosts only knows.

Mar. 29th. I was doing some fine ironing all day; the negro in the kitchen too sulky to trust. Jenny Alexander came in and helped me. Bishop Gregg called in the afternoon, and I had a pleasant talk with him. This is my thirty-first birthday. My birthday wish is, that I may daily grow in grace. Robert was sad because he could give me no gift. Poor fellow, I told him I would remember all the dear old ones, and I asked God to bless me, and to direct all my way.

Mar. 30th. Thomas bought our house, and signed all the papers relative to the sale.

Mar. 31st. A very unhappy day. I was in a bad temper, Robert was miserable, and the children wondered at me. Dear God, forgive me!

Apr. 9th. Sewing and teaching; made a delicious beefsteak pie for dinner. Went to see Mrs. Henrick’s in the afternoon; in the evening to Mrs. Durham’s. Poor little Sally, whom I suckled for nearly two months when her mother had fever, just dead of diphtheria!

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Apr. 10th. Went to see Sally for the last time. It was Ben McCulloch’s funeral, also. The cemetery was crowded. When we got back from Sally’s funeral, her sister Leanore was dying. She breathed her last at five o’clock.

Apr. 19th. A Mr. Stockton and his wife came to close with Robert for their farm. I was glad the wife came. Women are so much harder to please than men when they are buying. Everything went to pieces. I knew it would from the woman’s face. I wonder how it is that men like women—at least, some women. Dear Robert tried to comfort me; he thought I was disappointed, and I honestly tried to comfort him, for he was very much disappointed. He smiled at my brave words, and said of course all was for the best. I wonder if he really thought so—for it has been a very hard, anxious week.

Apr. 24th. Made a shirt for Robert, and heard children’s lessons. Robert far from well, and hope sometimes dies within me. Dear God, forget not that it is in Thee, in Thee only, I hope and trust.

Apr. 28th. Robert has gone with a Mr. Spenser to see his place on the Brushy. I know it is all useless expense, but I dare not say so to Robert. He seems to have no hope but in this direction, and I must not take his last hope from him. Despondent men have bad temptations. He must have his dream until he gets work. Make no tarrying, O my God! David knew all about “waiting on God.” He durst even ask God to hurry. That is the way I feel this morning.

May 3rd. Gun boats at New Orleans; all gloom here in consequence. Robert still looking for a farm. I asked him today what kind of farm he wanted, and he said, a dairy farm, and then told me what Thaxton made every week from his butter alone, and all gold. Butter! That makes me still more set against farming. Who is to make the butter?

May 4th. Very, very anxious. I have hardly spirit left to attend to the children. For many months I have been fighting this weary bug-a-boo of a farm. I think a change of trouble would be a little relief. This day I am “out” with life.

May 5th. I am so happy! God is so good! I knew He would be good. Robert is to go back to his desk in the comptroller’s 239 office. Mr. Durham called today and told him so. He has forgotten all about farming. He went this afternoon and rented the Cook place, and tomorrow we remove there. I have been singing all afternoon. God has visited me with a blessing in both hands, for not only has Robert got back his old desk, but I have been given the very desire of my heart. Ever since I came to Austin, I have longed to live in the Cook place, but never until now has it been to rent.

It was a big rambling log house on the top of a hill. The town, the capitol and state offices were below it, and the river and the mountains surround it. It stood in an enclosure full of forest trees in front, and behind there was a yard shaded with mulberry trees, ending in a meadow running down to a beautiful creek, and beside this creek there was a stable. The main part of the house was built of immense square cut logs in old Texan fashion, opposite doors to every room, and no windows. It had cupboards and pantries to my heart’s content, and a little roofed passage way connected it with the kitchen and servant’s quarter. The parlor and one other room were of modern construction, and I made the public welcome to them. I chose for myself a large log room, with a fireplace one could burn a cord of cedar in. It was always delightfully cool in the hottest weather; it was always warm and cheerful in winter. If I had the money I would build me a log house today. I would cover it with vines, and among the leaves put gourds for the martins to build in, and I would say to the swifts, “Sister swallows, you are welcome to my chimney.”

For eighteen months I lived in this beautiful place, the life of a completely happy woman. Time went back for me, and I grew young again and joyous and hopeful as my own children. Robert made sufficient for our necessities, and now that we had a stable he bought a couple of mustang ponies. They were beautiful creatures, fine pacers, and cost ten dollars in “specie” each. Robert and I rode out before breakfast nearly every morning to Billingsley’s garden, and bought cantaloupes and tomatoes for the day, and Mary and Lilly soon became clever horsewomen. Mary rode swiftly and gracefully; Lilly was very 240 daring, and took wood or water or anything that came in her way.

I followed my usual duties, attending first of all to my children’s lessons—then sewing, knitting, reading aloud to them, and to Robert, cooking special dishes et cetera. My diary shows that I had an extraordinary amount of company, and that, some way or other, I found time to call upon a large number of friends, and moreover that for days and weeks together, I helped Robert with the tax rolls of the different counties. The following are a few illustrating notes:

June 23rd. Rode before breakfast with Robert to Billingsley’s, afterwards attended to the children. They went riding, and I was checking rolls for Robert all day. Heard that Memphis had fallen. Called on the Durhams in the evening.

July 2nd. Calvin’s birthday. He is five years old. God bless the boy. I thank God for him. Mary Gregg spent the day with us. I gave the children a holiday, and was sewing, and tatting, and listening to Mrs. Illingworth’s troubles. After supper, Robert and I had a walk, and then I played and sang an hour for him.

July 11th. This is my wedding anniversary. Twelve years ago Robert and I were married. That was a happy day, this is twelve times happier. Mr. Durham sent me a basket of grapes, and a pair of ducks for dinner. Robert and I had a walk in the evening, and he said many good and tender words to me. Oh, what a happy woman I am!

July 18th. Rode out to Illingworth’s, and brought Mollie in to spend the day. When I got home found Mollie Beadles, Mollie Peck, and Betty Elgin were waiting. They brought the news of McClellan’s defeat, and surrender. The town seemed drunk with excitement. There was shouting and bell ringing, and the continual cracking of firearms. I managed to find dinner enough for everybody, and we had a merry meal. In the evening Robert and I walked to Ethel’s grave. Truly it is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Mirth.

Aug. 20th. Have been working hard on the tax rolls every day for a week, and a Mr. Bell worked till after midnight with 241 Robert on his roll. Robert has made a deal of money this month, but somehow it has not been as happy as it should have been.

Sept. 21st. A pleasant day for Robert was at home, but I am not happy. I have been drifting away from God, while I have been so busy. I went to Ethel’s grave in the afternoon, but felt no better. No swift word of prayer or love leaped from my heart. There was no call for me, and no word, or even thought for me. I was cold and lonely. The Great Companion had left me. Well, I deserved it. I have neglected my private reading and prayer for some weeks. I had no time. I made a few dollars, and have lost what no money can buy. Dear Christ, forgive me.

Sept. 29th. All day making over my hoop.

Sept. 30th. Heard lessons, and then went to Mrs. Millican’s to learn how to turn the heel of a stocking properly. Helping Robert at night till very late.

Nov. 3rd. Sewing and knitting all day. Read to Robert at night from Porte Crayon’s work on Virginia.

Nov. 7th. Wrote long letters home, having an opportunity to send them by a Mr. Ruthven.

Nov. 15th. My usual duties; baking cake, and went to sit with Mrs. Durham an hour or two. Took Robert’s sock I am knitting with me.

Dec. 25th. Christmas Day. My darling Edith would enter her ninth year to-day if she had lived. The children were delighted with such presents as we could get them. Most of their toys were of Robert’s making. We had a good breakfast all together. Plenty of chicken and sausage and coffee for everybody, even for Crazy Billy,[4] who came as usual to say “Merry Christmas!”

Dec. 31st. Had a severe cold but knit all day. We are all out of stockings. Let Mary and Lilly sit up till ten o’clock, then they had pecan nuts and home made wine; but Robert and 242 I wanted to watch the New Year in. I am going to be a better woman next year. I have promised, and with God’s help I will keep my promise. Amen.

For another year I was permitted to rest body and soul in this pleasant home, and everything in the main events of life kept a very even tenor. I taught my children, sewed, knit, read aloud to them, and helped Robert with the tax rolls; went to see my friends, and generally had one or more of them in my company. Yet no life is without an almost daily variation; there was plenty of change to keep me watchful, and sometimes a little anxiety, for the future had never looked so dark and so uncertain.

On the thirteenth of March, I had another son, a fine boy whom we called Alexander Gregg after the Bishop. We were very proud and happy in his birth, and his brother Calvin took him to his child heart with a passionate affection. From the first hour of his life he watched over him. His care lasted a little over four years, and then in death, they were not divided.

After Alexander’s birth, any soul at all prescient might feel the end of many things approaching. The stores of all kinds were nearly empty, and I noticed that no stocks were renewed: I could not get an inch of flannel for the new born child, and Mr. Illingworth sent me three of his fine English undershirts to make barrow coats for him. With this gentleman and his wife and children, we had been on the most familiar terms for two years. He was the youngest son of an English family of old and noble lineage, and had run away from college in his twenty-second year. In some way he reached the Creek Indians, and incorporated himself with the tribe, remaining seventeen years with them. On his return to civilization he married a beautiful girl, and had three children. His knowledge of Indian affairs made him of great value to the government, and his desk in the Capitol was close to Robert’s.

Soon after Alexander’s birth, an English lawyer came to Austin seeking Mr. Illingworth. His father was dead, and there was a large fortune waiting his identification. That night he and the lawyer took supper with us, and we talked about England, until I went to bed with a pain in my heart. At this 243 time Mr. Illingworth was separated from his wife, but in the morning I rode to her house, about two miles away, and told her what had happened, advising her, for her children’s sake, to make up her quarrel with her husband. I was sorry that I had been her confidant in the matter, for no one has any business to say a word this way, or that way, between a man and his wife. The confidence however had been forced on me, and I thought then, and I think yet, that she was not much to blame. Given an Englishman inheriting all the authoritative, stubborn qualities and prejudices of an aristocratic family, the same carefully cultivated by the traditional education of his class, and superinduced upon it the education of an American Indian Chief, and you have a variety of the animal called man, any woman might fail to please. I saw him on his return from England, and he was, in spite of his quarter of a century in America, the most English of all the Englishmen I had ever seen. What the cradle rocks, the spade buries. But he was excellent company, and among other things he related the following bit of conversation between himself and Lady C—— at a dinner given to him by his mother’s family, the high, well-born Carews.

“Are you married yet, Mr. Illingworth?”

“I am, Lady C——.

“To an American?”

“Yes, to an American.”

“Is she very dark?”

This question illustrates well the amount of knowledge the noble Englishwoman had of American woman, half a century ago.

Very soon I began to really feel the pinch of war. It seemed an incredible thing not to be able to buy a little domestic or print, when I had money to do so, but I could not. Many people were without shoes, moccasins were commonly worn in the house. Pins and needles were extraordinarily scarce, some were compelled to use mesquite thorns for pins. I once gave a lady three needles number six, number eight, and number ten, and she was so grateful she sent me a fine ham, and two pounds of coffee; real coffee that her husband had brought from Mexico. 244 Alas, there was no more real coffee in Austin, and a majority of people were using the dried leaves of the beautiful Yupon tree instead of real tea. Somehow or other, I cannot tell how, I never wanted either tea or coffee; the Bishop sent me some, and also about twenty pounds of rice. Mr. Durham sent me a little box of English Breakfast tea, and I was just out of that, when Dr. Bacon of the United States Sixth Cavalry sent me a fresh supply. And upon my honor, I do not think there is anything that so firmly and pleasantly cements friendship, as little courtesies of something good to eat. Though I am in my eighty-first year now, I remember how delighted I was with these things, and to go back no further than last Christmas, though I had many gifts of many kinds, the one that gave me the most pleasure of all, was a plum pudding and a dish of Nativity tarts, that an aged Yorkshire lady visiting in Cornwall made for me with her own hands.

One of the symptoms speaking badly for the Confederate cause, was the fact that the government was out of materials for the use of its officers, which it could not manage to supply. Thus the printed and ruled tax rolls were all used. There was paper of a kind, but it needed a certain form of ruling, and Mr. Durham asked Robert if he could rule it. Robert said he had not the time, but that I would do it as well as anybody. So paper and rulers and pencils came to me, and from henceforward until the break up, I ruled the sheets for the assessors. Soon after the envelopes of three necessary sizes gave out, and I made the envelopes. And Mr. Durham laughed when I sent in my bill for “specie” payment.

“Barr,” he said, “you would have taken Blue Williams,[5] but the Confederacy can’t fool women with them. I don’t know a woman who has done anything for it, that has not sent her modest little bill for ‘specie.’”

These employments broke in upon my regular life very much, but the “specie” was our domestic salvation. In the household also we were obliged to help ourselves. No candles were to be bought, and we made our own candles. We were 245 as badly off for soap also, that is the soap for washing clothes and kitchen use. I had yet a few boxes of Old Brown Windsor which I had brought with me from England, and also perhaps half a dozen of those semi-transparent balls made, I think, by Pears. Among other utilities I painted a very respectable pack of playing cards. I had bought, with my Newman’s box of water colors, a dozen large sheets of bristol board, which was just the proper thickness. Robert with a sharp shoemaker’s knife cut them even, and exact, and then I painted them. I was quite pleased with this achievement and sent word to Pat O’Gorman and Mr. Simcox, we could have our game of whist once more. I have forgotten what became of this pack, but I think one of these gentlemen took it as a memorial of the evenings in the old log house.

Thus nearly every day there was a makeshift of some kind to devise, and we found out, often with real happiness, that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Robert said it was like living in a Texas log house the island life of the Swiss Family Robinson.

One day when the year was drawing close to Christmas, Robert came home early. As soon as I saw him, I knew there was trouble, and I said, “What is it, Robert?”

“Why, Milly, dear, this house has been sold, and we must leave it before the first. Oh, my dear, I am so sorry!”

I was giving the Sally Lunns their second kneading, and I let the dough fall to the floor. The tears sprang to my eyes, but I tried to bear the loss as well as I could. Indeed I had been half afraid of this very thing, for three nights previously I had dreamed of seeing my furniture on a wagon. I sat down. Robert put his arm round me, and whispered a few hopeful words, and I answered, “It is all right, dear. We have had a fine rest here. We shall never forget it. Do you know where we can rent anything as comfortable?”

“Not yet. Allen tells me, General Haney’s place, just beyond the Capitol will be for rent very soon, but there is nothing at present but the Cartmel place, and if that will not do, we must store our things, and go to the hotel.”

“Then the Cartmel place must do. How can we go into 246 two or three rooms with five little children? Gracious Robert! It was not at all pleasant with two. Where is the Cartmel place?”

“Just above Mrs. Green’s.”

“Not that little house with a Spanish dagger in the strip of ground before it?”

“Yes.”

“O Robert! It stands in a hole, down on the flat, too. I never could bear living in a valley. I look unto the hills always. From the hills cometh my strength, soul and body strength. And there is no stable to it, and what about the ponies?”

“We must sell them, of course. There is a large corn field with the house. It grew a famous crop this year.”

“But what is the use of growing corn, when we cannot have horses?”

“No. Well, dear, I thought you had better know at once. Mr. Durham advised me to come home and to help you pack. If we must go, the sooner the better.”

“You are right, we will begin this hour.”

So we did, but there were delays about one thing or another that we had not anticipated, and the twenty-ninth of December found us just ready to move, in the very teeth of one of the most dreadful northers I had ever experienced. But Robert had had negroes in the Cartmel place for a week, cleaning and keeping the big fires night and day. So with Alice and Alexander wrapped in blankets, we moved down there, the people who had bought the log house, having invaded it with six children, a dozen negroes, and all kinds of baggage, three days before their legal tenure began.

Well, like all other troubles, the flitting came to an end, and things were not as uncomfortable as I had expected. The ponies had to go, but there was a shed close to the kitchen for a cow, and Robert said he would try to get one as soon as he could. That put all right. To have a cow and lots of milk and cream and butter! We could turn her into the field and there was the shed to milk her in. I could hardly wait for the creature.

247

Next day a man called Abner Blair called to see Robert about his taxes, and I was repacking a trunk with trifles, I did not wish to use in so small a house. He watched me, and lifted some of the books and tartan things. His fingers clung to them, and I could see that he was in a great mental tumult.

“Are you Scotch, Mr. Blair?” I asked.

“Scotch!” he cried. “I’m nothing else. Highland Scotch, from Aberdeen way! Scotch for a thousand years! Scotch from the creation itself! My wife is Scotch, and my children are Scotch, and there’s nothing in Blair house that isn’t Scotch.”

“Then,” I said, “if you are from Aberdeen way, you will know what this is;” and I held up the Scotch pebble bracelet I had bought on that last walk I took up Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

He looked for a moment at the ornament, then he touched it, and asked, “What will you take for it, I have a little lassie that would go crazy to wear it. She will be twenty-one on Sunday next. Sell me the pretty thing. My certie! I used to go gathering the stones—I did that—I wanted them to pay my way through St. Andrews. What will you take for it?”

“I will give it to you for your daughter’s birthday,” I answered. “I’ll give it to her with all kinds of good wishes.”

“I take you at your word,” he said in a perfect enthusiasm of pleasure. “And I’ll tell you what! I’ll give you the best milch cow on Abner Blair’s ranch, and I’ll bring her in to you on Saturday.”

“Come back in half an hour,” I said, “and I will clean the silver settings and make them bright.” He came back and went off with the bawble proud and happy, and on Thursday brought me a milk cow which justified all his promises. But as I rubbed bright the silver setting, and very often since, I have wondered what power had prompted me in 1853, to buy a bracelet which I did not want, which I was rather ashamed of buying, in order that it might get me and my children plenty of milk and butter in 1863, when such things were scarce and dear, and under ordinary circumstances beyond procuring.

My life in the Cartmel place was only a variation and accentuation 248 of what it had been in the Cook place. I did more and more work for the government, and at the end of the year I confessed, that it had been money in the purse, and not so well for me in other ways. The children’s lessons had been much neglected, and the half-hour I had given daily to private prayer, ever since I was twelve years old, had been put aside for ruling tax papers, or something else that seemed more important. But this putting aside was neither happiness nor true prosperity. It implied a trust in myself, rather than in God; and I do believe at this day, as I did really then, that if I had gone on doing my own duties, God would have sent the necessary money in some easier and better way.

I notice in my diary, that soon after the New Year, Robert was often on guard most of the night. There was at this time a great terror of negro insurrections, and often I put the children to bed fully dressed, in case there was a necessity to flee for life. We had all our plans made for this emergency, the first and most surely safe one being, a quick retreat to the grave yard, for no negro would venture within its ghostly precinct. The nights Robert was on guard, I always had company, very often a Miss Sophia Richardson, the daughter of the editor of the Austin Gazette. She was a beautiful woman, well read, witty and yet good-natured, and a singer of great power and sweetness. She married after I left Austin the editor of the New Orleans Picayune, and if this remembrance ever reaches her eyes, I want her to think of me, as she knew me when we used to be happy together in the old log house on the hill. It stood next to her own home. Here are two notes on this life:

Feb. 18th. Sewing and hearing lessons, then ruling for Mr. Durham. But I am weary and sleepy. Alexander is teething, and he does not let me sleep an hour at a time. Sophy Richardson all day with me.

Feb. 19th. Had a bad night with Alexander, got up early and made hot rolls for breakfast. Made sweet bread afterwards, also a chicken pie for dinner. Heard lessons, sewing and knitting. Sophy Richardson came in. Glad to see her. Betty Elgin called to borrow a book. Robert home early, going on guard. There is a guard of well-armed citizens set every night now. Robert 249 told me it was necessary, for a devilish negro plot had been discovered.

Plots and rumors of plots kept every one unhappy, and as we entered the last year of the war, the air was full of miserable reports. It was a brave heart that kept any hope now for the Confederate cause. The weary ruling of paper, and making envelopes ceased. The Governor, the Comptroller and George Durham all knew well, there would be no need of them. On the eve of my thirty-fifth birthday I wrote:

Mar. 28th, 1865. None but the good God knows the history of the coming year, but it is in His loving hands. I have had many cares and sorrows, many pains and deprivations this past year, but not one too many, because all is for the best. Every one is gloomy, for every one is anticipating invasion. We have no money, and very little clothing in the house—neither have I anything ready, either for myself or the child I am expecting; but God is sufficient, and He will be sure to provide.

May 14th. Robert went early up town. Heard of Lee and Johnson’s surrender. Jeff Davis said to be flying to the Trans-Mississippi. Many say the Confederate cause is lost.

May 25th. The dream is over. No Southern independence now. Robert thinks it will be Southern slavery. I have been ironing hard all day, and sewing, but I heard no lessons. I was too troubled and anxious, for Confederate soldiers, without officers or order, are coming in every hour, and there is nothing but plunder and sack going on—and the citizens are as bad as the soldiers.

May 26th. I had a very bad night, and feel headachey and sleepy. Had to iron; the negro won’t work; indeed Robert says both men and women have deserted their homes, and are hanging about the streets, watching the white men plundering, but too much afraid of the white man, to take a hand in the work. I heard no lessons, but did a little sewing, and all the housework that the negroes ought to do. In the evening Robert went to a public meeting about protecting the town.

May 27th. Very anxious and unsettled. The town and all the adjacent country is in a dreadful condition. From a man going north, Robert bought seven bushels of meal, thirty-six 250 pounds of salt, and fifty pounds of sugar. Thankful to God for it, for in these days we know not what may happen from hour to hour. Tried to sew in the afternoon, but impossible; there is too much looting and quarreling going on. It seems as if every one had a claim against the Confederacy, and were paying themselves.

June 2nd. Everything in confusion. Everyone suspicious and watchful, and there is no law. Governor Lubbock and the state officers have fled to Mexico.

June 11th. The Rio Grande soldiers reached Austin today. I could not help crying as they passed my door, and Robert lifted his hat to honor them. These men were victors, though their cause was lost. Through every deprivation and suffering, through hunger and thirst, through heat and cold, weary, ragged, weather-beaten and battle-scarred, they had carried aloft their flag with the single star. And they carried it proudly that day through the streets of Austin. No one dared to forbid it. Robert told me he saw many men weep as it passed them, and turn away, but it floated fitly enough above the heads of those who had given up everything for the ideals it typified. They went straight to the Capitol, and demanded payment either in gold or government property for their long service. And as no one had a right to pay them, they paid themselves. The scene was indescribable, and Robert slipped away and came home.

June 14th. Today the soldiers are looting the government stables. They are dividing the mules and horses and saddlery among themselves. The noise and tumult is indescribable. I was sewing, and ironing, and cooking all day, and sewing again until midnight, for I must work hard now, in order to have all comfortable for the children and Robert, while I am sick. We keep quietly in doors, and are as happy as we can be under the circumstances; but the poor country! My heart aches for Texas, subjugated and all lost, even honor.

June 15th. Hot windy weather, but feel pressed to work, for I have still much to do. But how thankful I ought to be for the health and strength given me. God be near me for Christ’s sake. My negro servant comes home to eat, then she 251 runs into the city again. I have all her work to do, but she is waiting for her freedom. I cannot blame her.

June 23rd. The Emancipation Proclamation arrived. Robert said he was glad of it, because the negroes knew they were free, and were impatient for its public acknowledgment.

June 24th. The sheriff read the Emancipation Proclamation. He read it with no more ceremony than if he was giving notice of a forced sale of land, or a new city ordinance about negro passes, or any other every day occurrence. He was surrounded by white men, who listened without interest or remark, and the negroes were shocked and dismayed. They had been sure that the news of their freedom would come with the calling of trumpets, the firing of cannon, and the triumphant entry of a victorious army. Robert said they were sick and silent with disappointment, and vanished from the streets. I went into the kitchen to tell Harriet. She was leaning against the open door, looking intently eastward. Freedom was to come from the east, and she was always listening and watching for its approach. Her child, a girl about a year old, was sitting on the floor playing with some empty spools. I had always thought her indifferent to it. “Harriet,” I said, and she turned her eyes upon me but did not speak, “you are free, Harriet! From this hour as free as I am. You can stay here, or go; you can work or sleep; you are your own mistress, now, and forever.” She stepped forward as I spoke, and was looking at me intently, “Say dem words again, Miss Milly!” she cried, “say dem again.” I repeated what I had told her, making the fact still more emphatic; and as I did so, her sullen black face brightened, she darted to her child, and throwing it shoulder high, shrieked hysterically, “Tamar, you’se free! You’se free, Tamar!” She did not at that supreme moment think of herself. Freedom was for her child; she looked in its face, at its hands, at its feet. It was a new baby to her—a free baby. Actually the mother love in her face had humanized its dull, brutish expression. I said again, “You are also free, Harriet. You are your own mistress now. Will you hire yourself to me?” I asked.

“When dem Yankees coming, Miss Milly?”

252

“Nobody knows.”

“How I free then?”

“They sent word.”

“Mighty poor way to set folks free.”

“Will you hire yourself to me, Harriet? I will give you six dollars a month.”

“Six dollars too little, Miss Milly.”

“It is what I paid your master.”

“Thank de Lord, I’se got no master now. I ’long to myself now. I want eight dollars now. When a nigger free, they worth more.”

So I agreed with the freed negro for eight dollars, but I noticed three days later, I had a fresh free nigger at one dollar fifty cents a day. Harriet had gone forever.

In this uncertain condition of affairs, it was perhaps astonishing they worked at all. In fact it was only the women who made any pretense of doing so, but they were generally mothers, and old master was the only sure provider for the children until the Yankees came. The men loafed about the streets, or made little camps in the corn fields, for the young ears were then ripe and milky and good to eat. But all were alike watching with weary impatience for the arrival of the military.

July 17th. This was Robert’s last day’s work for the Confederacy. He was working on his balance sheet. He has been three years, two months, and twelve days in the employ of the late Confederate government—days of goodness and mercy, every one of them. And I am not going to worry about the future. God’s arm is not shortened; it is as able to save and to provide as it ever was. There was nearly two months due Robert, which was of course paid in “specie.” I shall use every cent carefully, and more is sure to come, for God carries the purse for a wise spender.

July 20th. Robert working for the Military Board. I suffer constantly night and day trying to keep up my regular duties. Robert helps all he can, but he is the best part of his day at the Military Board. The weather is hot and very exhausting, even the children get cross in it.

July 25th. About two hundred soldiers came into town. 253 They hoisted the Stars and Stripes on the Capitol, and went to work to prepare tents, stabling, et cetera, for the troops to follow. They hardly noticed the negroes, and showed no disposition whatever to affiliate with them. On the contrary they were friendly with the white men, took drinks with them, and passed around their tobacco bags, tobacco being one thing our men were suffering for.

July 27th. About three thousand soldiers came in today. I was able to iron a little, though I did not sleep an hour last night.

July 28th. Wagons and soldiers pouring into the town. Some of the earliest troops raised the flag at the corner of Hancock’s store. The children went to see the ceremony. After it was raised, the troops saluted it, and Judge Hancock called for cheers. The children said there were a few weak little cheers, and the Judge was angry, and the men walked away. Tried to iron and to bake; after Robert came home, finished a pair of socks for him.

Aug. 7th. My dear Archibald was born at half past six this morning. Robert stayed with me all day. Mrs. Carlton and Mrs. Green and Jenny Alexander came and sat with me a little. I was very proud and happy with my new son, and very grateful to God for all the love that surrounded me. There is old Aunt Patsy in the kitchen; Mary, Lilly and Calvin do all they can, and what they cannot do, Robert somehow manages.

The daily record of my life at this time is chiefly remarkable for the wonderful way in which it represents men of all ages, and all sorts and conditions, taking hold of the heavy housework, thrown upon the hands of the women by the refusal of negroes to work. They accepted it with a kind of pride, and refused to feel any shame in relieving their wives of labor beyond their strength. I went into a friend’s house one day and found her husband, with board and bathbrick, cleaning the table knives. I knew men who “fired” all the food, for the cooking was then done in skillets on the hearth, with hot coals underneath, and upon the lid. I knew others who turned the mattresses and made the beds, and though I was seldom quite without help, Robert found plenty of housework to do, 254 which he would not permit either Mary, or Lilly, or myself to attempt. As illustrating the time, I insert here two records, taken without option or choice, but reflecting the life of the period so well, that I will not change them:

Oct. 27th. Been up and down all night with Archie, who is teething and very restless. Robert had kindled the fire, and I made coffee and muffins, and fried some bacon. After breakfast I attended to children, then baked six loaves of light bread, cooked steak and mashed potatoes for dinner. Mary and Lilly set the table very nicely. After dinner I cleaned up, and when Robert came home about four o’clock, he parched some coffee, and then helped me make candles. We had a pleasant supper, and after the little ones were in bed, I read “Ivanhoe” to Robert until bedtime.

Nov. 1st. Got up dull and tired, and made breakfast, then washed up, and tidied the house. Robert gone up town to see what he can do about a house. We must leave this place, and I would be glad to do so, if we could find another. Robert hopes Major Pierce will pay him today, I put no confidence in the man. I heard Mary and Calvin read, examined them in other studies. Lilly is sick in bed yet. Robert came home disappointed about both house and money. Well, God has both in store. We must pay for them with faith and patience, and in the meantime, the good Father sets my table, and provides for all my wants.

Nov. 27th. Robert rented the Morris place, just back of the Capitol. I am delighted. I hated the house we are in, as soon as I heard of it; and we have had nothing but trouble, while living under its roof. Perhaps our moving may make a break in the long roll of anxious days and nights, just as a nightmare is gone, the moment we stir under it.

The Morris place, to which I made all haste to remove, was almost in the center of the camp of the Sixth Cavalry, and their tents were all round our enclosure. A little behind them were the wigwams of the Tonkaway and Lipan guides, but I had no fear of either white men or Indians. And we soon found that we had come among the most courteous and friendly people. A little offering of cream and new milk opened the 255 way for much mutual kindness; the officers came familiarly to our house. Colonel Morris had the use of our stable, and the girls had the use of horses when they wanted them.

I must notice here, that this kind treatment of “rebels” was not specially for our case. Almost as soon as the Sixth Cavalry arrived in Austin, its officers gave a Reconciliation Ball, and to their regular afternoon promenade and concert, there was a hearty welcome for all who chose to come. It was a great pleasure once more to feel myself surrounded by happy, hopeful people; the atmosphere round the camp was lighter and brighter than what I had been breathing for years, and my nature responded gladly to its stimulus.

Nevertheless, the half year following this removal was full to the brim of every sorrow that humanity can suffer. We were hardly settled when Lilly fell very sick with camp measles, and one after the other the whole family followed her. What we should have done without Dr. Bacon of the Sixth Cavalry at this time, I cannot imagine. He watched over every sick child with a care and tenderness that probably saved their lives. There were but few ladies in the camp, but those present were kind and sympathetic and Mrs. Madden, the wife of Captain Madden, helped me nurse through many critical nights.

During these hard weeks of suffering and utter weariness, there was always the haunting fear of poverty. At first, after the break-up Robert was not anxious. The three richest men in Austin, Mr. Swenson, Mr. Swisher and Mr. Raymond were intending to open a bank as soon as affairs would warrant the project. They had engaged Robert as cashier, and in the meantime he was putting the affairs of the Military Board in order for Major Pierce. But the Military Board work was now finished, and there was no prospect as yet for a bank in Austin. Moreover, word had just come that Mr. Swenson had gone into the banking business in New York. So we were anxious and uncertain, for with six children it would not be as easy to move, as when we came to Austin with two.

But money trials are not the hardest, and somehow or other, they are always overcome. I have been constantly amazed in reading my diary for this year, to see how wonderfully, and 256 from what strange and unlooked-for sources our purse was kept adequate to our wants. It was my intention to burn this diary as soon as I had taken from its pages the story it has so many years preserved, but after reading the record of these sad weeks, I can never do it. As long as I live, it shall be a witness between God and myself that in every trial and in every sorrow He was sufficient. The stones of Bethel were not more sacred, than this little book wet with my tears, and holding my prayers. For over and over it acknowledges, “Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not!” (Lamentations, 3:57.)

Robert had just made up his mind to go to San Antonio to see what business opportunities were there, when Archie was taken sick. He was only a child of ten months old, but he had crept close into all our hearts. I sent for Dr. Bacon, and his attitude from the first was one of anxiety. The next day he told Robert he had better not leave home. “The child is very sick,” he said, “and his illness has taken a turn that is nearly always fatal.”

Three nights after this advice, Robert lay down to sleep and rest a little, for he had been holding the child all day. It was then near midnight, and Archie appeared to be sleeping. I sat down beside his cot, and was knitting a stocking, and watching his every movement. Suddenly a large picture of Lake Windermere, heavily framed, which was hanging over the chimney piece crashed to the floor. No one moved, no one heard the crash, and I went and looked at the picture. Nothing about it was in any way injured. Then I bowed my head, and clasped my hands. There was One present, and I saluted him. The words I expected came.

From that hour Archie grew steadily worse and when Dr. Bacon called the following afternoon, I said,

“He is very ill, Doctor?”

“Very.”

“Dying?”

“Yes. Look at his small hands. See how firmly he has clasped his four fingers over his thumbs. That is a very sure sign of death. Why do they do it? Who can tell?”

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Soon after midnight Archie died. It was a glorious night, and after I had washed and dressed the dear child for his grave, I went out and cut handfuls of white altheas, and strewed them over the little form. All that day he lay thus, and his brothers and sisters came and kissed him, and he was yet one of the household. The next morning the little coffin was ready, I laid him in it, and then Robert gathered the children and read the burial service over it. Colonel Morris had loaned us the officer’s carryall, and there was plenty of room in it, not only for the whole family, but also for the little coffin. It was in this way, we went to the graveyard, and laid him beside his sister Ethel.

God accomplishes that which is beyond expectation. The next morning Robert got an offer from a large cotton house in Galveston, which he accepted. Of course this meant, that he must leave me and the children in Austin until October; before that, there might be some danger from yellow fever. But we both knew, that in the United States camp, there was every security, and that the kindness already given would not be withdrawn.

After a few days’ preparation Robert went away one morning. We watched him until he mounted the last step, leading over the Capitol wall. There he stood a moment, and waved his hat, and we turned quickly into the house because it is not lucky to watch the traveler out of sight. And as I entered the sitting-room, the pendulum of the clock fell to the floor, and I picked it up and said, “It is ten minutes past eleven. We shall see that something will happen at that time.” I was not worried about the circumstance. I merely thought it prefigured some unusual event.

The three months that followed were very happy ones. Colonel Morris sent the bandmaster to sleep in the house, and to watch the Indians, and I threw off all care, and gave myself and the children a holiday. All lessons were dropped, and the girls rode every day to their heart’s content. I wrote cheerful, loving letters to Robert, and had cheerful, loving letters in return. And the weeks went quickly away, until the last one came. Then having sold all our furniture, and also the good 258 cow bought with the Scotch pebble bracelet, I was ready to depart. Ten years previously I had come to Austin, and thought it a city in fairy land. I had seen every charm vanish away. It was a dead city that I was leaving. The dead houses and dead streets might live again, but nothing could restore unto them the glory of the past. I was not sorry to leave them.

Sept. 24th. This is my last entry in Austin. Went with Mary to the graveyard and planted some more shrubs on the two little graves. Then I knelt down and bid them farewell forever. Came home and had some ironing and packing to do; old Anna was doing the last cleaning. In the afternoon had a house full of callers, the Reverend Mr. Rogers, Mrs. Henricks, the Beadles, et cetera; in the evening Lieutenant Kramer, and Major Starr, and Mr. Blackwell. It has been a restless, heart-achey day, and Galveston does not call me pleasantly, but

“Manifold are the changes,

Which Providence may bring;

Many unlooked-for things,

God’s power hath brought about.

What seemeth likely happeneth not,

And for unlikely things,

God findeth out a way.”

O little book, I shut up in you many sacred sorrows! But where on this earth shall the mortal be found, who is free of all trouble? Even the happy have secret griefs, they never utter:

“But anywhere, or everywhere,

If I fulfil God’s will,

And do my Life’s work bravely,

I shall be happy still.”

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CHAPTER XVI

THE TERROR BY NIGHT AND BY DAY

“A place

Before his eyes appeared, sick, noisome, dark,

A Lazar house it seemed, wherein were laid

Numbers of those diseased;

Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair

Tended the sick, busy from couch to couch;

And over them triumphant Death, his dart

Shook.”—Milton.

All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves. The last night I spent in Austin was full of fears and sorrowful memories. The Sixth Cavalry had left the week previous, and I was in terror of the negroes who hungry and angry were going to-and-fro in the darkness, seeking whom they could injure or rob. I dared not sleep. But about two o’clock a severe thunder storm came on and relieved me from any fear of negroes; for I knew that they were terrified by thunder and lightning, and, moreover, that they seriously objected to getting wet.

The storm troubled me, because I dreaded detention. If we were to leave, then the sooner the better. I did not like plans to be delayed, they always seemed to lose something in the interval, and to come to the point at last but half-heartedly. So I wandered about the house, or sat musing in spirit by the two little graves in that lonely suburb of the dead, which I should never, in this life, see again. When the dawn began to break I fell asleep, and on awakening found that it was an exquisite morning, cool and bright, with a refreshing little wind stirring the tree tops.

We had a pleasant breakfast, and then made our last preparations. 260 I had sold the furniture, but it was in some confusion, and had such a hopeless look of hurry and dispersion, that I felt angry at the senseless things. I did not expect the coach until eleven o’clock, but I knew there would be many callers, and I wished to be able to give them my whole time. And at this hour of parting all differences were forgotten and forgiven; acquaintances I had not spoken to for five or six years came to bid me farewell, girls I had helped and taught, men and women of later acquaintance, all alike came with farewell gifts and good wishes.

So the house was full until the coach was driven up to the door; then I ran into the living-room to stop the clock. I did not wish to leave “my time” for I knew not whom, and as I touched the pendulum, I remembered its fall, and glanced at the dial plate. It was ten minutes past eleven. So I smiled and said to Mary, “We are leaving exactly at the hour your father left.” And she answered, “You know, Mamma, every one who goes by this coach will go about the same hour.” I nodded my head to this remark, and taking Alice by the hand, we made our final adieus and started.

Somehow, I seemed to have suddenly lost a foothold, my spirits were dashed, and I was relieved when the house was out of sight, and we were driving down the avenue. And yet I was soon sorry, that we had taken that way of exit from the city, for my heart ached when I remembered the beautiful highway, as I saw it, the day I first entered Austin—bathed in spring sunshine, redolent with the perfume of the China trees, gay with white-robed women and picturesque men, with busy stores, and little rambling hints of music from negroes picking their banjos, while waiting for their masters or watching their horses. It was so charming, so happy, so full of calm content and evident prosperity.

Now! Ah! Now it was a desolate place. Only two or three stores were open, the rest were closed, and had an air of desertion. I did not see a dozen white men on the sidewalks, and just two white women were visible, and they were robed in deepest black, and their faces closely covered by long black veils. There was no sound or sight of business of any kind, 261 the doors of the hotel were shut, and not even an empty chair stood under its shady verandah. All the signs of life present were black signs—squads of ragged negro men, and with every squad negro women equally ragged; while squatting near them, there was usually some black hairless Mexican dogs—all else, despondency and loneliness.

I was glad when we were beyond any sight or sound of Austin, and now I confess that I remember only the Austin I saw and loved in 1856. I had to call peremptorily on memory to restore me my last view of it, in 1866. The latter was but a passing condition. I know now that splendid natural avenue is bright and busy, and wonderfully built up and adorned with all that marks commercial prosperity. I do not want to see it in its modern splendor. I prefer to keep my memory of it in A.D. 1856. It was then, I think, the brightest, happiest, most romantic street in the whole world.

We left Austin on the twenty-fifth of September, A.D. 1866, at ten minutes past eleven A.M., and we arrived at Bastrop at ten o’clock P.M., having stopped at a place called Nash’s for supper. Then all night we were in the stage, not reaching a village called La Grange till near noon next day. At La Grange we had a good meal, and then took a stage for Allington, where we arrived between seven and eight o’clock that night. Here we stayed at a small hotel, and never before in all my life had beds been so welcome. The children were worn out, and I had a bad nervous headache but a long night’s sleep put us all right.

When I awoke, I found that Mary and Lilly had dressed the younger children, and were dressing themselves, and by hurrying a little, I was able to go with them when the gong called us to breakfast. Calvin and Alexander were missing, but were soon found in speechless worship and wonder before the railway engine. Calvin was a natural mechanic, and the engine attracted him as nothing in all his short life had ever done. He held his little brother by the hand, and was explaining it to him in his childlike manner. After breakfast we took the train for Galveston, but did not arrive there until it was nearly dark.

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We had all left Allington in high spirits, but as the day went on a great depression fell upon every one of us. The boys appeared to feel its influence most, and they became silent and even sad. I thought it was only physical weariness, for I was conscious also of a great melancholy. A little while before we reached Galveston, we had to cross a very long bridge or viaduct, connecting the main land with the island of Galveston. Over this viaduct the train moved very slowly. I looked at Alexander who was sitting on my knees, for I expected him to be full of interest and chatter, and I saw that his eyes had the most remarkable appearance. He seemed to be looking through his eyeballs, as through a window, seeing something at an infinite, incalculable distance. He was evidently unconscious, and I could neither speak nor move. Calvin was in the same trance. Mary and Lilly were gazing at the boy, but neither of them moved nor spoke. Suddenly Alexander shuddered, and with a deep sigh was conscious, but he made no remark. At the same moment Calvin awoke to life, in the same manner, and none of us uttered a word. The boys were exceedingly sad, but neither of them asked a question, or made any allusion to their experience. The strangest, most sorrowful atmosphere pervaded the car, and I could scarcely move under the somber, silent inertia; but I expected the train to stop at any moment, and Robert would be waiting. This nameless, causeless, speechless dejection would be too cruel. It would never do, it must be conquered.

I made a great effort, and got the children to answer me in an absent-minded way, but when the train stopped, and Robert stepped forward happy and smiling, and stretching out his arms for Alice, we could hardly speak to him. For weeks and months we had all been joyfully anticipating this very hour, and when it came, none of us appeared to be even decently pleased. Robert was astonished but very good-natured, and pitied us because we were too weary for anything but sleep. But when I told him, a little later, about the kind of trance into which both boys had fallen at the same time, he was much troubled.

“Was it a trance, Robert?” I asked.

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“It was vision,” he answered sadly. “The same experience came to Ethel, the day before her death.”

“And what is vision?”

“The cup of strength, given only to those who will need its comfort.”

Then we were both silent, and for some time both unhappy, though we did not again name the circumstance.

We stayed in a boarding-house while furnishing our new home, and this occupied over two weeks, for Robert could not spare much time to assist me, though he had seen to it, that the house itself was spotlessly clean and in good order. The rest had to be mainly my work. Now, how is it, that the very same circumstances are not always equally pleasant? I could not but remember our happy furnishing in Austin ten years previously. What a joyous time it was! And there was nothing to prevent, in some measure, a renewal of this experience; there were even one or two things favorable towards making it a still more delightful one; for instance, we had more money to spend, and more certain prospects.

But it was quite different. Robert went about the matter generously and helpfully, and the result was a pretty, comfortable home, with which we were both pleased; but its making had not been the same delightful event that our Austin home represented. There had been no disagreement, no disappointment, not one untoward circumstance of any kind, but it was not the same! Why? We loved each other better than ever before; what had caused the change? Ten years? When I was alone, I could not help a few regretful tears, but alas!

“No tears can make the grass to grow

On the trampled meadows of long ago.”

Ah, if we had known that it was our last home making! The very last time we should talk together about chairs and tables, curtaining and china, how almost sacred these common household things would have become. I have not an article left of this furnishing, but a pretty Queen Anne cream pitcher. On leaving Galveston forever, I gave this pitcher to Mrs. Lee of 264 that city, as a memorial of her great kindness to me in the most terrible hours of my life. Twenty years afterwards, she sent it with a loving message back to me, knowing that it would be a relic beyond price. Surely the veil God draws between us and the future is a veil of mercy. If Robert and I had known it, how heart-breaking that furnishing would have been!

We took possession of our new home on the sixteenth of October. It was then in perfect order, and we made a gala meal of our first supper, at which all the children were present. Then there followed half-a-year of days sweet as the droppings from the honeycomb. Lilly and Calvin were at good schools, Mary was studying music, and learning how to dance, and I was busy enough with my house, with the sewing for the whole family, and with giving Alexander his first lessons. Alice though near seven years old was yet too weak to be troubled. She had been born during the excitement and terror of the beginning of the war, and she brought with her—not the fervid spirit of the time—but its exhaustion and weakness.

During the worry and trouble following the Emancipation, Robert had received a letter from my sister Mary, telling him of my father’s death, but advising that I should not be informed of it, while I had so many every day troubles and anxieties. Robert thought well of this request, and so he did not tell me until we were happily settled in our Galveston home. I could weep no sorrowful tears for my father’s release. For a long time earth had lain at his feet like a cast-off sandal. He had longed to depart, and to be with Christ and the loved ones waiting for him; and Mary said he went away smiling, like one who goes on a pleasant journey.

During his last days he frequently expressed a wish that he might go on a Sabbath morning, while the bells were ringing for service. Very wise people will doubtless think that was a childish wish, but the kindly angel of his release granted it. On a Sabbath morning, while the bells of Baildon church were ringing a joyful peal, and filling the air with the gladdest music that can ever be between heaven and earth, he went away with the air and the smile of one,

265

“To whom glad news is sent,

From the far country of his home,

After long banishment.”

No I could not weep for my father’s release. I could sit and recall his fine face, his gracious manner, his blameless life, his wonderful sermons and our long pleasant walks together, but though my tears were dropping upon my sewing, they were not sorrowful tears. I could wipe them away with thanksgiving.

For half a year everything went on in the happiest manner. We had very pleasant neighbors; the markets were cheap and plentiful. A few old Austin friends had gathered round us, and we had many new ones. Life seemed to me in those days like a busy, happy story. True, every day was much alike; yet every day was different—a fresh visitor, a new book, the children’s school gossip, the household and city happenings made changes that were sufficient. And in the evenings, if we had no company, I played and sang and read to Robert and the three eldest children, or we took a walk to the beach, which was scarce a quarter of a mile away.

Thus one day slipped into another, and I find no complaints in my diary against anything, or anyone, but myself. To its pages I am constantly lamenting my too vivid enjoyment of earthly happiness, and my forgetfulness of past sorrows and trials. Yet if this small book tells the truth, as I am sure it does, I must have loved God through these happy days very sincerely. I wish with all my soul that I loved him now, as I did then, with a conscience sensitive as a nerve, and a heart that acknowledged no truer love, or dearer loyalty. Yes, in my eighty-first year, I am ashamed before the memory of that woman in the prime of her life, who could write such passionate longings for God’s love, and such sorrowful regrets for her small lapses of duty or temper. Surely He cannot have forgotten.

It was not until late in April that the first whisper of calamity came. We lived in a cottage belonging to Judge Wheeler, and standing next to his own house, and one evening he came over to smoke his pipe with Robert on our verandah.

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“Barr,” he said, “I hear a good deal of talk about yellow fever, and I dare say people will be advising you to leave this house, because there is a meat market not far away, which will be sure to attract the fever. Don’t you believe them. Sit still. You are as safe here as anywhere. We do not intend to move, nor do the Dalzells, who have the next house to us.”

During the following month the terror grew daily, and as the hot weather came on, we were sensibly aware of our too close proximity to the meat market, Robert was sure we ought to remove, and he came home one day delighted with an empty house which he had found. It was near the sea, and it had unusually large rooms, all of which had just been renovated, papered and painted. It is not great things, but trivial ones, which generally produce the most important and tragic consequences; and it was the fresh papering and painting that made me willing to go through another removal. Yet I did not inspect the house before moving into it; if I had, I am sure I should have hesitated about doing so, but the weather was hot and humid, and the road between it and the Wheeler cottage deep with sand. My feeling about the change was really one of assent, rather than desire.

The place, however, appeared to be all that had been represented—roomy and clean, freshly papered and painted, and so near to the Gulf that we could hear the waves breaking on the shore. But as I walked through the rooms, an indefinable repugnance took possession of me, and I asked Robert if he knew who had been living in it?

“I do not,” he said a little tartly. “I never thought of asking such a question. Does it matter, Milly?”

“Yes,” I answered, “it does matter a great deal. In spite of the fresh paper and paint, the air of these rooms is not clean. Wicked people must have lived in them.”

Then he laughed, and said, “You are too fanciful. No one has lived in the house,” he continued, “for a great many years. It was almost a ruin, when old Durr bought it. We are its first tenants since its restoration to a respectable dwelling.”

I said nothing further at the time, but I noticed that when the two large lamps were lit in the parlor, they did not light 267 the room. It remained dull and gloomy, and full of shadows, and an eerie feeling of fear and unconquerable depression dashed all desire to talk over our arrangement of the furniture; deny it as he would, Robert and the children were affected in the same way.

But the change was made, and the wisest plan was to accept it hopefully. I put up the white curtains, and white mosquito draperies as soon as possible, not only because they were necessary to our comfort, but because I hoped the profusion of white would relieve the gloom. I filled the rooms with flowers, I hung no pictures but such as were of light coloring and cheerful subjects, and when I had finished my work, I felt more satisfied with the place.

Then life settled to its usual routine, yet hardly so, for I was counseled against allowing the children to study during the hot months in which they were acclimating; and I felt little inclination myself for any duty that was not an imperative necessity. I sat drowsily within the open door hardly thinking. Life gradually became inertia. I laid down my book and needle, and the children played without spirit, or lay sleeping in any cool place they could find. In Austin the thermometer had often stood ten or twelve degrees higher, and not affected our work or spirits, but as soon as it passed ninety degrees in Galveston it became intolerable. And at this time the average heat, if I remember rightly, was one hundred degrees and upward.

Still I am glad now to recall we kept up as far as possible all our household ways and traditions. No matter how hot the morning or night, we never missed the usual family worship, and only in case of sickness, did I permit either myself or the children, to neglect dressing to meet their father for supper. I did not read so much aloud to them, for we were all too listless and anxious to care about imaginary sorrows, with so much real danger and suffering around. Sometimes, however, I took a little stroll with Robert to the beach, and sometimes even I went downtown with him as far as our grocer’s. He was a Glasgow man called Shaw, and Robert had formed a warm friendship with him.

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As the days and weeks went on, we could not escape the certain knowledge that the fever was steadily gaining ground. During the latter part of June the corporation were keeping large fires of tar burning all through the city, and the gutters had a horrible odor of disinfectants. Far and wide the lurid smoke of these fires darkened the hot humid atmosphere, and at night their dark fantastic shadows, and the singular forms they took, seemed to prefigure and presage the fate of the doomed city. Here and there stores were closed, and frequently dwellings full of human beings were marked with the dreaded yellow cross.

At this time I had no great fear of the fateful sickness. However, towards the middle of July affairs were coming to a frightful crisis. The fever had at last reached the military camp of the United States soldiers, which was but a block or two behind our house. There were a thousand men in it, and every morning I saw long lines of carts filled with rude boxes and tarred canvas pass the house. They were carrying the dead to the long trenches made for them. In August the colonel of this regiment died of the fever, and not thirty of the men were alive to bury him.

There was nothing for the custom’s house and post office to do, their doors were shut; the Strand, which was the principal business street of the city, was rank with waving grass. Its large warehouses, shops, wharves and public buildings were closed. There were half a dozen little places scattered about, that were still open, mainly for the sale of bread and drugs, but they had an air of hopeless silence and abandonment. A dreadful haze hung over the city, and the sea—a haze that appeared to be filled with the very odors of despair and death. I was glad when the corporation gave up all efforts at prevention. The fever was now far beyond it, and Galveston was strictly isolated from the living world. It had become a city of dreadful death.

Day after day and week after week the weather was of the same distressing character—an hour or two of pouring, beating, tropical rain, and then an hour or two of such awful heat and baleful sunshine, as the language happily has no words to describe. These two conditions alternated continually, and 269 the consequence was streets full of grass—this grass being literally alive with tiny frogs, frogs not bigger than a bean, but in such enormous quantities that pedestrians crushed hundreds under their feet with every step they took. I do not exaggerate this sickening plethora of life; it is impossible to do so.

One evening towards the end of August I told Robert we were out of certain household necessities, and asked if he knew how they could be procured. He answered, “Yes, Shaw told me if we wanted anything to knock at his house door, and he would give me what was required. I will go and see him after supper.”

Then I pleaded, “Let me go with you, Robert. I want a walk so much.” He entreated me not to go, but I was resolved to see with my own eyes whether things were as bad as reported, and after some demur he consented. So I walked down into the city with him. A walk through hell could hardly have been more dreadful. The beds of the dying were drawn to the open windows, and there was hardly a dwelling wanting a dying bed. The faces of the sufferers were white and awful, their heads covered with crushed ice. They were raving, moaning, shrieking, or choking with the appalling vomito. I covered my eyes, and clung to Robert, and finally asked him to turn back.

“We are nearly at Shaw’s,” he answered, “and you had better rest there half an hour. It will then be darker.”

So he knocked at the door for admission, and one of Mr. Shaw’s clerks opened to us. Robert asked for Mr. Shaw, and the young man replied, “He is in bed, very ill with the fever.”

I knew it the moment the door was opened. A strong sickly odor, like nothing ever felt before, told me so. I said to myself on the instant, “It is the smell of yellow fever.” And no one, I think, would have failed to give it its own dreadful name—that is, if they were in a situation where the fever was probable. There is no odor on earth to which it is comparable. The soul loathes, and sickens, and trembles in its presence; for there is no straighter or surer avenue to the soul than the sense of smell.

I went home thoroughly frightened, and Robert I think was not sorry. He had often told me I was too indifferent—not 270 to the discomfort of the situation—but to its danger. We found on reaching home that Calvin and Alexander had not gone to bed, and then both boys cried in our arms and said they dared not go to their rooms upstairs.

“There are evil spirits there, Papa,” sobbed Calvin, “and they walk about and stand and look at us. They emptied my drawers last night. They pulled the clothes off our bed. Oh, they are so wicked, and so dreadful! Save us from them, Papa! We cannot go upstairs tonight.”

We were astounded, the more so as Mary and Lilly had a similar story to tell. The dear children had been consulting in our absence, whether we must be told, or whether they should try to bear it a little longer—until Mamma felt better. Those four words smote me like a whip.

Of course we comforted them, and gave the boys a room downstairs beside us. Then I went to the kitchen to make some inquiries of the servant, who also slept upstairs. She was a sensible middle-aged Dutch woman, as little likely to be psychic, or even imaginative, as was the bed upon which she slept. I found that she had gone home to sleep, but would be back early in the morning. When she came in the morning, I said to her, “Why did you go home last night, Gertrude?”

“Because it is impossible to sleep here, Madame,” she answered. “There are such strange noises, and I see dreadful men going up and down stairs all night. I am afraid of them.”

I told Robert what she said, and he answered in a sad, slow voice, “I hear such things wherever I turn Milly. It is astonishing what some men have told me. I could almost fear we were all in hell and did not know it. During the great cholera year in Glasgow, 1847-8, people told the same things, but the spiritual terror is far, far greater here, and now, than it was there, and then.”

“Do you think such a calamity as this is the work of evil spirits, Robert?”

“It may be. But if so, they are only the agents of a wise and merciful God who permits them so far, and no further. There is the case of Job, and when Daniel prayed for help, the help, though sent by the Archangel Michael, was delayed 271 twenty-one days; for Michael had to fight the Evil Ones, who opposed him.” Then we were silent and thoughtful, and I had suddenly a childish fear, that it was not well to talk of the Evil Ones. They could perhaps hear what we said.

I will try to write as little as possible about the spiritual terror of this time, but ignoring a subject does not annihilate it, and this subject was one of general concern and absorbing interest. There were few people—men and women both—who had not some strange or terrible experience to relate. Nor were these experiences confined to the vulgar, the ignorant, the superstitious or the irreligious; they affected every class, without any distinction of social standing, age or culture.

We must remember that every one for three months dwelt at the mouth of the grave. The terror by night, the pestilence that walked in darkness, the destruction that wasted at noonday was their companion and their conversation. The invisible world drew strangely near to the visible; every one talked with bated breath of things supernatural. It was an atmosphere in which the solemn and thoughtful grew spiritual, but which offended and angered natures of clayey mold.

Those who have visited old churches and cathedrals where men have prayed and poured out spiritual emotions for centuries know how powerfully they are moved by this unseen force of righteousness; how softly they tread! How lowly they speak! How readily their souls respond to the reverent thoughts that spring voluntarily to their consideration! Such places are really sacred. God has visited them, angels have rested in their solemn aisles, mortals seeking heavenly mercy have found it there.

Now the power of evil association with places is quite as great—perhaps greater; for evil clings passionately to whatever is of the earth. There are many places today filled with the strong vibrations of tragedies long since enacted there. Go and stand, even at bright noonday, amid the ruins of some old Druidical temple, and you will be chilled by the supernal horror that yet lingers there. Every city has its own mental atmosphere, and it affects persons moving to it. In a lesser degree every tabernacle built by man, and used by man, becomes 272 imbued with his personality, physical and spiritual. I knew dwellings in England where the same family had lived for centuries, that had actually the aura of the family, and in their arrangement and atmosphere, almost its personality. Indeed, every habitation reveals in some degree the nature of the people who dwell in it. So I wondered constantly as to who had built and lived in the old house we had unfortunately taken possession of. I was sure that their wraiths were still in it, and that our presence annoyed them. But we told ourselves that their malignity could have no power over us. Whatever came, though it were the fever, we were determined to take it as from God’s will.

One night in August, Robert brought home with him a Mr. Hall, an old Austin friend. They had some business to talk over, and when I saw their conversation was finished, I had supper brought in, and as we sat down to the table, Mr. Hall glanced round the parlor and remarked, “The old pirate’s nest has quite a Barr-y look already.”

“Pirate’s nest!” I ejaculated. “What do you mean, Mr. Hall?”

“Well,” he answered, “if devils haunt the places they made hells upon earth, Lafitte and his men must be here. It is said that Durr’s house was standing in the days when Galveston was called Campeachy, and was a haunt and home of the vilest men, pirates and murderers from the scum of all nations, ruled by the infamous Lafitte. By the way, Barr,” he continued, “Lafitte was a great slave trader, and he had a very convenient way of selling negroes; a dollar a pound for them, old or young. If this should have been Lafitte’s house, as I have heard some suppose, it was originally painted blood-red, and——”

“Mr. Hall,” interrupted Robert, “I think you ought not to mention such things in Madame’s presence.”

“I beg Madame’s pardon,” he answered, “but I felt sure she had already heard many incomprehensible things. To me they are hardly so, for I know what fiends once made Galveston Island their home. Do you think they have forgotten the place of their sins and cruelties? No, Furies of ancient crimes are here, revengeful souls full of unsatisfied hatreds. Perhaps they 273 have been given a strange enlargement for some reason, and that reason must be within the permission and mercy of God.”

Robert made a motion of dissent. “I do not believe,” he said, “that God would select for the execution of any of his purposes, foul spirits who gloat in cruelties.”

“We know nothing more surely of God, than that he is love and mercy. I am one of those who believe even in the repentance and forgiveness of that great Archangel who fell, and drew after him a third part of heaven.”

“Now, Hall——”

“Yes, I believe in the full and final triumph of good. Why else should Christ have descended into hell to preach to the spirits in prison there? He had surely some hope or promise to give, or He would not have gone. I hope I may at least have the same divine charity which is expressed in one of the most ancient Persian hymns.”

“Do you know the hymn, Mr. Hall?” I asked.

“I know the lines I refer to.”

“Will you repeat them?”

“In the translation I possess, they read thus:

‘Ormuzd grant me the grace, the joy of seeing

Him who makes the Evil, be brought to comprehend

The purity of the Heart. Grant that I may see the

Great Chief of the Evil Ones, loving nothing but holiness;

And forever speaking the Word, among the

Converted demons.’”

“Thank you,” I answered, and Mr. Hall continued, “Take your Bible. Between cover and cover, there is not any doctrine more constantly taught and exemplified, than the one teaching angelic and demoniacal agency. What says Madame?”

“I believe in it,” I answered, “just as I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the communion of saints. They are articles of the same creed. I cannot doubt one, without doubting the other; and I hope I have a share of that divine charity which inspired the Persian worshipper. David believed that even if he made his bed in hell, God would care for him, 274 and Ezekiel tells us that Pharaoh shall be comforted in hell.” (Ezekiel, 32:31.)

“Do you remember in what chapter?” asked Mr. Hall.

“No,” I answered, “but we will look for it after supper.” Then I changed the conversation for Robert looked as much like a Sadducee as any dweller in ancient Jewry could have done.

That night we were both very sad and quiet, and after Mr. Hall had left, Robert sat down by his two sons and talked softly to them for a long time. I sat at the open door, listening to the great voice of the sea lamenting and creeping up through the darkness. At that hour my faith was weak, and I could not help remembering how, when I first crossed this unhappy threshold, my heart sighed heavily, and my very steps were reluctant and prelusive of sorrow. But in a little while Robert came to comfort me, and he spoke so bravely of God’s omnipotent power, and of his goodness to us in every emergency, that I soon found no difficulty in carrying my fearful heart from this unhappy house, safe to the hidden house of God’s abiding.

That night I had a dream. It is as clear to my inward vision this hour as when I awoke from it. I was by the side of a river, a river black and motionless. Great trees overshadowed it, and all its banks were hidden in a lush growth of rushes and long grasses. It was a horror of marshy earth and dead water. And among the long rushes and dead water, a human figure lay, a man unnaturally thin and tall, with a yellowish, deathlike face, surrounded by long straight black hair. He lay prone as if asleep, but slowly raised himself, and looked at me. Then with a languid air, but a voice of fate, he said, “One shall be taken, and the other left.”

I awoke, and my heart was sick, for I had seen the likeness of yellow fever. And from that hour I knew, that either I must leave my dear ones, or they would have to leave me. For come how it may, dreams do read the future. Then why should we despise their teaching? How can we tell what subtle lines run between spirit and spirit? Fifty years ago we would have thought it a thing incredible, if told that a man in New York could talk with a man in Chicago. Can it not be as easy for the dear ones who have left us, to send a warning dream, as it 275 is for our scientists by means of spectrum analysis, to examine a ray of light from Sirius, Capella or any distant star, and tell us what are the elements of their composition. And from the dream there soon followed reality. I went softly. I hung around my husband and children with a wistful tenderness. I asked God to prepare me for whatever He sent, and all my prayer was, “Let us fall into Thy Hands.”

I can make no apology for being now compelled to refer to a life not this life. It would indeed be a miserable one-sided biography of any human being, that was only a biography of their physical life. We are soul as well as body. It is not that we have a soul, we are a soul; and this higher part is in no one quiescent. The men who think of nothing outside their physical senses, have often souls of a far more pronounced type than their physical man; the type may be evil, but even while they ignore its agency, they are ruled by it.

I had been in touch with myself all my life long; by night and day the other Amelia was familiar to my apprehension, and an incommunicable sense of another world never far away. Hitherto, I had been astonished that while others saw and heard so much from this other world, I had been singularly free from spiritual influences. The dream I have just related, was the first intimation I received of a personal share in the general calamity. I did not speak of it to Robert, but as I have said, I went prayerfully about my house, and all my pleasant work fell from my listless hands.

Sometime after midnight on the twentieth of August I rose from my bed. I could not sleep; I was too restless and unhappy, but all whom I loved appeared to be sleeping well. So I sat down in a rocking-chair facing an open window which looked towards the sea. This open window was however screened by the ordinary green blinds, made of thin slats of wood. All was quiet but the dull roar of the sea, troubling the sad heart of the night with a sound of vague anger and menace; and the stillness of earth and sky was ghostly and melancholy. I heard a faint stir among the leaves of the Japonica hedge that surrounded the place, and I stopped rocking and sat motionless listening.

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Then there fell upon the closed blinds—on which my eyes were fixed—a blow so tremendous, that I was sure they must be shattered; but ere I could rise, another blow of less intensity followed, and then a third not quite as crashing as the second. I never for a moment thought the blows were given by any instrument. I was sure they were made by hand. I went to Robert’s side. He was fast asleep. The children also were sleeping. Then I understood. I prayed for God’s mercy, but God seemed far from me. Until the dim gray dawn I sat in troubled thought, but when I heard Robert stir I told him what had happened, and begged him to come to the window with me. I had been afraid to go near it; I had turned my back upon it, but I was sure the blinds were shattered.

There was not a slat broken. But the thin strips of wood were indented and showed plainly the full shape of a hand twice as large as any human hand. Why were the blinds not broken to pieces by three blows from a hand like that? And how could the thin strips of wood be made to bend and to take that impression? This evidence of physical force, made by some spiritual entity remained for every one to see, as long as I lived in the house. As to what came after, I know not. I never again went within sight of the place.

That day I noticed that the leaves of the Japonica hedge had turned black, and were covered with a loathsome sweat or moisture, and Robert told me he had been with Scotch Brown to the camp to do something for a Scotchman ill there, and that they were shown the body of a calf killed one hour previously, and it was as black as a piece of coal. “I would not let the children go outside, Milly,” he said, “the very atmosphere has the fever.”

That night Alexander was taken ill, and before midnight he was delirious. The next day Lilly was sick, and the following day Mary. There was then no institution like the present trained nurses, but the Scotchmen of Galveston had formed themselves into a society for nursing each other, if attacked by fever; and Robert and Scotch Brown had been busily engaged in this work for some weeks. Now Scotch Brown came to our assistance. He went into the kitchen, and could cook a suitable 277 meal if necessary. He kept the negro hired help at their duties, and no woman could have been more tender, more watchful, more ready to help and to comfort. Lilly had not a very bad attack, but Mary came perilously near to the fatal end. But carefully watched and nursed, they passed the crisis, and began to recover. The recovery from yellow fever is very rapid, but if a relapse should take place, the case is hopeless.

On Sunday, the sixth of September, Alexander, Lilly and Mary were apparently getting well as satisfactorily as we could expect. Mary looked white and frail; Alexander lay mostly on the sofa; Lilly, in spite of yellow fever, had her usual bright smile and cheerful voice; but, Oh, how happy we were to be able to gather at the dinner table! Very sparing was the food of the invalids, but they enjoyed it, and we had a pleasant meal. It was a very happy day, I remember every hour of it. It was the last day I was to spend with my husband and sons, but I knew it not. Surely, I thought, God has heard my prayers, and we shall all be spared to thank Him. We did so together, as soon as supper was over, and the children with kisses and loving words went early to rest. Robert and I sat until late; Robert was very quiet, but I leaned my head against his shoulder, and we spoke tenderly and hopefully to each other of things past, and of things likely to come. And as I brushed out my hair, and coiled it for the night, I said cheerfully to him,

“God doth not leave His Own.

The night of weeping for a time may last,

Then tears all past,

His going forth shall as the morning shine.

The sunrise of His favor shall be thine and mine,

God doth not leave His Own.”

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CHAPTER XVII

THE NEVER-COMING-BACK CALLED DEATH

“Calamity is a delicate goddess, and her feet are tender. Her feet are soft. She treads not on the ground. She takes her path upon the hearts of men.”

The next day was the worst we had yet seen. It poured incessantly, and when the rain ceased at nightfall, it was followed by a fog so dense that it seemed palpable. Every room in the house was full of it, lights would hardly burn, and breathing was not easy. Robert and the children went early to bed, but I wandered about the different rooms, watching the sleepers. I did not feel very well, and was nervous and full of fears. When the clock struck twelve I was worse, and I concluded it would be well for me to try to sleep. But before putting down the lamp, I opened the Bible, for my father had often told me, to take a verse to bed with me to meditate upon, if I happened to be wakeful. It was a common, almost a nightly custom, and I followed it at that hour more as a habit than a conscious intent. So opening the Bible, as my fingers touched the screw of the lamp, my eyes fell upon these words, “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let your widows trust in me.” (Jeremiah, 49:11.)

My first emotion was anger. I closed the Book hastily but did not put out the light. I told myself, that I would not go to bed with that strange verse pealing in my ears. And I wondered at my opening on the Book of Jeremiah; it was one book that we never read, either personally or in the family. Its pages indeed were fresh and white, while the Psalms and Gospels were well worn and discolored. All that splendid faith, which is exactly to the inner woman what courage is to the physical woman, had slipped away from me. Why was God so hard to 279 me? I wanted so much a little verse of comfort, and I had been given an evil prediction. I cried very much as a sensitive child would cry, who thought its dearly loved father had been unkind, or indifferent to its distress.

I had said, I would not go to bed with that verse pealing in my ears, but the pain in every limb of my body grew constantly worse. I put my fingers upon my wrist, and found there that peculiar “bound” that says at every throb, yellow fever! I knew at last, that I was smitten with the fever. Then I called Robert, and was quickly in such physical anguish that I forgot all else; also a feeling of sheer despair took possession of me, and during the ensuing week I was only conscious of the agony of a thirst, which could not be satisfied but at the risk of the vomito. Robert put bits of crushed ice between my lips frequently, but they did not assuage the cruel longing for water. I was in an unconscious state wandering in “a desolate land, where the pains of hell get hold on me—a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and of the shadow of death, that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt;” and into which neither husband nor child could follow me; tossing, muttering, slowly parching and burning up, I lived on from day to day.

But He that “turneth man to destruction” says also, “Return ye children of men;” and on Friday, the eleventh, I became conscious of Robert at my side, and of the children passing through the room and coming to me. I could feel their soft kisses on my hands and face, and I finally found strength to ask Mary, “How are Calvin and Alice?”

“Calvin is sick, Mamma,” she answered. “Papa put him in my room; he wanted to be near you.”

“Very sick?” I asked.

“Not as bad as I was.”

“Alice?”

“She has the fever very slightly. She is nearly well. Alexander, also, but you, dear Mamma?”

“All is right.”

The next day I was much worse. I could not move, and was hardly able to whisper a word or two, and towards midnight Alexander had a relapse. Wringing his hands, and full of 280 a strange reluctance, Robert went out into the dreadful night to try to find a doctor. What happened on that fateful walk, I may not write, but he brought back the doctor, who looked at the child, and then turning to Robert said,

“You will be wanted soon, lie down and sleep. Oh, you must! You must! I will stay here until you awake.”

I know not how long Robert slept. He threw himself on a sofa within sight of my bed, and appeared to fall into a deep sleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. Alexander begged to come to me, and the doctor laid him at my feet, and I felt with an indescribable thrill of love and anguish, his little hand clasp my ankle.

The clock had just struck three, when I heard Robert start suddenly to his feet and cry, “Yes, sir!” Then smiting his hands together as if in distress, he cried out still loudly, “Yes, sir! I am coming!” The doctor rose and went to him. “Barr,” he asked, “what is the matter?” for Robert was weeping as men seldom weep—long moaning sobs, that were the very language of heart-breaking despair. “What is the trouble, my friend?” the doctor asked again, and Robert answered,

“My father called me twice, and I—I answered him. He has been dead thirty-two years.”

“Well then, your father would only come for your relief and help.”

“He came for me, Doctor; the summons was inexorable, and sure.”

“Let us go to the child. He is very ill.”

I heard these words, and I felt at the same moment a tighter clasp of the small hand round my ankle, and Robert’s kiss upon my cheek. Then the hours went slowly and cruelly by, and in the afternoon the beginning of the end commenced. But just before it, the child had another attack similar to the one he and his brother had shared on the train coming in to Galveston. He was quite unconscious, even of his physical agony, his eyes firmly fixed their vision far, far beyond any earthly horizon. His father sat like a stone gazing at him, and I could not have moved a finger, or spoken a word, no, not to have saved his life.

The trance lasted only a few minutes, but he came out of it 281 sighing, and then asked in a voice of awe and wonder, “Who is that man waiting for me, Papa?” He was assured there was no one waiting, but he replied, “Yes, there is a man waiting for me. He is in the next room.” Then his father noticed that his eyes had a new, deep look in them, as if some veil had been rent, and he with open face had beheld things wonderful and secret.

About seven o’clock they took him away from me into the next room. He clung to my feet, and begged to stay with me, and I—Oh, I strove as mortals strive with the impossible to speak, to plead, that he might remain! But it could not be. His father lifted him in his arms, and through the next five awful hours he held him there. No! no! It is not writable, unless one could write with blood and tears. At midnight it was over. But as his father laid down the little boy, Mrs. Lee went to him, and said,

“Calvin is very ill. Go and speak to him, while you can.”

He went at once and put his arm under the sweet child, and spoke to him. And the first words the dying boy uttered were, “Papa, what is the matter with my brother?”

“He is very ill, Calvin.”

“Is he dying?”

“Yes.”

“Tell him to wait for me. I am dying, too, Papa! I cannot see you! I am blind! Kiss me, Papa.”

These were his last words. He died two hours after his brother, and I do not doubt they went together; and they had “a Man” with them, who knew his way through the constellations. They would go straight to Him whom their souls loved. I was not permitted to see either of them, and on Tuesday afternoon they were buried. I heard them carry out the coffins; I heard their father’s bitter grief, and I was dumb and tearless.

After they were buried, Robert came straight to me. “They are laid side by side, Milly, darling,” he said. “Now I also must leave you. Forgive Robert all that he has ever done to grieve you.” I tried to tell him I had nothing to forgive, that he was always good to me, but he shook his head sadly, and continued, “O Milly, my love, my wife, farewell! I must go, 282 dearest! I must go! O my dear, dear wife, farewell!” and I could only answer with low sharp cries. I had not a word for this moment. At the open door our eyes met in a long parting gaze, and then I remember nothing more, till it was dark and late, and I heard the sounds of men busy in the next room.

I never saw my husband again. On Wednesday he died. Thank God, he died as Calvin did, of general congestion. Death mounted from his dead feet to his heart, and head, with a swift sure pace, but he was really dying all the last three days that he was nursing his dying sons. He fell on guard, and Death came as a friend to relieve him:

“And so he passed to joy, through bitter woe,

As some great galleon through dark may go,

Where no star glimmers, and the storm wind wails

Until the rose of Morning touch her sails.”

Mrs. Lee stayed at his side until the last moment, and when all was finished, she came to me. “He has gone!” she said.

“I know,” I answered. “He passed me as he went. There was One with him. I thank God! What time did he go?”

“It was just ten minutes past eleven.”

Then I remembered the pendulum of the clock falling at ten minutes past eleven. And the memory gave me a sudden sense of comfort. Some wiser Intelligence than ourselves, had known even then, what was before us; had known when Robert left his home, that he was faring into the shadows in which his grave was hid. His death was not a blind hap-hazard calamity. It was a foreseen event, an end pre-determined by Infinite Wisdom and Love. O mystery of life! From what unexpected sources, spring thy lessons and thy comforts! Whatever life was left in me was quickened by this blow. I felt it to the foundation of being, and though I could not speak to those around me, I could to the Divine Other who was closer to me than breathing, and nearer than hands or feet. Instantly I found myself urging that almighty help.

“I cannot die now,” I pleaded. “Oh, I cannot die and leave 283 those three little girls alone—in a strange land, without money, without relative or friend to care for them! Oh, help me to live! Help me to live for their sakes! Not for thy sake, for thou can never see death! not for my sake, I am but as a dead woman now; but for my children’s sake, help me to recover my strength! Help me, and I shall live.”

In this manner I silently prayed, with all the fervor of which my soul was capable. And in that central tract of emotion where life and death meet, there are paths of spiritual experience remote and obscure, until some great crisis finds them out—experiences not to be unfolded save to that one Soul, and for which words—however wise—are impotent things. I feel this truth as I write, for I cannot find a way to explain the sure and certain influx of life, that came to me, even as I entreated for it. It came from no drug, no physician, no human help of any kind, but direct from the Thee in Me who works behind the veil, the More of Life in whom we live and move and have our Being.

I do not say that my prayer changed God’s will or purpose concerning me. Oh, no! but God directed my prayer. He put my petition into my heart. The prayer was granted ere I made it. For if we do right, it is God which teaches us both to will and to do, so that every soul that cries out to the Eternal, finds the Eternal; I care not when, or where. God is not far from any one of us, and in every case he seeks us, before we have the desire to seek Him.

I had a full and ready answer to my soul’s petition. I recovered rapidly, and in ten days was able to leave my room, and gather the salvage of my wrecked home around me. No doubt most of my readers have a keen and personal knowledge of that weight of grief, which hangs like lead in the rooms, and on the stairs, where the footsteps of the loved dead have sounded. They know what it is to come back from the grave of their love, and see his hat lying where he threw it down forever, and his slippers at the foot of the bed he died on. And, oh, what a multitude of mothers that no man could number, know what it means to put away the empty clothing that still keeps a heartbreaking look of the little form that moulded it—or the small 284 worn shoes and stockings, the toys and books, that will never more be needed. Alas it is too common an experience to require words! This grief has but to be named, and at any hour thousands of heavy hearts can fill in all its sad details.

After the month of September the fever, for the very want of victims, began to decline, and about the middle of October there was a storm which shook Galveston Island to its foundation. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay of Galveston met, and mingled, in the center of the city. There was a hurtling, roaring tempest around it, and a tremendous battle in the firmament above it. It was “a day of desolation, a day of darkness, of clouds and of thick darkness;” and throughout the hours the storm gathered strength. All night the inhabitants sat still in terror, while the sea beat at their doors, and their homes rocked in the terrific wind.

After midnight, when the roaring and crashing and fury of the elements were at their height, it was easy to call to remembrance the magnificent description of just such a storm in Habakkuk, 3:5-12, and as the children drew closer and closer to me, I repeated what I could of it:

“Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet ... and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow.... I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction.... Was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?... The overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation.... Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people.”

At the dawning, the tempest lulled off with mighty, sobbing winds; sullenly but surely it went, and with it departed entirely the dreadful pestilence. There was not another case known. The Lord had indeed arisen for the salvation of the city, and His angels had driven away the powers of darkness that had been permitted there for a season. Oh, then if our eyes had been opened! If we could have seen the battle in the firmament above us! If we could have seen “the Man Gabriel,” or Michael “the great prince which standeth for the children of God’s 285 people against the evil ones,” then, no doubt, we should have said with Elisha, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

After the hurricane the inhabitants arose as one man, to build up and to repair, and to put out of sight and memory all traces of their great calamity. At this time, and for long after, my diary is a record of the most extraordinary kindness shown me, both by acquaintances and friends. Scotch Brown seemed to consider us under his special care, and this self-imposed trust he filled with such delicacy and generosity, that I feel angry at myself today, when I find such meagre acknowledgment of it. I must have been truly selfish, or gratitude would have caused me to write less concerning my own suffering, and more about Scotch Brown’s thoughtfulness in supplying the little comforts of life, that no one else considered. Thus he saw that I had my newspaper and my mail, or if the servant left, he found us another. His help was always practical help. It had few words, and I do not seem to have realized its wonderful faithfulness and unselfishness. Many a time afterwards I longed for a friendship like his, but I have never found it, and in the face of my own words, I say, “It serves me right.” Mrs. Lee visited me once a day, sometimes twice; Mayor Williams looked after any business that came up, and took the children nearly every day for a drive on the beach. He was Alice’s godfather, and he acted the part of a godfather to each of the three girls. A great many people are named in this part of my diary, whom I have quite forgotten, but they were distinctly Robert’s friends—men whom he had nursed through the fever, or had had business relations with, mostly Glasgow men, or at least Scotchmen, but it did me good to talk with them about him.

On the fifth of December my son Andrew was born at four o’clock A.M. I was so happy that the child was a boy, that I cried with thankfulness and delight. He appeared to be a fine strong infant, but he soon showed signs of yellow fever, contracted before his birth, and died when he was five days old at ten minutes to eleven P.M. The next morning he was laid beside his father and two elder brothers. The cycle of the birthplace and the grave fulfilled his doom of earth.

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So far I had endured the will of God, but I was not resigned. It was so hard to make my heart believe in its great loss. Often as I sat sewing I would say, “Oh, I must be dreaming! I must wake up! I must go to the gate! He may be coming now!” and I would rise to go to the gate, and look and listen, and sometimes I heard the quick strong steps for which I waited and listened. For the ear has its own memory, and listens for an accustomed sound, and the imagination does not always suffer it to be disappointed.

This delusion lasted for many months, and I have no doubt the majority of widows have experienced it. Some one of them, I wish I knew her name, has expressed it for all, in the following lines:

“Half-unbelieving doth my heart remain of its great woe,

I waken, and a dull, dead sense of pain, is all I know;

Then dimly in the darkness, my mind I feel about,

To know what ’tis that troubles me, and find my sorrow out.

And hardly with long pains, my heart I bring its loss to own,

It seemeth yet impossible, that thou art gone.

That whatsoever else of good, for me in store remain.

This lieth out of hope, my Love, to see thy face again.”

As the year drew to a close, I had fully recovered my strength, indeed I had not been in such fine general health for many years, and with this feeling of physical well-being, there came an urgent sense of the necessity of work. My money, though used with great economy, was decreasing fast, and I had no source for supplying this loss, except by an application to Robert’s mother, which I did not wish to make. So I was troubled and anxious and very unhappy. One Sabbath morning about a week before Christmas I was alone in the house, the children had gone to church, the girl in the kitchen to High Mass. I sat thinking of my position, and wondering what I must do. Naturally, I thought also of the One, who had hitherto taken from my shoulders all the burden and the care of life.

Then a great illumination came to me. I saw events as I had never seen them before. I had always considered myself 287 as one of the most loving and careful of wives and mothers. If any one had told me that I was not, I should have been indignant. But the dead open the eyes of the living. I saw myself that hour, as a character that amazed me and almost broke my heart. Every unreasonable mood, every ungracious and unkind look, every cross word came back to my memory to torture me! Oh, how I had wounded and disappointed those whom I loved best! What a selfish woman I had been!

I was so shocked at the accusations my conscience made against me, that I was silent even from prayer. I had been unkind to the souls of those nearest and dearest to me, and I had no way of redressing the wrong. Why then think about it? Because we cannot say to the heart, “Thou shalt not remember.” And if we could forget, it would be a great moral forfeiture, a treason against our own souls. So I let conscience accuse me until I had remembered, and speechlessly acknowledged all my failures. Then I laid my sorrowful heart, with all its love and contrition at His feet. All my slighted duties, cold retirements, and small returns for love unselfish even unto death, I cast into the abyss of His mercy. There were some moments of terrible lucidity, but when my grief subsided, it was followed by a wonderful peace. The feeling of the Infinite around me grew solemnly sweet and distinct, and my soul turned to it. “My God! My God!” I whispered; and though there were only four words given me, I had a joy past utterance. Trouble was lighter than a grasshopper and, oh, what words can describe that felicity of repose which the ebbing of the spiritual tide left behind it!

I am writing of nothing supernatural. My experience is not uncommon, and it might be universal. I wish to God it was! I can only speak for myself, but of myself I have a right to speak.

“What I know, I know;

And where I find place for my foot,

I plant it firmly there.”

So I bring my religious experiences to the common stock of religious facts, because I believe it would be a good thing for 288 the world if more people spoke to it of their knowledge of unseen realities. What I have heard in the silence is not for me alone. I must tell my message in the open place for all I reach, to hear and consider.

I know everything that science and creeds and set forms can say against such experiences. Science, which affects to dote on the material, is everywhere brought up short by impalpable but adamantine gates of which God alone holds the key. It is as inscrutable and mysterious as any spiritual occurrence or event. What scientist can yet disclose, how the green bud becomes the rose?

As to outward rites and ceremonies at set times, they are useful to many, but we

“... may not hope from outward forms to win,

The glory of the Life whose fountains are within.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“... Councils, doctors, priests,

Are but the signs that point us to the spring

Whence flow thy living waters. From thyself, direct,

The secret comes to all worthy to find it.”

Very light was my soul that happy morning, and I might well be happy. Such moments as I had spent alone with God are both sacrificial and sacramental. They are strong with absolution, and the soul comes out of them justified, and full of hope.

The following day I called Mary and Lilly to me, and told them that our stock of money was getting low, and that as I was now quite well I must find something to do which would make us a living.

“Have you thought of this necessity, my dears?” I asked. Both answered they had thought a great deal about it. Then I said,

“Mary, what in your opinion is the best thing to try?”


Miss Lilly Barr

“A first class school for girls,” was her ready reply. “You like to teach big girls, Mamma, and I can take charge of the little ones.”

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I saw dissent on Lilly’s face, and I asked, “Is that your opinion also, Lilly?”

“No, indeed!” she answered promptly. “I have often asked Mary, what good there would be in opening a school, when there were no scholars. The school I went to before the fever has not re-opened, nor has the school Calvin went to. There are no scholars for either of them, because there is no money to pay the teachers. And there is no money either to buy school dresses, and shoes and books and such things. I was talking to Lulu Jordan a few days since, and she told me, she could not go to school because she had only one decent suit, and she had to save that for church.”

“Well, then, Lilly, have you any idea as to what we can do?”

“Yes, Mamma. I would rent a proper room, very near the great shops, and fit it up to sell books, papers, fine stationery for girls’ love letters, pretty ribbons, tarlatans of all colors for dancing dresses, cheap laces—oh, everything that girls and women want, and especially embroidery silks and threads and patterns. I would buy the best tea you can get, and give ladies a cup of tea, and an Albert biscuit, and charge them fifteen cents for it. Don’t laugh, Mamma; yes, do laugh, Mamma. It is so good to hear you laugh again. You know I could attend to the tea department. I’d like to do it.”

I can see her bright eager face as I write these words, and also Mary’s calm dissenting smile, which was both critical and disapproving.

“What do you say, Mary, to this plan?” I asked.

“A plan that you should keep a shop, Mamma? It is absurd. Grandmother would never speak to us again.”

“I don’t think she fatigues herself with speaking to us now,” said Lilly; “and when she does send us a letter, it generally spoils two or three whole days.”

“No shop of any kind would make our living,” continued Mary. “Mamma could not make any shop pay. Mamma does not have the qualities that make a shopkeeper.”

I listened with interest to this conversation. Evidently my daughters had not a high opinion of my commercial ability, and 290 I may as well admit here, that their estimate was a just one. I had no business tact. I could calculate neither profit nor loss. I had no power to judge of probabilities. Certainly I had intuitions, often singularly wise ones, but I had no more experience than the two girls who were discussing me. I was, however, a little piqued at Mary’s assertion that, “Mamma could not make any shop pay,” and I asked her why she made such a statement.

“Because, dear Mamma,” she answered, “you would be cheated both in your buying and your selling. I have heard Papa say often, that you paid too much for all you bought, and you know when we were in Cook’s house and had such quantities of eggs and chickens, that you sold some, and every one paid you less than market price, or mostly paid you nothing at all.”

This question with its asides and amendments kept us talking all day; for a norther had sprung up, and it was too cold for any of us to venture outside. Just as the dim came on, and Lilly rose to light the candles, and I to throw some cedar logs on the fire, there was a knock at the door, and Mayor Williams came in. Mary helped him off with his coat, and he sat down before the blazing fire, and took Alice upon his knee.

“Mrs. Barr,” he said, “I want to have a little talk with you and the girls, so if you will ask me to a cup of tea, we can discuss what I have come to say over it.”

“In ten minutes,” I said, “supper will be ready;” and I went to the dining-room to hurry forward its service. I knew whatever business he wished to discuss must in his opinion be important, or he would not have come to the house in a norther. As soon therefore as we were seated at the table, I said, “We have been talking all day, Mr. Williams, of work and business, and of how we are to make money.”

“And I,” he answered, “have been talking to General Waul about your position, and I think he has shown me a way that you can follow.”

“General Waul!” I ejaculated. “I do not know him at all. Who is General Waul?”

“He would feel much hurt at your asking such a question. 291 He was the Commander of Waul’s Legion, and a man of mark during the war.”

“Is he a soldier now?”

“No. He is now the most prominent lawyer in Galveston. His estate is on the main land, but he wishes to get board and lodging for himself and Mrs. Waul in a family where there are no lodgers. I told him about your position, and it came to this: He says he will pay you one hundred dollars a month for their board and lodging. He says also, that he can bring with him four or five other lawyers, and I think I can assure you of two of my friends, and there is Scotch Brown, Barton, East, Sutherland, Miller, Thomas, and others whom Mr. Barr nursed through the fever, and who will be glad to return in this way the kindness he showed them.”

“O Mr. Williams!” I answered. “I am most grateful to you. I may not at first manage as well as I should like, but I will do my best.”

“And we will help you, all we can, Mamma,” said Mary and Lilly. So without having once thought of such a thing, I felt myself committed to running a boarding-house for the Lawyer’s Mess, and such other gentlemen as seemed advisable. My first question regarded the house.

“Shall I have to move?” I asked. “Or will this dwelling be suitable?”

“You will have to move at once,” was the answer. “This place is too far from the business part of the town; it never had a pleasant name; and its fatal record during the fever would terrify guests. I have just the house proper for your purpose in my mind. It was empty during the fever, and there is no one in it now, but there will be tenants, if you do not take it, tomorrow.”

“Where is it?”

“In the pleasantest part of Tremont Street, next door to your friend Dr. Estabrook. If you do not mind the cold, meet me at the doctor’s tomorrow at twelve o’clock, and I will go with you to the owner, and see that no advantage is taken of you.”

I could not help a smile. My business incompetency must 292 indeed be flagrantly palpable, to make my business friend think it necessary to leave his official duties to protect me. Then I told him what my daughters’ opinion of it was, and so gave myself up to their management and advice. And there was a happy, hopeful feeling in every heart at our simple table. The way, and the work shown me, was not the way and the work I would have chosen; but we talked ourselves into a kind of enthusiasm concerning it. I made little of the cold or the labor of the removal, and was only anxious for the morning, that I might begin to get away from the house in which I had suffered such loss and sorrow.

I turned my thoughts persistently to the new house, to the new work, and the new life; and my heart thrilled, as in years gone by, to the warm, bright hope that had been given it. It was so naturally easy for me to hope when things came to me unexpectedly, with all the sanguine air of godsends. To this day, I have the same disposition, and find it hard to consider my good hope baseless. A seed must have been on the spot where a flower blooms.

In a week we were settled in the house on Tremont Street, and soon after General and Mrs. Waul took possession of its best room. I had had some fears about Mrs. Waul, who I was told had been a great beauty and a social leader in Washington and New Orleans. I found her in many respects a delightful woman, thoroughly good-natured, freely frank, in manner witty, clever in conversation, and still beautiful. She was also easily pleased, and whatever she asked was generally as advantageous to myself as to her. Thus a few days after she came to live with us, she said to me, as we were sitting together in the parlor,

“This is a very pleasant room.” I assented, and she continued, “and it would be much more pleasant if differently arranged.”

“How would you arrange it?” I asked.

She stood up and looked carefully around. “Why, my dear,” she answered in her pretty, patronizing manner, “in arranging a room, you must follow the same rule as in dressing a woman. A woman makes all she can of her strong points, brings them 293 into notice, puts them forward, and so on. Don’t you think so?”

“Yes,” I answered, “but there is no harm in that.”

“Just so, and a room ought to have its strong points considered in the same way; that is, the handsomest or prettiest piece of furniture should be opposite the door, so that it may be the first thing that catches the visitor’s notice. Suppose we try it?”

I said, “I should like to do so;” and calling the table boy, I told him to get some one to help him move furniture, and come to the parlor. Then Mrs. Waul took the management of affairs, and in fifteen minutes the room had changed its character. It had been a quiet, orderly parlor, not often visited by any one; she gave it that air of ease and languor, so conducive to social intimacy. I do not know how she managed it, but the result she anticipated quickly followed. That evening after dinner, the piano was standing open opposite the parlor door, and Doctor Burnet sauntered into the room, and sat down before it. Moved perhaps by love’s tender phantasy, he struck a few chords and began to sing “Lorene.” Mrs. Waul and Major Hume and several others came in to listen, and then lingered there. By and by, some one started “There’s Life in the Old Land Yet,” a young gentleman from Baltimore thrilled the house with the magical strains of “My Maryland,” and was followed by a captain of a late Texas regiment, declaring in melodious numbers, his everlasting devotion to “The Bonnie Blue Flag that bears the Single Star.”

Every one seemed to enjoy that hour of song and conversation after dinner, and it had actually been induced by nothing more personal than the movement of a few chairs and tables, and the cheerful face of an open piano.

For a couple of months all appeared to be going well. I had twelve boarders, and my income from them was about a hundred dollars a week. That sum appeared to me a large amount for household expenses, and I was sure I must be making money. But one day something happened which caused me to make an investigation, and to my dismay, I found I had been exceeding my income every week. Without going into details, 294 which would interest no one, I utterly failed to check this tendency to excess in the wrong direction and I was seriously unhappy and anxious.

Towards the end of May, Mrs. Waul and the General went to their own home, the heat grew oppressive, there were whispers of fever, and the rest of the boarders began to scatter. Some went north, some to Austin or San Antonio; here and there they went, most of them leaving part or whole of their bills “until their return.” By the first of June we were nearly alone, but I found it was an ordinary experience, and I faced it as cheerfully as I could. In my heart I was glad. I was sick for solitude. I had been living among people until I did not know myself. I said to my soul, “Now we will have a few days of quiet and peace, then I will look after money again.” And I really did throw off all care. I would not think of what I was owing, or of what people owed me. I let the children do as they wished, and I reveled in long hours of silence. And solitude is such a potential thing. We hear voices in solitude, we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts, we get under no other condition,

“For to be alone with Silence,

Is to be alone with God.”

So I let the world and all its cares “go” for three days, and at the end of them, I was ready to look my perplexities in the face.

“Children,” I said, “we shall have no boarders until October; very well, we will clear the house of all servants but little Polly. We will live as quietly as possible, and spend no money that can be helped.” But I could not easily carry out this intention. I had three boarders, and they did not wish to change, and promised to bring me enough transient guests to carry the house through the summer. In a way, they kept this promise, and I managed to get through the next four months not uncomfortably. For I was sure, that when my old boarders returned to Galveston, they would return to my house and table.

I was reckoning without my host. Late in September I 295 had a letter from Mrs. Waul, saying that the General was going to New Orleans to conduct an important law case, and as he would be detained all winter she intended to go with him. This was a great disappointment in many respects. They had given a certain very respectable tone to the house, they had been kind to my daughters, and the simple presence of the General was a protection we should miss. Nearly all of my old boarders owed me money, and I thought this fact alone would bring them back, but it did not. One had married and gone to housekeeping. Others found my rates too high, they were obliged to economize after their summer’s trip, et cetera; they had all a sufficient excuse for leaving, but that did not help the situation, as far as I was concerned.

On the first of November I closed the house. My money was gone. I could not collect what was owing me, but I was not a dollar in debt; and I was determined to keep clear of that terror. Many tried to persuade me to hold on, but on the threshold of hope I had already lost many days; and I knew in my soul, that this phase of my life was over. What was to come next, I knew not, but this at least was over. I had learned the lessons it had to teach me, and though my future was unknown and uncertain, I had seen that in life, we have constantly to take some leap in the dark.

I gave myself a few days rest with my children, and waited. I was glad that this serving of tables, and mingling with people to whom I was quite indifferent was over. Both duties had been disagreeable, and it was only my left hand I had given to the work. I had taken no pride or pleasure in it, even when it was apparently very successful, and I felt no special regret when compelled to give it up. Yet in the sum of character it had been of great gain to me. I learned two lessons under its discipline that have made all my life since easier than it would have been. To what school was I to go next?

There seemed to be so few outlets to our life that I was troubled by the way any movement appeared to be hedged in. We could return to Austin, which Mary thought the best thing to do. “People mostly live on the government in Austin,” she said, “and so they have ready money.” Lilly opposed the 296 return to Austin very warmly. “I think it will be foolish to go back to Austin,” she answered. “Without dear Papa, we shall find everything very different. Let us go to a new place, where we are not tied and hampered by the past. Even San Antonio would be better than Austin.”

I remember this discussion so well. It was on a dark, cold November morning. There was a blazing fire of cedar logs on the hearth, but the wind roared down the wide chimney, and the rain smote the window panes in passionate gusts. Mary was braiding a flannel sacque, Lilly was sitting beside Alice, who was lying on the sofa sick with a cold, and I was walking slowly about the room, inwardly trembling at the sound of doors opening into the future. I was glad of the storm. Often I had felt the crushing sense of bright sunshine when in trouble; the wind and the rain and the gloom were in sympathy with my mood; sunshine would have given me a sense of mockery, or at least of indifference. Suddenly Lilly said, “Mamma! What about Memphis? Papa had good friends there. Mr. Fackler——”

I heard no more. A voice clear and imperative said, “GO TO NEW YORK!” The command was peremptory, and from some deeper region there came with it, an indisputable convincingness. Of some things I might be uncertain, but not of this. Without a moment’s hesitation I obeyed the command given me. I turned with a cheerful smile, and an alert manner to my children, and said, “My dears, we will go to New York.”

“O Mamma, how glad I am!” cried Lilly. “We shall be half-way to England, when we are in New York.”

Then I told them of the order I had just received, and as I spoke I felt my heart burn, and my face flush, and my voice set itself to its old strong, happy tone, and the girls caught its cheerful influence, and we were soon discussing what was to be done, with the greatest interest and pleasure. For I knew the voice that had spoken—it was one, that had never yet deceived me.

I had nothing except my furniture, and old furniture sold for very little, but I knew God would not send me a journey, without providing the means; so I began there and then to prepare for it. I sold my piano to a friend at private sale, 297 and I got a lawyer, who was in my debt, to collect what money was still due me from old boarders. He was quite successful and I hoped the proceeds of the auction added to these would raise my fund to five hundred dollars.

“God and five hundred dollars will be sufficient,” I said to my children; and they smiled and nodded, and were as confident and hopeful as myself.

On the night of the sixth of November, while I was talking to the auctioneer about the sale, a letter was given me. I saw the postmark was Austin, and I laid it carelessly down on the chimney piece, and went on with the conversation. After the auctioneer had gone, we had a cup of tea and some oysters, and I forgot all about the letter, until I was closing the house for the night. Then I lifted it carelessly, and took it upstairs with me. Lilly noticed it in my hand, and asked where it was from?

“Austin,” I answered.

“Read it, Mamma.”

As I opened it, a slip of paper fluttered to the floor. It was a check from the auctioneer, with whom I had left the furniture of my Austin home for sale. When I reached Galveston, I told Robert the agreement made with them, left the affairs in his hands, and had ever since forgotten all about it. Indeed if I had remembered it, I would have been sure Robert had collected the proceeds long ago. But here was a check made out to myself, for one hundred and eighty dollars, being the last payment due on the goods they had sold. They sent it with sympathetic words, and nothing that ever came to me had so much the air of a “godsend.”

We were so happy and excited, that we sat talking until nearly three o’clock, and it was at this time, Lilly made a proposition, which at first appeared foolish and distressing. “Mamma,” she said, “now that you have got some more money, let me go to Glasgow. I will try to make a friend of grandmother, and perhaps for Papa’s sake she will send me to school for two years. By that time you would be settled in some way.”

At first I would not listen to such a thing, but gradually 298 the girls persuaded me, that I ought to give up Lilly for Lilly’s own sake. And I comforted myself with the thought of her natural bravery and self-sufficiency. Every one liked her, and surely her own kindred would be won by her kind heart, and sunny cheerful disposition. I finally acceded to the plan, and then all conversation afterward made the Glasgow arrangement more firm and certain. But that morning I fell asleep with a fresh, keen pain in my heart; for Lilly, ever since her father’s death, had been my great reliance in many ways.

On the ninth we were preparing for the sale, which was to take place in the house, and on the tenth we ate breakfast and had prayers together and then went to the Palmetto House to stay until the Ariadne sailed for New York, which was expected to be on the twelfth; but owing to contrary winds, she did not get over the bar until the following day. During these three days at the hotel, we made our last arrangements and received unlimited kindness both from friends I knew well, and also from many others who had no reason for their attentions, excepting their loving remembrance of my husband.

Among the many who called on us for the latter reason, was a large dry goods merchant called Willis, and he gave me a letter of introduction to a gentleman in New York, who he thought might be able to help me to find suitable employment. I speak of this letter, because it influenced my life for nearly two years. As we could not get away on the twelfth, I took Alice and went once more to those four graves I should never see again. We covered them with flowers and sweet shrubs, and the child wept passionately. I had no tears left. I was almost stupefied with grief and anxiety. Four tines in seventeen years, I had broken up my home, and gone to a place I knew not of, to make another; but this removal was the hardest of all. Yet I am ungrateful to say so. From friends known and unknown I received help and comfort. Difficulties vanished as soon as I met them. Whatever was necessary came to me. My way was cleared before me in the most remarkable manner. Even Mr. Lidstone, the auctioneer, refused to take any payment for selling the furniture, and I was so pleased and grateful at this mark of kindness from a stranger, that I have kept his name 299 green in my memory ever since. It is true that at this time the hearts of all were open to those who had suffered in the great calamity, but more than a year had passed since Robert died, and he was yet unforgotten, for much of the sympathy and attention we received was for his sake.

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CHAPTER XVIII

I GO TO NEW YORK

“We have not wings, we cannot soar,

But we have feet to scale and climb;

By slow degrees, by more and more,

The cloudy Summits of our time.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The intellectual aroma of the building, its subtle Library essence, and redolence of Morocco leather, printer’s ink and paper, all blended and mellowed with the learned dust of Time.”—Astor Library.

On the thirteenth of November, 1868, we went on board the Ariadne. The ship lay at the bar, but there were hopes that a change of wind would give us water sufficient to get over it; but the wind did not change for four days, and it was on the seventeenth, just at sunset that we took our last look at Galveston. Just at the same hour, twelve years before, Robert and I stood together taking a last look at Galveston, before going up the Buffalo Bayou. I gazed on the white houses in their lonely setting of bare shrubs and sea water, until they were only a gray blur on the surrounding gray. I do not speak of what was going on in the heart, it cannot be told, neither can it ever be forgotten.

When I turned my back on Galveston, I faced the future; and there and then, I mentally put a blank into God’s hand by faith, and begged Him to fill it in, as He saw best for His children. For they were His. He had told me to leave my fatherless children to Him, and I took Him on His own word. This promise was guaranteed to me by the veracity of God. I sat down between Mary and Lilly, and took Alice on my knee, and said,

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“Now, dear ones, we shall be yet ten days at sea. It is a holiday for us. We will forget every care, and every sorrow, until we see New York. Be as happy as you can be, for there is nothing we can do on the ship. So let us rest, in the rest given us.”

“And you, Mamma?” asked Mary. “Will you rest?”

“I promise you, I will.” I did not mean, that I would drift like a dismantled ship without hope or purpose. No believer in God ever does that. I meant, that I would cast all my cares and sorrows on Him, who I was sure cared for me. This may seem like presumption to some, and like foolishness to others. It was not presumption. I had been invited, even urged by God’s own word to do so. It was by no means “foolishness” to me. I knew in whom I trusted. God was then, as He is now, a personality to me. He was not “vortices of atoms,” or “streams of tendency,” or “Force” or “Nature.” Many years afterwards, when I had carefully considered these, and other similarly false ideas, I knelt and prayed with a still deeper conviction—“Our Father!

On the twenty-first we stopped at Key West nearly the whole day. We rambled about the quiet, lovely place and a lady, who saw us looking curiously at her cocoanut trees, came out and talked with us, and sent a dozen to the ship for our refreshment. We bought here a few lovely pieces of snow-white coral for Lilly to take with her to Scotland, and at nightfall left the pretty place with very agreeable memories. I believe it is now entirely altered, is crowded and noisy, and full of business relating to the navy, and the manufacture of tobacco. So I keep my own memory of the beautiful Key. We had a five days pleasant sail after leaving Key West, and on the twenty-sixth of November we were almost in sight of New York. It was Thanksgiving Day, and was observed with the usual ceremonious dinner. During my long stay in the South I had forgotten the institution, for it was never kept, or even alluded to; but on this twenty-sixth of November we observed the day heartily, and have never omitted it since. On November twenty-sixth, 1884, being also Thanksgiving Day, I received from Dodd, Mead and Company their first letter to me accepting “Jan Vedder’s 302 Wife,” just sixteen years after our Thanksgiving upon the ship Ariadne.

Early in the morning of the twenty-seventh of November, 1868, we landed in New York. This was already a memorable date to me, being the day on which God wrought so great a salvation for Robert, in Chicago. I had it in my memory as I stepped on shore, and went with several of the passengers on the Ariadne to a hotel in Fulton Street near Broadway. It was called the Belmont, but I think it was discontinued many years ago. I took it for a good omen, that we should have landed on this date, for I have always been an observer of times and seasons, and in my life there are many days of remembrance—all good ones. “The Scotch always count from an ill date,” says the proverb; but my ill dates, except for some special purpose of recollection, are but as dead days taken out of my life and buried.

The next week was mostly spent in securing a good berth for Lilly, and in getting her the proper clothing for the change of climate she was going to make. And in these days I found out how much harder it is to part from the living, than from the dead. Hard enough it is, to lift the little dead child for the last time, and lay it in its coffin; but it is harder to unloose the clinging arms of the living child, to kiss away its parting tears, and mingle loving farewells, while hearts seem breaking. Never had Lilly been so dear and so affectionate. I kept her at my side and held her hand these last days, while I gave her the advice I thought might help her in the difficult position to which she was going. At that time a voyage across the Atlantic was a far more serious undertaking than it is now, and I knew the climate of Scotland, and feared it for a child reared in the semi-tropical heat and sunshine of Texas. I knew also the people among whom her lot would be cast, and I feared that the outspoken girl, so sensitive to injustice of every kind, would not be able at all times to possess her soul in patience.

On the fifth of December I left her on the Iowa. The captain promised me to be very kind to her, and he amply fulfilled that promise. It was snowing heavily, but I did not see, or feel it. Blinded with tears, and faint with grief, I found my way back 303 to the hotel, I don’t know how. Through the crowded wharf, and the crowded streets I went; I remember some one stepping between me and some horses, pulling me roughly to the sidewalk, and then saying not unkindly, “You must be more careful. Do you know where you are going?” Somehow or other I got back to the hotel, and being wet through and exhausted, I went to bed. There I fell into that deep sleep which is God’s gift to those who have sorrow greater than they can bear.

The next day being the Sabbath I remained in the hotel, but on Monday morning I was ready for duty. To obey necessity is the part of wisdom, but I trusted in God and myself, and I had faith in humanity. On Monday and Tuesday I saw the principals of three ladies’ schools, and from two received promise of employment “after the holidays.” I had not thought of this contingency, yet it was a very reasonable one, as far as the schools were concerned; but I did not see, how I was to wait with idle hands for a month, on a mere promise. On Tuesday night I had exhausted hope in this direction and as I sat talking with Mary, she said to me, “Dear Mamma, why do you not send a note to Mr. Beecher? I am sure he could help you. He has a great deal of power.”

“O Mary,” I answered, “I know all about the promises of clergymen. Your grandfather was a good man, but he saw so many people, and made so many promises, he never could have remembered either. It is nearly twenty years since I met Mr. Beecher. I dare say he has forgotten even my name.”

But I will be truthful in this matter. It was really a foolish pride, perhaps even a little vanity, which made me put off seeing Mr. Beecher. I was saving this opening as a last resort, for I shrank from meeting a man whom I had only seen in all the flush and glory of my bridal happiness. At that time I had a beautiful home, a loving and wealthy husband, and I was clothed in white satin and lace. I had a heart full of good hopes, and my countenance was radiant with the light of their promise. All was now so different, and my plain, sombre dress typified the change. Would he remember? Would he care? I thought not, but I said,

“There is yet the letter given me by Mr. Willis. I will take 304 it in the morning. Perhaps it may bring us good fortune. If it does not succeed, I will remind Mr. Beecher of his promise.”

About ten o’clock next morning, being the ninth of December, I called upon Mr. Libbey. I suppose I ought to have sent a letter asking an interview, and waited for his reply, but I think the very neglect of this ceremony induced Mr. Libbey to see me. He was a man of marvelous powers of observation, and of drawing the truth out of what he saw, and later when I mentioned this neglect of social form, he smiled and said that he had at once suspected I was childlike and inexperienced—or else extremely clever in disguising my real character. His curiosity was aroused, and he gave me an audience in five minutes after my request for it.

During that five minutes I was wondering what Mr. Willis could mean by sending me to such a place. It was the A. T. Stewart building at the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street, and when I saw the immense floor, the numerous tables piled high with webs of cloth of every kind, and the crowd of young men selling them to an equal crowd of buyers, I was quite sure there could be no place for me there. I suppose I ought to have felt nervous; on the contrary, I had a serenity and self-sufficiency, of which at the time I was unconscious.

In this mood I entered Mr. Libbey’s presence. He bowed slightly, and directed an office boy to place a chair for me. It was placed as editors and publishers generally have a visitor’s chair placed—that is, the visitor sits with the light falling full on her face, but the receiver has his back to the light, and his face is in shadow. I did not know this at the time, it took me some years to find it out. But the position must have a business value, for it is now an exceedingly common arrangement. It gave me no concern. I had nothing to conceal. I was going to tell the truth, and I did not suspect Mr. Libbey of suspecting me.

He was a tall, fair, aristocratic looking man, but the aristocratic element was not that which comes through centuries of noble descent; it was the aristocracy of deserved success. It clothed his tall, erect figure with a nobility quite different, and a great deal more interesting. He had a large head full of cool, 305 shrewd brains, and his eyes, though small, were wonderful. They gave strangers one quick, searching glance and knew them. Yet in hours of pleasant conversation, they had that delightful twinkle of the iris, which inspires such a confiding sense of comradeship. It did not take me many days to discover, that he had a fine literary taste, and an ear for religious discourse, as distinct as an ear for music. He was a true friend to me. I honor his memory. And I believe, that as the news of my success finds him, wherever in God’s universe he may be doing God’s will, he is made glad by it, and is pleased to remember that I asked his help on that ninth of December, 1868, and that he willingly gave it. For the rest he was free from arrogance and familiarity, and like all superior men, courteous to every one.

I took the chair placed for me, and he began the interview by tapping Mr. Willis’s letter slightly, and saying, “Mrs. Barr, my friend Mr. Willis thinks I may be able to help you to some suitable employment. What can you do?”

“I love music, and I can teach it.”

“What else?”

“I can teach drawing in pencil, crayon, or water colors, well enough for beginners. I have had a fine English education, and a good deal of experience in teaching.”

“Anything else?”

“I am expert with my needle.”

“Very good,” he answered. “My three sons desire some knowledge of music and drawing, and Mrs. Libbey will be glad of your help with the needle. I think also, you could get a school large enough in Ridgewood to support you for a year or two; that would give you time to find your feet, and learn something of life as it is in New York. For you see,” he added, “if we live in New York, we must live as New Yorkers live. Mr. Willis says you have three daughters; how old are they?”

I told him that Mary was seventeen, Alice seven, and that Lilly, who was fifteen, had gone to her grandmother in Glasgow. This statement brought out mention of the Reverend John Barr, and of my own father, and I could see that the ecclesiastic relationships pleased him. I thought at the time, and I think 306 so yet, that he felt glad to succor the grandchildren of two good and great preachers.

“I will speak to Mrs. Libbey tonight,” he continued, “and send you some word early tomorrow. And if all is satisfactory, and you desire to come to Ridgewood, you will bring your two daughters with you. Until you decide about opening a school, they are my guests.”

I was so amazed at his words, and his cordial manner, that I could hardly answer, but my reply came from my heart, and he knew it. And I told myself that God had spoken some secret word to him, and that he was a good man whose soul knew the Divine Voice, and was ready and eager to obey it.

The next morning a young man called soon after nine o’clock. He brought me a note saying that Mr. and Mrs. Libbey would be glad to see me on Friday afternoon at their home in Ridgewood. He was further instructed to tell me, that he would call at two o’clock Friday, if convenient, look after my trunks, and go with me to Ridgewood.

I shall not detain my readers long with my New Jersey experiences. I was in Ridgewood nineteen weary months, but to the last Mr. Libbey’s kindness failed me not. I found his three sons nice boys; the eldest, Will, was very like his father, courteous and kind-hearted, very bright and clever, as all the world knows at this day. He has never lost sight of me, nor have I of him. I was a few weeks in Mr. Libbey’s home, and if I transcribe two days from my diary, they may stand for the whole:

Dec. 14th. Gave the boys music lessons early in the morning; afterwards I was arranging and indexing Mr. Libbey’s library. Mr. Libbey does not come home except on Saturday evenings. I gave music lessons again, when the boys had finished their studies with Mr. Wall. In the evening I sat sewing with Mrs. Libbey until late. We were talking of the South and the war. Mrs. Libbey is a southern woman.

Dec. 20th. We have family worship on Sundays, and I afterwards went with Mr. Libbey to church. In the afternoon we had an interesting talk on the second coming of Christ, then 307 I played some sacred music which all appeared to enjoy; indeed the hymn “Communion” made such an impression that Mr. Libbey will send to Edinburgh for a Psalmody like mine, which contains it. Alice was croupy, and I went upstairs to her as early as I could. Dear God have pity on me!

This hymn “Communion” is used generally in Scotch kirks just before the breaking of bread at the communion service:

“’Twas on that night when doomed to know

The eager rage of every foe,

The night on which He was betrayed,

The Savior of the world took bread.”

The words are pathetic and this sentiment is greatly intensified by their union with the most heart-breaking minor music in the psalm called “St. Mary’s.” I do not know how any one can hear it sung by a congregation on their knees with the minister holding out the broken bread, and not weep. The Scotch are far from a demonstrative race, but their love, pity and devotion at the sacramental hour need neither words nor song to translate it. It can be felt.

During my stay in Mr. Libbey’s house I did some work I had never before done. I patched three quilts. The circumstance came about thus: Mrs. Libbey showed me one day an amazing quantity of satin and silk samples. They were about the length and breadth of a brick, and of every imaginable color and pattern; having been sent to the house of A. T. Stewart as samples from the great silk factories of London, Lyons, Venice, et cetera, I exclaimed with delight, and Mrs. Libbey asked, “What would you do with them?”

“I would make each of the boys a handsome bed quilt! I would make Afghans, cushions, tidies, oh, lots of beautiful things!” I replied.

She answered, “I have often thought of some such ways of using them. How would you like to realize your idea?” And I said, “It would give me great pleasure.” So I received a large basket full, and immediately went to patching a quilt for Will Libbey, my favorite pupil. On my last visit to Professor 308 William Libbey at Princeton, this quilt covered the bed given me. I did not sleep much that night. I had forgotten the quilt patching until this one wrapped me around, and awakened a thousand recollections. I touched and smoothed its soft satins, and thought of the long, sad hours in which my needle went swiftly to memories of past days, or to my hopes and plans for future ones. And this quilt talked to me, as my hands touched the sensitized satin, and I breathed again the perfume of the courage and faith that hallowed the work. For I thank God I had been able by that time to take all my sorrow

“As a plain fact, whose right or wrong

I questioned not; confiding still,

It would not last one hour too long.”

In a few weeks I rented a cottage from Mr. Libbey, and opened a school. I had only six scholars to begin with, but the number was variable. Sometimes it rose to ten or twelve, and then fell to six or eight. I think seven or eight would be a fair average. The income from this school would hardly have supported life, but it was helped very considerably by the tuition fees Mr. Libbey paid me for his three sons. Perhaps it was a wise indulgence of heaven, that at this time gave me with a sparing hand, just enough.

I had frequently letters from Lilly, and as she seemed at least contented, I was glad that she was in a position where she could see and learn many things, not possible if she was at my side. And Mary continued her music and English, and looked after the house and her little sister Alice. Truly the days were long and hard, but when they were over, and I came home to my children, and my cup of tea, I had a few hours of cheerful happiness, and could sometimes tell myself, that perhaps things were not going as badly with me as I thought they were.

It was a slow, monotonous, dreary life to which there seemed no outlet. The house was in a very ugly lane, and I had no neighbors but a Dutch family, who only knew me when I was paying them money; and a negro family, who were useful in the way of washing and ironing and cleaning. On the Sabbath, 309 I generally went to Mr. Libbey’s for dinner, and that was my only mental recreation.

One Sunday after I had been in this condition for nearly a year and a half, Mr. Libbey sent me word that a countryman of mine, a Mr. Fox of Manchester, was with them and would like to see me. He was sitting with Mr. Libbey when I opened the parlor door, and we just looked at each other and smiled. Mr. Fox was so patently, so unmistakably Lancashire, and I told him so, and he answered,

“To be sure I am! So are you, Mrs. Barr! I know you by your Lancashire eyes, and your Lancashire color, and the up-head way you carry yourself.”

“No, sir,” I answered, “the up-head way I learned in Texas. It is a up-heart way, also. The up-head helps the heart, when the heart is dashed and down.”

I have seldom spent a more delightful evening. Mr. Fox wanted to know all about the South, and cotton growing, for he was a great cotton manufacturer; then we fell upon the war, and I told him a great deal concerning it, and especially the incidents of the break-up, as I witnessed them. As I bid him good-bye our hands clasped warmly, and I said,

“Mr. Fox, as soon as your feet touch Lancashire soil, bless the dear land for me.” And he answered, “I will not forget. And you?” he added, “remember to keep your up-head and your up-heart like a Lancashire lass ought to do.” This pleasant evening brought forth its fruit a little later.

About April Lilly wrote me that she was coming home. She said the Reverend Joseph Brown, the famous minister of the Kent Road Church—which was attended by all the Colville family, had advised her to do so; and that her uncle had bought her a passage, and would himself see her safely on board. “It is all right for me to come home, Mamma,” she continued. “I know now, that I never ought to have left you. Mary would have been better here, than I could ever be. She is more Scotch, and I am so English, that the very word ‘England’ tastes sweet on my lips, if I only speak it. Mary would have considered her words and ways, and her P’s and Q’s, and I have no doubt, would have won both the old lady, and the half-dozen or more 310 young ones. The four boys understood me better than any one, but after all, my visit to grandmother is a broad failure. Uncle David is all right, and I don’t mind people not loving me, if they are only just. But I am coming home to you, Mamma, and I know you will say, ‘Lilly, dear, you did right.’”

Three days after we received this letter, Mary went to New York, to the office of the New York Democrat to see Mr. Sykes, the publisher, and Brick Pomeroy, its clever editor; for I had written, mainly during sleepless nights, a novel, and I thought perhaps, from what I had read and heard of these gentlemen, they would take it. She had a long talk with Mr. Sykes, and the final result was a lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Sykes, and her engagement as governess to their two children. Mary was delighted; she longed for a more vivid and useful life, and she loved the city, and hated the country.

“You see, Mamma,” she said, “Mrs. Sykes wants me very much, and I like her. She is so pretty, and so beautifully dressed, and so fond of amusements. I shall see everything with her, and Mr. Sykes will pay my board, and give me twenty dollars a month. And you know Lilly may be here any day, and you do not need both of us.”

So in April Mary went to Mrs. Sykes, and Lilly came home a few days after she had left me, and when she had told me her pitiful little story, I considered her determination to return to America quite justifiable. That Dr. Joseph Brown and his family had been her warm friends was sufficient for me; also she took particular pains to make me understand that her uncle’s attitude to her, from first to last, had been supremely just. That of course, justice, was the rock on which David Colville stood; he would not have been unjust to his worst enemy.

The school closed in June, and I could see on Lilly’s face an invincible determination that it should not re-open. Whether she would have succeeded in inducing me to give it up, I know not, but one Sunday Mr. Libbey and his sons called, and in the course of conversation Mr. Libbey said to me,

“Mrs. Barr, the boys are going in September to Princeton 311 to continue their education there. I do not think your school here will then support you. What do you think of doing?”

“I do not know,” I answered. “I must consider.”

“I have heard you say that you knew Mr. Beecher.”

“Yes, in a way, not very well. I met him in Glasgow many years ago. I dare say he has quite forgotten me.”

“I do not think so. Write him a letter. He may be able to assist you.”

“I know not. I cannot think yet.”

“Write to him; and also, I want you to write out the story of the break-up in Texas. Write it just as you told it to Mr. Fox. Send it to me. I will see that it goes to some one, whose criticism will be severe enough and fair enough, to prove whether you have the ability to write. If you can write, you can live.”

“O Mr. Libbey!” I cried gratefully, “you are so kind. I thank you! I thank you! I do believe I can write. I will write the paper you ask me for tonight. You will see.”

I did so, and put it into his hand as he was getting into his carriage in the morning. He smiled at my promptness and said, “It will be attended to.” And I was perfectly content, for I knew if Mr. Libbey said so, it would be done.

In two weeks Mr. Libbey brought me a check from Daniel Appleton and Company for thirty dollars. I was astonished and delighted, but after a few moments I laughed joyously and cried, “Why I can write three or four of those things every week! O Mr. Libbey, how happy you have made me! Is my work really going to be printed? Can I write? Do you think I can write?”

“It will appear very soon,” he answered, “and Mr. Bunce, the editor of the magazine, spoke very highly of your work; further, he said he would like you to write them a story. Will you try one?”

“Indeed, I will! I have lots of stories in my mind. I will put them on paper, at once.”

There is a song which says,

“Joy’s the shyest bird,

Mortal ever heard;

Listen rapt and silent when he sings.

312

Do not seek to see,

Lest the vision be,

But a flutter of departing wings.”

I had no fear of such a fleeting joy. I knew that my vocation was found. I had received the call, and having done so, I was sure my work would be assigned me. Of some things we feel quite certain. Inside there is a click, a kind of bell that strikes, when the hands of our destiny meet at the meridian hour. I cannot make it plainer, those who have experienced it, will know. I only hope that every new writer may enter the gates of the literary life, as happily and hopefully as I did.

It was near midnight when we went to bed. Our little affairs were so full of interest to us. This thirty dollars would remove us into the city, but though we were both very anxious to go at once, we decided that it would be better to remain in the country until September brought cooler weather. Alice was exceedingly frail, and she was the first consideration. Also, I would have to go to New York to find the proper place to live in and rent unfurnished rooms there; and this looked to me a rather formidable undertaking. I had never heard of real estate offices, and whether they existed at this date, or not, I do not know. But we read the advertisements in the Herald, and I made a note of several locations. As to the healthiness, or respectability of these locations, the rents and half a dozen other important questions, we knew absolutely nothing. I smile to myself yet, at the childlike confidence, with which I essayed this plunge into the unknown.

And as we talked, full of gratitude and hope, I was able to give up cheerfully my last fort of pride or vanity, and I promised myself to write immediately to Mr. Beecher. It was my proper share of the obligation attending this new move in life. In the midst of conversation on this topic, the clock struck twelve, and Lilly said,

“Mamma, you ate no supper. You are hungry, or you ought to be. I am going to bring something to eat upstairs.”

“I will go downstairs with you, Lilly.”

“No, no, Mamma! You will get cold, and Alice will wake 313 up. Then Alice will come down, and she will get cold. I will bring up a tray in five minutes.”

Until she came back with the tray, I walked up and down the small room. My heart was singing within me. At that hour it had forgotten all its sorrow and its deprivations; it knew that the bare poverty of the last few months was over—the poverty that is without books, without all the comfortable things, that make sufficient food and clothing still poverty. For some long weary months, it had been beating itself against gates for which it could find no keys. Now, they had been set wide open. It would have been an unpardonable waste of God-given happiness to sleep, as long as the physical woman could keep awake.

We remained six weeks longer in the country, but they were weeks brightened with hope and cheerful expectations. I began at once a story for Appleton’s called “Margaret Sinclair’s Silent Money,” and among the simple Norse fishers of the Shetland Islands, forgot for hours together that I was yet in New Jersey. In October I went to the city to look for rooms, and as soon as I spoke to Mr. Sykes, he sent a youth with me to a real estate office. He also advised me as to the proper section of the city, and told me not to go far away from that quarter, because it contained the city’s three finest libraries, and he was sure I would find them indispensable in literary work.

I was as happy as if I was on a holiday, and before noon had settled on some unfurnished rooms in a large brick house on Amity Street. I was told that Poe had once occupied them, but I did not know anything about Poe in those days; and I was not influenced in my choice by this association. What decided me was first, the fact that they were large, lofty, old-fashioned apartments, with open grates, and a pleasant look-out for Alice. Second, that I had the Astor and Mercantile Libraries within five minutes walk, and the Historical Library on Second Avenue, not much further away. Mr. Sykes said I had made an excellent selection of rooms, and I went back to Ridgewood satisfied with the home they promised.

The next day I wrote Mr. Beecher a long letter. I told him all that had happened me, and asked if he could help me 314 to find literary work. Almost by return mail, I received his answer. In it he told me that he had just become largely interested in the Christian Union, and was sure if I could write something for that paper, as vivid or pathetic as my letter to him, my services would be welcome to the Christian Union. “Come into the city,” he said, “and we shall be able to keep your pen busy.”

Three days after the receipt of this encouraging letter, I stood in the rooms on Amity Street, with my daughters and my few household goods. I had five dollars and eighteen cents in my purse. I had no knowledge of the ways of life in a large city, and was quite as ignorant of the business of buying and selling. I had no relatives in America, no one I felt at liberty to ask assistance from. I stood absolutely alone in the battle of life, but I was confident, that God and Amelia Barr were a multitude.

In the old-fashioned grate of the room, I intended for our sitting-and dining-room, there was soon a good fire, and in less than an hour, the kettle was boiling, the lamb chops broiled, and the tea infusing. And never since my dear husband died, had I sat down to a meal I enjoyed so much. We were as happy as three children.

Before the evening of the next day, the rooms had quite a homey look. I had still some beautiful bed clothing, and table damask, and a few books; and books and an open fire are the best furniture any room can have. They look at every one that enters them with a smile and a welcome. And on that open fire, it was wonderful what excellent meals Lilly cooked us—nice little lamb stews, and broiled meats, and always the good cup of tea or of Java coffee. And we laughed at our small discomforts, and said we were “only tenting, until everything right and proper should arrive.”

As soon as the house affairs were arranged, I went down to the Christian Union office. I took with me a paper called “The Epiphany in the West Riding.” There was a Mr. Kennedy then in the working editor’s chair, and he read it at once and was delighted with it. He said such generous words of encouragement and praise, that I have yet the kindest 315 memory of him. He was the first editor of the Christian Union, I believe, but he left the paper very soon, and I have never heard his name since.

Mr. George Merriam followed him, and he was the kindest and wisest editor I ever wrote for. He kept me rigorously up to my best work, but did so with such consideration and valuable advice, that I always felt it a great pleasure, to see how much better I could make everything I wrote for him. He did me many favors, and among them he gave me my first introduction to the dear old Astor Library. In this library I worked from morning to night. Mr. Saunders the head librarian was an Englishman, a most wonderful general scholar, particularly intimate with English literature. We soon became good friends, and he gave me the use of one of the largest and sunniest alcoves in the Hall I frequented. For fifteen years I used this alcove with its comfortably large table, its silence and sunshine, and delightful atmosphere of books and scholars.

A plan of the Astor alcoves that Mr. Saunders made for me, hangs at my right hand in my study. My alcove was the Fine Arts alcove in the South Hall, and Mr. Saunders—when I went no more to the Astor—feared I might forget it. As if I could! Though it exists no longer, I see it as plainly, as I saw it before it existed at all.

For when I was living in Penrith, a child of seven or eight years old, I began to dream of this city of books. I wandered about its pleasant alcoves, and climbed its long spiral stairs of wrought iron, and stood speechless and wondering before the white marble busts of ancient gods, and godlike men, in its entrance hall. And the building did not then exist. It is doubtful if it had ever taken form in Mr. Astor’s mind. How then could I see it in my dreams? And why did I see it? I have asked myself these questions for more than forty years, for always I saw the building full of light, though my dream came in the dark midnight, when there was neither sun, nor moon, nor candlelight for physical eyes to use. Where does the light of dreams come from? And why was it shown to me when as yet it was not?

The only solution I can find is, that my angel not only 316 foresaw the grand old library, but also that she understood the necessity and advantage of my future intimate association with it. Therefore she made me familiar with the place in my dream life, so that when in my physical life, I came to this special hostelry of mind and body, I might know that I was in the path appointed for me, and be satisfied. For I do not believe in chance. The life God guides, is not ruled by accidental events; the future is constantly shaped out of the past and all its happenings are but links in a chain.

To me it was a most astonishing experience. I walked up the white marble stairway, and into the sunny South Hall with the strangest most exulting feeling of proprietorship; and for all the purposes of study and use, this splendid library was for fifteen years really my own. Before presenting Mr. Merriam’s letter to the chief librarian, Mr. Saunders, I sat down and looked around me. Yes! It was my dream library! There was no doubt of it. I was lost in wonder and joy, and I said to my soul,

“We came not to this place by accident. It is the very place God meant for us.” And this decision was so comforting, that I at once fully accepted it.

The Astor Library was at that date a very heaven on earth to the student. I have never seen in all my life, a student’s library comparable with it. It wanted none of the great treasures of literature, and yet it was not too large to become familiar with. In the halls I frequented, I soon knew where every book dwelt, and if my eyes saw a vacant place on a shelf, I knew instantly what book was from home. Of the great reviews and magazines, I gradually made an index of all their papers, likely to be of use to me; so that if an up-to-date article on any subject, commodity, or event was needed, I had, at my finger ends, a list of all the papers that had been written concerning it.

Nor did I let the evident trade, or literary side of the subject satisfy me. I hunted up in such queer repositories of knowledge as Southey’s Doctor, Hones’ Year Book, Table Book, and Every Day Book, et cetera, all the bits of folklore, historical, poetical, and social traditions, proverbs and prophecies allied to it; and in such research I found a never-ending delight. Many writers 317 of that day said with a variety of emphasis, “What luck Mrs. Barr has!”

Once a despondent young man sitting in my alcove made this very remark to me, and as it was spoken in no unkind spirit, I answered it by showing him the indexes and notes which I had made for this very work. I pointed out that the illustration for which I was then preparing the text, had been received an hour ago, and must be turned into the paper for which it was intended early on the following morning; and I asked him—if he could find the material necessary, and have it at the office by nine o’clock? He looked gloomily at the picture. It represented an old farmer examining the almanac for the New Year.

“Now what can a fellow know about almanacs?” he asked. “What is there to know about them anyhow? I suppose I could find something in Poole——”

“Look here!” I answered. “This is my list of informing articles on the subject of almanacs:

British Quarterly Review, vol. 28.

Saturday Review, vol. 14.

“Medieval Almanacs,” Quarterly Review, vol. 71.

Southey’s Doctor, vol. 3.

Foreign Quarterly, vol. 32.

London Magazine, vol. 2.

Eclectic Magazine, vol. 1, 1844.

Eclectic Magazine, vol. 9.

Retrospective Review, vol. 2.

Bow Bell’s Magazine, vol. 1.

All the Year Round Magazine, vol. 6.”

“Do you mean to go through all those articles?” he asked incredulously.

“It is now ten o’clock,” I replied. “Before four, I shall have gleaned all I want from every one of them. I shall perhaps also find time to go through some poetical indexes, and find a few good verses on almanacs, either to finish off—or to begin 318 with. And this,” I continued, “this is the kind of luck Mrs. Barr has. You, or any other writer, can have the same.”

Any one can understand, how work of this kind pursued with loving and ungrudging industry for over fifteen years, educated the mind and formed the taste. It kept me in touch with the finest European essayists, and I learned something from every book I opened. Perhaps it was not just what I was looking for, but it was worth making a note of—a note that often came into use for song or story years afterwards; and it was all conducive to that preparation I was unconsciously making for the sixty or more books it has been my privilege and pleasure to write.

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CHAPTER XIX

THE BEGINNINGS OF A NEW LIFE

“I heard the letters talking, saw thought forming, felt the syllables writing as my hands wandered over the sensitized paper, smelling the perfume of dead men’s thoughts.”

I was nearly thirty-nine years old when I became a student at the Astor and began a life so different from the lives I had lived in Glasgow, Chicago, Austin and Galveston, that I might have been born again for it. Virtually, I was reborn. In that great and terrible alembic of pestilence and death through which I was passed in Galveston, all the small delights and frivolities of my life vanished; and I came out of its fires, holding firmly to one adequate virtue in their place—henceforward to be through all the days of my life, an all competent motive, and an all sufficient reward—the homely virtue of duty. And I have never regretted this exchange though at first I found, as all the servants of duty must do,

“That they who follow her commands,

Must on with heart, and knees, and hands,

Through the long gorge, the upper light to win.

But still the path is upward, and once

The toppling crags of Duty scaled, the soul

Stands clear upon the shining table lands,

To which our God himself is moon and star.”

For moral and spiritual gifts are bought, and not given. We pay for them in some manner, or we go empty away. It is every day duty that tells on life. Spiritual favors are not always to be looked for, and not always to be relied on. After the glory of Mt. Tabor, the disciples were not willing to go to Calvary with Christ. They forsook him and fled.

320

In my little home of three rooms, things were not uncomfortable; we made the best of what we had, and we found out how few are the real necessities of life, and how much we could do without, and yet be happy enough. For if the heart is young, nothing is too hard; and when these meagre days were over, we often talked of the good time we had had in them. For if love be of your company, I declare poverty to be an exquisite experience. We found out then the heart of love, and of many other things; she taught us economy and self-denial, for we would all have wanted rather than have let Alice miss any of her small desires. She did her best to give us some knowledge of life, but with myself she did not succeed very well. I was so hopeful, that I would not foresee evil, and as yet I fully trusted humanity. Moreover, I had so often been wonderfully helped in great anxieties, that I could not believe the time would ever come when the hard eye of misfortune

“... would not know it vain,

To empty what heaven brimmed again.”

Soon after we were fairly settled, just as we were sitting down to supper one night, Mary opened the door. With a cry of pleasure I made a place for her chair between myself and Alice, and as I did so, I got a glimpse of my daughter, that I have never forgotten, nor ever shall forget. She was then in her nineteenth year, a tall graceful girl in a long dark costume, and a soft gray beaver hat. Her hands were out-stretched, her face shining with love, and I had a sudden great pride and pleasure in her beauty and affection. She is now sixty years old, and of course changed in every way, but nothing can deprive me of this soul photograph of her, while the dew of youth, and the glory of family affection transfigured her. I know this, because I have been thrice since to the very shoal of Time, and turning back to life again, have brought that picture back with me. If I had not turned back, it would have gone with me.

In a moment she was sitting at my side, and Lilly had brought her a cup and plate, and was serving her with smiles and exclamations 321 of pleasure. But at that moment Mary cared little for food. She had Alice within her arm, and was kissing her small lifted face with the tenderest affection. Then she turned to me. “Mamma!” she cried, “let me come home! I want to come home! While you were fifty miles away, I could bear it; but now that you are almost in the next street, I cannot endure to be away from you.”

“I would like you to be at home, Mary,” I answered. “It would be a great joy to all of us. But the Sykes’ have been very kind to you, and you cannot treat them badly.”

“Dear Mamma! I would not do so for any reason. But they are going on a trip out West, and railway traveling makes me ill. Mrs. Sykes knows this, and she says she hopes Lilly will go to help her with the children.”

“I would like to go!” Lilly cried with enthusiasm. “I would like nothing better.”

The discussion of this subject made the evening very interesting; and it was finally decided that Lilly should go with the Sykes family, and Mary remain at home. And I may add here, that the glamour of the Great West so infatuated the child, that she has been haunted by its vastness and its promises to this very day. To go West, far far West, has been the dream of her life—a dream that has never come true. But if it had come true, what then? Who can tell? I have always found that the things I planned, desired, and worked for, if they came at all, brought with them disappointment and regret; while those that came to me unsought and unexpected proved to be the very things I needed most of all.

Before Christmas Lilly was home again, but by this time I had made up my mind that I could not be parted from my children any more. We must stay together. God could care for us in one family, as well as in two. How faithless I had been to doubt this! So after Lilly had partially exhausted her delightful enthusiasm about her journey, and I saw that the clock was traveling up-hill to midnight, I told them so.

“Dear ones!” I said, “we will not separate any more. I will work a little harder, and there is plenty in the home here, 322 for you both to do. Lilly will keep house, and look after our meals, and Mary——”

“O Mamma!” Mary interrupted, “there is all the winter sewing yet to do. Rent a sewing-machine, and Mary will make warm dresses for us all.”

“Can you, dear?” I asked.

“I could make a dress pretty well, when I went to Mrs. Sykes. I learned a great deal while I was there. She frequently had a dressmaker in the house, and then I helped her, and so learned a great deal. I can make our dresses as well as any ordinary modiste.”

“That will be a great help to us,” I said, “and one, or the other of you, will find time every fine day to give Alice a walk, and when she is able, to hear her read.”

Both girls eagerly accepted their duty to their sick sister, and Mary said, with an excitement not very common with her, “I vote, Mamma, that we stay together, and fight the battle of life out on that line.”

“And you, Lilly, what do you say?”

“Let us stay together, even if we live on bread and water.”

I was the proudest and happiest mother in the world at that moment, and I answered joyfully, “You are right, dears, we will fight the battle out on this line.”

“What a game it will be!” cried Lilly. “All of us for Mamma, and Mamma for all of us! We shall win! No doubt of it!”

And that night as I lay silently happy and thoughtful, with the children sleeping at my side, the grand old rallying cry of a famous English school wherever gathered for honorable strife, suddenly rung in my ears,

Play up! play up! and play the game!

For more than twenty years I had not heard it, but at that moment it pealed and pealed, and pealed through my consciousness, as if all the bells of Kendal Church were ringing it. Over and over I heard it. My heart beat to its shrill music, my fingers 323 tattooed it on the bed cover, I could hardly lie still. Why had it come to me at this hour? I had forgotten it for so long—so long. Doubtless its memory had been evoked by Lilly’s cheerful resolute exclamation, “What a game it will be!” For it was easy for me to unconsciously think of this brave child, playing up any good or honorable game of life, to the last moment of that great game, when

“Death holds the odds,

Of his unequal fray.”

And “if a woman is game as she is mild, and mild as she is game,” a late great writer says, “that should satisfy any of us.”

Many and many a time since that happy hour, in straits of all kinds, I have been encouraged and strengthened by this plucky rallying cry of English schoolboys, and I have said to my failing spirit, “Now, Amelia, the game is hard, and the odds are against you, but you cannot sneak out because of that. ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’”

About six weeks ago, I felt as if I really must give up. I had been writing for five years without even a day’s rest, and my present task of recalling, and feeling the past all over, had thoroughly exhausted me. “I can do no more,” I said, and with old, tired eyes, full of unshed tears—for old eyes dare not weep—and a sad heart, scarcely beating, I fell upon my bed, and was at once in a deep sleep. I was awakened by a crowd of schoolboys from Professor Stone’s school which is just above my house. They were singing or chanting all together some school slogan. I know not what, but it awoke in my soul, the old battle cry of the classes on their English playground,

Play up! play up! and play the game!

And the cheerful, resolute noise was like old wine to my heart. I rose confidently, and went to my study and wrote for nearly three hours without any feeling of weariness. In that time, I got over the hard bit of road, that had so discouraged me, and 324 the next morning I could sit down cheerfully at my desk, and repeat my usual grace before writing:

I say to my Maker,

Thanks! for the day’s work,

That my Lord gives me.[6]

Not a week after this event, one of those strange coincidences of which life is full, if we only noticed them, occurred. Lilly sent me a stirring little song on this very subject, written by Henry Newbolt, a well known lawyer of London, and I will transcribe its two last verses, because they so well illustrate what I have said about the influence of this ancient school cry,

“The sand of the desert is sodden red,

Red with the wreck of a square that broke—

The Gattling’s jammed, and the Colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The River of Death has brimmed his banks,

And England’s far, and Honour’s a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks,

Play up! play up! and play the game!

“This is the word that year by year,

While in her place the school is set,

Every one of her sons must hear,

And none that hears it, dare forget.

This, they all with a joyful mind,

Bear through life like a torch aflame,

And falling fling to the host behind—

Play up! play up! and play the game!’”

The agreement made between my daughters and myself to play the game together, and not apart, was faithfully kept through many changeful years. It would seem that literature in the shape I followed it then, might be a rather monotonous life. We found it full of interest and variety. There was 325 always something to tell, or some plan to talk over, when we gathered for our evening meal. For one event leads to another, and that often in the most unforeseen manner. Thus, in the present agreement, Mary had decided to take care of the family sewing, but she quickly pointed out to me, that material for winter garments must be bought immediately, and I promised to try and go with her in the afternoon. I had thought of this necessity during the night, and had come then to a conclusion, I had once thought nothing would ever make me accept.

I had a valuable ring, a diamond guard to my wedding ring. I had not worn it since we left Galveston, and its disappearance had not been named. I could not bear to speak of it, and I dare say the children thought I had sold it for some necessity. But I felt that I must now part with it, and I experienced real, palpable pain, when I came to this conclusion; my heart ached just as my head might have ached, and I hope none of my readers will ever have to thole such suffering. It does not seem worth while for any of them to be sorry for a woman, who had a heartache about the loss of a diamond ring. Well, it was not the diamonds; it was the memories hidden in their shining depths.

One Sunday afternoon while I was strolling with my lover in the laurel woods round the Salutation Inn at Lake Windermere, Robert gave it to me. It was then just three months before our marriage, and ever after, it had been associated with some of the sweetest episodes of our happy life together. Three or four times since my widowhood, I had been in such extremity, that I had resolved to turn it into gold, but every time something happened which saved my amulet.

For I was superstitious about it. To me it was an amulet. I believed that while I wore it in my breast, Robert would remember me, and in times of perplexity and trouble, help and counsel. Every one has some superstition. I say “every one” with consideration, and from a rather extensive knowledge of personal superstitions. The richest, shrewdest, most truly religious man I ever knew, had two or three apparently very silly ones; yet they ruled his life, and in some measure his enormous business, and he told me he had never defied them, but to his 326 sorrow or loss. So I must not be too much blamed for having a very tender superstition about my ring, and a strong reluctance to part with it.

I waited all night for the premonition that something would happen this time also to save the ring, but no whisper of comfort, no sign of salvation came, and when I awoke in the morning, it was with the conviction that I must now part with this very last memento of a life forever gone from me. With tears I took it out of the little pocket, which I had made for it in the bosom of my dress, and dropped it into my purse. Then I went to the breakfast table, and found the children so happy over their new plans, that I could not bear to dash their hopes and enthusiasms by any mention of the sad duty before me.

We talked for an hour about the kind of dresses wanted, and neither Mary nor Lilly were extravagant in their desires. Lilly only stipulated that she would like a dark blue cloth, because that color suited her, and Mary said, with a comical little laugh, “I don’t care so much about color, Mamma, but do not dress us alike. I don’t want to hear people say, ‘They are the two Miss Barrs, illustrated by Black Watch tartan dresses;’ for you know, Mamma, dear, you have an unquenchable taste for Black Watch tartan.” I could not help laughing at the accusation, for I acknowledge that to this day, the sombre, handsome tints of the Black Watch regiment attract me.

“You see, Mamma,” she added, “we are not going to live in Scotland, and in New York I have noticed dark sage green with pale blue trimmings is in favor. I should like to be in the fashion. I don’t care about color. Any color suits me.”

So with laughter and happy voices in my ears, and a little tremor in my heart, I turned into Broadway. My fear was now, that I should not be able to sell my ring, and so bring disappointment and waiting to those whose happiness was my first concern. I had no clear idea where to go, but I thought on Broadway I would be likely to find the best jewelry stores, and I considered myself very clever, when I cunningly resolved, not to take the first offer made me, but to ask at least in three different places.

About Fourteenth Street I met a policeman, a fat, rosy, 327 good-natured-looking man, and I asked where the best jewelry store could be found. He walked a few steps with me, and then pointed out Tiffany’s in Union Square.

“They are clean gentlemen there,” he said, “and they’ll neither charge you too much—nor give you too little.”

So I went to Tiffany’s, and a very pleasant gentleman asked me what I wished. I took my ring out of my purse, and showing it to him, said, “I have to sell this ring. Will you buy it?”

He looked at the ring, and then at me, and said, “It is a beautiful ring. I am sorry you have to part with it.”

“Will you buy it?” I asked again, and I was aware that my voice trembled.

“We cannot,” he answered. “Our house does nothing in that way of business, but I can send you to a gentleman who will buy it, and who will be certain to treat you fairly, and to give you its value.”

And I could not help believing him, for his face and voice were full of sympathy, as I answered, “Thank you, sir. That is all I want.”

Then he took a card from his pocket book, wrote a few lines on it, and enclosing it in an envelope, addressed the message, whatever it was, to Mr. John Henry Johnston, Bowery and Grand Street.

I knew nothing of these localities, but when I reached the friendly policeman at Fourteenth Street again, he told me exactly how to find the place. And the unaffected kindness of these two men in some strange way drew all the sorrow out of my heart, and I walked down the Bowery full of interest in all the strange shops and sights I saw there; for it appeared to be full of people, in every kind of dress the continent of Europe could supply. In fact it was full of emigrants in their national costumes, waiting for the evening emigrant train, and in the meantime, seeing what they could of the city of New York.

At length I came to Grand Street, and saw the store I wanted. It was a large handsome store, and I walked into it, and asked for Mr. Johnston. His appearance rather astonished me. He looked to be about thirty-seven years old, but his hair 328 was snow white. He had a pleasant, intelligent, kind face, and his manner was most prepossessing. He read the card sent him, and said politely, “Come into my office, Madame.”

I told him my name, then he looked at my ring, and said, “The stones are good, and it is of English make, I think. I may say, I am sure.”

“It was bought in Glasgow, from the firm of Alexander McDonald—but for all that, may be of English make,” I answered.

He spent a little time in examining the ring, then sent for another gentleman, and asked him to appraise its value; while this was being done, he asked me if I was the Amelia Barr who wrote for the Christian Union. In a short time, the second gentleman having finished his examination, Mr. Johnston told me what he would give me for the ring, and I was amazed. I had not expected half as much, and I joyfully accepted his offer. Then and there, we finished the transaction, and my ring was gone from me forever. But when he put it in the safe, and the iron door shut heavily upon it, I could have shrieked. It hurt me so! It hurt me so! If it had not been for the three dear girls waiting for the money, I should even then have said, “Give it back to me. I cannot, cannot part with it!”

As it was, I did not speak, but as I rose to go away, Mr. Johnston asked me to sit awhile, and being excited and trembling, I thought it well to do so. Thus began a very sincere friendship between Mr. Johnston’s family and my own. Mrs. Johnston was called Amelia, and this simple circumstance made our first meeting a very pleasant one. For several years the Johnstons were true friends, but Mrs. Johnston died early, and in later years I have lost sight of Mr. Johnston. He did me many favors, but there is one above all others, which I can never forget. It was in connection with my ring, and it gives me yet a warmth at my heart to remember it.

About three weeks after it had passed from my possession, a small parcel came to me, and when I opened it I saw the little box in which I had always kept my treasure. With trembling fingers I opened it, and there lay my ring, changed indeed, but still my ring. The stones had been removed, and 329 over the vacancy caused by their removal, had been placed a scroll of gold, inscribed in black enamel with the word “Faith.” Fortunately, I was alone in my home, and I went to my room and falling on my knees, I laid the changed ring in my open palm before God. What I said, He knows, and there are many of my readers who will understand without my explanation. I thought God would see, and be sorry for me.

Was I not happy? Yes, at first very happy, but gradually my feelings changed. The beloved amulet, denuded of its splendor and value, was such an evident symbol of myself, and my fortune, that I could not help a kind of sorrowful astonishment, followed by a gush of passionate weeping. “O Robert! Robert!” I cried, and then both words and tears failed, and I laid my head on the bed, and was dumb; because my loss was so irreparable, that even God could not restore

“The weeping hopes, the memories beyond tears,

The many, many, blessed, unforgotten years.”

At that hour my heart was empty of all but grief.

Very soon, however, I heard my children’s voices on the stairs. They were talking softly but happily, and I rose and bathed my face, and to their eager call of “Mamma! Mamma!” I went to meet them. Then I showed them the changed ring, and I am sure that wherever Mr. Johnston was at that hour, his heart must have glowed with the warmth of the good wishes sent to him. I also tried to be pleased and happy, for I told myself, that if there had been any real reason for the grief I had just indulged, God would have spoken a word of comfort to me, yet when I showed Him the changed ring, He did not. My tears had been useless, for there is no deliverance through tears, unless God wipes them away.

So I placed the ring on my finger, and wore it that night, and when the mystery of sleep wrapped me like a garment, I found out that God had not been indifferent to my tears, and that He had royal compassion for the sorrowful and broken-hearted who had not dared to expect anything.

For a little while, I wore it constantly, thinking I could 330 accustom myself to its company, but it had been too long a part of myself and my life. A sudden glimpse of it could sometimes destroy a day’s work, and if I purposely looked at it, the heart overruled the head, and I was not able to write at all. It depressed me, and put down the soft pedal on all thought and mental expression. So I finally laid it away among the sacred things of my affections, my father’s, mother’s, and husband’s last letters, the lock of Robert’s dark hair just tinged with gray, the golden curls from my children’s brows, the flowers that had bloomed on their graves. Among such treasures it found its place—the last memento of a love and a life, dead, and gone forever.

Some of my readers will very likely say that I was foolishly superstitious regarding this ring, and evidently considered it as an amulet or charm. I will answer them in the words of a very learned man, who wrote on this subject, and then leave them to argue the question as it seems to appeal most powerfully to their experience, or their prejudices.

“As to Charms, a coin, a pebble, any trifle long carried on the person, becomes imbued with the personality. Sometimes they have such strange ways of remaining with one, that we cannot help suspecting they have a will of their own. Who has not been amazed at the persistency with which a coin, a key, a button, a pebble picked up and put in the pocket, stays there? Or how some card will lurk in our pocketbook, till it is plain it is there of its own intention. In a little time, we can’t help feeling as if these things know a great deal that we do not know; and we treat them with liking and respect, and even care.”

Let those who say they never do “such silly things,” deny; the wise, who dare affirm or acknowledge the foible, will be a large majority.

By whatever power or influence my ring held me, its putting away was an advantageous thing. Since Robert’s death my life had been, to my own apprehension, two-fold: a sharply defined life above consciousness, and a vague, haunting, dreamlike life 331 below consciousness. The latter had troubled most of my hours of rest and solitude; and living in it, either waking or sleeping, I was sad with regrets and self-accusations. A night spent in its gloom robbed the next day of vitality and active mentality. I was depressed, and work of any kind is not done as well as it could be, if gone to with cheerfulness, yes, even with gladness. But with the removal of the ring from my person, the last link between the past and the present life was broken. I know not how it came about, but gradually I was able to dismiss “Memory’s rapturous pain.”

“For when I drank of that divinest anguish,

How could I taste the empty world again?”

Yes, I began to forget. At first I could not believe it, and I struggled against the fact. I told my heart to remember, but it was only telling love to do what love had once done of itself. I found it useless, as all have done, and will do to struggle against the deepest nature of things. For God has appointed time to console affliction, and living loves and inexorable wants and duties, compel us to accept the present as compensation for all that has been taken away, and so for a while,

“... we do not quite forget,

Nor quite remember, till the past days seem,

The waving memory of a lovely dream.”

Every event has two or three causes, and probably quite as many issues, and Mr. Johnston’s friendship carried Lilly back to mission work. She went with him and a Mr. Swartout to the Five Points Mission one Sunday afternoon, and at this time the Five Points Mission was the pet philanthropy of New York. There was always a great number of visitors there on the Sabbath, but it was the number of poor children that attracted Lilly. She had a singular aptitude for interesting and managing them, and this faculty had been trained and exercised by her famous pastor, Dr. Joseph Brown of the Kent Road Church, Glasgow, especially in the poor children’s dinners supplied by 332 the city and private charity. So this Sunday afternoon decided her life for the next two years or more, and also had a helpful influence on our own home.

For the attention of the Reverend George Mingens, Superintendent of New York’s city missions, was soon drawn to her fine voluntary work, and he asked her to join his missionary helpers. But I was extremely averse to her even visiting the Five Points district, though I acknowledged to myself the native and natural quality of her evangelism. My father delighted in his home missions, and my Uncle John died at Sierra Leone after seven years missionary labor there. A picture of his lonely grave in the African desert hung in my father’s study, and was one of the first things I heard a story about. It was only a poor woodcut taken from a Churchman Magazine, but as I grew older my imagination easily supplied the lions on the horizon, and the negro kneeling beside it.

Also I had a most disquieting memory of a little girl about eight years old, after a missionary meeting in Penrith Chapel, declaring that as soon as she was grown up, she was going to the heathen at the ends of the earth. She was going to tell them about their good brother Jesus, who stretched out his arms to them, even from the Cross. And I was ashamed before this ghost of a child from the past, and then remembered how Lilly had even neglected her school and her lessons to go to serve at the poor children’s dinners in Glasgow, finding in this service a consolation for a life lonely and not happy. So there was no reason at all to wonder at her enthusiasm for mission work. It was an inherited tendency, strengthened by the experience of three generations.

The next time Mr. Mingens called he made a proposal I had neither heart, nor argument to oppose. He said he had taken dinner the previous evening with Mr. and Mrs. William E. Dodge, and that during a conversation about city missions, Mrs. Dodge had expressed a desire that Miss Barr would act as her private missionary. He told us that Mrs. Dodge was very rich and charitable, and had letters every day asking her help in a variety of troubles, and that she thought Miss Barr would be the very person to investigate the real condition of the writers, 333 and if their cases were worthy of help, to see that they obtained it.

The offer greatly pleased Lilly, and after she had an interview with Mrs. Dodge, she was taken captive by that lady’s spiritual and personal charms and was very happy in the work assigned her. The salary she received for it brightened all our lives, for it enabled us to rent and make the comfortable home we all longed to possess. For there was but one purse in the family. I carried it, but it belonged alike to all; and I never once remember Lilly asking for a dollar of her salary, for her private use or pleasure.

In the meantime my reputation grew imperceptibly as a tree grows. In a little more than a year after I began writing for the Christian Union I had a great deal to do for Dr. Stephen Tyng, a notable young clergyman of that day. My first literary work for him was to write twenty little stories about Olivet Chapel and its mission. They were to be about seven or eight hundred words long, and though all on the same subject, to be varied as much as possible. I found no difficulty in doing what he wished. It was only to make men of different creeds and nationalities, age and temperament, wealth and poverty, discuss the mission. To me it proved a pleasant mental exercise, and Dr. Tyng was more than satisfied, and paid me one hundred dollars. I thought the cars would never get me home. I was in such a hurry to tell the children, I must have taken two steps at once.

That day remains in my memory as a perfectly happy day, for Dr. Tyng paid me with such cordiality and unstinted praise, that my pleasure was doubled. Subsequently when Dr. Tyng and Dr. Hepworth began to publish a weekly newspaper, called the Working Church, they associated me with them in its preparation. This paper published the first novel I ever wrote, as simple a story as “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” but laid among the Cumberland Fells and in the city of Glasgow. At that time I knew nothing about book rights, and English rights, and I suppose Dr. Tyng never imagined a writer could be ignorant about such personal points, for he did not speak to me on the subject. So when Dr. Tyng had paid me for its publication in 334 the Working Church I believed I had no further right in it. It was put away and forgotten, until about half a year ago, when I found it in a box full of old diaries, papers, et cetera. Its name was “Eunice Leslie” and if any one has early copies of the Working Church they will find it there, and I should be glad to hear of it.

Among my duties on this paper was the preparation of the columns of church news, and general news, and Dr. Lyman Abbott in writing to Dr. Tyng about the newspaper said, “They were well done,” and asked, “Who prepared them?” And as Dr. Abbott knew I was responsible for their accuracy and brightness, it was very kind of him to make the inquiry. It was a small kindness; it was done forty years ago, and Dr. Abbott has doubtless forgotten it, but I still remember how much it pleased me. As for Dr. Abbott, he may count it, as Wordsworth says, in

“That best portion of a good man’s life—

His little, nameless, unremembered acts

Of kindness, and of love.”

Dr. Tyng showed me Dr. Abbott’s question, and his compliment to the general character of the Working Church as a popular religious weekly, and with a gay little laugh commented thus, “I am glad the doctor did not spell ‘Weekly’ with an ‘a.’” Then his countenance beamed with pleasure, and I can see him this moment, as I saw him then, standing with the note in his hand, as fine a type of a highly-cultured good-hearted gentleman as I ever met.

335

CHAPTER XX

THE FAMILY LIFE

“The Family Life is romantic because it is uncertain. Every member of it likes different work and different play. These differences make the household bracing. Those who want to get out of family life will go into a much narrower world.”

Our home at this time was in the pretty row of flats opposite the Dominican Church on Lexington Avenue. They were light, sunny apartments and had a satisfactory share of what we call, modern conveniences. Every one knows how New York looks now, between Lexington Avenue and the old entrance to Central Park at the Arsenal. Then, it was a clear, open space. I remember just one cottage standing at the southeast corner opposite to the park entrance; and I remember this cottage, because its garden was full of old-fashioned English flowers—columbines, sops-in-wine, calamuth, kingspear, crown imperials, Michaelmas daisies, and the only auriculas I have seen in America, the aristocrat of the primrose family, dressed in royal purple, and powdered as daintily as any court lady.

AURICULAS

“Grave grandees from pageant olden,

Purple, crimson, primrose, golden,

Yellow-hearted, tawny-tuckered,

Velvet-robed, and flounced and puckered,

Golden-eyed and garnet-breasted,

Cherry-rimmed and velvet-vested,

Silver-powdered, golden-dusted,

Damson-dyed or orange-rusted,

Pencilled, painted, grained and graded,

Frilled and broidered and brocaded,

336

Ye should move in gilded coaches,

While some gorgeous Prince approaches;

Let the Polyanthi then,

Run as dapper liverymen!

Till your dames on polished floors,

Sail like splendid Pompadours.”

Our dining-room faced this pleasant outlook, and it was a favorite family gathering place; for Mary had her sewing machine at one of its windows, and there she sat sewing and singing nearly every morning. The parlor looked on to Lexington Avenue, and was exactly opposite the Dominican Church entrance, and on Sunday mornings I found at its windows never-ceasing food for thought and observation. Early as six o’clock, there was a reverent praying congregation there, and soon after nine the congregation had overflowed its capacity, and men and women were kneeling on its steps, and broad sidewalk. They were indifferent to passers-by, and with their rosaries in their hands, made publicly their confession of sin, and their prayer for pardon. I never wearied of this Sabbath spectacle, and I never dreamed of smiling at it. I could not imagine myself praying on the sidewalk, or even on the church steps, but sincere religion always commands respect. It is never ridiculous or contemptible.

The parlor, like the rest of the house, was plainly furnished. There were white curtains at the windows, and white matting on the floor, and a very good cottage piano, which we rented when we were in the Amity Street rooms, and had to deny ourselves in other matters, in order to pay the eight dollars a month it called for. But Mary had acquired a certain proficiency in music that must not be lost, and at this time she was taking singing lessons from Errani, and they needed steady, regular practice, which was given while I was at the Astor Library.

Through my reviewing for the Christian Union and other papers, we had collected a number of good books, but we had no pictures excepting two fine crayon portraits of my eldest daughters, which had been presented to me by a young artist, 337 who came frequently to our house. And there was always plenty of flowers, for New Yorkers then, as now, delighted in them; and our visitors brought them freely. I suppose, excluding the piano and the two portraits, the whole house was furnished at the cost of three or four hundred dollars; but for all that, it made a cheerful pleasant impression on all who entered it; its atmosphere was so homelike, so comfortable, and happy.

Undoubtedly we were very happy there, though I worked ten hours or more, daily, including the unpleasant ride to the Astor Library, and often as far as Park Row or its vicinity; for I had to be a worker, as well as a dreamer, and my thoughts needed hands and feet, as well as wings in order to turn them into money. Generally I was far too busy, or too tired, to join the pleasant company usually brightening the parlor in the evenings; but everyone came into the dining-room, where I did my daily overflow of copying, for there was no blessed typewriter then, and had a few kind words with me—and I heard Mary singing or playing, or the murmur of joyous conversation, or the echo of light laughter, and I was as happy as the rest:

“For this it was that made me move

As light as carrier birds in air;

I loved the weight I had to bear,

Because it needed help of Love.”

And also, I was often conscious of a strength, not physical, lying under the tired sinews and muscles.

These evening meetings were of the most informal character. There never was any special invitation to them, and the visitors wore their ordinary street costumes, and were mostly literary men and women; though not altogether so. Mr. Isaac Bloom of Galveston, who had been my husband’s friend, often came to New York, and when he did so, always came to visit us; bringing with him, some young Jewish gentleman of his acquaintance. Socially, I never met finer gentlemen. They were well educated, and their reverence for religion, for their parents and family, and for all that is lovely and of good report, made their friendship most pleasant and desirable. This may not be 338 a popular opinion, but it is the truth concerning all the Jews I have known socially, and their number is neither small nor unimportant. My Galveston friend is dead, and I have gradually lost sight of the Franks, and the two Blumenthals, the cultured Noemagen, Julius Sterne and others; but I have not forgotten their good nature, and exquisite courtesy, and I am sure if I met them at this day, they would give my age an even deeper respect, than they gave me forty years ago. Then also, Mary had made many friends while with Mrs. Sykes, and they drifted now and then into our circle; while not infrequently S. S. Conant, the editor of Harper’s Weekly, passed an hour in it before going to his club; or Mr. Mengins called to talk to Lilly about her mission work, readily falling into conversation, and changing opinions with all present; or telling them Scotch stories, with all the rich emphatic idioms, of the Land o’ Cakes.

Always I was well content to sit copying my day’s work in the dining-room, within sound of the happiness, that I could share at any moment; but I grew restless at once, if I heard the voice of a young man called Cochran. He was one of the librarians of the Astor Library when I first met him, but very soon went to where he naturally belonged—the daily press. A man so vivid, so clever, so brimful of intellect, I had never before met. He was like a flash of flame.

The first thing he always did, was to walk through the dining-room, and ask me if he was welcome. Being assured of our pleasure in his company he would answer, “Then I shall make my tea”; and immediately proceeded to make himself a cup of tea. Having drank it, he poured out a second cup, and with this in his hand went back to the parlor, taking if possible his seat on the piano stool. Then he saluted the company, and as he sipped his tea, began a conversation that no one could describe. It was gay and grotesque, thoughtful, and often serious, constantly witty and idiomatic. Oh, it was a dish of all kinds! but all good. Thus he would sit drinking one cup of tea after another, and clinching every discussion with a few trenchant words, driven home as a nail is driven into a sure place, with a few strong blows. It is impossible for words to give any adequate example of this man’s conversation; because 339 it was so vividly illuminated by his personality, the inflections of his voice, his expressive gestures, and the large gray eyes, that beamed or flashed in sympathy with all he said.

On one occasion a minister and his wife from Glasgow and a close friend of my mother-in-law and of all my Scotch connections was present. They had sent me a note from the Metropolitan Hotel saying they would like to call, if it was convenient; and had been invited to take tea, and spend the following evening with us. I confess that I was pleased to have such credible witnesses assure my mother-in-law that I had not done badly for the grandchildren she had neglected; and moreover I did arrange everything as American as possible, and I did pretend to have forgotten all about Glasgow, whereas there was not a street of the murky city, or a day of my life in it, which was not clear and fresh in my memory. And I did dress myself in the finest gown of white mull and lace, with which Southern extravagance in that direction before the war had provided me, and I did go to unnecessary expense in cut flowers and jellies and confectionery, not from the best of motives, not out of respect to the minister and his wife, but just because I suspected them of coming as spies, and I did not wish them to take back an evil report. Before they left New York I was ashamed of my suspicions, but that night I enjoyed myself in them.

And all went exactly as I desired. My visitors were astonished and much pleased with their reception, my daughters had never looked better. Mary sang very well, and Lilly interested the minister with her stories of the Five Points Mission so much, that he wished to go there, and she agreed to go with him on the following day. About eight o’clock Mr. Cochran and Albert Webster came in, and we had an intellectual feast of good things until midnight.

During this evening there was a conversation concerning women which may indicate how much their character has changed during the last thirty years. Mr. Webster related a social anecdote about Mrs. Astor, and her unanswerable way of snubbing rivals aspiring to social prominence; and I asked Mr. Cochran what he thought of Mrs. Astor’s behavior.

340

“I think the things women bear from each other are amazing,” he answered. “Men would not stand them. Men would not attempt them.”

“Then why do women attempt them?”

“First, because they don’t respect each other; second, because they have no fear of consequences.”

“Consequences!” I exclaimed.

“Yes. They cannot knock each other down, and it is not ladylike to call names.”

“Well then, if a woman is insulted by a woman, what can she do?”

“Repay in kind, and to give women justice, they generally do so.”

“How?”

“A stare, a shrug, a toss of the head, conveys their infinite disdain; and answers the end perfectly.”

Conversation then drifted to Susan B. Anthony, and Mr. Cochran said, “I respect her, but she will not succeed.”

“Why not?” asked Albert Webster.

“Because, though women are gregarious in fashions and follies, they cannot combine. They will not support their weak sisters, and they shrink from their strong ones. Generally speaking, they have a radical contempt for each other’s intellects, and have no class solidarity. Because of the latter want, men have always had the upper hand, and will always keep it.”[7]

341

The minister approved these opinions, and also kindly looked over, or forgave, any lapses from the strict formalities of a Glasgow evening, by a kindly allowance for our grievous want of a Scotch education. Twelve years afterwards, I paid my mother-in-law a visit at her summer residence in the Isle of Arran. She had forgotten nothing the minister and his wife had told her concerning their visit, but they had told only the things I wished her to hear. Even Mr. Cochran making his own tea, and drinking eight cups or more, had not been reported. I am sensible that I have been smiling as I wrote the last two pages, and I shall not try to justify myself. Sometimes we act naturally, and sometimes we have a grace beyond nature, and that night I dispensed with “the grace beyond,” but I enjoyed the dispensation, and I hope it was not very wrong, because I am not yet sorry for it.

The Albert Webster named here was a fiction writer of a very high order. His work was done principally for Appleton’s Magazine. He was a grave, thoughtful young man, with a charming presence, a high opinion of women, and a passionate love for one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughters; but he was perilously delicate and unfit for the struggle of life. In about two years the work, and the struggle was over. They whom the gods love, die young. The brilliant Cochran followed Webster in a short time, and the rest of the clever, kindly group whom we called friends are scattered far and wide. Max Freelander went to the African diamond mines. S. S. Conant’s sudden disappearance is still a mystery. The Reverend Mr. Mengins is dead. My Jewish friends are immersed in business. They doubtless remember me, as I do them, but I am on Storm King Mountain, and they are in New York’s busiest thoroughfare, sixty-five miles away. Death and distance make barren our lives.

About this time the brilliant scholar Moses Coit Tyler was 342 editor of the Christian Union. He was a great man in every respect. If he only entered a room, it appeared to become lighter; and in no other man have I ever noticed the radiation of the body so pronounced. He made me believe in the aureoles of the saints. Reverent to sacred things, he was still very much of an every day man. He fearlessly spoke his mind, fearlessly opposed what he disapproved; and was not, I suspected, an admirer of Mr. Beecher. I remember thinking that if the two men came to an active dispute, I should like to be present. Professor Tyler soon left the newspaper world, and went to his place in Michigan University. Many years afterwards he wrote me some hearty letters, praising the work I had done, and telling me, he knew I would do still better.

Not long after he left the Christian Union Mary and I took a passage on an Anchor Line steamer for Glasgow. I had various reasons for this journey, partly relating to the family, and partly to business. Also, I was exceedingly weary both physically and mentally, and my physician is ever the sea and the air of my native land, if by any means I can secure their help. Having fainted three times within a month, it was not considered prudent for me to go alone, and we hoped Mary might please her relatives better than Lilly had been able to do. So Mary went with me.

In one or two respects the voyage was a success. Ten days on the Atlantic perfectly restored me to health, and I landed at Glasgow fit for anything I ought to do. We went to a private hotel, and I sent my mother-in-law word of our arrival. Towards evening Mrs. Colville and her daughter Jessy came to visit us, bringing me a letter from Mother, desiring us to leave the hotel, and stay with them. So we went to their residence in Bath Street, and were entertained there with great kindness. And I was glad of it. I could not forget that I was with Robert’s mother, sister, and kindred, and I tried for his sake to offend in nothing.

The morning after I arrived I was sitting in a parlor by myself, writing letters, when a gentleman entered. I looked up and as I did not recognize him rose. Then he came eagerly forward crying softly, “Amelia! O Amelia!” The sound of 343 my baptismal name went poignantly to my consciousness; no man since Robert’s death had ever called me by it. As the speaker came closer to me, I saw that it was Alick Sage, my old lover. He had just returned from Australia, a widower with one daughter. I did not know whether I was pleased to see him, or not. He had grown as far away from me, as I from him, and there was not one plank of tenderness in my heart to bridge the chasm. I wanted no lovers; my affections were well satisfied with my daughters, and my work.

He was persistent, and his persistency annoyed me, and I left Mary with her aunt, and went down to Yorkshire to see my sisters, who were then living in Leeds. After spending two days with them, I went on to London, where I collected money enough to pay the expenses of our trip, and also made arrangements for three American stories. Returning to Glasgow I sailed two days afterwards for New York, but Mary remained in Scotland until near Christmas.

In the gloaming of the day before leaving I made two memorable visits, the first was to the house in which I had lived and loved with such passionate earnestness, as I could never know again. It looked as if I had never left it, and a constable walking the broad pavement in front of it, told me that “a real bein, nice couple” lived there, that the wife was “gey bonnie,” and her man had “a fine job in the custom house.” I asked if they had any children. “Aye,” he answered, “a braw lad o’ five, or thereabouts, and a genty wee lassie, just toddling around.” I looked up at the windows, silently blessed the home, and all within it, and giving the man a shilling took leave of it forever. Another inquiry might not have been so happily answered. When a thing is well enough, let it alone.

The other visit was to my husband’s warehouse in Virginia Street. It had been closed for the day, and being entirely a business street was absolutely empty. I stood upon the stone door steps, worn away in the center to a mere flag, and I looked at the row of windows covered with dust and cobwebs, just as Robert and his predecessors had kept them, as emblematical of a large, steady business, not requiring blazoning of any kind. And though my heart was full, I could not help a faint smile 344 at the superstition—which still prevailed—and I made a promise to myself to go down to the big offices in lower New York to see whether New York merchants cleaned their windows, or let them accumulate the dust in which the lucky cobwebs dwell. This promise to myself, I have not yet fulfilled.

When I went to the steamer the next morning I found Mr. Sage there. It troubled me, and made my last talk with Mary conventional, instead of confidential; and yet when he turned away saying, “Farewell, Milly!” I felt unhappy. Indeed for some days I was angry at myself. I had denied and passed by a loving soul without caring. Alas! the pain of reunion is often greater than the pain of parting. Some secret disappointment enters into all meetings after long separation. We feel that it is easier to accept the loss, than to adapt ourselves to this person not expected.

Soon after my return home, I was engaged by Fords, Howard and Hulbert to write a history of the condition and treatment of women in all civilized and semi-civilized countries. Grace Greenwood was to assist me in this work, but I never saw her but once, and that only for about an hour. I have the impression that she lived near Boston, but she took little interest in the book, and when she saw the list of volumes laid out at the Astor Library for reference and information, she shook her head in a kind of laughing despair, and said,

“Your plan is excellent, go on and complete it. The firm do not expect me to do any writing. I am to advise with you.” Then she laughed pleasantly again, and our interview was practically over.

She was a pretty woman, bright and agreeable, and doubtless was paid only for the use of her name on the title page, and having satisfied herself that it was safe in my care and ability, she passed out of my life with a pleasant smile and a compliment. Yet I could not help thinking of what Mr. Cochran said, “Women have a radical contempt for each other’s intellects, and they can not combine.” But she was kind to me in one important respect; she advised me in a peculiarly marked manner to “insist on some weekly payment” for my work.

I followed her advice, and was glad I did so, for Mr. 345 Beecher’s church officials after a lengthy examination, found no wrong in their pastor; and then Mr. Tilton took his quarrel to the civil courts. It was a ruinous step to Fords, Howard and Hulbert, the publishers of the Christian Union; but I did not dream of it affecting their publishing business. So I had a shock one Saturday afternoon, when I entered Mr. Ford’s office with my week’s Mss for the book about women. The usually busy place was still and empty. I glanced at Mr. Jack Howard’s desk, and he was not in his place. The elder Ford had always been a conspicuous figure but he, too, was absent. I saw no one I knew but the cashier. He called me kindly to his office, and gave me my check.

“It is the last I shall pay here,” he said. “I was waiting for you. Mr. Howard told me to do so.”

He spoke so sympathetically, that I felt my eyes fill with tears. “Thank Mr. Howard for me,” I said, “and you?” He shook his head at my question. I knew he was feeling the closing up, as much as I did, for he had a clever, handsome wife and several little children. We shook hands and parted silently. He was full of anxiety, so was I, for in any worker’s life, the loss of steady employment is often a greater tragedy than any Sophocles or Shakespeare ever wrote.

I did not hurry home. I walked slowly for some distance full of thought. But it was not long ere invincible hope began to say words of reason and consolation. Then I made haste and told my children what had happened, and we talked cheerfully over what we must do in order to make our reduced income meet our output, until good days came again.

“Everybody has ups and downs, Mamma,” said Mary, “and I think a thorough change would do us all good. Lilly has not quite recovered from her illness. Alice is quieter than usual, and you look fagged out, Mamma. Let us go to the country. We could at once save half the rent. Let us go to Rutherford Park. When I was there with Mrs. Sykes, I saw such pretty cottages for twenty dollars a month.”

“O Mamma!” cried Lilly, “think of a cottage all to ourselves! Perhaps a garden—and there might be a chicken house. I could raise chickens and turkeys. I raised hundreds and 346 hundreds in Austin, and we might hire a cow—if we could not at first buy one. I could milk her. Old Mammy Green taught me to milk, and I can make butter, too. What a good time we should have! Say yes, Mamma. Do say yes.”

Of course an hour’s conversation in this mood, decided the question. The next day Mary went to Rutherford Park and took a cottage, and Lilly in high spirits spent the day in packing. “You see, Mamma,” she said, as she triumphantly turned the key in an overflowing trunk, “you see, we ought to have made a change before this. When things begin to go wrong, that is the time to make a change. Sam Houston said that, and I reckon he knew all about things going wrong and changes.” Then after another tug with the straps she looked up, her face aglow and asked,

“Things don’t stay wrong, do they? It is good and bad with them, always good and bad, and good again. You know that, don’t you, Mamma?”

I smiled and answered promptly as she wished, for indeed no one knew better than I did, that

“The Sea of Fortune doth not ever flow,

She draws her favors to the lowest ebb,

Her tides have equal times to come and go,

Her loom doth weave the finest and the coarsest web.

No joy so great, but runneth to an end,

No hap so hard, but will in time amend.”

The ready acceptance of a simpler life by Mary and Lilly greatly relieved me for the fear that it would be a trial to them to leave New York had been the pinch of the trouble. Alice was happy anywhere if we were with her, for her life and conversation was not of this world. Born in the stress and terror of the war time, when I lived and moved only in the mercy and care of God, she came into this world more psychically than physically developed. She has never yet comprehended the meaning of care or want. God is her Father, therefore she can “lack nothing.” Her wants are few and simple, and she asks God for them, and I would sell the wedding 347 ring from my finger, rather than she should fear God had failed her. If she notices that I am anxious, and I say, “I am a little troubled,” she asks if I have “told God about the trouble?” and when I answer, “Yes, darling, I have told Him all about it,” she adds with a confident air, “Then it is all right. God will make it so.”

Her mentality in some points is superior to my own, thus she is naturally far more shrewd. I am deceived so easily; she is never deceived. She is exquisitely neat and orderly, and as careful and economical as any of her Scotch ancestry. The servants all obey her cheerfully, and I wish they obeyed me half as well, and as cheerfully. She dislikes extravagance in every shape, and yet money is useless to her, for the sense of numbers is wanting. She cannot learn to count, and though she may know the denomination of coins, she has no idea of their relative worth. Nor can she understand space or distance. She knows she must go a long way to reach England, for she has been there several times, but if the distance is told her in miles, it would give her no idea of it. Of course these wants totally unfit her for a world in which numbers and space and distance are constantly present factors. She speaks little, but she sees and knows more than she can tell. Outward things are an hindrance to her.

Yet she is perfectly happy. Her days pass in sweet and innocent regularity. Of her own accord she has assumed certain small household duties, which would otherwise be mine; she spends her first hours of the day in “talking with God,” which is her definition of prayer; then she embroiders or reads, or improvises on her organ, which at times is done with a wonderful touch and sense of purest harmony. Her voice in accompaniment is very sweet but quite childlike. At four o’clock every day, we have a short service of psalms or collects, the Lord’s Prayer, and a hymn, and she is the innocent God-loving priest, who offers our thanksgiving.

Oh, she is the most blessed child that ever a mother nursed! She has never given me one moment’s sorrow, except for her condition, and for this she is in no way responsible. Indeed I feel it to be a great honor to call such a lovely soul “my child.” 348 Yet her perfectly helpless condition shadows all my days and nights for I know that until the end she will remain one of those sweet souls who,

“... ’mid the trampling throng,

With their first beauty bloom at evensong;

Hearts for whom God has judged it best to know

Only by hearsay, sin and want and woe,

Bright to come hither, and to travel hence,

Bright as they came, and wise in innocence.”

And the one prayer I make for her constantly, especially at midnight—for the midnight prayer God loves best of all—is, that she may “travel hence” before I do, or that He mercifully grant “we may travel hence together.” For it is her hand, that will open to me the gate of the celestial city.

In a week we were settled in the Rutherford Park cottage. I had been only half-hearted about the movement, for it appeared to put the Astor Library too far from me. But the children were delighted with the change, and the human heart is a loving thing, and has reasons that reason does not understand. And I had not then learned that a little misgiving in the beginning of things, means much regret in the end of them.

The first change necessary in our lives was that Mary or Lilly should do the office work. One of them went to the city with me nearly every morning. On reaching New York I took the street cars direct to the library, arriving there about nine o’clock and working until four. If there was writing to be done, or writing to be altered, it was brought to the library, and we usually made our arrangements to so fit each other, that we returned home together. Then there was the happy supper table, and the exchange of city and village news.

This was the year 1876—the great celebration of the Independence of the Colonies at Philadelphia—and we had many visitors from the South. Among them was a very interesting gentleman from Tennessee called Thomas Barr. He stayed some weeks in Rutherford Park, and was very popular; for he had a handsome person, a fine manner, and was possessed of considerable 349 wealth. There was an engagement between him and my daughter Mary, but it died a very easy, natural death; and as they were unsuited to each other, I congratulated both of them, for correcting a mistake, before it was made. The last four words are a contradiction, but they state the case plainly enough.

Rutherford Park was then a charming suburb of New York. There were a great many New Yorkers living there, and the society of the place was delightful. But society in Rutherford Park, meant exactly what it meant in New York. There were the same extravagances of dressing and entertaining and we soon found out that economy is an inherent virtue, and not dependent on environment—a charmed word, however, at that time; ethical and social teachers being quite confident, that every one physically or morally sick, could be made healthy and good, by giving them the proper environment. I myself had been advised by the Reverend Mr. Ruston, as true a friend as we ever had, to go to the country and to learn among simple villagers the happiness of a simple life. There were not many simple villagers in Rutherford Park, and they appeared to absolutely separate themselves from what they called “the Yorkers.” So we did not learn anything from our environment. We spent as much living in a cottage, whose rent was twenty dollars a month, as we spent in a New York apartment at fifty dollars a month, for the small cottage did not alter our ideas about the superfluities, that have become the necessities.

But blue glass and environment, which were at that time the great cures for personal and moral ailments, did not in the least affect us. We saw every one bringing home a square of blue glass to sit under and be cured of their bodily sickness, and we heard everywhere the great word “environment” as the true specific for original sin. Even yet, “good environments and good associations,” are the shibboleth of philanthropists. I want to remind them, that Nature prevails enormously over nurture; for instance the cuckoo has been laying her eggs in the respectable nests of the dove and the titlark ever since the creation, but never a cuckoo yet imbibed, or even imitated the 350 virtues of their foster parents. I know that poets sing beautifully of the cuckoo bird,

“Breaking the silence of the seas,

Among the furthest Hebrides.”

But Moses forbade the Jews to incorporate their vices by eating them, and Milton centuries later classed them with “owls, apes and dogs.” Three centuries have passed since Milton, and the cuckoo is just as bad as he was at the beginning. He has had, say six thousand years of the respectable environment and excellent moral associations of doves and titlarks, and he has not been cured of a single fault. So much for environment and good associations! I find I have written a little lecture but if it teaches one philanthropist, that all moral improvement must be from the inside outward, it will not be in vain. If the heart of even a bad child is not changed, all outside moralities will be useless; he will become a bad man.

Our real life in Rutherford Park was just what it had been in New York. I wrote constantly, but not as comfortably as in the city. The train wearied me, and also there were always people in it, who talked to me all the time. If they were women and going up town to shop, they talked until I left them at Astor Place. Coming to my work from Seventy-seventh Street in the horse cars was different. There I was among strangers. I could sit still and think, and possess myself in reflection. Socially things were different enough. We had been very kindly received, and soon had numerous acquaintances and callers, and we had found it quite possible to go to church, which had been a serious query in New York.

This may seem a peculiar statement. I will explain it. One Sunday I went to hear a minister whom I had read a good deal about. I liked his sermon, and I liked the music, and I felt that I would be happy to join its congregation. I wrote a few lines to this minister, telling him with what churches I had been connected, referring him to Mr. Beecher and Dr. Tyng, and asking what preliminaries were necessary.

Some time passed and then one day an officer of this church 351 called on me. I happened to be at home very busy copying. Mary was sewing beside me; Alice was coloring a picture; Lilly opened the door for him, and as he wished “to see Mrs. Barr” she brought him into the dining-room, where I was at work. She thought he was a very respectable editor. I thought the same, and I rose to greet him. I have no doubt he was a millionaire, but he was courteous and gentlemanly, and after a few minutes quite kindly. He said, he had come in response to my letter, sent to Dr. C.

I smiled and he continued, “Dr. C—— would like to know the name of your banker.”

“My banker!” I replied in amazement. “I have no banker.”

“You see,” he continued, “ours is a very extravagant church—I mean in good works—and our members must be looked to for large subscriptions. Dr. C—— is acquainted with your name—and thinks highly of you—but he is afraid you would not be able to give as—as liberally—as liberally as our church expenses—demanded.”

He spoke with difficulty, and as I continued to look at him, and remained silent, he was confused and said hastily, “I am afraid you do not understand the situation.”

I said I did not, and he tried to explain, but he was much embarrassed and I shook my head and said, “You had better make no more explanations, sir. I understand that only the rich can be members of Dr. C——’s church. The Lord Christ, also, is therefore ineligible. I will remain outside with Him. I had an old-fashioned idea, that every Church was a House of God, I have no desire to intrude on premises belonging to Dr. C——.”

The official sat a while, talked of other things, and went away I think not very happy. If he is still in life, and this relation should meet his eyes, he will remember. He did his best to make the refusal as inoffensive as possible but he had to present a case utterly destitute of every gracious element.

But even when we were living in the rooms in Amity Street, we found out that the church in New York had a social side, that could not be intruded upon. We went then regularly to a Methodist church in our neighborhood, a large well-appointed 352 building, with a very excellent preacher. His manner even in his service was so really “brotherly” and “sisterly,” that I was in no way astonished when he made us a pastoral call. We found him socially a delightful man, responding gladly to intellectual and spiritual conversation. He remained talking with me over my life, and especially over my work on the religious press for at least two hours. When he rose to go he said, he would like to bring Mrs. D—— to see us, and would surely do so, as soon as we moved “into a more fashionable street.”

He meant nothing unkind by this proviso, and in future years I did a great deal of work for him, and he visited me at Cherry Croft. But the remark made us think, and then laugh a little—perhaps, not a happy laugh. Hitherto I had not troubled myself as to whether the street was fashionable or not. Mr. Sykes had approved the locality, and it suited my library wants perfectly, but now I asked Mary, if she thought we ought to see about a change? “Not for the honor of Mrs. D——’s call,” she answered. Then I looked at Lilly and she laughed and said, “You ought to have told Mr. D——, Mamma, that we were not lonely nor likely to be so. We are not fashionable people; why should we go to a fashionable street?”

In direct opposition to this exclusiveness Dr. Tyng offered me a pew for myself and family in the new church he had just built on Madison Avenue and Forty-second Street, without money and without price. But at that time I had worked a great deal with, and for ministers of more than one denomination, and I confess my ideas of the sacred office were turned topsy-turvey. The clergy I knew in England and Scotland were so exclusively “Ministers of The Word.” Their church and pastoral work completely absorbed them. They were really “reverend” and entitled to that respect mingled with fear and affection which they received. I have gone out of my way many and many a time, so that I might meet a minister, and have him smile at me, and say “God bless you, child!” Much of this sentiment remained with me when I came to New York, but it was soon killed—for a minister in the market place, bargaining for stories and editorials, is not as “reverend” as the man who 353 goes up to the Holy Place and opens with prayer and praise a solemn service to the Eternal One.

In Rutherford we had an excellent minister—a Mr. Walcott, a good man full of the Evangel he loved to proclaim. He and Mrs. Walcott welcomed us gladly, and the church welcomed us, and we had in Rutherford all the spiritual privileges hungry souls could wish. I was conscious, however, of a great change. I had acquired, I knew not how, a self-sufficiency in spiritual things that needed nothing from human sympathy or numbers. There are experiences in life, after which we cannot go on in the old way; can never be what we were before. I had gone through several such experiences.

I had lost many of the convictions and illusions of my youth. I had gained much knowledge of men and of things, that I had not yet either accepted or refused. But I clung with passionate fervor to my trust in God’s love and care, and in spite of the frequent dropping of cold words of doubt in my presence, I still had an almost awful prepossession in favor of the Bible. I read it alone with my daughters, and we talked of its promises, and as we four knelt together in earnest prayer, or holy silence, there was some times the blessed consciousness of Another with us. Christ had promised to be with such worshippers. Christ will keep His promise even to the end of the world. So we passed out of the splendid church, into the little upper chamber, but we did not pass out of God’s love and presence.

354

CHAPTER XXI

THUS RUNS THE WORLD AWAY

“I must tell all. I cannot be unfaithful to my past. If I cut it away, I am but half myself. I wish also faith in the years to come, and those lofty delights which defy the tomb.”

In the meantime my work went steadily on, and I wrote a good deal for a Mr. Marks, who very soon removed to London. But in the interval he supplied the place of the Christian Union which in the years 1876 to 1877 was at such a low ebb, that no one but Dr. Lyman Abbott, who then took it in charge, could have guided it over the sea of its difficulties, into the safe harbor of its present influence and success.

In looking over my diaries for these years, I am astonished at the amount of money I made from short stories, poems, and articles. We lived comfortably on it, and wanted no good things. And I think my readers must be so familiar now with my regular life, that I will only specify the incidents which varied and changed it somewhat, until I reach the period when I gave up newspaper and magazine work for the purpose of writing books.

The first event of moment was our leaving Rutherford, and going to Denver, Colorado. To this day, I wonder at the circumstance. I was certainly ill, no, not ill, but completely tired out body and mind, so that even my ever upspringing soul was inert and indifferent. A change was imperative, but the sea, and a week or two of my native air, would have put me all right. Let no one smile at my prescription. In cases of lost vitality and extreme weariness, one’s native air is the finest tonic and builder up that can be taken. Drugs have nothing to compare with it. I am very weary now, but I know that if I could sit on Ulverston fells, and breathe the potent mixture of her sea and land ozone, I would be in a week ten years younger. I do 355 not say this on my own experience or authority. English specialists insist on its virtue, and I know one of the greatest surgeons of New York, who takes this tonic every summer, if possible, and comes home a new man.

Well, I went to Denver. It was the most foolish thing I ever did, and I can not tell why I did it. There was a vague idea in my mind, that if I could not write any more, I might open in this new, growing town, such a school, as I had had in Chicago; and then my children had been talked into an enthusiasm about the West, and youth is always sure that change must be for the better. I gave way with a supineness that astonishes me to remember. A letter to Mr. Abbott, the passenger agent of the Erie line, settled the matter. He offered me a compartment for four at half-price if I would write an article for a pamphlet they would publish, and speak otherwise favorably of the line as I had opportunity. The girls were delighted, and I tried to feel some of their enthusiasm. The great trouble to me, was the breaking up of the home and the sale of the furniture I had worked so hard to obtain. But there was no alternative. If there were storage houses then, we knew nothing about them, and Lilly, who always looked at the bright side, said,

“It would be well to be rid of it. We didn’t know how, or where to buy furniture, Mamma, when we bought this heavy stuff. I know now where far prettier and cheaper can be had. Just let this go, Mamma. We can’t drag it to Denver, and if we do come back, we will buy things far more suitable.”

I made no further dissent. I only reflected how many of my homes I had seen torn to pieces, and scattered wide, and I wondered why this experience seemed obligatory. Then it struck me, that there might be a psychic side to the circumstance—that to break up my dwelling place, and send me on some far off journey was perhaps the best, the only thing my angel could do, in order to save me and my children from “Him that followeth after.” For I know well, that the breaking up of existing conditions, is often the only salvation; that we are sent long, unexpected, and often unpleasant journeys because it is the best way to defeat disaster; that we are often 356 prevented from taking journeys we have planned and prepared for, because they would be fatal; yea, that we are often stripped as Job was stripped, in order to make possible the two-fold blessing of Job.

I felt the long, dirty, monotonous journey to Denver very much. But the children were happy. They made friends with an United States General and his charming wife and daughter, and were half sorry not to accept their invitation to go on with them to the frontier station which was their home.

We arrived in Denver on the twenty-first of July, 1878, after five days’ travel; and the next day we rented a small furnished house belonging to Miss Sargent, a writer of that day whose stories were much liked both in England and America. We made the place pretty and comfortable, and then took time to consider what we had done. I felt painfully the extreme rarity of the atmosphere. It affected my ears, and gave me a peculiar headache; but it is not fair to describe the Denver of that date, for it was the point to which all consumptives past hope were then sent. It was full of the sick and the dying, yet withal a busy town; but I saw at once that we should never like it, and my heart turned to New York with a home-sickness impossible to describe.

However, the great total eclipse of the sun was to be noted there in perfection on the twenty-ninth of the month, and we were glad to have an opportunity to witness what we should never see again in this incarnation. The day was clear, unnaturally still, and tenuous; and there was a sense of something supernatural about to occur. As the sun was gradually darkened, and the earth lay passive in that unearthly gloom, a dead silence prevailed, but the moment of totality, or the moment after it, was saluted with the shouts and huzzas of the crowd watching the marvelous event. It was no doubt the most sincere way in which the unlearned thousands could express their feelings, but it was not the awful wonder and worship that seemed fitting.

My old pupil, Mr. William Libbey, called afterwards. He with many other young men and students from the different universities had come purposely to observe the eclipse, and Mrs. Jackson, the beloved H. H. of the literary world, quickly found 357 us out. But no kindness could reconcile us to a life full of strange conditions. Mary went back to New York with some returning friends in a month; I, as soon as I could bear the journey, and Lilly and Alice as quickly as the bitter cold of winter was over, and it was safe for Alice to cross the plains.

Thankfully I close this chapter with our happy reunion in some pleasant rooms in the St. Stephens, a very quiet respectable hotel on Eleventh Street and University Place. Many of my Rutherford friends stayed there when in town for a few days, and it was also the resort of at least three ministers whom I knew well. We lived there a long time, for among its many advantages was its proximity to the Astor and the Mercantile Libraries.

The day after my return to New York I went back to my sunny quiet alcove in the Astor, and found the paper and pencils I had left on its table untouched. I lifted them with affection, and tears sprang to my eyes as I looked around the hall, and from far and near received a smile and a nod of welcome. For I was the familiar of most of the alcove students, and always ready to give them the help of my own index in finding the material they wanted. All day long, I had little visits and pleasant words, and at the lunch hour Dr. Strasneky, the superintendent, came and chatted with me about my journey. He said he was glad to see me in my place again. “Every one missed you,” he continued, “we all liked to look up and see you sitting here, as happy and busy as if writing was the most blessed work in the world.”

“So it is, Doctor,” I answered. “If we write good words, and write them well, it is the work God gives to His beloved.”

“You talk mystically,” he said, “but you write plain enough. Don’t go away again.”

As he left me, a tall, pale young man brought his lunch in his hand, and sat down to eat it beside me. It was Wolcott Balestier, the brother of the young lady whom Rudyard Kipling married, and no mean writer of fiction. He was employed in the Patent Department, and he never told me he was writing. He liked to eat his lunch beside me, and discuss the people around, and what they were doing. Sometimes he gave me some 358 of his marshmallows, and I gave him half of my apple. We always had a happy moment over these exchanges, and he used to banter me for being so extravagant as to buy apples, when they were five cents each. Well, when I first came to New York, I had sometimes hesitated between the apple and the ride home. If I got my apple, I had to walk up to Eighteenth Street, if I could do without my apple I could afford the cars home. Always the apple won, for I told myself, “I ought to walk home after sitting so long. It is really a question of health, and not of apples.” I wonder how it would have affected me, if I had been then made sure, that the day was coming when I would have apple trees of many kinds, that were all my own, and apples without stint to eat, and to sell, and to give away. Would it have been good for me to know this? No. It would not. Every one’s experience will teach them that much.

Above all other visitors in my alcove, I liked Frank Norton. He also was in the Patent Department, but I never saw a man so far out of his place. It was hard enough for young Balestier to be working over some old mechanical patent, when he was dreaming of love and ladies and great adventures; but the darkly handsome Professor N—— dwelt constantly among the stars, and believed himself to be spiritually related to them. He came into my alcove one day, and began talking about our earth having once been part of the sun, and he declared that her day and night, her tides and seasons, and simplest phenomena, would be unintelligible without taking into account her heavenly companions. He then attempted to prove to me how these extra-telluric influences, have also dominion over the phenomena of mind, because man, being a product not only of the earth but of the universe, is influenced by the stars as well as the earth. I confess that his wisdom was mostly beyond me, but I was greatly delighted with the word “telluric” and when he talked of “extra-telluric influences” I was eager and anxious to know what the word might mean. As soon therefore as he left me, I went to a dictionary and found out. I might have asked him, and saved some stair-climbing and research, but I knew if I compelled myself to look for the meaning, I would never forget it. Ever since the word has had a charm for my ear, 359 and I have wanted to use it in the books I have written; but this is the first opportunity I have found. Professor N—— was then a young, handsome man, enthusiastically full of dreams, and of an extra-telluric nature; yet apparently under very good telluric influences, for he was always happy, always well dressed, and always had the air of a man well supplied with money. I wonder where he is today, and I hope sincerely that the stars and all other extra-telluric powers, have been very kind and generous to him.

And on the evening of the day on which this conversation with Professor N—— occurred, after thinking it over, I said to myself, “This earth, with its days and nights, its change of seasons, its tides and earthquakes, and magnetic storms, may be under extra-telluric influences; but the phenomena of the soul, is beyond all such control. By some mysterious exercise of its own powers, it moves on from phase to phase, from gloom to sunshine, from doubt to faith, from repose to activity, and natural laws are of no importance to it. What telluric, or extra-telluric influence, can govern thought?”


Lilly had always been the manager of our home affairs, and now that this employment was taken away, her mind reverted to mission work; and she went on a journey for the American Missionary Society that promised her a great deal of the kind of adventure she liked. She was to go to the southern states where schools and home missions had been established to report on the work they were doing, and the success or failure that had attended it. I do not remember how long she was thus occupied, but it was not long, for she was soon busy in her own way “among southern cabins;” for in Charleston she met Mr. Tourgee, and he advised her to go to John’s Island, which lay some miles off the coast of South Carolina and was famous for its long staple cotton. Here, he told her, she would find negroes far different from the usual type, and natural surroundings of great beauty and interest.

On this island there was a fine old manor house called “Headquarters,” then owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Peck, and she went there to see it. Every brick in this house had been 360 brought from England by Lord Fenwick its builder, and its noble entrance hall, leaded library windows, and magnificent cypress paneling were still in beautiful preservation. It received its name from having been headquarters during the war of the Revolution, the war of A.D. 1812, and twice during the war of A.D. 1860. A very sincere friendship grew up between its owners and Lilly, and she stayed at “Headquarters” more than a year, writing charming papers about its woods and lagoons, its birds and reptiles, and its picturesque and exceedingly interesting negro life and character. These papers were all bought by the Independent and Harper’s Weekly.

Immediately after her settlement at “Headquarters,” she began to dream of, or to see in a kind of vision, an old lady and gentleman who appeared to be much interested in her. Their dress was that prevalent among the nobles and gentry during the reign of Queen Anne, or the early Georges, and they impressed her with a strong persuasion of their constant care and guardianship. She was sure that it was not only interest, but love that prompted them. Phantoms, of course! Yes, but phantoms of remarkable clearness and evidence, and all the time she was at “Headquarters” she saw, or she dreamed of them.

Now the singular point in this experience, was not known until this summer, when I received officially from the county clerk a list of all the references to my family, the Huddlestons of Millom, to be found in the county histories of the shires of Cumberland and Westmoreland. It will be remembered that I have just stated, that this fine old mansion was built by Lord Fenwick, and in the historical list just referred to, I find the following record:

“John Huddleston, son of the above-named Richard, who succeeded his father in 1337, married a daughter of Henry Fenwick, Lord of Fenwick, county of Northumberland.”

These few lines gave me food for some very pleasant thoughts, which I followed further than I can do here, but it was evident that these early Fenwicks who built “Headquarters,” still remembered that their family and the Huddlestons were kindred. 361 After more than five hundred years had elapsed, as we count them, they remembered it, and knew that the alliance still influenced the Huddleston strain. Well, then the dead do not forget in the next life what happened in this life. Also, the affections of the dead remain in the same channel as when they were on earth. Far off from the original strain as Lilly was, they knew her, and they felt an interest in her welfare and safety. My readers can of themselves follow out these trains of thoughts; they may find comfort and explanations in so doing. And I think those of our families who are in another world like us to remember them.

Truly Lilly needed some protection, for she was surrounded by many dangers; the climate was dangerous, the reptile life was dangerous, and the negro element was tremendously in the ascendant; there being only forty white families on the whole island, while the negroes probably numbered four thousand, more or less. And Lilly knew not the word fear; she stood an hour in the hot swamp one day, and watched the long battle between a very large rattlesnake and an equally large black snake, watched them at close quarters until the black snake tore the skin off his antagonist, and left him flayed from head to tail in the burning sun. It never struck her that there was any danger to herself. “The snakes,” she said, “paid no attention to me. They were too busy with themselves. I was in no danger whatever.”

And at that time, in that lonely island, the white man and woman had no fear of the black man; nor did Lilly see while she was there any ill will of the black man to the whites. They still regarded with liking and respect the white families to which they had belonged, as the following incident will exemplify. One woman had worked four years after her freedom for her master, and he had never paid her any wage. Lilly asked “Why do you not sue him, Mary? The law would give you your wage, for he is able to pay it.”

“O Miss Lill,” was the answer, with a positive shake of the head, “we couldn’t hab a suit in the fambly.”

So much trust was there then in the old servants, that Lilly accompanied by Mrs. Peck, often went to Charleston in the 362 long boat, rowed by four black men. Their leader was a gigantic negro called Binyard, and to his impromptu songs and recitatives the oars kept time all the sixteen miles. Thus when Binyard saw a steamer approaching, his stentorian voice hailed it thus:

“Git out ob de way, you steamboat!

Binyard’s on de ribber!

Binyard’s on de ribber, steamboat,

Git out ob Binyard’s way!”

Then when the steamer swept across their bow and left them rocking in its wash he continued,

“Go on dis time, little steamer,

I let you pass dis time,

Dere’s white ladies on Binyard’s boat,

So he let you pass dis time—

“But keep out ob de way, steamboat,

When no white ladies wid him;

He sink you sure, little steamboat;

He sink you wid his oar!”

As soon as they cleared Ashley River, and got fairly around the bend and into Stono River, they met many boats coming from John, James, and Edisto Islands, and then invariably the singing began, the leading boat flinging out the challenge,

“Gwine to hang up de sword in Zion?”

and the rest answering,

“Yes, Lord! ’Tis a great camp meeting

In de Promised Land!”

And this spiritual was followed by others, until they went singing into “Headquarters” landing. It is all changed now. The negro has been to the university and got “eddicated” and 363 the white man no longer trusts him, and the white woman fears him.

In the evening hours while Mary was out at various houses, or entertainments I wrote a novel, one of the very best I ever wrote. It was called “The Last of the McAllisters.” I sent it to Henry Holt, being moved to do so by a feeling I could not resist, and cannot explain. He returned it with a letter saying, “If you will write me an American novel as clever and interesting, I will gladly publish it.” This letter, so kind and wise, set me thinking of the possibilities of American history for fiction, and was in fact the seed thought of “The Bow of Orange Ribbon,” and consequently of the series of American historical tales which followed it. The origin of novels is often very interesting, and far to seek.

Early in November, 1880, I had an almost fatal attack of inflammation of the brain, followed before I recovered consciousness, by double pneumonia. At the crisis of the sickness, I was for five days neither here nor there. Where was I? I was in a land where all was of fine shifting sand, a land of such awful silence, that I could feel the deadly stillness. And I wanted to pray, and could not pray. I was conscious of no pain, and no desire, but this terrible, urgent longing to pray, and yet not being able to cry to God for help. To want God, and to have no power to call Him, or to go to Him, was an agony there are no words to express. At last, as I stood helpless and hopeless among mountains of sand, there was a whisper, and the pang of unpermitted prayer was taken away. Then I cried out, “Spare me, Lord, that I may recover strength, before I go hence and be no more forever.” Instantly I was conscious. I knew that I was on earth, in my own room, and I spoke one word, “Mary!

Mary was kneeling beside me, kissing my almost clay hands and face, and moistening my lips with drops of water. And I knew that I was saved. I knew that God had really given me a new life—a new physical and mental power. Physicians had said, I would never be mentally well again. I was dictating poems and other work to Mary, before I was permitted to have any light in my room—when I lay in my bed, while Mary stood 364 at the open door, writing down my words. My convalescence was rapid and sure. I was in the Astor Library on the twenty-first of March, making notes for an article on “Nollekins, the Sculptor,” for Harper’s Monthly. The next week I went again for notes on “Beating the Bounds” for Mr. Munroe, the editor of Harper’s Young People.

I had been four months in my room. I felt now an urgent necessity to be at work again. I have a list beside me of the work I did in this month of March, and of the work done in the nine months following. It may interest some of my friends to read the list for March, because I was then scarcely out of the shadow of the grave. It includes twelve poems, four for Harper’s Weekly and eight for the Ledger, as follows:

“An old Man’s Valentine.”

“’Tis God’s World After All.”

“Blue and Gray Together.”

“John’s Wife.”

“The Fortune Teller.”

“The Best I Can.”

“The Lover that Comes in the Morning.”

“No Room for Me.”

“When To Drop the Bridle.”

“We’ve Always Been Provided For.”

“When Mother and I Were Married.”

Beside these twelve poems, I went to the library and procured the material for the Nollekins article, a lengthy one which depicted the Georgian life and celebrities; wrote two articles for Lippincott’s, and the school paper called “Beating the Bounds,” for the editor of Harper’s Young People. For the year following, I have a list which shows one hundred and thirty-one poems, eight stories, two of which were long enough to be called novelettes, and twenty-five articles referring mostly to remarkable people, places or events.


Mrs. Barr
November, 1880

But when the home is broken up the family scatters. I felt this painfully, for I missed Lilly constantly, and Mary was a great deal with friends, or away, so that Alice and I were really 365 much alone. I had most of the office work to do, and was obliged to leave her when about it, though I took her with me to the library, if the weather was favorable.

Under these conditions it was as easy for me to go to England as to remain in New York during the summer, and in May, 1882, having just finished and sold to Appleton, my book on the “Children of Shakespeare’s Dramas,” I took Alice and went first to Glasgow and afterwards to Yorkshire; remaining away until Christmas was approaching. During that summer vacation, so-called, I sent back to New York eighty-one poems, stories, and descriptive articles, and this number does not include poems and stories written for English papers and magazines during the same period, but of which I have kept no list. These eighty-one poems and stories were sent to Mary, who managed their sale so well, that all were placed and mostly paid for, when I returned home.

This voyage is memorable to me because of a great salvation. On May the third, 1882, I dreamed that a Presence whose enmity I felt, stood by my bedside and said, “You are going to be lost! You are going to be lost! You are going to be ship-wrecked!” And I answered, even as I slept, “I do not believe you. God is able and willing to keep me in all my ways, and my soul trusteth in Him forever.” Then I awoke, and I said consciously over and over, the words I had said in my dream, and so fell asleep again, fighting the fear in my heart with trust and faith. And again I dreamed a Presence stood by my side, a holy loving Presence, and it said confidently “Go, and the Lord be with thee” (1st Samuel, 17:37). And I opened my eyes full of happiness, and there was no shadow of fear in my heart, and three days afterwards Alice and I sailed in the Devonia for Glasgow. We were, as before said, in Scotland and Yorkshire all summer; but took passage for New York again on the eleventh of November. I held fast to the promise given me, and in pleading it for our return voyage, I was suddenly affected in a remarkable way, by the wording of the promise. For the first time I noticed the word “be” in it. It seemed to stand out more plainly than any other word. Then I understood. God had promised not only to go with me, but to be 366 with me. That was sufficient. There were very few saloon passengers. I remember only two ladies beside Alice and myself, an actress, and a Mrs. Orr of Cornwall-on-Hudson. No one comes into your life for nothing, and the next year being advised to go to the mountains for a month or two, I remembered what this lady had said about Cornwall, and I wrote and asked her if she knew of a house I could rent. She advised me to come and see Cornwall. I did so, took a house for six months, and have been here twenty-eight years.

Our first three days at sea were fine, and the wind favorable; the next day the sea was rough, and I was thrown against the brass pipe of the saloon stove, and my right hand painfully burned. On the eighteenth of November, at eleven o’clock at night, we broke our machinery, and in the morning, when I went on deck, I was appalled by the sight of the deck covered with pieces of iron, and wreckage of every kind; and my heart for a moment failed me. For nine days we drifted helplessly about the Atlantic, but all the time, day and night, men were working steadily to repair our engine. Captain Young, a devout man and a fine sailor, was speechlessly anxious, but he clung to Alice whenever he saw her, for she had told him the ship would reach New York safely; and he believed her.

On the night of the twenty-seventh, after dinner, he asked Alice and me to pray for the ship. “At eight bells,” he said, “listen and pray! We are then going to try the engine. If she works, we may, if God wills, reach our harbor in safety——”

“And if not, Captain?”

“We shall still be in God’s hands.”

With these words he turned away, and Alice and I watched faithfully with the anxious man. At eight bells we were on our knees, and as the bells began to strike, the thud of the engine began with them.

“I told you all would be right,” said Alice, and I kissed her, and both our cheeks were wet.

A few days later in the afternoon, Alice sitting quite alone in the saloon saw smoke coming from a place where smoke had no business. She instantly found an officer, and he ran for the captain. For a few hours there was an unusual commotion, but 367 the subject was not named, and I understood from the captain’s reticence, that danger was over, and that silence was wise, and even imperative. For our long detention at sea, had made both water and provisions very scarce, and there was actual mutiny among the emigrant passengers, whose number was unusually large. It happened, however, that there was a big consignment of nuts on board, and they were given to the angry crowd, who were thus pacified. Two days afterwards we reached our pier in New York harbor, so grateful and happy, that we hardly felt the blustering wind, and snow and cold. We had been threatened with fire, and shipwreck, and mutiny, but all had failed to really injure. Nothing of us had suffered; for He had given His angels charge concerning us.

My readers, I hope, remember what I wrote about charms. They were not my words, but I endorsed them from my experience. Well I confess that this wonderful verse, 1st Samuel, 17:37, has assumed something of the character of a sacred amulet. When I first read it, I wrote the words of the covenant God had given me on a piece of paper, folded the paper with a prayer, and put it into a little pocket of my purse. It remained there for many, many years. Other documents placed beside it became invalid, useless, or outworn, and were destroyed. But the golden promise of God’s constant care remained. On certain occasions, I took it out and reminded God, that it read He would be with me. Finally the writing became so nearly illegible, and the paper so frail I solemnly renewed both, putting this renewal in the same purse pocket, where it remains unto this moment. It will go to the grave with me, for I will never give up that promise. God made it. God will keep it. Whether I deserve it, or not, He will keep it. Yea, if I did not deserve one letter of it, all the more I would plead,

“Because I seek Thee not, Oh, seek Thou me,

Because my lips are dumb, oh, hear the cry

I do not utter as Thou passest by!

Because content I perish far from Thee,

Oh, seize and snatch me from my fate; draw nigh,

And let me blinded, Thy Salvation see.

368

“If I were pouring at thy feet my tears,

If I were clamoring to see Thy face,

I should not need Thee, Lord, as now I need,

Because my dumb, dead soul knows neither hopes nor fears,

Nor dreads the outer darkness of this place,

Because I seek not, pray not, give Thou heed!”

For, alas! there have been times in the years gone by when I was even in such case, when I went wandering after strange Gods, and New Thought, and my dear, closed Bible reproached me. But of this interlude I will write in its proper place. I name it here, only that I may have the opportunity of thanking God as frequently as I possibly can, for the blessed, eternal possibility of repentance. For well I know, that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, and that

“... our place is kept, and it will wait

Ready for us to fill, soon or late;

No star is ever lost we once have seen,

We always may be, what we might have been.”

In March and April of 1883 I wrote one of the most interesting of all my Scotch novels. I began it on March twenty-fifth, and finished it on the thirtieth of April. I worked on it nine hours every day excepting four days when I only wrote eight hours. During this same time I wrote the following for Robert Bonner and Harper’s:

Mar. 25th. Finished my long paper on famous Irish women and began my novel, “Cluny MacPherson.”

Mar. 26th. At home all day writing on “Cluny MacPherson.”

Mar. 27th. Ditto.

Mar. 28th. Writing on “Cluny” all morning. Went down to several offices in afternoon. Did nothing in the evening. Had a bad headache.

Mar. 29th. Very sick headache, but wrote “Cato’s Song.”

Mar. 30th. At the last hour wrote “Two Workers” for Bonner, and he praised it very much, a great thing for him to do.

369

Mar. 31st. Very sick. Went to the dentist’s but could not have anything done.

April 1st. Wrote an “April Wedding” and worked on “Cluny.”

April 2nd. Still sick but on “Cluny,” and wrote “The Reconciliation.”

April 3rd. All day on “Cluny;” in the evening wrote “Lending a Hand.”

April 4th. All day on “Cluny.”

April 5th. All day on “Cluny.”

April 6th. All day on “Cluny,” but am feeling tired.

April 7th. On “Cluny,” very tired. A wet day and Peter Cooper’s funeral.

April 8th. On “Cluny,” and wrote a poem called “O Mollie, How I Love You!”

April 9th. On my novel nine hours.

April 10th. On my novel eight hours.

April 11th. On my novel eight hours.

April 12th. On my novel eight hours, and wrote “Two Ships.”

April 13th. On my novel nine hours.

April 14th. On my novel eight hours.

April 15th, 16th, 17th. Nine hours each.

April 18th. Very sick.

April 19th. Wrote “My Pretty Canary” and “The Little Evangel.”

April 20th. Wrote nine hours on “Cluny.”

April 21st to 28th. I wrote all day long on “Cluny,” but managed to write for Harper’s a poem called, “A Tap at the Door.”

April 29th. On “Cluny,” and wrote for Bonner a poem called, “Take Care.”

April 30th. Wrote “A Birthday,” finished “Cluny” and took it to Mr. Rand, of the Tract House.

Eleven days afterwards I saw Mr. Rand, and he told me they were reading proof, and much pleased with the book, and on February seventeenth, A.D. 1884, I received a letter from the Cluny MacPherson, chief of the clan MacPherson, thanking me 370 for such a good picture of the clan life. The letter was dated from Castle Cluny, but the chief himself filled some important office in the Queen’s Household.

Just about the time that I finished “Cluny MacPherson,” Lilly returned home at my urgent request, and we went to housekeeping in some furnished rooms at 128 East Tenth Street. Then I made a short visit to England, leaving Alice at home with her sisters, as she was very averse to taking another ocean voyage.

My visit to Glasgow this year contained one scene, which made a great impression on me, and the recent death of General Booth brings it back so vividly, that I think my readers will be interested in the picture of this early salvation service.

At that time I had thought little of the movement. What I had seen of its noisy, moblike parades, with their deafening clang of cymbals and drums, and their shouting, jumping excitement, was not calculated to enlist the sympathy of intelligent persons. But then it was not such persons Mr. Booth wished to reach. “I have been sent into the world, to do the Lord’s gutter work,” was his own definition of his mission; and certainly at that day, his methods could only appeal to those on the lowest plane of humanity.

Well, one Saturday night in June, I had been dining with an old friend living beyond Rutherglen Bridge on the east side of the city, and in returning to my hotel, I had to pass through that portion of the old town, where Hamilton Street, High Street, the Saltmarket, and the Trongate pour their night crowd into the open place around the old Cross. The rain was falling in a black, steady downpour. The ragged crowd was swaying to and fro to the sounds of drums and cornets, and above all, I heard the shrill continuous scream of a woman’s voice.

I put down the window of the carriage, and saw the woman. She was marching, with an open Bible in her hands, at the head of a noisy crowd, and reading, or rather reciting, verses from the Gospels. Her face showed deathly white from under her black hood, her voice cut the yellow dismal fog in sharp screaming octaves, her whole appearance was that of one inspired or insane, and the rain poured down on the barefooted women, 371 with ragged kilted petticoats, and wretched little babies hanging over their shoulders, who followed her. I shut the window, and shut my eyes in a kind of horror. I had a feeling, that somewhere, centuries ago, I had seen such a nightmare of black houses, and black rain, and such a heaving and tossing flood of miserable humanity, and somehow it comforted me to hope, that through the tumult, the fierce sorrowful laughter, and drunken jibes, some poor breaking heart must have heard, and understood, that woman’s shrill intensity as she called out, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I had another experience of the Salvation Army, so perfectly Scotch and so characteristic, that I think my friends will be pleased to hear it. I was coming down the old Shorehead of Arbroath, and I met a band of men and women carrying flags and singing hymns. In Glasgow I had become familiar with these parades, and had been astonished at the toleration with which they were regarded. But the men and women of Arbroath, were of a different spirit and the tumult, and abusive storm of language became so great, that I stepped inside a little shop for shelter. The proprietor, a very dry rusk of a Scotchman, in a green duffle apron, and a red Kilmarnock night cap, was standing at the open door.

“The Salvation Army?” I said inquiringly.

“Ye arena far wrang.”

“What do you think of them?”

“I’m thinking it is better for men to meddle wi’ the things o’ God, which they canna change, than wi’ those o’ the government wi’ which they can wark a’ kinds o’ mischief and mischance. Thae Irish kirns now!” Then his face flushed, angrily, and fixing his eyes on a lad who was in the procession he cried,

“If there isna my Jock wi’ thae loons! Certie, the words arena to seek, that I’ll gie him, when he wins home again!”

“Then you don’t approve of the movement?” I asked.

“What way would I do that?”

“Have you read or heard anything of Mr. Booth?”

“Ow, ay, he is just a parfect Goliath o’ conceit, but he isna the man to hold the deil, for a’ his talk.”

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“Is there a deil to hold? You know some ministers have given up the idea of personal devil,” I said; and I quite anticipated the look I got in reply,

“Have they? Ay weel, getting rid o’ the Wicked One, hasna got us rid o’ the wicked. Good day to you, ma’am. I’ll be requiring to go ben.”

These scenes were in the early days of the Salvation Army. A short time afterward, I saw Glasgow ministers of the strictest sect of the Calvinistic Pharisees, with their congregations at their heels, following the music of the Moody and Sankey evangelical movement, and I met their leaders as guests in the most exclusive religious families. After my return home Dr. Talmage, then editor of the Christian At Work, asked me to tell him frankly, which side the paper ought to take.

“The popular side,” I answered.

“Is that for, or against them?”

“For them, decidedly. Sankey’s voice draws the crowd, and then they listen to Moody’s speaking, and so the singing may lead to prayer.”

“You think it will be a success?”

“It is a success,” I answered, “and is going to a very great one.”

Then Dr. Talmage turning to Mr. B—— the active editor said, “The Christian At Work, will stand with Moody and Sankey, Mr. B——. It is the proper thing to do, I suppose?”

“Yes,” I answered, and he then asked if I had “seen anything of General Booth.”

“I have seen him several times,” I replied.

“What kind of a man is Booth?” Dr. Talmage asked.

“A big man, every way. He is the Cromwell of Dissent.” I heard that he was a passionate little Chartist when he was thirteen years old. I will tell you something, a good name is a good fortune, and the name of the Salvation Army was a kind of inspiration. One day a secretary drawing up a paper wrote, “We are a Volunteer Army,” and Mr. Booth took the pen from his hand, crossed out the word “Volunteer” and wrote in its place “Salvation.” He saw in a moment the splendid capabilities of the word, it fitted itself to the work, as promptly 373 as the stuttering out of the word “tee-to-tal” inaugurated the grand successes of the temperance cause.

They are burying William Booth today, and no one can deny that he has fought a good fight; for he, and only he and his army, reach down to that strata of humanity which has fallen below the churches; and which are emphatically “ready to perish.” And if the Salvation Army only succeeds in facing a man around, or in making him take one step upward, instead of downward, there is hope for his next reincarnation.

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CHAPTER XXII

THE LATEST GOSPEL: KNOW THY WORK AND DO IT

“What is our Life? A strange mixture of good and evil; of ill-assorted fates and pathetic acquiescences; and of the overpowering certainty of daily needs, against the world of thoughts, and Shadows.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The object of Life is to gain wisdom through experience, even one life forces us to this conclusion.”

In this year, 1883, I went to England alone, staying most of the time with Mr. Sam Wilson, who had been my friend and playmate when I was six years old. He was then a very tall fine-looking man of fifty-two years of age, with a beautiful and clever wife, and a son studying medicine in Edinburgh University. His handsome residence, with its wealth of flowers, was in the suburbs of Bradford, Yorkshire, and I remained there for many happy weeks; paying a short visit to London in the interval, and loitering some time around Glasgow, from which port I sailed to New York.

But I had a heartache all the time I was away about Mary, who I feared was going to marry, and I did not wish her to do so. I could not find one objection to the young man she intended to espouse. They had been friends for three years, and were truly attached to each other. He was a clever writer, especially for boys, and the first editor of Harper’s Young People. He was fine-looking, gentlemanly, and quite sufficiently good-hearted for the world he was living in, fond of outdoor sports of all kinds, both on land and water, and a traveler who loved ways unknown and adventurous. I believe he was the first white man who penetrated the recesses of the Everglades. Incidentally it may be noticed, that he was a great friend of the Seminole Indians, who lived in the Everglades, and that to this day, he is regarded by them as their true comrade.

So what chance had I against a lover of such manifold 375 attractions? I knew I must lose, and I thought I could bear it better at a distance. In the middle of the Atlantic one night, I dreamed that Robert came to me and said, “This morning, Mary was married to Kirk Munroe.” He said other things, but they were entirely personal, and may not be repeated; but when I awoke I was consoled and reconciled. And it has always been my way to accept the inevitable as cheerfully as possible, so I told myself “I will now forget.” If Mary was happier with a stranger, than with the mother who had cherished and loved her, and worked for her for thirty-three years, well I must be content to shave my own pleasure to increase hers. Had I not done it all the years of her life? It was no new sacrifice. But I said all such things with a swelling heart, and eyes full of unshed tears. Yet the marriage has been a singularly happy and sympathetic one, and though her home is in southern Florida, she comes every year to spend a month with me. And I am now content in her happiness.

With the main events of my business life, Mary’s marriage made no difference. I wrote constantly, and spent my days mostly in the Astor Library and Lilly or I attended to the office work, as was most convenient. The year 1884 found me writing a story called “Sandiland’s Siller” which I finished on the sixteenth of January, noting in my diary, that I was tired, having composed the last six pages, and copied the last thirty-five pages that day. On the following day I took “Sandiland’s” to Dr. Stevenson of the Illustrated Christian Weekly. I mailed a poem called “He That Is Washed” to Mr. Mabie of the Christian Union, “Three Wishes” to The Advance, two little verses to Puck, and wrote “The Household Thrush” for Mr. Bonner. The first three poems had been written at intervals, while I was working on “Sandiland’s Siller;” “The Household Thrush,” only, was written on the seventeenth. About this latter poem the following incident occurred. It contained five verses, the length Mr. Bonner preferred, and the first three verses referred to the thrush. Mr. Bonner read it, and then turning to Lilly said,

“Too much bird, before you come to the girl.”

“Take some of the bird away, Mr. Bonner,” answered Lilly; 376 and he smiled, cut out one verse, and handed her ten dollars. There were things about Mr. Bonner writers did not like, but all appreciated his clever criticisms, and his prompt payment. When Lilly came home and laughingly told me this story I was much amused. We had a merry little lunch together, and then I made three pencil drawings to illustrate an article called “The Fishers of Fife” which I intended to begin the following day.

The list of work done by me from this time to the twenty-sixth of May is hardly credible. On that day I fell from the library steps while sitting on them reading, and hurt my foot and my neck very much. The next day I had a high fever, and was suffering severely from nervous shock. For nine days I was unable to do anything, and by that time the swollen condition of my throat was alarming, and I sent for Dr. Fleuhrer, a very clever surgeon. For fourteen more days I was under his care, then I began to improve, so that on

June 24th. I began an article on the Scotch Highlands for Mr. Mabie.

June 25th. I was writing on the same. Still in bed but mending slowly.

June 26th. Finished and copied the Highland article.

June 27th. I began “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” and on this day also received fifty-five pounds from London for work done for The Leisure Hour and the Sunday Magazine. Lilly was down at Bonner’s when the checks came, but as soon as I showed them to her, she said,

“Mamma, we have now plenty of money to furnish comfortably. Don’t you want your own home, Mamma?”

“O Lilly!” I cried, “there is nothing on earth I want so much. Dear, dear child, go and look for what will suit us. Go tomorrow! Go this afternoon!”

So that afternoon Lilly went home hunting, and I wrote happily on “Jan Vedder’s Wife” and Alice sat sewing beside me, touching my hand every now and then and smiling. On the twenty-eighth the flat suitable was found, and on the thirtieth I managed to get into a cab and go home. All was in confusion, but such happy confusion, that we did not think of sleeping until midnight.

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In a week the new home was in perfect order, and I was able to be on the sofa, and to write “Jan Vedder’s Wife” more swiftly and comfortably. So sweet was home! So good was home, that I now felt all things possible, and really I had not been as happy, since Robert and I went into the wood cottage with its domestic ceilings, in Austin, and turned it into the prettiest and happiest of dwellings. Lilly and Alice furnished the rooms as they desired, and I was quite pleased and full of content.

And it was a great joy when the eleventh of July came round to find that my wedding anniversary was not now to be forgotten. In hotels it had seemed out of place to keep it. I do not know why, but it had always slipped past with a kiss and a word or two. But on this happy day, Lilly set a fine dinner, and Mary sent a wedding cake; we had a bottle of sparkling Moselle, and drank silently but lovingly to the memory of those of our household dwelling in the City Celestial; and our tears of love and hope made the wine sacramental—a pledge and token of our remembrance and our thanksgiving.

There does not seem much to write about in the life of a woman lame and sick, and confined to a flat in an upper Park Avenue. But our existence is always a story, for the fruit of life is experience, not happiness. And every experience that helps us in our ultimate aim of becoming a Spiritual Being, though it be as trite as suffering, is worthy of being considered. Chesterton calls Christ’s counsel to “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” an amazing command. To the majority it is an amazing command, but writers who love their work understand it. I was busy on “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” and so interested in the story that I forgot I was sick, and the processes of convalescence went right on without my regarding them. When the story was finished I read it to Lilly. It was then complete in four chapters, and she listened to them with critical interest, and when I laid down the manuscript said,

“It is too good for a short story, Mamma; make it into a novel. You have sufficient material and characters, and if 378 the latter are more fully drawn out, the material will be better.”

“But,” I asked, “can we afford it? I shall get one hundred and fifty for it from the Christian Union just as it is, and we need the money.”

“No, we do not,” she replied, “and if we did, I would still say, write it over, Mamma. It is a shame not to write it fully, just because we might want five dollars;” and she pushed my paper and pencils towards me with an encouraging smile. Then I began it all over, and added nearly two hundred pages. When all were corrected and copied I sent it by Lilly to Mr. Bonner. For once this reticent man broke his usual custom, and commented on the work in “the straight-flung words and few,” which reflected him.

“It is a good story, a fine story,” he said. “Take it to Dodd, Mead and Company. It will suit them. It is too good for the Ledger.”

And when Lilly came home, and told me what Mr. Bonner had said, there flashed across my mind a dream I had had a week previously, in which Robert had given me the same advice. Christ said, that if one rose from the dead to inform, or direct us, we would not believe their message, and evidently I had not believed the dead, until they spoke through a mortal whose business capacities I trusted. I have often reproached myself on this score, but—Oh, there is no “but.” I have no excuse for my want of faith.


Miss Mary Barr
(Mrs. Kirk Munroe)

I had finished the novel of “Jan Vedder’s Wife” on the sixteenth of September, 1884, the seventeenth anniversary of Robert’s death, and on October, the twelfth, I gave up the regular use of crutches, though my foot was extremely weak and painful, and I had nearly constant headaches. But on this date, I began a story called “Janet McFarlane,” which I finished on the twenty-first and sent to the Advance. On the twenty-sixth I began a story called “Paul and Christina,” which was published in the Christian Union and afterwards enlarged to book size and published by Dodd, Mead and Company. On the twenty-eighth, I note that “Mary and Kirk Munroe took tea with us,” so I had by that time conquered my dislike to her 379 marriage; for I do not ask people to eat with me, if I have any ill will toward them. Those who do not understand me, will perhaps live to do so, for

“... soon or late the fact grows plain,

To all through sorrow’s test,

The only folks who give us pain,

Are those we love the best.”

On the first of November I was at the Astor Library again, but did not dare to go upstairs to my alcove. On the second of November I was finishing “Paul and Christina” began on the twenty-sixth of October. On the second, third and fourth of November I was at the library, and on the fifth so ill, I had to summon Dr. Fleuhrer’s help again. I was sick for a week then reviewed and corrected “Paul and Christina” and took it in the afternoon to the Christian Union. On the same day the Sisters from a Religious Order, living near us, began to teach Alice. I say “Sisters” because they were not allowed to go anywhere alone, so one came to teach, and the other came, for what purpose I know not. On the nineteenth I wrote “Going to Church Together,” a poem for Bonner, and a New Year’s article for the Illustrated Christian Weekly; Kirk came to tea. Mary was in Boston with his father and mother. The following day I was at the library and wrote “Lacordaire Dying.” On the twenty-third I wrote “Mary,” a Christmas poem, and Kirk came to tea; we had a pleasant evening, and I wrote in my diary, “He is a nice fellow, after all.” On the twenty-fifth I arranged with the Christian Union for the first study of “Paul and Christina.” They gave me one hundred and twenty dollars, and on the twenty-seventh of November, A.D. 1884, I received a letter from Dodd, Mead and Company accepting “Jan Vedder’s Wife.” It happened to be Thanksgiving Day, and this letter made it a memorable one, for it altered the whole course of my life. I had this letter framed, and it hangs now before me in my study as I write. Time has faded the four lines it contained, but they are graven on memory’s tablet, and the yellow paper and nearly colorless ink cannot hide from me the words 380 of Promise it contained. On the twenty-eighth I saw Mr. Frank Dodd, and arranged with him for the publication of “Jan Vedder’s Wife.” He gave me three hundred dollars for the book, promising to add to this sum if it sold well, and I may mention here, that he subsequently sent me five hundred dollars more. He sent it of his own free will. I made neither claim nor request for it.

Lilly was very proud of this sale, because, as I have related, the book was written at her request. I had not been so far as fortunate with my publishers, as with my editors. Mr. B—— of Appleton’s, with whom I transacted the business relating to my volume on the “Children of Shakespeare’s Dramas,” was an unhappy, unpleasant man to deal with; but he is dead, and I think the Scotch reluctance to speak ill of the dead is at least a wise observance. The publisher of “Cluny MacPherson,” and a volume of “Scottish Tales” was hard and dry as a brush. He had some selfish ideas about the society he represented, but he had no feelings. He had ceased to live with his heart. Mr. Jack Howard was just unfortunate. He was the publisher of the Christian Union and my book, “Romances and Realities,” came out just before the house failed, so that I never received a dollar for it. But that was not Mr. Howard’s fault. He was always courteous and generous about any work I did for him.

Lilly was very proud and happy because, as I have related, the book was written by her advice. “And what do you think of Mr. Dodd, Mamma?” she asked, as we eat drinking tea together. “Is he pleasant? Will you like to write for him?”

“Yes,” I answered. “He is pliant, yet resistant. I dare say he keeps his heart within his head, and so makes an even balance between business keenness and moral emotions.”

“I do not see that, Mamma.”

“It is plain enough, Lilly. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions. So is the heart. We may often trust the latter most safely. I do. Mr. Dodd would consult both.”

“Is he a religious man?”

“How can I tell? I think so, but I am quite sure he is a straight, clean-living man.”

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“Is he nice looking?”

“Quite as nice as there is any necessity to be. The spirit of his face is attractive—that is enough.”

“Is he anything like A——?

“Walking majestically, and radiating awe and temper. No, Lilly, not in the least.”

“Or like B——?”

“Self-conscious to the finger tips. No, not in the least.”

“Then like F——?”

“A Philistine, proud of his class, and cheerfully living in Ascalon. No, you are far wrong yet.”

“Then like Dr. D——?”

“When his conscience is taking its usual six days’ sleep. No, you have not guessed at any resemblance. Publishers are as distinct a type of manhood as schoolmasters. They are even different from press men and editors. The latter are often compelled by their duties to waste their moral strength in politics, and their intellect in party journalism. Publishers can mind their own business, and are in no way injured by doing so.”

Thus we talked, as we eat and drank, but without any ill-nature. With the kindly race of editors I had, and have, the strongest sympathies. All that I have known have been kind and helpful to me, and if at times they showed a trifle of the petty unreasonableness of men dressed in a little brief authority, it did not hurt me. I said to myself—how true and striking that phrase is—I said to myself, “It is not you that offends, Amelia. It is something at his home, or down in the office—an unpleasant breakfast, or a disagreeable letter.” So I bore no rancor, and at the next interview all was right. God was very kind and thoughtful for me, when he set me my work among such a kindly, clever, gentlemanly class of workers as editors.

And I confess that I like people with tidal fluctuations of mood and temper. They are full of surprises; you always feel an interest in them. You think about them, and talk of them, and feel that they are as human as yourself. They are far more pleasant than men always cold, businesslike, reticent, polite. These latter are the men you desire to see in bronze, or marble, or even in encyclopedias, rather than in editorial 382 chairs. Even if they are religiously perfect, they are unpleasant in a newspaper sanctum. For it is a trial to our faith in creeds, to find that in business matters, the justified are as selfish and unlovely as the reprobate. So though it is quite correct, that two and two make four, I have a liking for the man with whom the sum of two and two is variable. It is often five and six with me, and it may be ten or twenty, but when it is so, I trust humanity and love God best of all.

If I now copy the closing entry in my diary for the year 1884, it most truly describes my condition at that time.

Dec. 31st. A day of great suffering. I am still very far from well. I have been seven months ill. How my heart would have quailed at the prospect but God has been sufficient. My throat is very bad, my foot, also, and I am generally weary and worn out—and very feeble. Only, thank God, my mind never fails, nor my heart—often. I know in Whom I have trusted for fifty-three years, and I can trust Him for all the rest. I have been copying the “Preacher’s Daughter,” but twenty-four pages wearied me. Mary is in Florida. All the rest as usual. God of my Fathers, accept my gratitude for all Thy great mercies to me.

Amelia E. Barr.

1507 Park Avenue, N.Y.

I open 1885 with the following lines:

Commit Thy ways unto the Lord.

Thy Bread shall be given, and thy water sure.

Let thy widows trust in me.

The first and the last of these directions, were given to me in answer to prayer; the center one was my father’s promise to me, when I bid him farewell forever in this life. I notice, nevertheless, that I am anxious about money matters, that I have six hundred dollars owing me, and cannot collect a dollar, and that I fear the Ledger is not in good circumstances; nothing has been said, I write, and all appears the same, but I feel a change of some kind. I was copying the “Preacher’s Daughter,” but was weak, and it was hard work.

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On the fifth of January I note that Dodd, Mead and Company paid me three hundred dollars for “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” and that I had a letter from London promising me money for my work soon, and that I also received a small check from The Advance. So once more I found out how good it is to commit my way unto the Lord, and that He brings things to pass, I cannot move. On the eleventh I see that Lilly was out all day among the shanties with Father B——, a Catholic priest “in the world,” a man of great mercy and piety, with an intellect keen and well cultivated. There were many shanties on the rocks in our vicinity, and Lilly’s missionary spirit had led her to make friends in all of them. She found them Roman Catholics in theory, but altogether negligent in practice. So she took Father B—— to stir up their faith, which he did with an authority they feared and obeyed.

I was ill and nervous at the time, and it did not please me. I asked her what her Grandmother Barr would say, and I assured her she would never leave her a shilling.

“I don’t care either for her shillings or her pounds,” Lilly answered. “I don’t want them. If I have helped one soul back to its faith in God, or even to its faith in good angels to help it to God, that is better than all the gold in Scotland.”

“Angels!” I said. “Do you call Father B—— an angel? and what kind of a way will he lead them?”

“A good way. The way of prayer. And also he will see that they take it. Now that he has found these few sheep in the wilderness, they will have to go back to the fold. That will be good for them everyway.”

“Well, Lilly, I hope you will not take his way.”

“Mamma, dear, we are all going to God, and some like the Roman Catholic way. My own forefathers for eight hundred years did so. They could not all be wrong—abbotts and priors and priests and nuns, all of them. They could not all be wrong.”

“Nor right.”

“Well none of us can deny that while the Huddlestons were of the old profession, they were famous and prosperous. They 384 turned Protestant when that little German body that couldn’t speak a word of English, came to govern us. The idea!”

“Are you going to turn Catholic after all?”

“I am going to be just what my Bible makes me.”

For I may as well state here that Lilly, though born in the very citadel of Calvinism, was a natural Catholic. She loved its ritual, and frequently went to confession. At one time it took all my pleading and influence, and all Dr. Tyng’s eloquence to keep her out of a convent, and I had a year or two of constant fear and watchfulness. This was the year we lived on Lexington Avenue opposite the Dominican Church. There was at that time a priest there called Father McKenna, a holy man entirely separate from the world, night and day either before the altar, or among the most miserable of the living and the dying; and I think he was her inspiration.

For long centuries Lilly’s ancestors had been priests in the old profession, and Furness Abbey is full of their memorial stones as Abbotts of that rich and powerful brotherhood. Catholicism was in her heart and her blood, and she was animated by all the passionate missionary spirit of the old faith. I had much suffering and long months of miserable anxiety on this subject, and doubtless Lilly was just as unhappy, but this is one of those domestic tragedies not for the public ear, and I do not know how I came to write so much about it.

I will, however, let it stand, for I would not be astonished if she yet went back to the Roman Church. Her soul has evidently belonged to it in all its incarnations, and I know that whenever she is in trouble or perplexity she goes to a Catholic priest for advice. One day I asked her, “Why?”

“Because,” she answered, “they never snub or ask me ‘whose daughter art thou.’ They know immediately that I am a Protestant, but they never turn me away. Kindly, and without prejudice they give me the best advice. It never comes out wrong.”

“But why not go to God for advice?”

“Mamma, there are things, like love letters, for instance. Would you go to God with them?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Love letters may be very important 385 things. At any rate, your mother might be better than a priest.”

“Mamma, dear, you know that you have a fixed conviction that love affairs should only occur in books. Now Frank is not a ‘character,’ he is a real, living, very delightful man.”

Then I said no more, for Frank Morgan was then a very sore subject of conversation, and I really was not sure in my own mind what I had against the young man. His parents were wealthy, and he was their only son. He was the captain of his company, handsome, gentlemanly, and particularly respectful and attentive to myself. It was hard to think wrong of him, and yet I did; and it was no use my deciding not to do so, for I invariably went back to my first impressions. This feeling made me patient, and perhaps less watchful and inquisitive than I should have been.

But during the first half of 1885 I was very weak, and seldom out of pain, and on the eighteenth of January I went to see Dr. Fleuhrer, who made me very anxious. He said work and company were killing me, and I must go to the mountains and live more in solitude. When I went home I found Mrs. Van Duzen there, and after dinner Nat Urner and his wife came to spend the evening. The next morning I went to the Methodist Book Concern and wrote a preface for “The Hallam Succession,” a novel written at Dr. Vincent’s request on purely Methodist lines. I wanted to do my very best on this book; for I liked Dr. Vincent, and I liked to write of Methodism, but I did not please myself at all. I was really too sick to write well, and I ought not to have attempted it.

On the twenty-sixth Lilly was at Harper’s and found Miss Van Dyne removed from her place as editress of Young People, and Mr. Conant’s office empty. She said there was general silence and distress; no one would talk, and she came away full of a sense of great trouble. Two days afterwards I went to the Illustrated Christian Weekly, and was shocked to see on the bulletin boards of all the newspapers “S. S. Conant Still Missing.”

I did not stop to read what followed. I was sick at heart, trembling, and glad to get safely into an empty Third Avenue 386 horse-car, and lean for support against its upper-end corner. All the way uptown I was like a woman in a dream, for I was indeed living over a dream I had had a few days previously. This dream had troubled me much at the time, and when I related it to Lilly she listened silently, and made no remark but the following:

“It was an evil dream, and I hope S. S. C. is not going to be ill.”

We seldom called Mr. Conant by his full name. When speaking of him we used his initials, as indeed he generally did himself. S. S. C. stood in every writer’s mind for S. S. Conant. Well, I had dreamed three nights previously of standing in Park Row and looking up to an angry cloud-tossed sky. On this sky I saw the initials S. S. C. blazoned in immense black letters, and, as I watched, great masses of vengeful storm clouds came swiftly toward them, and drove them with a wild passion over the firmament, and out of sight. The dream made a profound impression on me, and when Lilly told me S. S. C. was lost, I answered, “He will not be found.”

“O Mamma, do not say that,” she cried. “When he left the office, he said he was going to the Grand Central Railway Station. How can a man be lost between Harper’s building and the Grand Central—unless he killed himself.”

“He did not do that,” I answered, and then we were silent. Indeed, to me the great wonder of the mysterious disappearance was the dislike of any one to speak of it. The man passed away like a dream that is told.

But I was anxious and unhappy. For years Mr. Conant had bought a large part of my work, and I looked upon him as a sure reliance. Who would take his place? I knew not, but I felt there had been one door closed forever. Then, I bid myself remember, “that as one door shuts, another opens; and that all the keys of the country did not hang from the Harper’s belt.” Still the little poem I wrote for Bonner that night shows the loneliness and longing I had for the love and protection once mine, which I had taken as I had taken hitherto my wonderful health and strength, and the daily bread that had never failed me:

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LOVED TOO LATE

Year after year with glad content

In and out of our home he went,

In and out;

Ever for us the skies were clear,

His heart carried the care and fear,

The care and doubt.

Our hands held with a careless hold,

All that he won of honor and gold,

In toil and pain;

O dear hands, that our burdens bore!

Hands that shall toil for us no more,

Never again!

Oh, it was hard to learn our loss,

Bearing daily the heavy cross,

The cross he bore;

To say with an aching heart and head,

Would to God that the Love now dead

Were here once more!

For when the Love we held too light,

Was gone away from our speech and sight,

No bitter tears,

No passionate words of fond regret,

No yearning grief could pay the debt,

Of thankless years.

Oh, now while the sweet Love lingers near,

Grudge not the tender words of cheer,

Leave none unsaid;

For the heart can have no sadder fate,

Than some day to awake—too late—

And find Love dead.

Mr. Conant’s disappearance precipitated events. I felt it so much that I could not but understand how far below my usual health I had fallen. I was sitting thinking of various places to 388 which I might retire, and yet keep in touch with my business, when Mrs. Orr of Cornwall-on-Hudson called. When we were together on the Devonia she had often spoken of Cornwall, and the mountains and river which made it such a beautiful and healthful resort; and when I told her of my desire to come to the country, she offered me a house called Overlook, near their own. The next day Lilly went to see the place, found it roomy and comfortable, and standing on the top of a hill, and she rented it for the following six months. It seemed on the road to nowhere, but it would give me solitude and fine mountain air, and these things, with less work, were all that was required to restore my usual splendid health and spirits. Dr. Fleuhrer stipulated with me to stay six months in Cornwall, and I intended to do so; but I did not intend to stay the twenty-seven years which I have done.

The clear, pure air and the quiet began its restorative work at once, and it was at this time I commenced a custom which I have observed ever since—that is, I went to my room at nine o’clock, no matter who, or how many were present, and I am sure I owe much of my good health and “staying power” to this custom. I do not sleep from nine to six, but I lie at rest in loose garments, and in the rebuilding darkness. Most of my mental work is prepared in this seclusion, my plots are laid, my characters conceived, and my background and motif determined.

We removed to Cornwall on the second of March, 1885, and on the twenty-sixth I received my first copy of “Jan Vedder’s Wife.” It had been on the market more than a week, but in my seclusion I had not heard of it. It was Dr. Lyman Abbott who gave me the first news that the book had brought me instant favor and recognition. Lilly was on the train going to the Ledger office one Friday, which was the only day Mr. Bonner received contributions, and Dr. Abbott came to her and said, “Tell your mother ‘Jan Vedder’ has made her famous. Everyone is reading it, and everyone is praising it.” Then Lilly had to pass Dodd, Mead and Company’s store, then on Broadway and Ninth Street, and she saw their windows full of large placards bearing the words “Jan Vedder’s Wife” in large letters; at the Ledger’s office she met Mr. Munkitterick, who gave her one of his delightful 389 exaggerations about the beauty of the tale, and its great success. I often wonder where Munkitterick has gone to. No one could write such poems as he could. Mr. Bonner bought all he could get, and they were the gems of the Ledger. So clever, so witty, so good-hearted, what has become of such a rare man? I hope that he has all his desires, wherever he may be.

The record of March is a very happy one in regard to my work, and on the twenty-ninth, my fifty-fourth birthday, I wrote, “All is white and deep with snow, but I feel so much better. I thank God for the mercies of the past year. Over and over He has saved my life, and He has abundantly supplied my wants. My dear God, go forward with me, for I cannot direct my own steps, but with Thee, I am always safe and happy.”

During April I was steadily and rapidly improving, and very content and peaceful, so much so, that eight lines chronicles this month, and these lines refer mainly to the letters from Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Habberton, who was then on the staff of the New York Herald, both of them in praise of “Jan.” I said once, happiness is not written down. That is the truth. It is the unhappy, anxious months whose records cover pages; this happy April needed only eight lines.

Much the same conditions with regard to my work continued, and in health and strength I gained steadily. On the sixteenth of May I had a letter from Mr. Libbey, which I prized very highly. He told me that he had watched with great pleasure my steady progress, that he had never lost sight of my brave struggle, and was glad that he had been given the opportunity of helping me when I needed help. If Queen Victoria had written me the words of praise he did, I should not have been half so proud and pleased. I had to put aside my work that day; I was too happy to sit still and write. Mr. Libbey was my first friend in New York. He took me at my own word, and I thank God I had been able to more than make it good. I was purely and sincerely delighted. All the world seemed beautiful that day, and I went to my room and, kneeling down, not only thanked God, but told Robert all about the joy in my heart. I thought God would permit him to share it, and I believe He did.

Some time ago I had sent the novel called “The Last of the 390 McAllisters,” which Mr. Henry Holt had praised but refused, to a London magazine, and in June they published it. I ought, of course, to have secured its sale in the United States, but I was yet ignorant of my right to sell both in England and America, and when Harper Brothers pirated it, and sent me what they called an honorarium of fifty dollars I thought it was very kind of them. I had no suspicion that I had been politely robbed, though I did notice a singular expression cross Mr. Mead’s face when I told him of the circumstance. Subsequently Dodd, Mead and Company paid me one hundred dollars to make over to them the American rights in the book.

During all this time I kept up my regular contributions to the papers for which I had so long written, for my books did not bring me enough to warrant my giving up my time to novel writing. At the same time I was writing another, and a better, story for the Methodist Book Concern, called “The Lost Silver of Briffault,” which I finished on the nineteenth of July. I was able by this time to take in the manuscript myself, and after leaving it with Dr. Hunt, I went to the Astor Library and worked there, until the twenty-eighth, making notes and reading for the New York story I had been so long contemplating.

The first morning I went to the library I found my alcove, table and chair, had been taken possession of by a man who looked intelligent, but who was common and ill-mannered. He did not speak to me, or even look at me, when I entered with a boy carrying his arms full of books. If he had done either, I know I should have said, “Sit still, sir, you will not incommode me, and I hope I shall not annoy you.” But he just glared, and dropped his eyes, and so, with a slight apology for displacing some paper—my paper, which he was freely using—I sat down at the other end of the table, which was large, even for two writers.

I could have forgotten he was there, if he would have sat still, but he fidgeted and sighed, and showed such signs of annoyance, that I was not a bit sorry when Professor Valentine came in with a joyful “welcome back” to me; and then launched into his usual enthusiasm, concerning Central America and its buried cities. Mr. Saunders followed, and, with his courtly English 391 civilities about my health and my work, easily passed ten minutes. Then a scholarly clergyman connected with the Churchman, had something to ask me, and he was quickly joined by Professor Norton—not my starry friend—but an old editor of one department in the Christian Union; and we three found something to talk about for nearly half an hour. Every now and then some press writer came to ask help from my index, and though I myself was vexed at the interruptions, I was mean enough to be consoled, because the man at the other end of my table was as much disturbed as a man could be.

The next day I was sorry, and I intended to make him welcome, but he had gone as far from me as he could get, and all I could do was to make an apology, which he received in an injured, sulky temper, that astonished me; for I have always found real scholars, the best and easiest tempered men in the world. Afterwards, I asked Mr. Saunders who the man was, and he told me he was a teacher, writing a mathematical text-book. Then I fully excused him. The work was accountable for the temper. For though mathematics may teach a man how to build a bridge, it is what the Scotch Universities call the humanities, that teach him to be civil and sweet-tempered.

In August I wrote to Holland for some directions about the Dutch forms of speech, for one of the Astor librarians who spoke the Dutch language, told me always to remember that the Dutch of the period I wish to write of, thought in Dutch, even if they spoke in English. Thus, he instanced, an Englishman would say, “Spring will soon be here,” but a Dutchman would say, “We come near to the Spring.” So then a knowledge of Dutch forms was necessary, and he told me what books to write for. When I had sent off this letter, I considered that my preparations for writing “The Bow of Orange Ribbon” were complete.

They had extended over nearly two years. An historical novel was a new venture, and as I had leisure I had been making myself familiar with the history of the time, and the ways of colonial dressing and housekeeping. Indeed, I had perhaps an exaggerated idea of the necessity of a truthful background, and I have never got over that impression. I am sure that I may 392 fairly claim, that my historical tales of New York are faithful pictures of whatever epoch I am using.

But, though I had done all I could do until the writing of the book should gradually reveal whatever was yet lacking, I did not begin it. I was waiting for the books from Amsterdam; and I commenced meanwhile, on the first of September, a tale of the fishers of Fife, for that particular humanity and locality was perfectly familiar to me. But by my visit to the library I had brought on a return of the trouble in my foot, and I was writing in bed all September, often twelve hours a day, so that I had finished “A Daughter of Fife” on the third of October. Then I went over it, corrected all errors, and sent it to Dodd, Mead on the ninth. I will insert here an amusing letter from one of Fife’s daughters—one of a great many; for the story was a favorite, especially among the Scotch.

Mrs. Amelia Barr:

I have just read “A Daughter of Fife” and I want to say to you, that however well you have portrayed the characteristics of the women of Fife, you have done remarkably well in representing some of the traits of a daughter of Fife; and that is myself. When I was the age of Maggie, I would have sent Aunt Janet back to her home, or thrashed her, or made my own exit in a great deal quicker time than Maggie did, I assure you.

The trust and confidence in the Lord is much the same. The independence is somewhat more pronounced in my case—quoting a phrase—people tell me, if I should fall in the river, I would float up stream. My mother read the book first, and noted the resemblance.

I just write this to tell you, how amusingly near to life, and near to home, your story is.

I am respectfully,

Lydey Fife.
Bascom, Ohio,
February 22, 1904.

I then employed myself in writing a short story for the Illustrated Christian Weekly called “Bread Upon the Waters,” and I also wrote a number of poems to keep the columns of the 393 Ledger and other papers open to me. On the fifteenth of October I had a letter from Mr. Clark of the Christian World, London, asking me for another novel, and I immediately began “Between Two Loves,” which I finished on Thanksgiving Day, the twenty-sixth of November, and, after reviewing and correcting it, sent it to London, on the second of December. Then there was Christmas and New Year’s work to be done, and I did not really begin “The Bow of Orange Ribbon” until the twenty-eighth of December.

On the last day of this year I was working on “The Bow.” It had been a wonderful year full of great mercies and strange sorrows. During it “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” “The Hallam Succession,” and “The Lost Silver of Briffault” had been published; and “The Last of the McAllisters,” pirated. I had regained my health, and my foot only asked to be used with some mercy and discretion. Though I had lived very simply, I had been comfortable, and had had no care about money matters. As to what went on in my soul, I shall say nothing here. I ought to have been a happy woman, but I was unhappy in my domestic life. I was sure that Lilly was resolved to marry Captain Morgan. He came to see her constantly, and wrote to her once, frequently twice, a day. His influence pervaded the house, darkened my life, and made my success of no consequence.

Hitherto my desire or advice had been sufficient for Lilly, but now they were nothing against a sheet of paper. Only a sheet of paper, written over in a bold, much frescoed style, and there was nothing I could say that could stand against it. The sunlight had gone from my days, and life felt haggard and thin without Lilly’s sympathy. I did not blame her much. My position appeared to her unreasonable. I knew nothing wrong of Captain Morgan, and I had been shown a letter which proved him a favorite with his company.

“Why will you think wrong of Frank, Mamma?” she asked one day. “Nobody says wrong of him.”

“But I have an undeniable intuition that something is wrong,” I said.

“Intuition!” she cried. “That is not fair, Mamma. I am willing to listen to reason, but intuition, no.”

394

“Yet, Lilly,” I answered, “reason is only human perplexity. If we know, and are sure of a thing, we don’t reason about it. Intuition is far above reason. It is absolute knowledge. It comes from the spiritual region of our nature, and makes the mind knowing, and the object known, one. It never deceives.”

“Then I say, it ought to be more precise. It tells you to beware of Frank, it ought also to tell you why.”

“If there is a finger-post on the sea sands with the word ‘danger’ on it, is it necessary to say what kind of danger? If you value your life, you just give it a wide berth.”

Such conversations were frequent, but I knew well that they were useless. I only succeeded in delaying, what was sure to come. And Lilly never succeeded in changing in the least my opinion of her lover. Now,

“Who forged that other influence?

That heat of inward evidence,

By which I doubted against sense.”

The first part of 1886 I was busy on “The Bow of Orange Ribbon,” and various poems and articles for the Ledger, Advance, and Independent. On February, the second, I note that I added four verses to “The Beggars of the Sea,” a poem in the early part of the book. On the ninth I notice a great labor riot in London with the comment “the beginning—plenty more to follow.” I did not say this from intuition, but from a dream I had recently had. In this dream, I saw the flags of all nations strung across the firmament, and they were blown hither and thither in the midst of flame and thunders and lightnings, and great multitudes fighting below. And I thought the date was set, but not yet.

On the twenty-fifth of February, I had written two hundred pages of “The Bow.” On the first of March I had two hundred and thirty pages composed and had been copying all day. On the third I only wrote seven pages, having a blinding headache. On this day I got “The Last of the McAllisters” in Harper’s Handy Series, and I was rather pleased, not yet knowing how unfair and unjust was their possession of it. On March thirteenth 395 I had finished two hundred and ninety-three pages of “The Bow.”

March 14th. I was writing all day; had a sore throat.

15th. Writing all day. Throat very bad.

16th. Ditto. Mrs. Orr to tea.

17th. Writing all day on “The Bow.”

18th. Ditto. Finished 325 pages.

19th. Very sick but wrote seventeen pages.

20th. Finished 343 pages. Still sick.

21st. Wrote all day.

22nd. Finished 373 pages.

23rd. Working on “The Bow” all day.

24th. Finished “The Bow of Orange Ribbon,” 404 pages.

29th. My fifty-fifth birthday. I was sick and tired and uncertain. I sat still all day, not realizing until the book was done, and out of my hands, how weary I was. But I was not unhappy. Lilly still ordered my home, and I caught her brave, happy look every time I asked it with my smile. And I thought over all the work I had done the past year, and stretched out my right hand to God, for He knew I had done it faithfully, and could say with McAndrews,

“I ha’ lived an’ I ha’ worked,

All thanks to Thee Most High,

An’ I ha’ done, what I ha’ done—judge

Thou, if ill or well—

Always Thy Grace preventin’ me.”

On the fourteenth of April, I went to Dodd, Mead’s about “The Bow.” They had many doubts and disparagements. Such a Dutchman as Joris was not natural, and was I sure that Lady Godon and her set spoke English as I had represented them? Now I had spent many weeks in studying the court English of the time, and had collected all my forms from Horace Walpole’s and Lord Chesterfield’s letters, et cetera, because it was in correspondence and familiar writing I expected to find 396 the social forms most prevalent. I do not now remember the other criticisms, because I tried to forget them, feeling sure that the book, when published and reviewed, would justify me. I kept a stiff upper lip until I got home, then I broke down. I suppose if I had been a man, I should have said some bad words, being a woman I cried bitterly.

I had expected praise, and had received only doubts and hesitations, but it must be remembered, that it was an entirely new kind of novel, and that Irving’s caricatures of Dutchmen, had formed the popular idea of the early settlers of New Amsterdam. But among these settlers, there were many wealthy men, sons of old Leyden University, and many women who had grown to their rosy grace and refinement in exquisitely ordered homes, wherein the fear of God, and family affection was the law of their lives.

I did not go again about “The Bow” until the fourteenth of May, when Dodd, Mead offered me six hundred dollars for it, promising to pay me more if the book sold well. I have never received any more.

In the meantime I had begun, on the twenty-sixth of April, a novel called “The Squire of Sandalside,” and I finished it in July. Then I went to England very unexpectedly, being led to do so by the following incident:

A prominent editor and literary man of New York, sent me a letter asking me to call on him. I thought he wanted a novel, and I went to see him. His object was very different. He asked me to tell him how much money I had received from Mr. Clark of the Christian World for the English rights of my novels. I told him, of course, that Mr. Clark had paid me nothing. Then he explained the subject fully to me, and advised me to go to see Mr. Clark at once. Finally, he asked me to promise, that in speaking of the subject I would never, never name him as my informer. He was so particular about this, that I made the promise, and have faithfully kept it.

He said he had told me, because he pitied my ignorance, and I felt no gratitude to the man; for I distrusted him, and had a 397 reason for doing so, that he was far from suspecting. I found myself worried, and even cross, when I got home, and Lilly said, “You ought to have gone to Mr. Dodd with this story, Mamma.” “No,” I answered, “it might annoy him without reason. He probably knows nothing about it.” Then we spoke of Dodd, Mead paying me five hundred dollars more on “Jan Vedder’s Wife,” because the book sold well; five hundred that I never claimed, or asked for.

Three days afterwards I went to England, but it was no pleasure trip. I had a heartache about the business, and I did not like to leave Lilly and Alice in such a lonely place without friends, or even acquaintances. But the sea air made me strong, and though the business was hateful to me, I got through it better than I expected.

Mr. Clark listened silently to my story, though I was quite aware of his sympathy. In reply he said, the money unfortunately was lost to me. He had paid others in good faith, supposing they were acting for me, but that in future he would deal directly with myself. He then and there made an arrangement with me for my next novel, which was called “Paul and Christina,” the study for which story had already appeared in the Christian Union.

He asked me to his house to stay over Sunday, and I went; for I had a curiosity to see how English publishers lived. And I was greatly impressed with his home, its surroundings and furnishings. It was a perfect example of the breadth, solidity, and the last-for-ever kind of chairs, tables, et cetera, which are found in the best English residences. There was a kind of sumptuousness about it, that was never vulgar, nothing in any room screamed, and the effect was very reposeful. I have tried to recall some examples, more particularly, but I can remember nothing but the dinner knives, which were of the finest Indian steel, wonderfully polished, and having exquisite onyx handles. That is a little thing to have remembered, but it typifies the whole.

Mr. Clark was a pleasant English gentleman, with just a trace of the schoolmaster in his manner. And he was one of the finest scholars in English literature I ever met. Indeed I think 398 he was the finest. Under my father’s care I had become thoroughly acquainted with English authors of an early date, especially those of Cromwell’s and Anne’s time, and during the past fifteen years’ study in the Astor Library, I had read carefully those of later date; but I could not quote a line from any writer, that he did not instantly place, and likely give also the preceding and following lines. He was a good man, too, I am sure; one that feared God, and dealt fairly with his fellows.

I did not remain long in England. Something always drew me northward and, without staying in Edinburgh, I went to the pretty watering place of Burntisland. They are “cannie Scots” that live in Burntisland, and always have been. Even when besieged by Oliver Cromwell, they did not lose sight of their own interests for Prince Charles’ sake; for they offered to open their gates to Cromwell, if he would pave their streets, and improve their harbor. And Cromwell kept his part of the obligation so well, that the harbor, with some modern additions, is yet one of the best on the east of Scotland.

From there I went to Kirkcaldy, and once more walked up the High Street to look at the house in which Adam Smith wrote his “Wealth of Nations.” I don’t know why I did it. I never opened the “Wealth of Nations,” and I cared nothing about Adam Smith. In fact, I gave up looking at his house with impatience, and went to the old Tower of Balwearie, where Michael Scott, the famous wizard, lived. For I knew if I sat still long enough in its eerie shadows, I should find the wizard beside me.

But I suddenly wearied altogether of my solitary travel, and took the first train back to Edinburgh. The idea of home and Lilly and Alice haunted me. They ruled over me by attraction, as others often do by their antipathy; for the moral atmosphere, like the physical, becomes impregnated with certain feelings. And it so happened, that at my hotel I got the very same parlor that Robert and I had occupied on our wedding tour. What were all the royal palaces, and ancient castles, and wizard towers to me? There was a little wood cottage in Cornwall inexpressibly dearer. I resolved to turn homeward the next day.

From the windows of this parlor I had a fine view of the castle, and the old town lying around it. I had sat in my bridal 399 finery with Robert on the same spot, at the same window thirty-six years ago, on just such a lovely summer night; and though I did not wish it, thoughts of the past came through memory, as the stars wore through the dark. A light like dreamland was over everything, and the fragrance of the summer roses in the gardens bordering Prince’s Street, filled the air. It was a melancholy fragrance, it made me sad, for I thought of the lovely flowers pulsing their souls away, and wondered where they went to. Was a fragrance so rich and rare wasted? If not, for whom were these scented airs, in the glimmering of the summer twilight? Men and women took little heed of them, surely then, they were for the angels all around us, since

“... Thousands at His bidding speed,

And post o’er land and ocean without rest.”

I sat dreaming until midnight, and then I knew that old doors in palace and castle would be opened, and forth would come the ghosts of ancient sorrows and splendors. So I slowly, very slowly, prepared myself to lie down and sleep, remembering as I did so, Alexander Smith’s almost forgotten description of Edinburgh, left unfinished because death took the pencil out of his fingers:

“Towered, templed Metropolitan,

Waited upon by hills,

River, and wide-spread ocean; tinged

By April’s light, or draped and fringed

As April’s vapor wills,

Thou hangest like a Cyclop’s dream,

High in the shifting weather gleam.”

Next morning I took the Caledonian Line as far as Kendal. There was a literary syndicate there, called the Northern Newspaper Syndicate; they bought a good deal of writing from me, and were at the time owing me a few pounds. I should not have called there on that account, but a reminiscent spell was over me, and I was glad of an excuse to indulge it. The money was as safe as if it was in my purse, for the syndicate was directed 400 by Quakers, who certainly made close bargains, but who paid, without demur or delay, whatever they promised to pay. I went to the ancient hostelry called The King’s Arms. It has a long, strange history, and I have been frequently told there are some apartments in it, once occupied by King John, but closed up for centuries as unsafe. I had no desire to look into them. I wanted to see my mother’s house, also the preacher’s house and chapel, standing among its band of whispering poplar trees. After a good supper of tea, fresh cockles, and haver cake I felt in the proper Kendal humor. And if any of my readers ever go to Kendal, and will sup on fresh cockles and haver cake, they will remember me pleasantly as long as they live. The cockles will be fresh from Morcambe Bay, or Sandside, and if one has never eaten haver cake with the delicious butter that is plentiful there, he has a gastronomical luxury to become acquainted with. Haver cake is, however, so common in Kendal, that the hotels do not serve it, unless asked for; but it is worth asking for, and even paying for. It is made of oatmeal, as fine as the finest wheat flour, and the cake itself is thin as a wafer, and delightfully crisp. And really one does not know how good cheese is, until he has eaten it with Kendal haver cake. As time goes by, I shall no doubt have many letters of thanks for this information, and I shall be glad of them; for there are few things in life, that awaken such kindly memories as something good to eat.

The bedroom given me was the queerest, most old-fashioned place imaginable. I am sure it had been furnished about A.D. 1650. And the parlor I occupied had the same past look. All was so strange, and yet so familiar, and I could not help feeling, that in every old chair there was either a ghost, or a dream.

The next day was Sunday, and I was awakened by the grandest caroling of the church chimes. No other music between heaven and earth is so touching and elevating, as the pealing chimes from church towers. At intervals all day long, they reminded us that it was the Sabbath, until

“As evening shades descended,

Low, and loud, they sweetly blended;

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Low at times, and loud at times,

Rang the beautiful old chimes.”

And as I sat listening to them, I could not help thinking how much, and how constantly, bells intermeddled with all the feelings and fortunes of humanity. In the dawn of time, they made a pleasant tinkling among the sons of Asher and Baal. The war horses of Sesostris jangled them on the first battlefields of the world; the priests of Israel wore them upon the hems of their most sacred vestments. They delivered oracles at Dodona, and shook a noisy challenge from the shields of Greek heroes. They have tolled out warnings on lonely coasts for the salvation of human life; they have given the signal for such awful massacres as St. Bartholomew and the Sicilian Vespers. They have rang in tyranny, and rang out tyrants; while on the wide ocean, they are given a new dignity, and are made the interpreters of the sun. No place has been so high and so holy, that there they have not been heard; yet the fool has shaken them on his bauble, and the infant on its rattle.

In America at the present day what a wonderful power has been the bell. Inside our homes, from street-cars and railways, from banks and offices, schools and factories, carts and counters, comes constantly the well-known sound of bell metal; and there is nothing inanimate that has so meddled with the joys and sorrows, and business of mankind. Indeed, to write the history of small bells would be to write the social history of nearly forty centuries. That was a labor to think of, so I reminded myself of Tennyson’s invocation to the bells to ring out old shapes of all evil, and ring in the Christ that is to be; and with this divine vision of the time when God “shall make his tabernacle with men, and wipe all tears from their eyes,” I fell happily asleep, and dreamed a strange dream. I thought I was in a beautiful garden, shady and sweet with many shelves of bee skeps, under some large plane trees, and as I looked I saw a woman knocking at the door of each skep, with the big key of the house door, and telling the bees that the master had just died. That was a ceremony always observed in the North of England, when the master died, but what made me dream of it that night? And what 402 strange link was there between the room in which I slept, and the man who died? Had the master died in that room? on that bed? and was I in the old garden, when I heard the news of his death? I mean, was the dream a reminiscence—a reminiscence possible because the room, and the garden, and the master’s death had been in some anterior life, a part of my experience? I cannot tell. I only know I woke with a strange feeling of pity or grief for the dead master; and the humming of the bees in their hives, talking of the sad news was in my ears. Still if I ever should go to Kendal again, I would ask for that ancient bedroom, and bespeak another dream from the pillows that must be full of them. I am stating only a wandering thought, believing that many others must have had a like experience. For a few years ago, in a large hotel in Atlantic City, I had for seven nights the same dream upon the same pillow, but when I sent the pillow away, the dream went with it.

Early in October I was at work again, this time on a Roman Catholic story, called “The Beads of Tasmar.” There is a most romantic corner of Scotland on the shores of Ross, where the people have always been Catholics. It is Catholic Kintail. Fifty years ago if you landed at Bundalloch, where the great buttresses of Kintail come sheer down to the beach, you were among a people who have lived unchanged by all the revolts and revolutions of the world around them. Among these desolate hills you found the ancient Christian life in all its beauty and simplicity. To their thatched clachans they welcomed you with gentle, mannerly ways, very unlike the glower and greed of the lowlander; and handed you always a bowl of fresh milk, and an oaten cake. It appealed to me strongly as the background for an unusual Scotch tale, and I think “The Beads of Tasmar” is one of the prettiest romances I ever wrote. Dodd, Mead paid me five hundred dollars for it, and I enjoyed the work so much, that I felt well paid. Dodd, Mead were pleased with it, and it was printed and ready to put on the market when one of the members of the firm read it, and refused to give it to the public. He was perfectly conscientious in this decision, and as I had been paid for it, the loss was not mine. He really believed that its publication would injure the reputation, both of the firm, and myself.

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So “The Beads of Tasmar” was laid aside, and I began the well beloved “Border Shepherdess,” a tale as opposite to “The Beads of Tasmar” as if it related to another planet. For the characters were all of them of the strictest sect of Cameronian Calvinists, the sea was not present, and the men and women were of the intense quality of Border Scots. It was, however, a great favorite, and with few exceptions I have had the most letters about it. The fall of the year after my return home was very still and happy. Two personal events that interested me broke the monotony—a lovely letter of congratulation from Mr. Stedman, with an invitation to a literary reception at his house, and a long letter from Martin F. Tupper. Just about the time I was married, every one was reading and praising Martin F. Tupper. I thought he was a wonderful writer. I learned whole pages of his philosophy and I am a perfect Philistine with regard to my idols. Mr. Tupper had been mutilated and slashed by later critics, till he was in as bad a case as the god Dagon, but to me he was just as wonderful as ever. I was so proud of his letter, full of praises and good wishes, that I wrote no more that day. Yet I could not help noticing the sad note of refrain, that comes with every joy, for I found myself saying frequently, as I walked about the room with his letter in my hand, “Oh, if my father had lived to see this letter, how happy he would have been! How happy I should be!”

“Never quite satisfied, Mamma,” said Lilly with a sigh; and I was ashamed, and read aloud to her Mr. Stedman’s letter, which had come with the same mail as Mr. Tupper’s, and then began to talk of the dress I must wear. I feared “nothing I had was quite good enough.”

“That is nonsense, Mamma,” answered Lilly, I thought a little coldly. “Literary people do not meet to show their dresses. It is supposed at least, they meet to exchange great ideas. Your silk gown was bought and made in London, and you have some lovely English lace, what can you want more?” And then she salved the slight tone of reproof, by adding, “I am sure you look beautiful in them.”

Lilly’s opinions always satisfied me, and I found she was right, at least in one point. I was quite sufficiently dressed, but 404 somehow I did not find any exchange of great ideas. There was, however, a famous Japanese noble, and his two servants, most picturesquely dressed, made and handed around the tea. I never tasted tea before that night; I am never never apt to taste it again. Once afterwards, Mr. Matthieson, a neighbor, was in the Chinese tea fields, and he brought me home a present of a small chest of tea bought on the field where it was grown, and it came nearest to the tea I had at Mr. Stedman’s, the difference, I suppose, having been in the making of it. But no matter how full of great ideas the conversation at Mr. Stedman’s had been, I should have let all other memories slip away, and recollected only the ethereal delicacy, and far too fugitive aroma of that delicious tea. Surely such tea plants will grow for all of us in Paradise.

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CHAPTER XXIII

THE GODS SELL US ALL GOOD THINGS FOR LABOR

“All that is bitter, all that is sweet comes from God. It is our daily bread.”

“The mysterious conditions of our everyday life give a gravity to all our work, and all our pleasure.”

In this year 1887, I finished “The Border Shepherdess” and “The Master of His Fate” with my usual accompaniment of poems and articles for the papers. On April twenty-fourth I note that I copied “Cherry Ripe,” a poem for Harper’s Weekly, “A Strawberry Idyl” for the Illustrated Weekly, “The Romance of the Salad Bowl” for the Christian Union, and “The Two Talifers” for Leslie’s. These with Bonner’s usual poem were the papers on which I mainly relied and whose columns I felt must be kept open, no matter how interesting the novel on hand might be. But early in May my hands began to trouble me. I had the right thumb in a splint, and no finger I possessed could lift a pin. The tips of my fingers seemed to have lost feeling. I could not use pen and ink, but if the pencil was placed in my hand, I could write as long as the pencil would mark; but I could not pick it up, if I dropped it. I was very unhappy about this condition, and then the relief came from a source most unexpected.

I had met on my last voyage from England, a Professor McAfee and his wife. Mr. McAfee was a professor in a college at a place called Claverick I think. He was a most charming man, widely and well cultivated, and I formed a pleasant friendship with him and Mrs. McAfee. While my fingers were troubling me so much, they came to pay me a short visit, and he induced me to get a typewriter. I do not know how long they had been on the market, certainly not very long, for I had never seen 406 one in any of the newspaper offices I visited. Mine came the day before he left, and he showed me all its peculiarities. In less than a week I could use it very well; in a month I considered myself an expert.

The typewriter was an instant and immense relief; for the copying of all my work had doubled my labor, because it was not as interesting to copy, as to compose; and as it was necessary to write the press copy very clearly and particularly, the copying occupied more time than the composing. The kindly, clever professor who came to me in the hour of my need is dead. No. He could not die. What we call death was to him only emigration, and I care not where he now tarries. He is doing God’s will, and more alive than ever he was on earth.

Mrs. McAfee, just before Christmas, sent me a lovely oil painting of poppies and wheat, done for me by girls in the college. Then I wrote the following poem in memory of it, which was published in Harper’s Weekly and I hoped it pleased them.

POPPIES AND WHEAT

Poppies have loved the golden wheat

Many a thousand years,

And still they lift a glowing face

Up to the bending ears,

Wherever the yellow wheat doth grow,

Scarlet poppies will surely go.

Bind the sheaves in the East or West,

Take seed where man ne’er trod,

And when the corn bends to the breeze,

The poppy there will nod.

No time, no distance, hath the power

To change the love of grain and flower.

See how the silky petals stir

Like banners in still air;

See how the rich ripe ears sway down

To flowers so idly fair.

O sweet wind of the harvest day!

Tell me what do these lovers say.

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Do they remember Nilus yet?

Ham’s daughters dusky fair?

Greek girls with mingled wreaths of wheat

And poppies in their hair?

Or fair Judean maids at morn

Gleaning among the yellow corn?

Does grain of wheat, or seed of flower,

Hold still a memory

Of happy English harvest homes

On many a pleasant lea?

And youths and maids amid the sheaves,

Testing their love with poppy leaves.

If so, then winds of harvest haste

Carry a greeting sweet,

No heed where corn and poppies grow,

Kin are poppies and wheat,

Grain and flower of every strand,

Came from the fields of Edenland.

I had never permitted Alice to go to any school, but had always had a governess for two or three hours daily, as she could bear it. During the many years she was thus instructed, she had many teachers of all kinds; but at this period a Mrs. Jones, the daughter of the Episcopal minister, came to her. And she loved Mrs. Jones, who was a beautiful and lovable woman, and I think of her often because I was always so happy when anything happened that made Alice specially happy.

For the rest, the year went quietly on. I wrote a story for Mrs. Dodge, editor of St. Nicholas, the only woman I ever liked to write for. She put on no editorial airs, and if you brought her a good story, she made you feel that you had conferred a favor on her, and her magazine. Ah, Mrs. Dodge showed that her soul had been to fine schools, before she came into this life! Her courtesy was native to her—her fine manners the fruit of her good heart.

After I had finished Mrs. Dodge’s story, called “Michael and Theodora”, I was obliged to give up using my hands until 408 October, then I began “Remember the Alamo” but had to stop early in November, to help Mr. Freund who wished me to write with him a play from “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” It was the first of at least twenty, I think I may say fifty, attempts that have been made to dramatize this novel. Mr. Charles Frohman got the famous August Thomas to try it with me, but when I sent him the two first acts he said it was “a beautiful piece of literary work, but not playable.” After the elopement, the original proposition is closed, and the play really ends there; but ending there, it is only half long enough. Some day, however, the difficulty will be conquered, and it will pay for all its previous failures.

I was busy with Mr. J. C. Freund until the day before Christmas. Then I began a Scotch story for Clarke called “The Household of McNeil,” and at the end of the year had finished nearly two chapters; I make the following entry which says all that is necessary:

December 31st, 1887. This last week has been full of work. Mary came to see me before starting for Florida, and I am very unhappy about Lilly and Captain Morgan. But I trust for the best. O God, my times are in Thy Hands, and how glad I am to leave them there! Unto Thee I look, for “Thy compassions fail not.”

The first three months of 1888 were occupied with “The Household of McNeil,” and my regular fugitive newspaper work. Alice still had her good teacher, and Lilly did not speak about her unfortunate love affair. I knew she was very unhappy, but she tried to be cheerful, and to share my pleasures and my anxieties, as she had always done; and I thought her reticence wise, though I was ready at any moment she wished to advise or to console her.

My right thumb was almost useless. I held the pencil mostly between the first and second finger, and the outside of the little finger was so sensitive, that I wrapped it in cotton wool to prevent it feeling the movement on the paper. But on my birthday, March twenty-ninth, I was finishing the fourteenth chapter of “Remember the Alamo” and enjoying the writing of the book very much indeed. Sometimes General Houston 409 seemed actually visible to me, and we had some happy hours together. General Sherman was positive that the men martyred at Goliad and San Antonio fought with the eight hundred gentlemen, who led by Houston captured the whole Spanish army, and gave the Empire State of Texas to the United States. The dead can, and do help the living, and I believe General Houston helped me to write the truth, and the whole truth, and nothing but the truth concerning that glorious episode, far too little valued and understood. If General Houston had been an Englishman, and had given the English Crown such a magnificent principality, he would have been ennobled and enriched. This great, ungrateful nation let him die wanting the comforts, yes, the necessaries of life. I have said more about this book than I intended, but I love it and “The Lion’s Whelp” better than I can express. Their characters are living people to me. I have known them, either in this life, or some other life.

This sense of companionship in many, indeed in most, of my books has made them easy and delightful to write. Sometimes it has been so vital that I have found it impossible to shut my study door. It seemed like shutting them out of my life, and I really loved these invisible, intangible friends, and often whispered their names, and bid them good night before going to sleep. To say that I shall never see them, or speak with them in another life, is an incredible thing. I expect General Sam Houston, and the great protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, to praise me, and thank me, for what I have done; and I shall not be disappointed. As far as General Houston is concerned, I have already the thanks of the son he loved so devotedly, in the following letter:

Galveston, Texas, Oct. 22, 1888.

My dear Madam:

Returning to this city a short time since, I found awaiting me your latest very interesting book, “Remember the Alamo.” Please accept my thanks, and as well, my assurances of due appreciation of the honor conferred.

The general reader I am sure cannot fail to find the style 410 in which the work is written in the highest degree entertaining. To one bound by ties of birth and blood to Texan history and traditions, it naturally possesses a peculiar interest, an interest which throughout does not flag.

Of the rather numerous productions based on the same theme, few, if any, read so much like actual history, and I think I can safely say, none show that intimate acquaintance with the peculiar social elements which composed the Texas of the days of the Republic, manifest in the valued work I now have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of.

While I have derived much pleasure from a perusal of “Remember the Alamo,” as a production of merit, I could not be insensible to the tribute paid my revered father’s memory; that the wreath is from the hand of woman lends it a grateful perfume.

I cannot but regret I am denied the honor of the personal acquaintance of one, who through her pen has made me so much her debtor for enjoyment of the most enduring kind.

I am, dear madam, with abiding sentiments of esteem,

Yours sincerely,

William R. Houston.

Often I have believed that my heroine was a real personality, that she had once lived in the very scenes I depicted. This was particularly the case with the book “Bernicia.” It is many years since I told the story of that fascinating creature, but she is as real to me today, as if she had spent the summer with me. Sometimes these phantom heroines are very masterful. In “Friend Olivia,” Anastasia made me throw away many pages, but I always discovered as the book progressed, that they did not belong to it.

Until April of this year, I was more or less troubled with Mr. Freund and the proposed play. I say “troubled” because I felt all the time that the work I had to do, was useless, that the thing someway was not right, and I know now, that neither Mr. Freund—clever actor and manager as he was—nor I, could build a play, any more than we could build a house.

On April tenth, 1888, we moved into a little cottage on Storm King Mountain, for the house we were in was sold, and the buyer wished to occupy it. I remember so well the afternoon 411 I first drove up the mountain. It was a lovely April day, Nature was making a new world, and there was no sound of hammer, or axe, or smoke of furnace. Only an inscrutable, irresistible force at work, a power so mighty, that the hard trodden sod under our feet was moved aside by a slender needle-like shaft of grass, or plant, which the faintest breeze could blow and bend. A miracle! Yes, a miracle before which science is mute. The birds were singing as if they never would grow old, and the winds streamed out of the hills as cool as living waters. The grass was climbing the mountains until it met the snow, and the mountains rose like battlements, with piny slopes furrowed by one or two steep paths.

The house I came to see was a mere cottage of five rooms, but it stood in a pleasant croft, full of fruit trees, mingled with pines and a few maples. My heart went into the place without opening gate or door, and I said to myself, “I will buy this little house, and make it a home, if God wills so; and as for it being small, there is only three of us, and we can enlarge it, if it is necessary.” The view from it was enchanting—a long stretch of the Hudson River, with mountains and valleys on every side of it. But I remembered the English dictum about buying a house, namely, “to summer and winter it first;” so I refrained the words on my lips, and instead of buying it, I offered to rent it for a year, promising to buy it then, if I still liked the place.

Lilly’s brows knit ominously, when I told her what I had done. “You will not like it, Mamma,” she said.

“Why not? And you, Lilly, have always loved country solitudes.”

“Yes, in books, Mamma. In real life, they are damp and rheumatic, and most hated by those who live in them, and know them best.”

“O Lilly!” I cried, “I do want to go up the mountain so much. I am sure I can write well and easily there. I know I should be so happy, and I believe my hands would get strong.”

“Then, dearest, we will go at once. So let us talk over what is to be done.”

This was on April, the sixth, and on the tenth we moved into 412 the mountain cottage. We had barely got our household goods into its shelter, when there commenced one of the heaviest rain storms I ever remember, and we ate our first meal, a very good one of broiled Virginia ham, poached eggs, coffee, and orange marmalade, to its pattering and rattling on the roof and against the windows.

“Grandmother Barr said, it was the luckiest thing to move in a rain storm,” cried Lilly, with one of her old cheerful laughs; “she did not know she was prophesying luck for us, but she was, Mamma. I hope she knew how it was pouring as they carried in the last load.”

“Is that a Scotch superstition?” I asked.

“Certainly, Scotch wisdom is the only kind of wisdom Grandmother quotes, or believes in. She believed also in carrying the house cat with you. Aunt Jessy once left her cat behind in moving, and left all her luck to the people who came after her, and they happened to be people Grandmother didn’t like.”

And I laughed, and talked about the Cumberland superstitions, sitting by the kitchen fire in one of the best parlor chairs, while Lilly deftly broiled the ham and poached the eggs, and Anne Hughes, our small Irish servant, set the table in her own remarkable way, and Alice wiped all the dishes after her with a clean napkin. I have eaten few happier meals than that first one in Cherry Croft, and then we made up the beds in the dining-room for that night; and I fancied my bed had never been as soft and comfortable before. With happy wishes for good dreams, we all slept soundly, and sweetly, until Annie Hughes woke us with the information, that it was past seven, and a man was at the door with milk, and a big handful of flowers.

It was Thomas Kirkpatrick, of course. Any one who knew Thomas would suspect it. He worked for me on and off in some way for twenty years, and there was always that fine streak in his nature, typified by his love of flowers. In that twenty years, I had few birthdays that Thomas Kirkpatrick did not honor with a bunch of wild flowers at the dawning.

The house had been thoroughly cleaned, and was in good condition, for it had been built for the well known artist Theyer, 413 who with his wife had occupied it one or two years; and he had been followed by a New York family whose name was Appleton, who only lived in it for a short time, so that it was nearly new, and quite free from all the wraiths and influences of prior inhabitants.

I shall never feel again in this life as joyous as I felt for the first few months in this house, though, thank God, I keep my child heart yet, and I am pleased with little things. My right hand got well rapidly; my headaches were much better. I slept like a baby; I woke up singing, a thing I had not done since Robert died. I was so happy in my little five-roomed cottage. I loved every foot of the pretty croft, in which it stood, and one morning when its fourteen cherry trees were all pink and white with blossom, I called it Cherry Croft. And now the name of Cherry Croft is known all over the English speaking world, and I not infrequently have letters directed to me “Cherry Croft, New York, United States of America,” and they come direct to me without question or delay.

On the first of June, Dodd, Mead paid me a thousand dollars for “Remember the Alamo,” but Mr. Mead wished the name changed. It was published in England under the name of “Woven of Love and Glory” but Mr. Mead desired it to be called, “Remember the Alamo.” I could not have written it to that name, but the book being finished, it did not make so much matter. I suppose it sold better under the latter name, for I was told this year by a famous Texan, that few Texan families are without a copy of it. “The Alamo” was a phrase full of tragedy to every Texan, but not so distinctive to other people; it being a Spanish word given to a number of places.

On this day I received a copy of “Jan Vedder’s Wife” in French. I do not know French, but was frequently told that it was an excellent translation. It appeared first as a serial in the best of the French reviews, but I never received a cent for its use, either as a serial or in book form. Well, I had the pleasure of writing it. That could not be taken from me.

On the third of June I began a Manx story called “Feet of Clay.” The Isle of Man I have described in an early chapter of my life, and it was an easy background for me full of 414 romantic possibilities, and vivid and ready-made romance. This story had a foundation of truth, and I remember that Mr. Gilder, while praising the literary workmanship of the tale, objected to the reformation of the hero, who had an inherited tendency towards forgery. With the tender pity natural to his rare character, he said that forgery was in his opinion and observation an unconquerable weakness; that a man who committed the crime once, would do the same thing again, whenever the temptation came to him. But I was still a Methodist, and I thought the love of Christ in the heart sufficient to prevent, as well as to forgive sin.

Besides I have always found myself unable to make evil triumphant. Truly in real life it is apparently so, but if fiction does not show us a better life than reality, what is the good of it? Aufidius was successful in his villainy, but are we not all glad to know that Coriolanus had time to call him to his face “a measureless liar!” I confess that I like to reward the virtuous, and punish the guilty, and make those who would fain be loved, happy.

On the twenty-third of June I went to England on the Circassia. I was a favorite with her captain, and I sat at his right hand; the Reverend Mr. Meredith and Mrs. Meredith being opposite me. I have had few pleasanter voyages than this one. Captain Campbell was a good talker, so was the minister, and he gave us the following Sunday the best sermon I ever heard on a steamer. This journey was a purely business one, though after being in Kendal a day, I could not resist the something that urged me to go on to Glasgow. I intended to remain there a couple of days, and to do a little shopping, that could be better and more economically done in Glasgow, than anywhere else. I thought I was perfectly sure of my incognito, but the next morning my arrival was in the newspapers, and I had several very early callers, and many invitations to “go down the water” for the week end. One of these invitations was in the shape of an exceedingly friendly letter from Dr. Donald McLeod, at that time editing Good Words Magazine. I had one from the McIntosh family by the same mail, and my heart went out to the McIntoshes, though I had the highest 415 respect for Dr. McLeod, and knew that a Sabbath spent with him would be a wonderful one in many respects. Yet there was in me a perverse spirit that morning. I did not want to go anywhere. I did not want to dress, and to take my food and sleep and pleasure, as other people gave it to me. I wrote the proper apologies, and slipped back to Bradford that afternoon. The following night I went to an intense Methodist service, and heard a thousand Yorkshire men and women sing “There is a Land of pure delight,” and “Lo, He comes with clouds descending!” as I shall never again hear them in this life. In fact I was singing myself as heartily as any one, and if I did not quite agree with the sermon, I felt sure it was the only kind of sermon likely to influence the wonderfully vitalized flesh and blood by which I was surrounded. There were no hesitations in it, no doubts, or even suppositions; it was an emphatic positive declaration, that if they did right they would go to heaven, and a still more emphatic one that if they did wrong they would go to hell. And he had no doubts about the hell. He saw it spiritually, and described it in black and lurid terms, that made women sob, and the biggest men present have “a concern for their souls.”

I would not have missed that service for any company on earth. I know Dr. McLeod would have talked like the Apostle John, and there would have been a still peaceful Scotch Sabbath full of spiritual good things; but I felt all alive, soul and body, from head to foot, in that Methodist Chapel; so much so that I put a larger coin in the collection box than I could well afford, and never once regretted doing it. I would go to church every Sunday gladly, if I could hear a minister talk in such dead earnest, and be moved by a spiritual influence so vitally miraculous. The very building felt as if it was on fire, and for an hour at least, everybody in it knew they had a soul. They felt it longing and pleading for that enlargement, only the Love and Actual Presence of God could give it. I do not believe I should hear the same kind of a sermon in that chapel today. There is doubtless an organ and a choir now, and the preacher will have been to a Theological Institute, and perhaps be not only “Reverend” but have some mystic letters after his 416 name, and the congregation will be more polished, and the precepts of gentility will now be a religious obligation. And I am afraid it is not genteel now, to be anxious about your soul—especially in public. But I thank God that I spent that Sunday in Yorkshire instead of Scotland; for spiritually I have never forgotten it, and physically, it was an actual influx of life from the source of life. I was twenty years younger. And I believe that if it were possible for men and women to live constantly so close to the spirit in which they live, move, and have their being, they might live forever.

The next day I went to Shipley Glen, to see Ben Preston, a poor man yet, but a fine writer both in prose and verse, especially in his native dialect. He had not much education, but there was a vigorous native growth of intelligence. I spoke to him of the sermon I had heard the previous night, and he answered, “Ay, you’ll hear the truth in a Methodist Chapel—here and there—even yet; but a Yorkshire man nowadays reads his newspaper, instead of his Testament, so when a man comes out with ideas gathered from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he’s sure to be considered an original writer, whose crazy notions would turn the world upside down.” There was a man from a Bradford newspaper sitting with him, and he spoke of Dilke and Chamberlain, and Preston answered, “They may be able to do something for us, but the biggest reforms of all will have to begin and be carried out by wersens.”

The press man spoke of some local grandee whom he called “a self-made man” and Preston answered slowly, as he whittled a bit of stick,

“I admire self-made men, if I’m sure they’re owt like ‘John Halifax, Gentleman;’ but lots o’ them owe their elevation, not to their talents, but to a dead conscience and a kest-iron heart. Of such men, if they’re rich enough, the world is ready to say ‘they hev risen from the ranks.’ It ’ud be nearer t’ truth to say, ‘they hev fallen from the ranks.’ Yes, sir, fallen from t’ ranks of honest, hard-working men, and taen to warse ways.”

Of a certain marriage that he was told of, he said it was “a staid, sowber, weel-considered affair, a marriage wi’ all t’ advantages of a good bargain.” I was much struck with his 417 ready wit, his good sense, and his clever way of putting any remark he made. He was greatly and deservedly loved and respected, but his best work had a local flavor, which I dare say narrowed both his fame, and his income.

On the twenty-second of July I was still in Bradford, for I went to lunch with Mrs. Byles. She was a woman, whom if you once saw, you could never forget. Her husband was the clever editor of the Bradford Observer and I think she had been made purposely for him—brains to her finger tips, full of vivid life, a brilliant talker, a perfect hostess, not beautiful but remarkably fascinating—so fascinating that you thought her beautiful. I never saw her but on that one occasion, but she made on me such an impression that if I met her on Broadway today, I should have no hesitation in saying, “I am glad to see you, Mrs. Byles.” At this luncheon, I met also the daughter-in-law of Sir Titus Salt, the discoverer and first maker of alpaca.

On the twenty-fifth of July, I sailed from Liverpool, on the City of Rome, and on the second of August landed at New York. I love England with all my soul, but when I saw the Stars and Stripes flying off Sandy Hook, my eyes filled with happy, grateful tears, for “East or West, Home is Best;” and the land where your home is built, is another native land.

Mary met me at the pier, went out to Cornwall with me, and remained with us until the eleventh of September, when she left for Florida. The rest of the month I was busy on “Feet of Clay” which I finished on the tenth of October. Then I had my apples gathered, got in some large stoves, put up heavy curtains, and prepared the house for winter. On the twenty-seventh, I had a letter from General Sam Houston’s son, in praise of what I had done for his father’s memory, and on the twenty-eighth of October I began making notes for my story of Quakerism called “Friend Olivia.” I was at the Astor Library every day until the twenty-fifth of November when I felt my way clear enough to begin “Friend Olivia.” It was a bright lovely Sabbath, and I had a pious enthusiasm about the work, for my mother’s family were among the earliest of George Fox’s converts, and had suffered many things for the faith that 418 was in them. I worked slowly at first, and did not finish my first chapter until the twelfth of December, nor my second until Christmas Day, when I copied it. After this I became aware of the character I called Anastasia, and every thing relating to her came easily enough, and I had a fancy she was not a bit sorry for her dislike of Olivia and her efforts to injure her. But the year closed with me happily at work on “Olivia,” and seeing my way clearly from the beginning to the end.

The first three months of 1889 I was nearly broken-hearted about Lilly’s affairs. I was writing “Friend Olivia” and found my only relief in losing myself in it. Yet I had some pleasant events in my work. Oscar Fay Adams wrote a fine criticism of my books in the Andover Review. Mr. Clark sent me seven hundred six dollars for “Feet of Clay.” I wrote special articles for the Book News and the Youth’s Companion and the latter offered me five hundred dollars for a story of one hundred pages. Their pages were large, and I could not afford to accept their terms, which were burdened also with several limitations and forbidden topics. It was very unlikely that I should ever have touched these topics, unless forbidden to do so. That temptation might have made me wish to show the censors how innocently, and indeed profitably, they might be touched.

On my fifty-eighth birthday, I had finished thirteen chapters of “Friend Olivia,” but I received on April, the first, a letter from the North American Review, asking me for an article, and I left my novel to write it. While I was thus engaged, I was requested by a minister with whom I had crossed the Atlantic once, to write for him on a certain subject, which I have not noted, and am not quite certain about. It was the request that astonished, and also pleased me, for I feared that my plain criticism on a certain occasion had deeply offended him. It happened that we had walked and talked together at intervals during the week, and that on the following Sabbath morning he preached in the saloon, and I was present. Leaning over the taffrail, that evening he came to me and asked how I liked his sermon?

“The sermon was a good sermon,” I said, “but spoiled in the delivery.”

419

“Why! How? What do you mean, Mrs. Barr?” he asked.

“Your sermon,” I answered, “was a series of solemn declarations and avowals of faith and belief, and after stating each with remarkable clearness, you invariably concluded with this reflection, ‘It seems to me that no logically sane mind can refuse this truth.’”

“Well,” he said, “that was right.”

“No,” I answered, “it was wrong. Those four words, ‘it seems to me,’ destroyed the whole effect of your argument. You left us at liberty to dispute it, and debate it. What seemed to you true, might not seem so to any one else, if they began to look for reasons.”

“What would you have said, if in my place?”

“If I believed, as you do, I would have said, ‘Friends, I have told you the truth. There is no other truth on this subject. If you believe it, and live up to it, you will be saved. If you do not believe it, and live up to it, there is no salvation for you.’”

“A minister can but give his opinion.”

“He ought to give God’s opinion, that is what he stands up to do, and there is no ‘seems to me’ in that. Excuse me,” I said, “I am a daughter of Levi, and have been used to talking as I feel to ministers all my life. I meant no harm. I was only sorry you took all the salt and strength out of a really good sermon.”

“I thank you!” he said, but he was quiet afterwards, and I soon went away, fearing I had everlastingly offended him. But here was the kindest of letters, with a request that I would write him a short article for a paper in which he was interested. I did so cheerfully, but I put my price on it; for I had discovered by this time, that newspapers value articles according to what they have to pay for them.

I may mention that among the trials of this spring, my big English mastiff was so ill, that we had to send him away for treatment. It was almost like sending one of the family away. He was a noble, loving creature with far more intelligence than is credible.

On the twenty-second of May, I finished all the creative 420 work on “Friend Olivia,” and on the twenty-fourth, having gone carefully over it, I took it to Dodd, Mead and Company, and they sent it to the Century Company, thinking it might suit Mr. Gilder for a serial. Until the third of June I rested, for my eyes and right hand were weary and aching, then I wrote an article for the Book News for which I received thirty dollars. Until the second of July, I wrote articles for the Advance, North American Review, et cetera, and copied some short stories for the Kendal Syndicate, and the Christian World. On the second of July, I began a story of the Cheviot Hills but on the ninth received a letter from Dodd, Mead saying Mr. Gilder liked “Friend Olivia” very much, and wished to see me. The following day I went to see Mr. Gilder, and agreed to rewrite the story suitably for a serial for three thousand dollars; and from this time forward until the sixteenth of September, I was going over “Friend Olivia,” and while arranging it suitably for a serial, was also trying how much richer and better I could make it.

I was abundantly repaid by the following letter from Mr. Gilder, under date of September, 1889.

Editorial Department,
The Century Magazine
.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I have finished the story. It closes like music, beautifully. There might be some points that I could wish different, but I do not press them, the whole story is so charming.

In this revisal of “Friend Olivia,” I followed in all matters Mr. Gilder’s advice and suggestions, and so learned much of the best technicalities of fiction. I could not have had a finer teacher. I could not have had a more kind, just and generous one. He rejoiced in good work, and gave it unstinted praise, no matter who was its author. To a soul who had been hardly used by the world in general, it was a kind of salvation to meet such a man.

I owed a great deal of my success with the Century, to Mrs. Grover Cleveland’s praise of “Friend Olivia.” She read the 421 story in manuscript, and spoke so highly of it to Mr. Gilder, that he was induced by her report to read it himself. So one of the first printed copies of the novel was sent to Mrs. Cleveland, who wrote me the following note:

December 2nd.

Dear Mrs. Barr:

Pray do not think that my long delay in replying to your note indicates any lack of appreciation of its kind words, or your thoughtfulness in sending me “Friend Olivia.” I feel a peculiar attachment to the book, because I knew the story when it was so very young. I liked it, and surely need not tell you that your sending it to me yourself, gives me very great pleasure.

I have been away from home ever since your letter came to me, or I should have told you this before.

Pray do not over estimate the effect my interest in “Friend Olivia” has had. The story itself brought you, as you say, “the recognition and success you had patiently worked and waited for during twenty years,” and as I say, which you richly deserved.

May I assure you that I never forget my young friend who loves my picture, and that her mother is often in my thoughts.

Very sincerely,

Frances F. Cleveland.

I will only give the letter received from Moses Coit Tyler, regarding “Friend Olivia.” Others of interest will be found in the Appendix if any desire to read them.

Cornell University,
  Ithaca, New York.

    Feb. 21, 1891.

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I was much touched by your kind remembrance of me in causing your novel, “Friend Olivia,” to be sent to me; and as my days here are heavily burdened with work, and my reading is almost exclusively on certain professional lines, it was only lately that I have had the opportunity of reading the book as I wanted to do it. We read it aloud in the family evenings, as the leisure came to me, my wife, my daughter, and myself. We 422 were charmed and held from the beginning, but it was not till we had gone through perhaps the first seventy-five pages, that the story grasped us with enthralling power. After that, it was a nightly trial to us all, that I had to cut short the reading, when we were all so absorbed in the story, and the development of the characters; and I want to give you my thanks for the great pleasure, nay for the good cheer, the strong spiritual refreshment and stimulation which the book gave us. I could say much of the power with which the several characters are delineated, of the vivid truth, of the historic elements of the story, and of the masterly handling of the plot. Better than any satisfaction in mere literary success, must be the privilege of portraying, in a fascinating form like that, the beauty, the mighty helpfulness, the calming and sweet power of faith in God, and in the spiritual life. That book of yours will go on helping and cheering people, long after you have passed from this world. If all your literary labors had resulted only in that piece of work, your life would have been lived not in vain.

The reading of this book has given me a new desire to meet you again, and to talk over persons and things with you, and perhaps some day when I have a few hours or days in New York, I may be able to find you with half-an-hour to spare for a chat.

With deep gratitude for your book, and a thousand good wishes for the continuance of your literary successes, I remain

Faithfully yours,

Moses Coit Tyler.

For nearly a month after finishing my second copy of “Friend Olivia” I was too tired to do much. Mr. Mead had urged on me the Arcadian background and I saw at once its possibilities, if I might make it historically true. But this would be in direct opposition to what Longfellow and others had done. However as I had the fiction in my own control, I thought it would be possible to make the background, and general atmosphere inoffensive. I made great preparations for this work. I was in New York at the library most of October, and was in communication with the Officer’s Club at Halifax who sent me a great deal of material, also with a Miss Caldwell of Louisiana, whose home was on the great Bayou, where the Arcadians settled after leaving Canada; and she sent me the true history of 423 Longfellow’s “Evangeline,” and much interesting material as to the country, and the descendants of the Arcadians. But not all the work I did, nor yet all the help I received, could create in me the slightest enthusiasm about the story. The people disgusted me. They were so double-tongued and false-hearted, I could have turned their bigotry into intense faith, as I had often done with Calvinism; but their cowardice and unreliability I could not handle, unless I was to show it rightfully punished. And to tell the last truth, I did not see anything romantic in a girl, traipsing the length of the United States seeking her lover. If I could have shown the lover in all sorts of adventures seeking Evangeline, that would have been all right; but the fact was he had speedily married, and was comfortably bringing up a family in the Teche country. I could not bear to think of making a beautiful and innocent girl die for so unworthy a lover, and I did not really pity the woman who could and did deliberately die for him. Her grave at the Poste des Attakapas could not impress me. She ought to have thrown off her false unworthy lover, and if she could love no good man, she could at least have lived to comfort and help the old woman, who had taken her when a friendless babe, and cherished her as her own daughter.

As late as the sixteenth of November, I note being in New York at the library getting the proper patois for Arcadia, and add with an emphasis of under-crossing, “I hate the story.” Until the eleventh of January, 1890, I was writing an article on divorce for the North American Review, in favor of it under proper conditions. Bishop Potter wrote the one on the absolute inviolability of the marriage tie. I think they were in the same number but have forgotten surely. I wrote also many other articles suitable for Christmas and New Year’s. During December, Clark paid me two hundred pounds for “Friend Olivia,” and seventy-five pounds for the book rights of “The Last of the McAllisters.” I also wrote a short story for the McClure Syndicate, being busy on it from the twenty-second to the twenty-eighth of December. I liked to write for McClure’s Syndicate; he always both paid, and praised me well. I can say the same of the Bacheller Syndicate, and though I never see 424 either Mr. McClure, or Irving Bacheller now, I remember them both with the utmost kindness.

On the eleventh of January, 1890, I notice that I threw all the Arcadia matter into a drawer in my study, where it would be out of sight and memory, adding, “I can’t feel that story, so I can’t, and won’t write it!” This neglected, despised Arcadian matter is still occupying the drawer, and I have not looked at it since I put it away, until this morning, when I took from the pile “the true story of Evangeline,” to be sure of the name of the country, to which the Arcadians went after leaving Canada. It was on the Teche Bayou they settled, and Evangeline’s real name was Emmeline Labiche, and her body rests, as I have already said, at the Poste des Attakapas. Probably the Poste is now a town or city, though the Arcadians were by no means an energetic or progressive people.

As soon as I put the Arcadian matter in that drawer, I began a New York story called “She Loved a Sailor.” It contained a vivid picture of New York city life in General Jackson’s time, and is probably the last of the New York series of tales. I have had fewer letters about it, than I usually have about a New York novel, and I wondered at that, because it is within the memories and traditions of many living families. So I have taken it for granted that its localities and data are correct, for if I had made an error some one would have told me of it.

While I was writing this book, on the eleventh of February, Mr. and Mrs. Van Siclen gave me a “Bow of Orange Ribbon” dinner at the Lawyer’s Club. It was a very fine affair, and I kept its artistic menu and bow of ribbon for many years. The guests were mostly Dutch, but I had the great honor and pleasure of having Henry Van Dyke at my right hand. Two things I remember about this dinner. I tasted crabs à la Newburgh for the first time; and then while I was as happy as I could be talking to Dr. Van Dyke, Mr. Van Siclen shocked me by asserting, “Mrs. Barr will now make us a little speech, and tell us how she came to write ‘The Bow of Orange Ribbon.’” I do not believe I had ever heard of a woman speaking at a dinner table before. I had an idea it was absolutely a man’s function. It would then have been as easy to imagine myself 425 doing my athletics in public, as making a speech at a dinner table. I turned to Dr. Van Dyke in a kind of stupefaction, and said only one word “Please!” and he understood, and rose immediately, and made a speech for me that charmed and delighted every one present. Indeed I am inclined to think it was the best speech he ever made. It was so spontaneous that it was not Henry Van Dyke’s speech, it was Henry Van Dyke his very self.

After I had finished “She Loved a Sailor” I took Alice and went to England, leaving in the Bothenia July the second, and returning about September in the Aurania. And after I had finished my business, I gave myself entirely to Alice. She learns best through her eyes, and I took her to everything I thought would interest her. We were fortunate enough to hear Handel’s fine oratorio of “Samson” at the Crystal Palace, with a thousand male and female voices in the chorus; and Sims Reeves in the solos. Ada Rehan was playing “As You Like It” and she went three times to see her, before she was tired. But I think the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral pleased her most of all. Dr. Vaughan preached from “There remaineth a rest,” an eloquent sermon, and the music was heavenly. She was curiously pleased also with the little rush chairs, she thought it seemed “more like sitting with God, than if you were shut up in a pew.” We had a happy happy time. It is the only holiday I have had since Robert died. I gave it to Alice, and she gave it back to me a hundred-fold. It seems like a dream of heaven to remember it.

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CHAPTER XXIV

BUSY, HAPPY DAYS

“Days of happy work amid the silence of the everlasting hills, days like drops that fall from the honeycomb.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Slow, sweet busy hours that brought me all things good.”

After my return we had to consider the winter. During the previous winter we had suffered much from the severe cold, it being impossible to warm the house, when the thermometer sank to twenty, or to even thirty below zero. After some efforts to find suitable winter quarters in the neighborhood we closed the house, and went for a week or two to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. I had a business contract pending with Mr. Edwin Bonner, and we knew that a suitable house somewhere near New York would be the best for me. There was one great trouble connected with this arrangement: we had to send our English mastiff to the kennels, and Sultan was really a very much beloved member of the family. He had been given to me by my friend Dr. Bermingham when we first went up the mountain. “It is a lonely place,” said the good doctor, “and you ladies will need a protector.” He was sent from the kennels with a pedigree as long as an English duke’s, and he was positively described as a Saint Bernard. I knew he was an English mastiff of pure breed, as soon as I saw him, and I loved him all the better for it.

Everyone’s dog does wonderfully, but Sultan excelled them all. He could nearly speak, and in the last agonies of death, he did really call “Lilly” as plainly as I could have done. He came to every meal with us, and had his plate and napkin laid next to Lilly, for between Lilly and himself there was the strongest affection. He permitted no other dog on the place, 427 but he talked to all the dogs from far and near through the gate, and they brought him all the news of the mountain. Sometimes he brought it to us, and we always listened and answered, “Is that possible, Sultan?” and he would give a little bark of assent, and lie down to consider it. He liked me to be prettily dressed, and always showed his satisfaction in some unmistakable way. He was most polite to company, met them at the gate, and conducted them to the parlor, invariably lying down at the feet of the prettiest and best dressed person in the company. If I was in England he watched for the mail with Lilly, and listened attentively while she read my letter to him. When she came to the words, “Mamma and Alice send their love to Sultan,” he always answered the message with a little bark of pleasure. Oh, indeed, I could tell still more wonderful things of this affectionate creature, but they would raise a doubt. No one could believe them, unless they had lived with the splendid fellow, and known him as we did. So it was hard to part with him, even for a week or two, but he was large as a mastiff of pure blood can be, and the proprietors of the Fifth Avenue Hotel would not hear of him as a guest.

We went to the hotel on October, the seventeenth, and between that date and the twenty-seventh I made a contract with Mr. Bonner for four serials. I was to deliver two each year, and he was to pay me twenty-five hundred dollars for each, in all, ten thousand dollars. In the meantime Lilly had found a house in East Orange, which was thoroughly warmed, and we moved into it on October the twenty-fifth, and brought Sultan home with us.

We were soon comfortably settled, and on the first of January I had finished the ninth chapter of my first serial for Mr. Edwin Bonner, called “A Sister to Esau.” On the eighth of February it was finished. But the press of business, and the proposals of various publishers, seems to have really made me very unhappy. In a note on the twenty-third of February, when I had had a great deal of business to attend to, I wrote at night, “I am sad and weary with the day, and feel terribly unfit for the considerations I have to face. I have a sense of being politely bullied, and of having suffered a loss of some 428 kind—spiritual, mental or financial—perhaps something in all respects.”

I was much interrupted by callers in East Orange, a great many of whom brought manuscripts, which they were sure I would like to read, and could easily place for them. I had a heartache for the peace and solitude of the little cottage on the mountain. Now the dream of every English man and woman is a home of their own, and I saw this to be a possibility now; and I could think of no place but Cherry Croft. I wanted it for my own. Then I could put in a proper furnace and make it habitable all the year round.

I had finished Mr. Bonner’s serial on the eighth of February; on the fifteenth of February, I began for Lippincott’s “A Rose of A Hundred Leaves.” Its heroine, Aspatria, was one of my favorites. She dwelt among the Fells in one of those large, comfortable farm or manor houses, occupied for centuries by the Sheep Lords of the North Country. I always knew what she was going to do. Sometimes I have wondered, if Amelia had once been Aspatria. Her brothers seemed so near and real to me, and she lived in just such a home, as I have had glimpses of, whenever the Past comes back to me. I finished the book on the fifteenth of March, and Mr. Mead praised the story, which pleased me, because it was the first time he had ever expressed satisfaction with my work.

On the twentieth I went to Cornwall, and bought Cherry Croft, paying for it six thousand dollars in cash. Some told me I had paid too much, others too little, but I was satisfied. The house was not worth much, but there was nearly four acres of land full of fruit and forest trees. And there were the mountains, and the river, and the wide valley view, and that general peace and quiet, that has in it a kind of sacramental efficacy.


“Cherry Croft,” Cornwall-on-Hudson

I had at this time a great deal of trouble with English houses printing my work, without either payment or permission, and a laughable but provoking incident occurred with the proof-reading of “A Sister to Esau.” In this story, my chief character is a Scotch gentleman, of the most perfervid Calvinism, and the period of the story was the glorious ecclesiastical 429 “departure” of the Free Kirk. Now Mr. Bonner’s proofreader happened to be a strict, strait Methodist, and he altered all the Calvinism to Methodism, which was sheer nonsense in the mouth of a Scotch Chief, and a seceding Free Kirker. However as soon as I explained the circumstances to Mr. Bonner he had the text restored as written, with many apologies for his Methodist proofreader’s conscience.

The whole summer was spent in writing Mr. Bonner’s second serial, “Love for an Hour Is Love Forever;” and in attending to the alterations going on in my home. Every room that was papered and painted afresh, was a new pleasure; and I had a fine garden, and began to plant vines, and to make an asparagus bed. Also, I made preparations for the winter’s comfort by putting in a hot water furnace, and then I began a novelette called “Femmetia’s Experience” for Mr. Bonner. It was a reincarnation story, and had a large sale, though at the time, the doctrine was but looming up on my spiritual horizon. The main facts of this story had been told me by an old lady when I lived in Boroughbridge, and was only twelve years old. Dr. Deems came to see us just as I had finished the story, and I spoke of its tendency and he said he had a strong leaning to the old heresy, that it had never died out of the heart and imaginations of men, and was steadily gaining a new growth.

I ought to have had a very happy summer, for I had my own home, good health, and all the work that I could do; but how often below this calm idyllic surface of life, there is some fateful, domestic sorrow! It is likely met with the heroism and devoted affection of the old Greek tragedy, but there it is! and it has to be borne as best it may. I found in love and work the strength and consolation, the heavy-hearted of the Greek world never knew. It brings tears to my eyes yet, to read the short, pitiful entries of that cruel November. Yet I finished “Femmetia’s Experience” and wrote also a novelette for Bonner called “The Mate of the Easter Bell,” and other short articles. For in mental grief, mental work is a great salvation. I worked hard, though I was often compelled to lay down my pencil to seek the strength and comfort found only by “fleeing to the 430 Rock that is higher than I.” At the last, all was well. The gay handsome Captain M—— passed out of our lives, and Lilly bore the breaking of the tie better than I expected.

I must not forget that in the midst of this trouble one of the dearest friends I still possess came into my life. It was Rutger Bleecker Jewett, the son of the learned Professor Jewett, of the General Theological Seminary. Through the December cold and deep snow, he climbed Storm King, one afternoon, and stepped into the light and warmth of Cherry Croft, like an incarnation of splendid youth and hope. He brought his welcome with him. With open hearts, and both hands we all met him, and he was free of my home from that hour. His father and mother were my friends, but I had never met Rutger before. Yet in a recent letter he writes, “I have always felt that we were old friends from the first—never strangers. It was as though we had met again, after an absence, not as though we were meeting for the first time. I also cherish vivid memories of you later in our old graystone house in Chelsea Square. The old house with its deep windows, big old-fashioned rooms, and vine-covered walls, has been replaced by a modern building, no more comfortable, and nowhere so picturesque as the house we knew. It is more than twenty years since I first came to Cherry Croft—twenty years of unbroken trust and friendship—a very rich possession to me.”

And to me also. As opportunity offered, I have often sought his advice or help, and he has never failed me.

On January tenth I began “A Singer from the Sea,” Mr. Bonner’s third serial. On the twenty-second I was at the Astor Library all day, and at Rossiter Johnson’s at a reception in the evening; Mr. Jewett went with me. On the twenty-third Mr. McClure and Mr. Ballistier took lunch with me at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and Mr. McClure would have been very generous to me for some stories, but my engagement with Mr. Bonner prevented any business. I was at Mrs. Dodge’s in the afternoon, and among the numerous visitors picked out Edith Thomas at once. I took dinner at Dr. Jewett’s and watched with delight Mrs. Jewett dancing with her sons and daughters.

On March fifteenth I finished “A Singer from the Sea” 431 and then began “Michael and Theodora” for Mrs. Dodge, which I did not finish until June; and in July I began “Girls of a Feather,” Mr. Bonner’s last serial, which I finished in October. I was busy all summer in having a fence put round Cherry Croft, and a hedge planted within the fence. During October I wrote an article for the North American Review called “Flirting Wives;” I had my little green house filled with bulbs and flowers, and planted with my own hands, and many tender memories, some laburnum trees. They were my mother’s favorite, and I can see them dropping golden flowers all around our pretty garden in the Isle of Man.

On November sixth I began the “Flower of Gala Water” which Bonner published after its serialization in the new Godey’s Magazine, and on the eleventh we were honored and delighted with a visit from Dr. William Hayes Ward, who spent the week end with us. A little event of this visit remains like a picture on my memory. There was some question about a text in the Epistles, and Dr. Ward took from his vest pocket a small Testament. He said he had carried it there for many years. “Then it is not a revised Testament?” I asked. And he looked at the little book affectionately, and answered, “No.” Yet the doctor had been on the committee of revision. But I understood. For me there is no version but the King James Version, and nothing could make me give it up. I have only one copy of the revised edition, and that Dr. Talmage inscribed to me with such extravagant encomiums, that I leave it lying on my parlor table, as a kind of certificate of moral health.

During 1892 I had written “The Singer from the Sea” and “Girls of a Feather,” “The Flower of Gala Water” and “The Preacher’s Daughter,” “Michael and Theodora” and several articles. My eyes were very tired, and I did not do so much during January, 1893. On the twenty-third, I began an article for Mr. Bok called “Why Literary Women Do Not Marry” and on the twenty-ninth, I began my novel called “Prisoners of Conscience.” It was then a short story, and was published in the Century Magazine, but was later enlarged to book size, and published by the Century Company. During 432 the month I also wrote another article for Mr. Bok called “Women’s Weapons.”

In March, I wrote “The Lone House.” A study of this story had appeared in the Christian Union. It was a good book, but Rutger told me the young people said it was “too religious,” and they wished I would go back to my love stories. So I began “Bernicia,” a love story among people of the first condition. But on my sixty-fourth birthday I became very ill with ulcerated sore throat, and on the fourth of April was in such a dangerous condition, that I sent for a New York specialist. I came near to death, but recovered slowly, and on June sixth I took Alice and went to England.

It was not until the beginning of 1895, that I was able to take up “Bernicia,” but during the same interval, I had written a story and several articles for the Bacheller Syndicate. From the eighteenth to the twenty-first of January I was in New York paying a visit to Mrs. Goldschmidt. The first afternoon we went together to a large studio reception. There were all sorts of professional people there, but I remember no one but Mrs. Frank Leslie. She was then Mrs. Wilde, I believe. The next day Mrs. Goldschmidt gave a dinner, and I sat next to General Collis, but liked Mr. John Wise and his beautiful wife best of all. I believe they were Virginians. The day following there was a crowded reception, and a supper party, and I sat next to Moncure Conway and Mrs. Frank Leslie. For the next night there was a theatre party, and a supper at the Waldorf. More weary than if I had written a book, I went home in the morning. I was grateful for the kindness shown me but very sorry indeed for the people who called it “life” and lived it.

On my sixty-fifth birthday I was still on “Bernicia,” but I had been very sick, and had a great deal of trouble of a heartaching quality, but though I complain a little to my diary, I add, “Truly I am old and weary, but with Thy help, O God, I am young, and strong, and ready to mount up as on eagles’ wings. Thy loving kindness faileth not!”

I finished “Bernicia” on the twentieth of April, and found a couplet from the Sufi poets, which pleased me so much, I will copy it here:

433

“The Writer of our Destiny is a fair writer;

Never wrote He that which would wrong us.”

I was very ill with nervous dyspepsia during June, but on July second accepted the proposal of the New York Herald, to run for one of the three judges of the ten thousand dollars prize offered by that paper for the best novel submitted to it. My vote was so large, that it was at this time the Herald said I must be “the best beloved woman in the country.” Mr. George Parsons Lathrop and Mr. Hazeltine were my colleagues.

After this I wrote “The Knight of the Nets” for the Herald. “Discontented Women” for the North American Review—for which article Mr. Rideing the editor wrote me a letter of thanks, a story for the Home Queen, and other small items.

On the twenty-sixth of September Lilly married Mr. Edward A. Munro, a Canadian whose business was in Brooklyn. It was an overwhelming trial to me, for Lilly had been my right hand in all affairs since her father’s death. It is true that ten words by telegraph never yet failed to bring her to my side by the next possible train, but the house was empty and forlorn without her; and both Alice and I were desolate. However life is a constant learning “to do without” until that wonderful, “never-coming-back,” we call death, restores to us all that we have lost.

On December twenty-second, our dear Sultan died. We buried him in Cherry Croft, and were all heart-broken. Alas!

“There’s sorrow enough in the natural way,

From men and women to fill our day:

But when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware,

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”—Kipling.

January twelfth, 1896, Mrs. Goldschmidt had opened her house in Cornwall and Mr. Wilcox, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the artist Arter and Mrs. Arter and others were staying there. 434 I took dinner with them, and that evening made up my mind that large parties were a mistake. A man’s family is never too many, because perfect freedom and unanimity of interest make them one. But with strangers there should be no more guests than the host can personally entertain. The Ettrick Shepherd’s “Rule of Three” is a good one, both as regards the guests and the courses. Every one has been to crowded and extravagant dinners, where they played the hypocrite for three or four hours, and said a fervent “Thank God!” when it was over.

Two days after this dinner I was in New York to attend Edward Bok’s reception—I think at the Waldorf Astoria. I should call it a mob, and not a reception. I had with me Dr. Lysander Dickerman, but even his splendid physical bulk, could not make a way for me through the crowd. The next day he came to Cornwall with me, and with Dr. and Mrs. Stone, who called to see him, we had a delightful evening. I wish I had space to say more of Dr. Dickerman, but there must be many living yet who remember his piety, his vast stores of learning, his attractive personality and fine conversational powers. The next morning Mr. Paul, a London editor, came in and brought me his last book.

On the twenty-seventh of this January, 1896, I made an arrangement with Mr. Dodd to enlarge “The Knight of the Nets” for a book, for which they agreed to pay eight hundred dollars on January, 1897. Then I went out to spend the weekend with Irving Bacheller at his home in Port Chester. He had a beautiful place there, and a lovely wife, and I enjoyed my holiday very much. Mr. Bacheller was a good performer on the organ, which astonished me, and yet it need not have done so, for men seem to play with little or no effort. He was a fine driver also, and I saw the villages of Greenwich and Belle Haven. Professor Gaines dined one evening with us, and my visit to Mr. and Mrs. Bacheller is full of pleasant memories.

I returned to New York on Monday morning, Mr. Bacheller coming with me. I intended spending the day in the Astor Library, but when we reached Astor Place, Mr. Bacheller said 435 suddenly, “I am going to see Louis Klopsch, and I want you to go with me.”

“Who is Louis Klopsch?” I asked.

“The proprietor of the Christian Herald.”

“Oh!” I replied. “Do you think he will care to see me?”

“He will be glad to see you, and I dare promise, that you will be the better for seeing him.”

So I went to see Louis Klopsch, and it was one of the happiest and the most profitable things I ever did. We found him in his private office, and the room was in itself remarkable. It had an ornate, Eastern look; the windows were shaded with tinted glass, and there was an oil painting of “The Descent from the Cross” covering a large space of the western wall, while other Biblical pictures and models were everywhere to be seen; giving it the Oriental look of which I have spoken. And I had never seen such handsome furniture and appointments in any editor’s or even publisher’s office. I thought of the rather large closets, with their plain wooden chairs and simple desks, in which Harper’s editors sat; of the slips in which George Merriam, and Moses Coit Tyler wrote and read; the poverty of all the editorial offices I had ever seen flashed across my memory, as I sat amid the color, beauty and luxury of the office of the Christian Herald.

Dr. Klopsch rose as we entered, and with smiles came to meet us. Mr. Bacheller hastened away, I stayed nearly two hours, and they went like ten minutes. At the end of our interview, I was astonished at my first estimate of his countenance. I had then thought it remarkable, but not handsome; but I soon understood that it was the only face, that could have expressed his complex inner man, as well as properly manifest his slight, graceful personality. He had charming manners, and walked with a kind of alert grace. I have been particular about Dr. Klopsch’s appearance, for I came to know him well, both in a business and a social way, and I suspect he could appear very different, to people with whom he was not in sympathy.

I went home on the first of February, and found so many letters I could do nothing on the second but answer them. 436 Among the writers were Mrs. Libbey, and Mr. Rideing; the latter sent me a check for seventy-five dollars in payment for “Discontented Women.” On the eleventh, I went to Princeton, and remained with the Libbeys until the fourteenth, when I returned to New York, and dined with the Rideings. I liked to go to the Rideings; there was always such a sweet, old English air and influence about their home and dinners. I think they spent their summers in England, and never quite lost its atmosphere.

On the sixteenth I began to rewrite “The Knight of the Nets” for Mr. Dodd; and on the twenty-first I signed a contract with Dr. Klopsch to write him a serial for the Christian Herald for twenty-five hundred dollars. I also saw Mr. Booth King about a short story of four chapters for his paper called Fashion and promised to write it for five hundred dollars. Then I worked on “The Knight of the Nets” all the rest of February.

On the fourth of March I was again in New York attending a play and supper at Colonel Robert Ingersoll’s. Mr. Jewett went with me. I remember nothing about the play, but I shall never forget Robert Ingersoll. I know all that has been said against him. It does not alter my fixed opinion that in practice he was one of the best Christians I ever knew. He has gone to the Mercy of the Merciful One, and I can only remember his wonderful intelligence, and personal charm.

On March nineteenth the Sorosis Club gave me a breakfast at the Waldorf, at which I met Mrs. Helmuth, Jennie June (Mrs. Croly) and many other notable women. I returned home after the affair, and the next day went to work on Mr. King’s story called, “I Will Marry My Own First Love.” I did not finish it until the thirty-first, for though I had contracted for twelve thousand words, I wrote twenty-one thousand, because I could not properly develop the story with less work.

March, the twenty-ninth, was my sixty-fifth birthday. I was writing all day on the story for Mr. King. “In the evening I sat with Lilly and Alice in the firelight, and talked of God’s wonderful care over us. Alice said many comforting things. So sweet and good is the dear One! We used the new blue dinner service for the first time.” (Diary, 1896.)

437

I was on “The Knight of the Nets” again until the twentieth of April, when I got a letter from Mr. Charles Frohman, about “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” On the twenty-first I made a contract with him to dramatize it, if I could, about which fact I was doubtful. I had already realized that a play was not to write, but to build. Mr. Frohman gave me a box for that night’s performance of “The Prisoner of Zenda” and Mr. Edward Dodd and Mr. Bacheller occupied it with me. Before trying the play, I finished “The Knight of the Nets” so often delayed and put aside. This was not until the eleventh of May.

I gave nearly two weeks to the play, but felt it was not technically right, and Mr. Frohman in a kindly and gentlemanly manner told me so. And I was sorry at my failure to do what he wished. It made me nervous and sick, and I went to stay a few days at Elwyn, with Dr. Martin Barr.

This clever, delightful physician is not, I regret to say, any relative of mine, but we are the best of friends, and I always resort to him for advice when sick, and other physicians fail me. Only three months ago I did so with the usual success. He is the head of the Elwyn State Institution for Insanity in many forms, and an exceedingly clever physician and social scientist.

As the Elwyn Institution is very near to Swartmoor College I visited Professor De Gama, its principal at that time, and was delighted with him, and his large body of male and female students. He took me through the building, until we came to a door leading into a separate wing of the house. He told me he could not pass this door, as it led to the quarter sacred to the women students. “But,” he added, “go down the corridor, and you will find plenty of friends.”

I did so, and seeing a door open, and a room full of girls, I stood and looked at them. There was an instant pause, and then a little joyful cry of “Amelia Barr! Amelia Barr!” Afterwards I had as happy an hour as any woman could have, and standing among that joyous, handsome crowd of young, lovely girls, and hearing their sweet voices call me, “Friend Amelia,” I felt young again. And my thoughts flew instantly to the fair streets of Kendal, on First Day morning, full of 438 beautiful, richly-gowned Quaker girls, going to meeting, while the magical chimes of Kendal Church filled the still air above them with heavenly melody. And every morning, as long as I remained at Elwyn, I found on my breakfast table a bouquet from the girls of Elwyn College. May God bless every one of them, wherever they now dwell!

On the first of June, I began a story for Dr. Klopsch called “The King’s Highway.” It is a good story, but would have been better, if I had not received so many instructions from the editors of the Christian Herald. It had an unique acknowledgment from Mr. Thomas E. Clarke of Minneapolis, who sent me a copy of a story called “The King’s Highway” in the Dakota language.

On the twenty-second of June, I was at a dinner party given to Julian Hawthorne on his fiftieth birthday, and had the pleasure of sitting between Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Hazeltine. I know there was a very fine dinner, but as to the feast of reason and the flow of soul, if it was remarkable I have quite forgotten all about it. Yet with Hawthorne and Hazeltine present, many clever things must have been said. The two items that impressed me, was the beautiful gown of Mrs. Richard Stoddard, and the wreath of laurel that crowned the chair in which Julian Hawthorne sat.

On the ninth of July I was so tired, that I took my work to Nantasket and stayed there two weeks. It was then a quiet seaside resort, I believe it is now a kind of Coney Island. But I met pleasant people, and saw the New Englander on his native soil, and liked him so much, that I wrote the following poem to express my admiration of his character:

They intended to go to Virginia,

But God at the wheel said, “No!

The hundred that I have chosen,

To the cold, white North shall go.

I will temper them there as by fire,

I will try them a hundred fold,

I will shake them with all its tempests,

I will steady them with its cold.”

439

So these men from the English meadows

By the pitiless Plymouth Bay,

Learned well the worth of their Freedom,

By the price they had to pay.

But out of the fires of affliction,

The tumult and struggle of wars,

They brought forth her glorious banner,

Its azure all shining with stars.

The Hundred has grown to a nation,

The wilderness blooms like the rose,

And all through the South and the West

Go the men of the ice and the snows.

But wherever they go, they carry

The strength of their forefather’s fight—

The courage and moral uprightness,

Of men who prefer to do right.

On July thirty-first, I had a letter from my sister Alethia who was staying a few weeks at Castletown in the Isle of Man. In this letter she told me she had been with a marble cutter to Kirk Malew churchyard and had had Captain Thomas Huddleston’s grave stone cleaned and all the moss and lichen removed from the lettering. My readers may remember that he was captain of the Great Harry and was bringing home troops from America, when his ship was wrecked on Scarlet Rocks, every one on board perishing. And she told me, that when the stone was cleaned, she noticed that this tragedy occurred on the twenty-ninth of March, so that Captain Thomas Henry Huddleston and his son Henry died on the day that I was born.

Early in August I finished “The King’s Highway” and began to try to dramatize “The Bow of Orange Ribbon.” I did not stop for anything except to visit Mr. Hearst’s Children’s Republic near Haverstraw, and to write an article about it. I finished the play in September, and Mr. Frohman was so far pleased with it that he promised to find a playwright who understood stage business to work with me. On the twenty-fourth, he introduced me to Mr. August Thomas, who agreed to direct the work as soon as I came to the city for the winter.

440

October was a very busy month. I wrote half a dozen articles for Dr. Klopsch, and on the twentieth I went to Princeton to attend a great anniversary. I stayed with my old pupil, Professor William Libbey, and Professor Wheeler of the California University, the author of a fascinating “Life of Alexander the Great,” was there with me. Professor Jacobus and Mrs. Jacobus were also there, and at night I went to a college concert with Mrs. Libbey. On the twenty-first I went to Alexander Hall with Mrs. Libbey and heard Henry Van Dyke deliver a splendid poem written by himself called “The Builders.” After it, I was unable to decide whether he was greater as an orator, or a poet. On the twenty-second I saw the degrees given, heard Mr. Cleveland speak, and then went to a reception at President Patton’s. On the third of the following March, I had a letter from Moses Coit Tyler in which he says:

My dear Mrs. Barr:

I had from my colleague Wheeler a faithful account of his talk with you at Princeton last fall, and of your kind message to me. I’m sorry that I can’t send you a portrait of the literary editor of the Christian Union as he looked twenty-four years ago, when he was that great man. So I must ask you to accept this his latest portrait, which may tell you that these years which have crowned you with laurels, have crowned him with gray hairs. All the same he is

Yours faithfully,

Moses Coit Tyler.

March 30, 1897.

On the twenty-fourth I was at home and wrote an article for Dr. Klopsch on the Armenian question, and on the twenty-sixth I went to a great meeting in Carnegie Hall, called to sympathize with the persecuted Armenian Christians. This meeting was chiefly memorable to me, because I met there Dr. Burrell. He made the great speech of the occasion, and as I sat beside him on the platform I heard and enjoyed every word of it. As an orator, I do not think he has many equals, and his voice is very fine and resonant, and his gestures expressive and pleasing.

441

During all the month I had been working as I found opportunity on the “Prisoners of Conscience” enlarging it for the Century Company, but I also wrote an article for the Advance on the “Four Champions of Justification by Faith”—Paul, St. Augustine, Luther and John Wesley. At the close of October I saw Mr. Frohman again, and he told me Mr. Thomas wanted one thousand dollars to go over the play, and he would not give it. He was most kind and gentlemanly, but I think this disappointment wearied him. I knew how he felt, because I also was weary of work that wouldn’t be manageable, and I laid it aside without any regret, and returned gladly to “Prisoners of Conscience.”

On the twelfth of November I was in New York, and going into Mr. Dodd’s store then on Fifth Avenue about Twenty-second Street, I met there Barrie and Mrs. Barrie, and Robertson Nicoll, a distinguished editor and publisher of London. I thought Mrs. Barrie a lovely and most attractive woman, and I was proud to take the hand of the famous Scotch novelist.

On the twenty-third of November I went to New York for the winter. I had not finished “Prisoners of Conscience,” but Alice was so exceedingly psychic, I thought it best to take her away from the solitude of Cherry Croft to the material stir of the city. We went to the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the proprietors of which house always made such favorable terms for me, that it was a point of economy in the winter to go there.

On the twenty-seventh, Mr. Frank Dodd asked me to a reception given to Ian McLaren, and on the same day Mr. Sankey gave me a pass to the Moody and Sankey meetings. I did not like Ian McLaren much, but I did like the stir of human feeling in the other invitation, and Mr. Sankey’s singing pleased me, for my taste had not been either trained, or spoiled, by too much classical music; and Sankey’s singing had in it, not only a fine lyrical cry, but also that “touch of Nature, which makes all men kin.”

On the twelfth of this December, Mrs. Klopsch called on me, and then and there began the sweetest friendship that has come into my life. I love beauty, and she was, and still is, very beautiful; and her kind, cheerful disposition made her ten 442 times more so. From that hour I have loved her dearly, nay, but I think I must have loved her somewhere long before that hour, for our attachment was always full grown. And I count her love among the best blessings that God has given me.

On the seventeenth, Mrs. Libbey called and brought me the Professor’s photo in cap and gown. He looked very grave and handsome, and I could not help thinking of the days, in which I had given him music lessons, and cut many a slice of bread and jelly for him, when he came into my cottage, after a morning on the ice. Mr. Jewett took dinner with me and I finished “Prisoners of Conscience.” On Christmas morning Mr. Jewett entered my parlor with armsful of laurel and mistletoe, and dressed it beautifully; and Lilly and her husband came over from Brooklyn to dine with me. I believe in good dinners. In some way or other domestic happiness has a fundamental dependence on them, they are conducive to amiable understandings. They are a festal sacrifice to household love, and sacred friendship, and intellectual recreation; and they are necessary to every kind of success. Only the Scotsman “who is fit for anything when he is half-starved” may neglect his dinner, and not injure his fortune.

The year 1897 has a record similar to the one just described. I spent the first three months at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and then returned joyfully to Cherry Croft, and remained there until near the close of the year. It will be sufficient, if I now note the days containing distinctive events; for instance, on the seventh of January I addressed the men at the Bowery Mission, and on the fifteenth began a story for the Bacheller Syndicate, called “The Price She Paid.” Lilly was sick with grippe, and I missed her daily visit very much. On the twenty-ninth Mr. Thomas called again about the play, and I returned to it, but with little heart, though working under his direction. On the seventeenth of February I wrote “still working hard, but hopelessly on my play. I have finished the second act, and Mr. Thomas professes to be satisfied, even pleased; but then he is a very courteous gentleman.” On the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh I was at the Astor Library, and had a long comforting 443 talk with Mr. Beauregard on reincarnation and other spiritual subjects.

On the fourth of March, Mr. Thomas came and appeared well satisfied with what I had done, and on the ninth Mr. Frank Dodd called and contracted for my next two stories. On the eleventh Mr. Beauregard dined with me, and afterwards lectured in my parlor on occultism. The rooms were crowded, and every one much interested. On the thirteenth I made tea at the Author’s Club, having General Sickles at my left hand. I took a dislike to him, perhaps unjustly, but the Southern gallantry I had admired forty years ago, seemed out of place in a man so old, and a company calm and intellectual. The following day I was at Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson’s to dinner. His now famous son was present, a dark handsome youth, with the quiet thoughtful eyes of dreaming genius.

I spent the evening of the twenty-first at Mr. Dana’s, and saw all his wonderful collection of pottery. Very carefully he unlocked for me the box that held the famous Peach Blow jar, and I will tell the truth, and acknowledge that I was insensible to its beauty. I thought I had seen far lovelier vases. Rutger Jewett was with me, and on the twenty-fifth I was at Dr. Jewett’s to tea. On the twenty-sixth Dr. Klopsch asked me to go to India with the ship load of corn and wheat which American women had given to the famine sufferers. He wished me to go as the representative of these American women. My children would not allow me to accept the offer, which I regretted. The twenty-ninth was my sixty-sixth birthday, and all my rooms were full of flowers, but Lilly had gone to Cornwall, and could not come, so there was a little shadow on it. I spent the afternoon of the thirty-first at Colonel Ingersoll’s and met there Andrew White, our Minister to Berlin, a most interesting man. He was just publishing a book and promised to send me a copy.

On the first of April I came back to Cherry Croft. Lilly had gone there three days previo