So Beltran was a Rebel.

Vivia stood before the glass, brushing out black shadows from her long, fine hair. There lay the letter as little Jane had left it, as she had let it lie till all the doors had clanged between, as she had laid it down again. She paused, with the brush half lifted, to glance once more at the clear superscription, to turn it and touch with her finger-tips the firm seal. Then she went on lengthening out the tresses that curled back again at the end like something instinct with life.

How long it had been in coming! — gradual journeys up from those Southern shores, and slumber in some comrade’s care till a flag of truce could bear it across beneath the shelter of its white wing. Months had passed. And where was Beltran now ? Living, — Vivia had a proud assurance in her heart of that ! her heart that went swiftly gliding back into the past, and filling old scenes with fresh fire. Thinking thus, she bent forward with dark, steady gaze, as if she sought for its pictures in the uncertain depths of the mirror, and there they rose as of old the crystal gave them back to the seeker. It was no gracious woman bending there that she saw, but a scene where the very air infused with sunlight seemed to glow, the house with its wide veranda veiled in vines, and above it towering the rosy cloud of an oleander-tree, behind it the far azure strip of the bay, before it the long low line of sandy beach where the waters of the Gulf forever swung their silver tides with a sullen roar, — for the place was one of those islands that make the perpetual fortifications of the Texan coast. Vivia, a slender little maiden of eleven summers, rocks in a boat a rod from shore, and by her side, his length along the warm wave, his arm along the boat, a boy floats in his linen clothes, an amphibious child, so undersized as to seem but little more than a baby, and yet a year her senior. He swims round and round the skiff in circling frolics, followed by the great dog who gambols with them, he dives under it and comes up far in advance, he treads water as he returns, and, seizing the painter, draws it forward while she sits there like Thetis guiding her sea-horses. Then, as the sun flings down more fervid showers, together they beach the boat and scamper up the sand, where old Disney, who has been dredging for oysters in the great bed below, crowns his basket with little Ray, and bears him off perched aloft on his bent back. Vivia walks beside the old slave in her infantile dignity, and disregards the sundry attempts of Ray’s outstretched arms, till of a sudden the beating play of hoofs runs along the ground, and Beltran, with his morning’s game, races by on his fiery mustang, and, scarcely cheeking his speed as he passes, stoops from the saddle and lifts the little girl before him. Vivia would look back in triumph upon Ray in his ignoble conveyance, but the affair has already been too much for him, he has flung himself on the instant from old Disney’s basket, as if he were careless whether he fell under the horse’s feet or not, but knowing perfectly well that Beltran will catch him. And Beltran, suddenly pulling up with a fierce rein, does catch him, bestows him with Vivia, slightly to her dainty discomfort, and dashes on. Noon deepens; Vivia does not sleep, she seeks Ray, Ray who does not sleep either, but who is not to be beguiled. For, one day, the child in his troubled dreams had been found by Beltran with a white coil of fangs and venom for his pillow; and never since has Beltran taken his noontide siesta but Ray watches beside him till the thick brown lashes lift themselves Once more. For, if Ray knows what worship is, he would show you Beltran enshrined in his heart, this brother a dozen years his elder, who had hailed his birth with stormy tears of joy, who had carried him for years when he was yet too weak to walk, who in his own full growth would seem to have absorbed the younger’s share, were it not that, tiny as Ray may be, his every nerve is steel, made steel, though, by the other, and so trained and suppled and put at his service. It was Beltran who had first flung him astride the saddle and sent him loping off to town alone, but who had secretly' followed him from thicket to thicket, and stood ready in the market-place at last to lift him down ; it was Beltran who had given him his own rifle, had taught him to take the bird on the wing, had led him out at night to see the great silent alligator in his scale-armor sliding over the land from the coast and plunging into the fresh waters of the bay, — who took him with him on the long journeys for gathering in the cattle of the vast stockfarm, let him sleep beside himself on the bare prairie-floor, like a man, with his horse tethered to his boot, told him the spot in the game on which to draw his bead, showed him what part to dress, and made him chef de cuisine in every' camp they crossed; it was he who had taught him how to hold himself in any wild stampede, on the prairie how to conquer fire with fire, to find water as much his element as air; it is Beltran, in short, who has made him this little marvel which at twelve years old he finds himself to be, — this brother who serves him so, and whom he adores, for whom he passionately' expresses his devotion, — this brother whom he loves as he loves the very life he lives. So Vivia, too, sits down at Beltran’s feet that day, and busies herself with those pink plumes of the spoonbill’s wings which he brought home to her, — so that, when he wakes, he sees her standing there like the spirit of his dream, her dark eyes shining out from under the floating shadowy hair, and the rosy wings trembling on her little white shoulders. And just then Beltran has no word for Ray', the customary smiling word always waited for, since his eyes are on the vision at his feet, and straightway the child springs down, springs where he can intercept Beltran’s view, seems to rise in his wrath ahead above the girl, and, looking at Beltran all the while, slaps Vivia on the cheek. Instantly two hands have clasped about his wrists, two hands that hold him in a vice, and two eyes are gazing down into his own and paralyzing him. Still the grasp, the gaze, continue ; as Vivia watches that look, a great blue glow from those eyes seems to cloud her own brain. The color rises on Ray’s cheeks, his angry eyes fall, his chest heaves, his lips tremble, off from the long black lashes spin sprays of tears, he cannot move, he is so closely held, but slowly he turns his head, meets the red lips of the forgiving girl with his, then easts himself with sobs on Beltran’s breast. And all that evening, as the sudden heavy clouds drive down and quench sunset and starlight, while they sit about a great fire, Beltran keeps her at his side and Ray maintains his place, and within there is light and love, and without the sand trembles to the shock of sound and the thunder of the surf, and the heaven is full of the wildly flying blast of the Norther.

Still, as Vivia gazed into the silent mirror, the salient points of her life started up as if memory held a torch to them in their dark recesses, and another picture printed its frosty spiculce upon the gray surface of the glass before her. No ardent arch of Southern noontide now, no wealth of flower and leaf, no pomp of regnant summer, but winter has darkened down over sad Northern countries, and white Arctic splendor hedges a lake about with the beauty of incomparable radiance ; the trees whose branches overhang the verge are foamy fountains, frozen as they fall; distantly beyond them the crisp upland fields stretch their snowy sparkle to touch the frigid-flashing sapphire of the sky, and bluer than the sky itself their shadows fall about them ; every thorn, every stem, is set, a spike of crusted lustre in its icy mail; the tingling air takes the breath in silvery wreaths; and wherever the gay garment of a skater breaks the monotone with a gleam of crimson or purple, the shining feet beneath chisel their fantastic curves upon a floor that is nothing but one glare of crystal sheen. And here, hero of the scene, glides Beltran, master of the Northern art as school-days made him, skates as of old some young Viking skated, all his being bubbling in a lofty glee, with blue eyes answering this icy brilliance as they dazzle back from the tawny countenance, with every muscle rippling grace and vigor to meet the proud volition, lithely cutting the air, swifter than the swallow's wing in its arrowy precision, careless as the floating flake in effortless motion, skimming along the lucid sheathing that answers his ringing heel with a tune of its own, and swaying in his almost aerial medium, lightly, easily, as the swimming fish sways to the currents of the tide. Scoring whitely their tracery of intricate lines, the groups go by in whorls, in angles, in sweeping circles, and the ice shrinks beneath them; here a fairy couple slide along, waving and bowing and swinging together; far away some recluse in his pleasure sports alone with folded arms, careening in the outward roll like the mast of a phantom - craft; everywhere inshore clusters of ruddycheeked boys race headlong with their hawkey-sticks, and with their wild cries, making benders where the ice surges in a long swell; and constantly in Beltran’s wake slips Vivia, a scarlet shadow, while a clumsy little black outline is ever designing itself at her heels as Ray strives in vain to perfect the mysteries of the left stroke. All about, the keen air breathes its exhilaration, and the glow seems to penetrate the pores till the very blood dances along filled with such intoxicating influence; all above, the afternoon heaven deepens till it has no hidden richness, and between one and the pale gold of the coldly reddening horizon the white air seems hollow as the flaw in some great transparent jewel. Still they wind away in their gladness, when hurriedly Beltran reaches his hand for the heedless Vivia’s, and hurriedly she sees terrifying grooves spreading round them, a great web-work of cracks, — the awful ice lifts itself, sinks, and out of a monstrous fissure chill death rises to meet them and ingulf them. In an instant, Ray, who might have escaped, has hurled himself upon them, and then, as they all struggle: for one drowning breath in the flood, Vivia dimly divines through her horror an arm stretched first towards Ray, snatched back again, and bearing her to safety. Ray has already scrambled from the shallow breach where his brother alone found bottom ; waiting hands assist Beltran ; but as she lingers that moment shivering on the brink, blindly remembering the double movement of that arm beneath the ice, she silently asks, with a thrill, if he suffered Ray to save himself because he was a boy, and could, or because — because she was Vivia!

Southern noontide, winter twilight lost themselves again, as Vivia gazed, in the soft starry gleam of an April midnight. A quiet room, dimly lighted by a flame that dying eyes no longer see; two figures kneeling, one at either side of the mother, — the little apple-blossom of a mother brought up to die among her own people, — one shaking with his storm of sobs, the other supporting the dear, weary head on his strong breast, and stifling his very heart-beat lest it stir the frail life too roughly. And the mother lifts the lids of her faint eyes, as when a parting vapor reveals rifts of serene heaven, gazes for a moment, into the depths of her firsts born’s tenderness, gropes darkly for his fingers and for the hot little hand thrust eagerly forth to meet hers, closes one about the other, and folds them both upon her own heart. Then Beltran bends and gathers from the lips the life that kindled his. With a despairing cry, Ray flings himself forward, and dead and living lie in Beltran’s arms, while the strong convulsion of his heart rends up a hollow groan from its emptiness. And Vivia draws aside the curtain, and the gentle wind brings in the sweet earthy scent of fresh furrows lately wet with showers, and the ever-shifting procession of the silent stars unveil themselves of gauzy cloud, and glance sadly down with their abiding eyes upon these fleeting shadows.

After all, who can deny that there is magic in a mirror, a weird atmosphere imprisoned between the metal and the glass, borrowing the occult powers of the gulf of space, and returning to us our own wraith and apparition at any hour of the day or night when we smite it with a ray of light, — reaching with its searching power into the dark places where we have hidden Ourselves, and seizing and projecting them in open sight ? Who doubts that this sheeny panel on so many walls, with wary art slurring off its elusive gleam, could, at the one compelling word, paint again the reflections of all on which it silently dreams in its reticent heart, — the joy, the grief, the weeping face, the laughing lip, the lover’s kiss, the tyrant’s sneer, almost the crouched and bleeding soul on which that sneer descended, of which some wandering beam carried record ? When we remember the violin, inwardly ridged with the vibrations of old tunes, old discords, who would wonder to find some charactery of light tracing its indelible script within the crystal substance? And here, if Vivia saw one other scene blaze out before her and vanish, why not believe, for fancy’s sake, that it was as real a picture as the image of the dark and beautiful girl herself bending there with the carmine stain upon her cheek, the glowing, parted lips, the shining eyes, the shadowy hair ?

Late spring down on tin: Maryland farm : you know it by the intense blue through that quaint window draped with such a lushness of vines, such a glory of blossom. In at the open door, whose frame is arabesqued with hanging sprays of sweetbrier, with the pendent nest, with fluttering moth-wings sunshine - dusted, with crowds of bursting buds, pours the mellow sun in one great stream, pours from the peach - orchards the fragrant breeze laden with bird-song. A girl, standing aside, with clasped hands drooping before her, her gaze upon a shadow on the floor in the midst of that broad stream of light. Casting that shadow, under the lintel, a young man clad for travel. Since he left his Southern home, ruin has befallen it; he dares not ask one lapped in luxury to share such broken fortunes as his seem to-day, even though such stout shoulders, so valiant a heart, buffet them. If she loves, it is enough ; they can wait; their treasure neither moth nor rust can corrupt; their jewel is imperishable. If she loves----He is looking in her eyes, holding to her his hands. Slowly the girl meets his glance. A long look, one long, silent look, infinitude in its assurance, its glow wrapping her, blue and smiling as heaven itself, reaching him like the evening star seen through tears, — a word, a touch, had profaned with a trait of earthliness so remote, so spiritual a betrothal. He goes, and still the upwardsmiling girl sees the sunshine, hears the bird-song, — a boy dashes by the door and down the path to meet the last, closelingering embrace of two waiting arms at the gate, — and then there is nothing but Vivia bending and gazing at herself in the glass with a flushed and fevered eagerness of rapture.

“ The wild, sweet tunes that darkly deep
Thrill through thy veins and shroud thy sleep,
That swing thy blood with proud, glad sway,
And beat thy life's arterial play, —
Still wilt thou have this music sweep
Along thy brain its pulsing leap, —
Keep love away! keep love away!
“The joy of peace that wide and high
Like light floods through the soaring sky,
The day divine, the night akin,
Heaven in the heart, ah, wilt thou win,
The secret of the hoarded years,
Life rounded as the shining spheres,—
Let love come in! let love come in ! ”

she sang, to ease her heart of its swelling gladness.

But here Vivia dared not concentrate her recollections, dared not dally with such distant delight, — twisted and tossed her hair into its coils, and once more opened the letter. Ray had not lived for three years under converging influences, years which are glowing wax beneath the seal of fresh impressions, years when one puts off or takes on the tendencies of a lifetime, — Ray had not lived those three school-years without contracting habits, whims, determinations of his own : let her have Beltran’s reasons to meet Ray's objections.

They were up at the little meadowside cottage of Mrs. Vennard, Ray’s maternal aunt, a quiet widow, who was glad to receive her dying sister in her house a year and a half ago, as she had often received her boys before, and who was still willing to eke out her narrow income with the board of one nephew and any summer guest; and as that summer guest, owing to an old family-friendship that overlooked differences of rank and wealth, Vivia had, for many a season, been established. Here, when bodings of trouble began to darken her sunny fields, she had, in early spring, withdrawn again, leaving her maiden aunt to attend to the affairs of the homestead, or to find more luxurious residence in watering-places or cities, as she chose. For Vivia liked the placid life and freedom of the cottage, and here, too, she had oftenest met those dear friends to whom one winter her father, long since dead, had taken her, and half of all that was pleasant in her life had inwoven itself with the simple surroundings of the place. Here, in that fatal spring when the first tocsin alarmed the land, Ray, now scarcely any longer a boy, yet with a boy’s singleness of mind, though possessing neither patience nor power for subtilties of difficult reason and truth, thinking of no lonely portion, but of the one great fact of country, had been fired with spontaneous fervor, and had ever since been like some restive steed champing the bit and quivering to start. As for Vivia, she was a Maryland woman. Too burningly indignant, the blood bubbled in her heart for words sometimes, and she would be glad of Beltran's weapons with which to confront Ray when he returned from Boston, whither, the day before, without a word’s explanation, he had betaken himself. So she turned again to the open letter, and scanned its weightiest paragraphs.

“ There is a strange reversal of right and wrong, when the American Peace Society declares itself for war. There is, then, a greater evil than war, even than civil war, with its red, fratricidal hands? — Slavery. But, could that be destroyed, it would be the first great evil ever overcome by force of arms. They fight tangibly with an intangible foe ; tangible issues rise between them ; the black, intangible phantom hovers safe behind. But even should they visibly succeed, is there not left the very root of the matter to put forth fresh growth, — that moral condition in which the thing lived at all ? An evil that has its source in the heart must be eradicated by slow medicinal cure of the blood. To fight against the stars in their courses, one must have brands of starry temper. No sudden shocks of battle will sweep Slavery from the sphere. Can one conquer the universe by proclamation ? 'Lyra will rise to-morrow,’ said some one, after Ciesar reformed the calendar. ‘ Doubtless,’ replied Cicero, ' there is an edict for it.’ But, believe me, there can be no broad, stupendous evil, unless it be a part of God’s plan ; and in His own time, without other help from us than the performance of our duty, it will slough off its slime and rise into some fair superstructure. Our efforts dash like spray against the rock, — the spray is broken, the rock remains. To annihilate evil with evil,— that is an error in itself against which every man is justified in taking up his sword.

“ So far, I have allowed the sin. Yet, sin or not, in this country the estate of the slave is unalterable. Segregately, the institution is their protection. For though there is no record of the contact of superior and inferior races on a basis of equality, where the inferior did not absorb the superior, yet, if every slave were set free to-day, imbruted through generations, it could not be on a basis of equality that we should meet, and they would be as inevitably sunk and lost as the detritus that a river washes into the sea. If the black stay here, it must be as a menial. In his own latitudes, where, after the third generation, the white man ceases to exist, he is the stronger; there the black man is king : let him betake himself to his realm. Abolition is impracticable, colonization feasible; on either is gunpowder wasted: one cannot explode a lie by the blast.

“ But Saying the worst of our incubus that can be said, could all its possible accumulation of wrong and woe exceed that of four years of such a war as this ? Think a moment of what this land was, what a great beacon and celestial city across the waves to the fugitives from tyranny; think of our powerful pride in eastern seas, in western ports, when each ship’s armament carried with it the broadside of so many sovereign States, when each citizen felt his own hand nerved with a people’s strength, when no young man woke in the morning without the perpetual aurora of high hopes before him, when peace and plenty were all about us,—and then think of misery at every hearth, of civilization thrust back a century, of the prestige of freedom lost among the nations, of the way paved for despots. And how needlessly !

“ They taunted us, us the source of all their wealth, with the pauper’s deserting the poor-house; we put it to proof; when, lo ! with a hue and cry, the blood-hounds arc upon us, the very dogs of war. So needless a war ! For has it not been a fundamental principle that every people has a right to govern itself? We chose to exercise that right. Was it worth the while to refuse it ? Exhausted, drained, dispeopled, they may chain a vassal province to their throne; but, woe be to thorn, upon that conquering day, their glory has departed from them ! The first Revolution was but the prologue to this: that was sealed in blood ; in this might have been demonstrated the progress made under eighty years of freedom, by a peaceful separation. It is the Flight of the Tartar Tribe anew, and the whole barbarous Northern nation pours its hordes after, hangs on the flank, harasses, impedes, slaughters, —but we reach the shadow of the Great Wall at last. If we had not the right to leave the league, how had we the right to enter ? If we had not the right to leave, they also had not the right to withhold us. Yet, when we entered, resigning much, receiving much, retaining more, we were each a unit, a power, a commonwealth, a nation, or, as we chose to term it, a State, — as much a state as any of the great states of Europe, as Britain, as France, as Spain, and jealously ever since have we individually regarded any infringement on our integrity. That, and not the mere tangle of race that in time must unravel itself, is the question of the age. Long ago it was said that our people, holding it by transmission, never having struggled for it, would some day cease rightly to value the one chief bulwark of liberty. Nothing is more true. They of the North will lose it, we of the South shall gain it; for, battling on a grander scale than our ancestors, tire South is to-day taking out the great habeas corpus of States! ”

No matter whether all this was sophistry or truth. Beltran had said it, — that was enough ; so strongly did she feel his personality in what he wrote, that the soul was exultant, jubilant, defiant, within her. Other words there were in the letter, such words as are written to but one; the blood swept up to Vivia’s lips as she recalled them, and her heart sprang and bounded like one of those balls kept in perpetual play by the leaping, bubbling column of a fountain. She was in one of those dangerous states of excitement after which the ancients awaited disaster. That last picture of the mirror dazzled her vision again ; she saw the sunshine, smelt the perfume, heard the bird-song. How a year had changed the scene ! The house was a barrack ; now down in her Maryland peachorchards the black muzzles of Federal cannon yawned, and under the flickering shadows and sunshine the grimy gunners, knee-deep in grass and dew, brushed away the startled clover-blooms, as they touched fire to the breach. Beltran was a Rebel. Vivia was a Rebel, too ! She ran down-stairs into her little parlor overflowing with flowers. As she walked to and fro, the silent keys of her pianoforte met her eye. Excellent conductors. Half standing, half sitting, she awoke its voices, and, to a rolling, silvery thunder of accompaniment, commenced singing, —

“ The lads of Kilmarnock had swords and had spears
And lang-bladed daggers to kill cavaliers,
But they shrunk to the wall and the causey left free
At one toss of the bonnet of Bonny Dundee!
So fill up my cup, come fill up my can,
Saddle my horses and call up my men,
Open your west-port and let me gae free,
For it 's up with the bonnets of Bonny Dundee! ”

Some one in the distance, echoing the last line with an emphasis, caught her ear in the pause. It was Ray. He had already returned, then. She snatched the letter and sped into the kitchen, where she was sure to find him.

Mrs. Vennard rocked in her miniature sitting-room at one side, contentedly matching patchwork. Little Jane Vennard, her step-daughter, — usually at work in the mills, but, since their close, making herself busy at home, whither she bad brought a cookery-book through which Ray declared he expected to eat his way, — bustled about from room to room. Ray sat before the fire in the kitchen and toasted some savory morsel suspended on a string athwart the blaze.

“ Where have you been, Ray ? ” said Vivia, approaching, with her glowing cheeks, her sparkling eyes. “And what are you doing now ? ”

“ Trying camp-life again,” replied Ray, looking up at her in a fixed admiration.

“ I’ve had a letter from Beltran.”

“ Oh ! where is he ? ” cried Ray.

“ Beltran is in camp,”

“ And where ? ”

“ Perhaps on the Rio Grande, perhaps on the Potomac.”

“ Do you mean to say,” cried Ray, springing up, while string and all fell into the coals, “ that Beltran, my brother ”

“ Is a Rebel.”

“ Then I am a rebel, too,” said Ray, chokingly, sitting down again, and mechanically stooping to pick up the burning string, — “a rebel to him! ”

“ You won’t be a rebel to him, if you ’ll listen to reason, — his reason.”

“ He’s got no reason. It ’s only because he was there.”

“ Now, Raymond Lamar ! if you talk so, you sha’n’t read the letter ! ”

“ I don’t want to read it.”

“ Have you left off loving Beltran, because he differs from you ? ”

“ Left off loving Beltran ! ”

Vivia waited a moment, leaning on the back of his chair, and then Ray, bending, covered his face with his hands, and the large tears oozed from between his brawn fingers.

Little Jane, whipping the frothy snow of her eggs, went on whipping all the harder for fear Ray should know she saw him. And Vivia, with one hand upon his bead, took away the brown fingers, that her own cool, fragrant palm might press upon his burning lids. Such sudden tears belong to such tropical natures. For there was no anger or sullenness in Ray’s grief; he was just and simply sorry.

“ He must have forgotten me,” said Ray, after a sober while.

“ There was this note for you in mine, and a draft on New York, because he thought you might be in arrears.”

“ No, I ’m not. Aunty can have the draft, though; she may need it before I come back,” said Ray, brokenly, gazing into the fire. “ Do you suppose Beltran wrote mine or yours first ? ”

“ Yours.”

“ Then you 've the last thing he ever set his hand to, perhaps! ”

“ Don’t talk so, child! ” said Vivia, with an angry shiver. “ Come back ! Where are you going ? ”

“ I enlisted, yesterday, in the Kansas Cavalry.”

Great heavens, Ray! was there not another regiment in all the world than one to be sent down to New Mexico to meet Beltran and the Texan Rangers ? ” cried Vivia, wringing her hands.

Ray was on his feet again, a swarm of expletives buzzing inarticulately at his lips.

“ I never thought of that,” said he, whiter than ashes.

“ What made you ? oh, what made you ? ”

“ There was no other company. I liked this captain. He gave me to-day’s furlough. I 'm going to-night; little Jane ’s promised to fix my traps ; she 's making me these cookies now, you see. Pshaw ! Beltran’s up on the Potomac, or else you could n’t have gotten this letter, — don’t you know? You made my heart jump into my mouth ! ”

And resuming his seat, to find his string and jack in cinders, he turned round astride his chair and commenced notching his initials into its back, with cautious glances at his aunt,

“ That’s for little Jane to cry over after I’m gone,” said he.

“ Ray—How do you think Beltran will like it ? ”

“ I can’t help what Beltran likes. I shall be doing God’s work.”

“ Beltran says God does His own work.

He only requires of us our duty.”

“ That is my duty.”

“ You feel, Ray, as if you were possessed by the holy ardor of another Sir Galahad ! ”

“ I feel, Vivia, that I shall give what strength I have towards ridding the world of its foulest disease.”

“ With what a good grace that comes from you ! ”

“ With all the better grace.”

“ The old Berserker rage over again ! ”

“ Quite as fine as running amuck.”

“ Ray, the race that does not rise for itself deserves its fate.”

“ Vivia, no race deserves such a fate as this one has found.”

“ Idle ! I have seen slavery ; own slaves : there is nothing monstrous in it.”

“In Maryland.”

“ Anywhere.”

“ Wailing children, sundered families, women under the lash ”-----

“ You know very well, Ray, that there is a law against the separation of families.”

“ I never heard of it.”

“ Audubon says there is.”

“ A little bird told him,” interpolated Jane.

“ But I ’ve seen them separated.”

“ I don’t believe,” urged Vivia, “ but for exceptional abuses, there’s a system providing for a happier peasantry on the face of the earth.”

“ It can’t be a good system that allows such abuses.”

“ There are even abuses of the sacraments.”

“ Pshaw, Vivia ! ”

“Well, Ray, I don't believe in this pseudo-chivalry of yours, any more than Beltran does.”

“ If Beltran said black was white, you ’d think that true ! ”

If Beltran said so, it would be true.”

“ It’s no more likely that he should be right than that I should be.”

“ You could n’t have spoken so about Beltran once ! ”

“ Well, black or white, slave or free, never think I shall sit by and see my country fall to ruins.”

“ Your country ? Do you suppose you love it any more than I do ? ”

“ You ’re a woman.”

“ Suppose I am a woman, you unkind boy ”

“ Well, you only love half of it, — the Southern half.”

“ I love my whole country ! " cried Vivia, all aflame. “ I love these purple, rust-stained granites here, the great savannas there, — the pine forests, the sea-like prairies, — every river rolling down its rocky bed, — every inch of its beautiful, glorious soil, — all its proud, free people. I love my whole country ! ”

“ Only you hate some of its parasites. But Beltran would tell you that you have n’t got any country. You may love your native State. As for country, it’s nothing but a — what-you-may-call-it.”

“ Very true. It is in observing the terms of that what-you-may-call-it,—that federation, that bond,—an mutual concessions, in fraternal remembrances, that we gain a country. And what a country ! ”

“Yes, what a country, Vivia! And shall I consent to resign an atom of it while there ’s a drop of blood in my body, to lose a single grain of its dust ? When Beltran brought me here three years ago, I sailed day and night up a mighty river, from one zone into another,—sailed for weeks between banks that were still my own country. And if I had ever returned, we should have passed by the thundering ledges of New England, Jersey surfs and shallows, the sand-bars of the Carolines, the shores of Florida lying like a faint green cloud long and low upon the horizon, — sailing a thousand miles again in our own waters. Enormous borders ! and throughout their vast stretch happiness and promise ! And shall I give such dominion to the first traitor that demands it ? No ! nor to the thousandth ! There she lies, bleeding, torn, prostrate, a byword! Why, Vivia, this was my country, she that made me, reared me, gladdened me ! It is the new crusade. I understand none of your syllogisms. My country is in danger. Here ’s my hand!”

And Ray stood erect, bristling and fiery, as sonic one reddening in the very light of battle.

And answering him only with flashing cyes,Vivia sang, in her triumphant, thrilling tones, —

“ Hark to a wandering child’s appeal,
Maryland! my Maryland!
My mother State, to thee I kneel,
Maryland! my Maryland!
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! my Maryland!”

“You ’re a wicked girl, Vivia, if you are as beautiful as Phryne!" exclaimed Ray, while little Jane picked herself up from the table, across which she had been leaning with both arms and her dishtowel, and staring forgetfully at him.

Vivia laughed.

“ Well, you young fanatic,” said she, “ we can’t convert each other. We are both incontrovertible. Let us be friends. One needs more time than we have to quarrel in.”

“ Yes,” said Ray. “ I am going this afternoon, and I shall drink of every river west of the Mississippi before I come back. It’s a wild life, a royal life; I am thirsty for its excitement and adventure.”

“Jane,” called Mrs. Vennard from within, “ did you find all the nests today ? ”

“ All but two, Ma’am,” said little Jane, as she let a tempting odor escape from the tin oven. “ The black hen got over the fence last night; she’s down in tho lot. And the cropple-crown laid away.”

“ You’d better get them.”

“ Yes, Ma’am.”

“ If you’d just as lief.”

“ Oh, yes, Ma’am ! ”

“ We ’ll go, too,” said Ray.

“ Oh, no, you need n’t.”

“ We’d like to, little Jane. Are tho cookies done ? By George ! don’t they look like manna ? They ’ll last all the way to Fort Riley. And be manna in the wilderness. Smoking hot. Have some, Vivia ? Little Jane, I say, ’t would be jolly, if you’d go along and cook for the regiment.”

“ Is that all you’d want of me ? ”

“It ’s a wonderful region for grasshoppers out there, you know ; you’d improvise us such charming dishes of locusts and wild honey ! As for cookies, a snow-flake and a sunbeam, and there they are,” said Ray, making inroads on the FortRiley stores ; while little Jane set down a cup of beaten cream by his side.

“ Janets are trumps ! Vivia, don’t you wish you were going to the war? ”

“ Yes,” said Vivia.

“ There is something in it, is n’t there?’ said Ray. “ You ’ll sit at home, and how your blood will boil! What keeps you women alive ? Darning stockings, I suppose. There’s only one thing I dread : ’t would be hard to read of other men’s glory, and I lying ftaton my back. Would you make me cookies then, little Jane ? ”

Little Jane only gave him one swift, shy look : there was more promise in it than in many a vow. In return, Ray tossed her the sparkle of his dancing glance an instant, and then his eager fancies caught him again.

“ We read of them,” said he, “ those splendid scenes. What can there be like acting them ? Ah, what a throb there is in it! The rush, the roar, the onslaught, the clanging trumpet, the wreathing smoke, and the mad horses. Dauntlessly defying danger. Ravishing fame from the teeth of the battery. See in what a great leap of the heart you spring with the forlorn hope up the escalade! Your soul kindles and flashes with your blade. You are nothing but a wrath. To die so, with all one’s spirit at white-heat, awake, alert, aflame, must send one far up and along the heights of being. And if you live, there are other things to do; and how the women feel their fiery pulses fly, their hot tears start, as you go by, flunking of all the tumult, the din, the daring, the danger, and you a part of it! ”

Little Jane was trembling and tying on her bonnet. As for Vivia, she burst into tears.

“ Oh, Ray ! ” sobbed she, “ I wish I were a man ! ”

“ I don’t! ” said he. “ Oh, it 's riproarious ! Come, let’s follow our leader. We ’ll bring you back the cropple-crown, auntie.”

And so they departed, while, breaking into fresh carols, ringing and dulcet, as they went, Vivia’s voice resounded till the woods pealed to the echo : —

“ He waved, his proud arm, and the trumpets were blown.
The kettle-drums clashed, and the horsemen rode on,
Till o’er Ravelston crags and on Clermiston lea
Died away the wild war-notes of Bonny Dundee ! ”

Pursuing the white sun-bonnet down the pasture, Ray kept springing ahead with his elastic foot, threshing the juniper-plats that little Jane had already searched, and scattering about them the pungent fragrance of the sweet - fern thickets,—the breath of summer itself; then returning for a sober pace or two, would take off his hat, thrust a hand through the masses of his hair that looked like carved ebony, and show Vivia that his shadow was exactly as long as her own. And Vivia saw that all this beating and longing and burning had loosened and shot into manhood a nature that under the snow of its eightieth winter would yet be that of a boy. Ray could never be any taller than he was to-day, but he had broad, sturdy shoulders and a closeknit, nervous frame, while in his honest, ugly face, that, arch or grave, kept its one contrast of black eyes and brilliant teeth, there was as much to love as in the superb beauty of Beltran.

They had reached the meadow’s edge at length; Ray was growing more serious, as the time hurried, when little Jane, with a smothered exclamation, prepared to cross the wall. For there they were, sleek and glossy, chattering gently to each other, pecking about, the wind blowing open their feathers till they became top-heavy, and looking for all the world, as Janet said, like pretty little old ladies dressed up to go out to tea. And near them, quite at home in the marshy domain, strutted and lunched a fine gallant of a turkey, who ruffled his redness, dropped all his plumes about him, and personated nothing less than some stately dowager sailing in flounces and brocades. Ray caught, back their discoverer, launched a few stepping-stones across, and, speeding from foothold to foothold, very soon sent His Magnificence fluttering over the fence and forward before them, and returned with the two little runaway hens slung over his arm, where, after a trifle of protestation and a few subdued cackles of crestfallen acquiescence, having a great deal to tell the other hens on reaching home once more, they very contentedly enjoyed the new aspect of the world upsidedown.

“ And here ’s where she ’s made her nest,” said little Jane, stepping aside from a tangle of’blackberry-vines, herds-grass, and harebells, where lay a half-dozen pullet pearls. “A pretty mother you’d make, Miss, gadding and gossiping down in the meadow with that naughty black hen ! Who do you suppose is going to bring up your family for you ? Did you speak to the butterflies to hatch them under their yellow wings ? I shall just tie you to an old shoe ! ”

And taking the winking, blinking culprits from Ray, she ran along home to make ready his package, for which there was not more than an hour left. Vivia turned to follow, for she also wanted to help ; but Ray, lingering by the wall and pointing out some object, caused her to remain.

“ It will be such a long time before I see it again,” said he.

They leaned upon the stone wall, interspersed, overgrown, and veiled with moss and maiden-hair and blossoming brambles. Before them lay the long meadow, sprinkled with sunbeams, green to its last ripe richness, discolored only where the tall grass made itself hoary in the breeze, or where some trail of dun brown ran up through all intermediate tints to break in a glory of gold at the foot of the screen of woods that far away gloomed like a frowning Fortress of shade, but, approaching, feathered off its tips in the glow, and let the mellow warmth of olive light gild to a lustrous depth all its darkly verdurous hollows. Near them the vireos were singing loud and sweet.

“ Vivia,” said Ray, after a pause, “if I should never come back ” —

“ You will come back.”

“ But if I never did, — should you greatly care ? ”

“ Beginning to despond! That is good!

You won’t go, then ? ”

“ If the way lay over the bottomless pit, I should go.”

“ And you can’t get free, if you want to ? ”

“ No! ”

“ Ray, I could easily raise money enough upon my farm to buy ” —

“ If you talk so,” said Ray, whipping off the flowers, but looking up at her as he bent, and smiling, “ I shall inform against you, and have your farm confiscated.”

“ What! I can’t talk as I please in a free country ? Oh, it’s not free, then !

They’ve discovered at length that there ’s something better than freedom. They sent a woman to prison this spring for eating an orange in the street. They confiscated a girl’s wedding-gown the other day, and now they ’ve confiscated her bridegroom. Oh, it’s a great cause that can’t get along without my weddinggown ! Noblesse oblige ! ”

“It takes more wedding-gowns than yours, Vivia. Dips them in mourning.”

“ Pray God it won’t take mine yet! ” cried she, with sudden fire.

“ Vivia,” said Ray, facing her, “ I asked you a question. Why did n’t you answer it ? Should n’t you care ? ”

“ You know, dear child, I should,— we all should, terribly.”

“But, Vivia, I mean, that you — that I"—

He paused, the ardor and eagerness suspended on cheek and lip, for Vivia met his glance and understood its simple speech, — since in some degree a dark eye lets you into the soul, where a blue one bluffs you off with its blaze, and under all its lucent splendor is as impenetrable as a turquoise. A girl of more vanity would have waited for plainer words. But Vivia only placed her warm hand on his, and said gently, —

“ Ray, I love Beltran.”

There was a moment’s quiet, while Ray looked away, — supporting his chin upon one hand, and a black cloud sweeping torridly down the stern face. One sharp struggle. A moment’s quiet. Into it a wild rose kept shaking sweetness. After it a vireo broke into tremulous melody, gushing higher, fuller, stronger, clearer. Ray turned, his eyes wet, his face beaming. Said he, —

“ I am more glad than if it were myself! ”

Then Vivia bent, and, flushed with noble shame, she kissed him on the lips. A word, a grasp, she was leaning alone over the old stone wall, the birds were piping and fluting about her, and Ray was gone.

A month of rushing over land and lake, of resting at the very spots where he and Beltran had stayed together three years ago, of repeating the brief strolls they took, of reading again and again that last note, and Ray had crossed the great river of the West, and reached the headquarters of his regiment. There, induing their uniforms, and training their horses, all of which were yet to be shod, they brushed about the. country, and skirmished with guerrillas, until going into camp for thorough drill preparatory to active service.

Convoying Government-trains through a region where were assembled in their war-paint thousands of Indians from the wild tribes of the plains and hills was venturous work enough, but it was not that to which Ray aspired. He must be one of those cherubim who on God’s bidding speed; he could not serve with those who only stand and wait. His hot soul grew parched and faint with longing, and all the instincts of his battling blood began to war among themselves. At length one night there was hammering and clinking at the red field-fires, and by daybreak they were off for a mad gallop over plain and mountain, down river-banks and across deserts into New Mexico.

Fording the shallow Arkansas, trailing their way through prairie and timber,—reaching and skirting the scorching stretch,—riding all day, consumed with thirst, from green-mantling pool to pool, till the last lay sixty miles behind them, and men and horses made desperately for the stream, dashing in together to drink their fill, when they found it again foaming down the centre of its vast level plain, that receded twenty miles on either side without shrub or hillock, — finally their path wound in among the hills, and a day dawned that Ray will never forget.

The stars were large and solemn, hovering golden out of the high, dark heaven, as the troop defiled into the canon; they glinted with a steely lustre through the roof of fallen trees that arched the gorge from side to side, then a wind of morning blew and they grew pallid and wan in a shining haze, and, towering far up above them, vaguely terrific in shadow, the horsemen saw the heights they were to climb all grayly washed in the night-dew. So they swept up the mountain-side in their gay and breezy career, on from ascent to ascent, from abutment to abutment, crossing shrunken torrents, winding along sheer precipices, up into the milky clouds of heaven itself, till the rosy flare of dawn bathed all the air about them. There they halted, while, struggling after them, the first triumphant beam struck the bosses of their harness to glittering jewelpoints, and, breaking through layer on layer of curdling vapor at their feet, suffused it to a wondrous fleece, where carnation and violet and the fire that lurks in the opal, wreathing with gorgeous involution, seethed together, until, at last, the whole resplendent mist wound itself away in silver threads on the spindles ot the wind. Then boot in the stirrup again, onward, over the mountain’s ridge, desolate rock defying the sun, downward, plunging through hanging forests, clearing the chasm, bridging ravines, and still at noon the eagles, circling and screaming above them, shook over them the dew from their plumes. Downward afresh in their wild ride, the rainbows of the cascades flying beside them, their afternoon shadows streaming up behind them, darkness beginning to gather in the deeps below them, the mighty mountain-masses around rearing themselves impenetrably in boding blackness and mystery against the yellow gleam, the purple breath of evening wrapping them, the dew again, again the stars, and they camped at the foot of a spur of hills with a waterfall for sentry on their left.

Through all the dash of the day, Ray had been in sparkling spirits, a very ecstasy of excitement, brimmed with an exuberance of valiant glee that played itself away in boyish freaks of daring and reckless acts of horsemanship. Now a loftier mood had followed, and, still wrought to some extreme tension, full of blind anticipation and awful assurance, he sat between the camp-fires, his hands clasped over his knees, and watched the evening star where it hung in a cleft of the rocks and seemed like the advent of some great spirit of annunciation. The tired horses had been staked out to graze, a temporary abatis erected, scouting-parties sent off in opposite directions, and at last the frosty air grew mild and mellow over the savory steam of broiling steaks and coffee smoking on beds of coals. There was a moment’s lull in the hum of the little encampment, in all the jest and song and jingling stir of this scornfully intrepid company; perhaps for an instant, the sense of the wilderness overawed them ; perhaps it was only the customary precursor of increasing murmur ; — before leaving his place, Ray suddenly stooped and laid his ear on the earth. There it was ! Far off, far off, the phantasmal stroke of hoofs, rapid, many, unswerving. It had come,—all that he had awaited, — fate, or something else. Low and clear in the distance one bugle blew blast of warning. When he rose, the great yellow planet, wheeling slowly down the giant cleft in the rock, had vanished from sight.

Every man was on his feet, the place in alarum. Behind and beside them loomed the precipice and the waterfall ; there was surrender, there was conquest; there was no retreat. The fires were extinguished, the breastworks strengthened, weapons adjusted, and all the ireful preparations for hasty battle made. Then they expected their foe. Slowly over the crown of the mountain above them an aurora crept and brandished its spears.

As they waited there those few breathless moments, Ray examined his rifle coolly enough, and listened to the chirp of a solitary cricket that sung its thin strain so unbrokenly on the edge of strife as to represent something sublime in its petty indifference. He was stationed on the extreme left; near him the tumult of the torrent drowned much discordant noise, its fairy scarf forever forming and falling and floating on the evening air. He thought of Vivia sitting far away and looking out upon the quiet starlight night; then he thought of swampy midnight lairs, with maddened men in fevered covert there, — of little children crying for their mothers, — of girls betrayed to hell,— of flesh and blood at price, — of blistering, crisping fagot and stake to-day, — of all the anguish and despair down there before him. And with the vivid sting of it such a wrath raged along his veins, such a holy fire, that it seemed there were no arms tremendous enough for his handling, through his shut teeth darted imprecatory prayers for the power of some almighty vengeance, his soul leaped up in impatient fury, his limbs tingled for the deathgrapple, when suddenly sound surged everywhere about them and they were in the midst of conflict. Silver trumpetpeals and clash and clang of iron, crying voices, whistling, singing, screaming shot, thunderous drum-rolls, sharp sheet of flame and instant abyss of blackness, horses’ heads vaulting into sight, spurts of warm blood upon the brow, the bullet rushing like a blast beside the ear, all the terrible tempest of attack, trampled under the flashing hoof, climbing, clinching, slashing, back-falling beneath cracking revolvers, hand to hand in the night, both bands welded in one like hot and fusing metal, a spectral struggle of shuddering horror only half guessed by lurid gleams and under the light cloud flying across the stars. Clearly and remotely over the plain the hidden east sent up a glow into the sky; its reflection lay on Ray ; he fought like one possessed of a demon, scattering destruction broadcast, so fiercely his anger wrapped him, white and formidable. Fresh onset after repulse, and, like the very crest of the toppling wave, one shadowy horseman in all the dark rout, spurring forward, the fight reeling after him, the silver lone star fitfully flashing on his visor, the boy singled for his rifle; — inciting such fearless rivalry, his fall were the fall of a hundred. Something hindered; the marksman delayed an instant; he would not waste a shot; and watching him, the dim outline, the sweeping sabre, the proud prowess, a strange yearning pity seized Ray, and he had half the mind to spare. In the midst of the shock and uproar there came to him a pulse of the brain’s double action ; he seemed long ago to have loved, to have admired, to have gloried in this splendid valor. But with the hint, and the humanity of it, back poured the ardor of his sacred devotion, all the impulsions of his passionate purpose: here was God’s work ! And then, with one swift bound of magnificent daring and defiance, the horseman confronted him, the fore-feet of his steed planted firmly half up the abatis, and his steel making lightnings round about him. There was a blinding flare of light full upon Ray’s fiery form; in the sudden succeeding darkness horseman and rider towered rigid like a monolith of black marble. A great voice cried his name, a sabre went hurtling in one shining crescent across the white arc of the waterfall. Too late! There was another flare of light, but this time on the rider’s face, a sound like the rolling of the heavens together in a scroll, and Ray, in one horrid, dizzy blaze, saw the broad gleam ot the ivory brow, of the azure fire in the eyes, heard the heavy, downfalling crash, and, leaping over the abatis, deep into the midst of the slippery, raging death below, seized and drew something away, and fell upon it prostrate. There, under the tossing torrent, dragging himself up to the seal of their agony and their reproach, Ray looked into those dead eyes, which, lifted beyond the everlasting stars, felt not that he had crossed their vision.

Far away from outrage and disaster, many a weary stretch of travel, the meadow-side cottage basked in the afternoon sunlight of late Indian-summer. All the bare sprays of its shadowing limes quivered in the warmth of their purple life against a divine depth of heaven, and the woody distances swathed themselves in soft blue smoke before the sighing south-wind.

Round the girl who sat on the low doorstone, with idle hands crossed before her, puffs of ravishing resinous fragrance floated and fainted. Two butterflies, that spread their broad yellow wings like detached flakes of living sunshine stolen out of the sweet November weather, fluttered between the glossy darkness of her hair and a little posthumous rose, that, blowing beside the door, with time only half to unfold its white petals, surveyed the world in a quaint and sad surprise.

Vivia looked on all the tender loveliness of the dying year with a listless eye : waiting, weary waiting, makes the soul torpid to all but its pain. It was long since there had been any letter from Ray. In all this oppression of summer and of autumn there had come no report of Beltran. Her heart had lost its proud assurance, worn beneath the long strain of such suspense. Could she but have one word from him, half the term of her own life would be dust in the balance. A thousand fragmentary purposes were ever flitting through her thought. If she might know that he was simply living, if she could be sure he wanted her, she would make means to break through that dividing line, to find him, to battle by his side, to die at his feet! Her Beltran ! so grave, so good, so heroic ! and the thought of him in all his pride and beauty and power, in all his lofty gentleness and tender passion, in his strength tempered with genial complaisance and gracious courtesy, sent the old glad life, for a second, spinning from heart to lip.

The glassy lake began to ruffle itself below her, feeling the pulses of its interfluent springs, or sending through unseen sluices word of nightfall and evening winds to all its clustering companions that darkened their transparent depths in forest-shadows. As she saw it, and thought how soon now it would ice itself anew, the remembrance rushed over her, like a warm breath, of the winter’s night after their escape from its freezing pool, when Beltran sat with them roasting chestnuts and spicing ale before the fire that so gayly crackled up the kitchenchimney, a night of cheer. And how had it all faded! whither had they all separated ? where were those brothers now? Heaven knew.

It had been a hard season, these months at the cottage. The price of labor had been high enough to exceed their means, and so the land had yielded ill, the grass was uncut on many a meadow; Ray’s draft had not been honored; Vivia had of course received no dividend from her Tennessee State-bonds, and her peachorchards were only a place of forage. Still Vivia stayed at the cottage, not so much by fervent entreaty, or because she had no other place to go to, as because there were strange, strong ties binding her there for a while. Should all else fail, with the ripened wealth of her voice at command, her future was of course secure from want. But there was a drearier want at Vivia’s door, which neither that nor any other wealth would ever meet.

Little Jane came up the field with a basket of the last barberries lightly poised upon her head. A narrow wrinkle was beginning to divide the freckled fairness of her forehead. She kept it. down with many an endeavor. Trying to croon to herself as she passed, and stopping only to hang one of the scarlet girandoles in Vivia’s braids, she went in. The sunshine, loath to leave her pleasant little figure, followed after her, and played about her shadow on the floor.

Vivia still sat there and questioned the wide atmosphere, that, brooding palpitant between her and the lake, still withheld the desolating secret that horizon must have whispered to horizon throughout the aching distance.

“ Oh that the bells in all these silent spires
Would clash their clangor on the sleeping air,
Ring their wild music out with throbbing choirs,
Ring peace in everywhere! ”

she sang, and trembled as she sang. But there the burden broke, and rising, her eyes shaded by her hand, Vivia gazed down the lonely road where a stage-coach rolled along in a cloud of dust. What prescience, what instinct, it was that made her throw the shawl over her head, the shawl that Beltran liked to have her wear, and hasten down the field and away to lose herself in the wood, she alone could have told.

The slow minutes crept by, the coach had passed at length with loud wheel and resounding lash, its last dust was blowing after it, and it had left upon the doorstone a boy in army-blue, with his luggage beside him. A ghastly visage, a shrunken form, a crippled limb, were what he brought home from the war. With his one foot upon the threshold, he paused, and turned the face, gray under all its trace of weather, and furrowed, though so young, to meet the welcoming wind. He gazed upon the high sky out of which the sunshine waned, on the long champaign blending its gold and russet in one, on the melancholy forest over which the twilight was stealing; he lifted his cap with a gesture as if he bade it all farewell, — then be grasped his crutch and entered.

Without a word, Mrs. Vennard dropped the needles she was sorting upon the mat about her. Little Jane sprang forward, but checked herself in a strange awe.

“ Let me go to bed, auntie,” said he, with a dry sob; “and I never want to get up again ! ”

Midnight was winding the world without in a white glimmer of misty moonlight, when the sharp beam of a taper smote Ray’s sleepless eyes, and he saw Vivia at last standing before him. Over her wrapper clung the old shawl whose snowy web was sown with broidery of linnæa-bells, green vine and rosy blossom. Round her shoulders fell her shadowy hair. Through her slender fingers the redness of the flame played, and on her cheek a hectic coming and going like the broad beat and flush of an artery left it whiter than the spectral moonlight on the pane. She took away her hand, and let the illumination fall full upon his face, — a face haggard as a dead man’s.

“Ray,” she said, “ where is Beltran ? ”

Only' silence replied to her. He lay and stared up at her in a fixed and glassy glare. Breathless silence. Then Ray groaned, and turned his face to the wall. Vivia blew out the light.

The weeks crept, away with the settingin of the frosts. Little Jane’s heart was heavy for all the misery she saw about her, but she had no time to make moan. Ray’s amputated ankle was giving fresh trouble, and after that was well over, he still kept his room, refusing food or fire, and staring with hot, wakeful eyes at the cold ceiling. Vivia lingered, subdued and pale, beside the hearth, doing any quiet piece of work that came to hand; no one had seen her shed tears,—she had shown no strenuous sorrow; on the night of Ray’s return she had slept her first unbroken sleep for months ; her nerves, stretched so intensely and so long, lay loosely now in their passionate reaction; some element more interior than they saved her from prostration. She stayed there, sad and still, no longer any sparkle or flush about her, but with a mildness so unlike the Vivia of June that it had in it something infinitely touching. She would have been glad to assist little Jane in her crowded duties, yet succeeded only in being a hindrance; and learning a little of broths and diet-drinks every day, she contented herself with sitting silent and dreamy, and transforming old linen garments into bandages. Mrs. Vennard, meanwhile, waited on her nephew and bewailed herself.

But for little Jane, — she had no time to bewail herself. She had all these people, in fact, on her hands, and that with very limited means to meet their necessities. It was true they need not experience actual want, — but there was her store to be managed so that it should be at once wholesome and varied, and the first thing to do was to take an account of stock. The autumn’s work had already been well done. She had carried berries enough to market to let her preserve her quinces and damsons in sirups clear as sunshine, and make her tiny allowance of currant and blackberry wines, where were innocently simulated the flavors of rare vintages. Crook-necked squashes decked the tall chimneypiece amid bunches of herbs and pearly strings of onions. She and Vivia had gathered the ripened apples themselves, and now goodly garlands of them hung from the attic-rafters, above the dried beans whose blossoms had so sweetened June, and above last year’s corn-bins. That corn the first passing neighbor should take to mill and exchange a portion of for cracked wheat; and as the flour-barrel still held out, they would be tolerably well off for cereals, little Jane thought. They had kept only one cow, and Tommy Low would attend to her for the sake of his suppers, — suppers at which Vivia must forego her water-cresses now ; but Janet had a bed of mushrooms growing down-cellar, that, broiled and buttered, were, she fancied, quite equal to venison-steaks. The hens, of course, must be sacrificed, all but a dozen of them ; for, as there was no fresh meat for them in winter, they wouldn’t lay, and would be only a dead weight, she said to herself, as, with her apron thrown over her neck, she stood watching them, finger on lip. However, that would give them poultry all through the holidays. Then there were the pigs to be killed on halves by a neighbor, as almost everything else out-doors had now to be done ; and when that was accomplished, she found no time to call her soul her own while making her sausage and bacon and souse and brawn. Part of the pork would produce salt, fish, without which what farm-house would stand?—and with old hucklebones, her potatoes and parsnips, those ruby beets and golden carrots, there was many a Julian soup to be had. Jones’s-root, bruised and boiled, made a chocolate as good as Spanish. Instead of ginger, there were the wild caraway-seeds growing round the house. If she could only contrive some sugar and some vanilla-beans, she would be well satisfied to open her campaign. But as there had been for weeks only one single copper cent and two postage-stamps in the house, that seemed an impossibility. Hereupon an idea seized little Jane, and for several days she was busy in a mysterious rummage. Garrets and closets surrendered their hoards to her; files of old newspapers, old ledgers, old letter-backs, began to accumulate in heaps,—every thing but books, for Jane had a religious respect for their recondite lore; she cut the margins off the magazines, and she grew miserly of the very shreds ravelling under Vivia’s finders. At length, one morning, after she had watched the windows unweariedly as a cat watches a mouse-hole, she hurriedly exclaimed, —

“ There he is ! ”

“ Who ? ” asked Mrs. Vennard as hurriedly, with a dim idea that people in their State received visits from the sheriff.

“ Our treasurer ! ” said little Jane.

And, indeed, the red cart crowned with yellow brooms and dazzling tin, the delight of housewives in lone places, was winding along the road; and in a few moments little Jane accosted its driver, standing victorious in the midst of her bags and bundles and baskets.

“ How much were white rags ? ”

“ Twelve cents.”

Laconic, through the urgencies of tobacco.

“ What ? ”

“ Twelve cents.”

“ And colored ? ”

“ Wal, they were consider’ble.”

“And paper ? ”

“ Six cents. ’T used to be half a cent. Six cents now.”

“ But the reason ? ” breathlessly.

“ Reckoned’t was the war’s much as anything.”

One good thing out of Nazareth ! Little Jane saw herself on the road to riches, and immediately had thoughts of selling the whole household -equipment for rags. She. displayed her commodities.

“ Did he pay in money ?”

“ Did n’t like to ; but then he did.”

“ Fine day, to-day.”

“ Wal, ’t was.”

And when the reluctant tinman went on his way again, she returned to spread the fabulous result before her mother. There were sugars and spices and whatnot. And though—woe worth the day ! — she found that the sum yielded only half what once it would, still, by drinking her own tea in its aeritude, they would do admirably ; for tea even little Jane required as her tonic, and without it felt like nothing but a mollusk.

All this was very well, so far as it went; but the thrifty housekeeper soon found that it went no way at all. Those for whom she made her efforts wanted none of their results. She would have given all she had in the world to help these suffering beings ; but her little cooking and concocting were all that she could do, and those they disregarded utterly. When in the dull forenoon she would have enlivened Vivia with her precious elderberry-wine, that a connoisseur must taste twice before telling from purplest Port, and Vivia only wet her lips at it, or when she carried Ray a roasted apple, its burnished sides bursting with juice and clotted with cream, and the boy glanced at it and never saw it, little Jane felt ready to cry ; and she set to bethinking herself seriously it there were nothing else to be done.

One day, it was the day before Christmas, Jane took up to Ray’s room one of her trifles, a whip, whose suave and frothy nothingness was piled over the sweet plum-pulp at bottom. Ray lay on the outside of the bed, with his thick poncho over him; he looked at her and at her tray, played with the teaspoon a moment, then rolled upon his side and shut his eyes. Little Jane took a half-dozen steps about the room, reached the door, hesitated, and came back.

“ Ray,” said she, under her breath and with tears in her voice, “ I wish you would n’t do so. You don’t know how it makes me feel. I can’t do anything for you but bring whips and custards; and you won’t touch those.”

Ray turned and looked up at her.

“Do you care, Janet ? ” said he ; and, rising on one arm, he lifted the glass, and finished its delicate sweetmeat with a gust.

But as he threw himself back, little Jane took heart of grace once more.

“ Ray, dear,” said she, “I don’t think it’s right for you to stay here alone in the cold. Won’t you come down where it’s warm ? It ’s so much more cheerful by the fire.”

“ I don’t want to be cheerful,” said Ray.

Janet looked at the door, then summoned her forces, and, holding the high bedpost with both hands, said, —

“ Ray, if God sent you any trouble, He never meant for you to take it so. You are repulsing Him every day. You are straightening yourself against Him. You are like a log on His hands. Can’t you bend beneath it ? Dear Ray, you need comfort, but you never will find it till you take up your life and your duties again, and come down among us.”

“ What duties have I ? ” said Ray, hoarsely, looking along his footless limb.

“ The sooner my life ends, oh, the better ! I want no comfort! ”

But little Jane had gone.

Christmas day dawned clear and keen; the sky was full of its bluest sparkle, and, wheresoever it mounted and stretched over snowy fields, seemed to hold nothing but gladness. Vivia had wrapped herself in her cloak, and walked two miles to an early church-service, so if by any accord of worship she might put her heart in tune with the universe. She had been at home a hall-hour already, and sat in her old nook with some idle work between her fingers. A broad blaze rolled its rosy volumes up the chimney, and threw its reflections on the shining shelves and into the great tin-kitchen, that, planted firmly, held up to* the heat the very bird that had moved so majestically over the spring meadow, and which Mrs. Vennerd was at present basting with such assiduity, that, if ever the knife should penetrate the crisp depth of envelope, it would certainly find the inclosure unscathed by fire. Little Jane was stirring enormous raisins into some wonderful batter of a pudding, — for she remembered the time when somebody used to pick out all his plums and leave the rest, and she meant, that, so far as her skill and her resources would go, there should be no abatement of Christmas cheer to-day. And if, alter all, everybody disdained the bounteous affair, why it could go to Tommy Low’s mother, who would not by any means disdain it. Every now and then she turned an anxious ear for any movement in the cold distance, — but there was only silence.

Suddenly Vivia started. A door had swung to, a strange sharp sound echoed on the staircase, the kitchen-door opened and closed, and Ray set his back against it. He did not attempt to move, but stood there darkly surveying them. Vivia looked at him a second, then rose quickly, crossed the room, and kissed him. Immediately Mrs. Vennard made a commotion, while the other led him forward and placed him in her chair. Little Jane pushed aside the pudding hastily, and proceeded to mull some of her mock Sherry, that his heart might be warmed within him; and the cat came rubbing against his crutch, as if she would make friends with it and take it into the family. Mrs. Vennard resumed her basting; Vivia began talking to him about her work and about her walk, murmuring pleasantly in her clear, low tone,—Janet now and then putting in a word. Ray sat there, sipping his spicy draught, and looking out with an unacquainted air at the stir to which his coming had lent some gladness. But his face was yet overcast with the shadows of the grave. In vain Mrs. Vennard fussed and fidgeted, m vain little Jane uttered any of her brisk, but sorry jesting, in vain Vivia’s gentle voice ; — it all touched Ray’s heart no other way than as the rain slips along a tombstone. Vivia folded her work and disappeared; she was going to light a fire in her parlor, where there had been none yet, and where by-and-by in the evening shadows she might play to Ray, and charm him, perhaps, to restMrs. Vennard divined her purpose, and hurried after her to join in the task. Ray found himself alone in his corner; he shivered. In spite of all the weeks of solitude, a sudden chill seized him ; he gathered up his crutches, and stalked on them to the table where little Jane was yet finding something to do. She brought him a chair, and for a minute or two he watched her ; then he was only staring vacantly at his hands, as they lay before him on the table.

If Janet was a busy soul, she was just as certainly a busybody. She had the loving and innocent habit of making herself a member of every one’s equation. Just now she ached inwardly, when looking at Ray, and it was impossible for her not to try and help him.

“ Ray; dear,” said she, leaving her work and standing before him, “ I think you ought to smile now. Vivia has forgiven you. Take it as an earnest that God forgives you, too.”

“I have n’t sinned against God,” said Ray. “ I don’t know who I sinned against. I killed my brother.”

And his face fell forward on his hands and wet them with jets of scalding tears. Full of awe and misery, little Jane dropped upon her knees beside him, and, clasping his hands in hers, said to herself some silent prayer.

After that placid - ending Christmas, after that first prayer, those first tears, after Vivia’s music at nightfall, Ray was another creature. He no longer shut himself up in his room, but was down and about with little Jane at peep of day. Indeed, he had now a horror of being alone, following Janet from morn till eve, like a shadow, and stooping forward, when the dark began to gather, with great, silent tears rolling over his face, unless she came and took the cricket at his foot, slipping her warm hand into his, and helping him to himself with the unspoken sympathy. But it was a horror which nothing wholly lulled to sleep at last but Vivia’s singing. Every night, for an hour or more, Vivia wrought the music’s spell about him, while he lay back in his chair, and little Jane retreated across the hearth, not daring to intrude on such a season. They were seldom purely sad things that she played: sometimes the melody murmured its canlubile like a summer brook into which moonbeams bent, flowing along the lowland, breaking only in sprays of tune, and seeming to paint in its bosom the sleeping shadows of the fair field-flowers; and if ever the gentle strain lost its way, and found itself wandering among the massive chords, the profound melancholy, the blind groping of any Fifth Symphony or piercing Stabat Mater, she answered it, singing Elijah’s hymn of rest; and as she sang, there grew in her voice a strength, a sweetness, that satisfied the very soul. When the nine-o’clock bell rang in from the village through the winter night’s crystal clearness, little Jane would lightly nudge her mother and steal away to bed ; and in the ruddy twilight of the falling fire the two talked softly, talked, — but never of that dark thing lying most deeply in the heart of either. Perhaps, by-and-by, when the thrilling wound should be only a scar, if ever that time should come, the one would be able to speak, the other to hear.

Week after week, now, Ray began to occupy himself about the house more and more, resuming in succession odd little jobs that during all this time had remained unfinished as on the day he went. He seemed desirous of taking up the days exactly as he had left them, of bridging over this gap and chasm, of ignoring the fatal summer. Something so dreadful had fallen into his life that it could not assimilate itself with the tissues of daily existence. The work must be slow that would volatilize such a black body of horror till it leavened all the being into power and grace undreamed of before. But little Jane did not philosophize upon what she was so glad to see ; she hailed every sign of outside interest as a symptom of returning health, and gave him a thousand occasions. Yesterday there were baskets to braid, and to-day he must initiate her in the complications of a dozen difficult sailor’s-knots that he knew, and to-morrow there would be woodchucktraps to make and show her how to set. For Janet’s chief vexation had overtaken her in the absence of fresh eggs for breakfast, an absence that would be enduring, unless the small game of the forest could be lured into her snares and parcelled among the apathetic hens. Many were the recipes and the consultations on the subject, till at last Ray wrote out for her, in black-letter, a notice to be pinned up in the sight of every delinquent: “ Twelve eggs, or death ! ” Whether it were the frozen rabbit-meat flung among them the day before, or whether it were the timely warning, there is no one to tell; but the next morning twelve eggs lay in the various hiding-places, which Mrs. Vennard declared to be as good eggs as ever were laid, and custards and cookies renewed their reign. Here, suddenly, Ray remembered the purse in his haversack, containing all his uncounted pay. It was a weary while that he stayed alone in the cold, leaning over it as if he stared at the thirty pieces of silver, a faint sickness seized him, then hurriedly sweeping it up, with a red spot burning cruelly into either cheek, he brought it down, and emptied it in little Jane’s lap, though he would rather have seen it ground to impalpable dust. But, after a moment’s thought, the astonished recipient kept it for a use of her own. Finally, one night, Ray proposed to instruct Janet in some particular branch of his general ignorance; and after those firelight-recitations, little Jane forgot to move her seat away, and her hand was kept in his through all the hour of Vivia’s slow enchantment.

So the cold weather wore away, and spring stole into the scene like a surprise, finding Vi via as the winter found her,— but Ray still undergoing volcanic changes, now passionless lulls and now rages and spasms of grief: gradually out of them all he gathered his strength about him.

It was once more a morning of early June, sunrise was blushing over the meadows, and the gossamers of hoar dew lay in spidery veils of woven light and melted under the rosy beams. From her window one heard Vivia singing, and the strain stole down like the breath of the heavy honeysuckles that trellised her pane: —

“No more for me the eager clay
Breaks its bright prison-bars;
The sunshine Thou hast stripped away,
But bared the eternal stare.
“ Though in the cloud the wild bird sings,
His song falls not for me,
Alone while rosy heaven rings,—
But, Lord, alone with Thee! ”

One well could know, in listening to the liquid melody of those clear tones, that love and sorrow had transfused her life at last to woof and warp of innermost joy that death itself could neither tarnish nor obscure. In a few moments she came down and joined Ray, where he stood upon the door-stone, with one arm resting over the shoulder of little Jane, and watched with him the antics of a youth who postured before them. It was some old acquaintance of Ray’s, returned from the war; and as if he would demonstrate how wonderfully martial exercise supples joint and sinew, he was leaping in the air, turning his heel where his toe should be, hanging his foot on his arm and throwing it over his shoulder in a necklace, skipping and prancing on the grass like a veritable saltinbanco. Ray looked grimly on aud inspected the evolutions ; then there was long process of question and answer and asseveration, and, when the youth departed, little Jane had announced with authority that Ray should throw away his crutch and stand on two feet of his own again.

“ What a gay fellow he is! ” said Ray, drawing a breath of relief. “ They ’re all alike, dancing on graves. To be an old Téméraire decked out in signal-flags after thunderous work well done, and settling down, is one thing. But we, — to-day, when one would think every woman in the land should wear the sack-cloth and ashes of mourning, we break into a splendor of apparel that defies the butterflies and boughs of the dying year.”

“ Two striking examples before you,” said little Jane, with a laugh, as she looked at her old print and at Vivia’s gray gown.

“ I was n’t thinking of you. I saw the ladies in the village yesterday,—they were pied and parded.”

“ Children,” said Mrs. Vennard from within, “ I ’ve taken up the coffee now. I sha’n’t wait a minute longer. Vivia, I ’ll beat an egg into yours.”

But the children had wandered down to the lake-shore, oblivious of her cry, and were standing on the rock watching their images glassed below and ever freshly shattered with rippling undulations. A wherry chained beside them Vivia rocked lightly with her foot.

“ You and little Jane will set me down by-and-by ? ” she asked. “'T will be so much pleasanter than the coach.”

“ And, Vivia dear, you will go, then ? ” exclaimed little Jane, with tearful eyes. “ You will certainly go ? ”

“ Yes,” said Vivia, looking out and far away, “ I shall go to do that ’

“ Which no one can ever do for you” said Ray, with a shudder.

“ Which some woman will praise Heaven for.”

“ God bless you, Vivia ! ” cried little Jane.

“He has already blessed me, ’ said Vivia, softly.

Janet nestled nearer to Ray’s side, as they stood. There was a tremor of gladness through all the dew of her glance. Ray looked down at her for a moment, and his hard brow softened, in his eyes hung a light like the reflection of a star in a breaking wave.

“ He has blessed me, too,” said he. “ Some day I shall be a man again. I have thrown away my crutch, Vivia, for all my life I am going to have this little shoulder to lean upon.”

And over his sombre face a smile crept and deepened, like the yellow ray, that, after a long, dark day of driving rain, suddenly gilds the tree-tops and brims the sky; and though, when it went, the gloom shut drearily down again, still it bore the promise of fair day to-morrow.