Doctor Johns

XVI.

MISS ELIZA being fairly seated in the Doctor’s study, with great eagerness to hear what might be the subject of his communication, the parson, with the letter in his hand, asked if she remembered an old college friend, Maverick, who had once paid them a vacation visit at Canterbury.

“ Perfectly,” said Miss Eliza, whose memory was both keen and retentive ; “ and I remember that you have said he once passed a night with you, during the lifetime of poor Rachel, here at Ashfield. You have a letter from him ? ”

“I have,” said the parson; “and it brings a proposal about which I wish your opinion.” And the Doctor cast his eye over the letter.

“ He expresses deep sympathy at my loss, and alludes very pleasantly to the visit you speak of, all which I will not read ; after this he says, ‘ I little thought, when bantering you in your little study upon your family prospects, that I too was destined to become the father of a child, within a couple of years. Yet it is even so ; and the responsibility weighs upon me greatly. I love my Adele with my whole heart; I am sure you cannot love your boy more, though perhaps more wisely.”

“And he had never told you of his marriage ? ” said the spinster.

“ Never ; it is the only line I have had from him since his visit ten years ago.”

The Doctor goes on with the reading : —

“ It may be from a recollection of your warnings and of your distrust of the French character, or possibly it may be from the prejudices of my New England education, but I cannot entertain pleasantly the thought of her growing up to womanhood under the influences which are about her here. What those influences are you will not expect me to explain in detail. I am sure it will be enough to win upon your sympathy to say that they are Popish and thoroughly French. I feel a strong wish, therefore, — much as I am attached to the dear child, — to give her the advantages of a New England education and training. And with this wish, my thought reverts naturally to the calm quietude of your little town and of your household ; for I cannot doubt that it is the same under the care of your sister as in the old time.”

“ I am glad he thinks so well of me,” said Miss Eliza, but with an irony in her tone that she was sure the good parson would never detect.

The Doctor looks at her thoughtfully a moment, over the edge of the letter,— as if he, too, had his quiet comparisons to make, — then goes on with the letter : —

“This wish may surprise you, since you remember my old battlings with what I counted the rigors of a New England ‘ bringing-up'; but in this case I should not fear them, provided I could assure myself of your kindly supervision. For my little Adèe, besides inheriting a great flow of spirits (from her father, you will say) and French blood, has been used thus far to a catholic latitude of talk and manner in all about her, which will so far counterbalance the gravities of your region as to leave her, I think, upon a safe middle ground. At any rate, I see enough to persuade me to choose rather the errors that may grow upon her girlhood there than those that would grow upon it here.

“ Frankly, now, may I ask you to undertake, with your good sister, for a few years, the responsibility which I have suggested ? ”

The Doctor looked over the edge of the sheet toward Miss Eliza.

“ Read on, Benjamin,” said she.

“ The matter of expenses, I am happy to say, is one which need not enter into your consideration of the question. My business successes have been such that any estimate which you may make of the moneys required will be at your call at the office of our house in Newburyport.

“ I have the utmost faith in you, my dear Johns ; and I want you to have faith in the earnestness with which I press this proposal on your notice. You will wonder, perhaps, how the mother of my little Adele can be a party to such a plan ; but I may assure you, that, if your consent be gained, it will meet with no opposition in that quarter. This fact may possibly confirm some of your worst theories in regard to French character; and in this letter, at least, you will not expect me to combat them.

“ I have said that she has lived thus far under Popish influences ; but her religious character is of course unformed ; indeed, she has as yet developed in no serious direction whatever ; I think you will find a tabula rasa to write your tenets upon. But, if she comes to you, do not, I beg of you, grave them too harshly ; she is too bird-like to be treated with severity ; and I know that under all your gravity, my dear Johns, there is a kindliness of heart, which, if you only allowed it utterance, would win greatly upon this little fondling of mine. And I think that her open, laughing face may win upon you.

“Adele has been taught English, and I have purposely held all my prattle with her in the same tongue, and her familiarity with it is such that you would hardly detect a French accent. I am not particularly anxious that she should maintain her knowledge of French; still, should a good opportunity occur, and a competent teacher be available, it might be well for her to do so. In all such matters I should rely greatly on your judgment

“ Now, my dear Johns,” ―

Miss Eliza interrupts by saying, “ I think your friend is very familiar, Benjamin. ”

“Why not? why not, Eliza? We were boys together.”

And he continues with the letter : —

“ My dear Johns, I want you to consider this matter fairly; I need not tell you that it is one that lies very near my heart. Should you determine to accept the trust, there is a ship which will be due at this port some four or five months from now, whose master I know well, and with whom I should feel safe to trust my little Adele for the voyage, providing at the same time a female attendant upon whom I can rely, and who will not leave the little voyager until she is fairly under your wing. In two or three years thereafter, at most, I hope to come to receive her from you ; and then, when she shall have made a return visit to Europe, it is quite possible that I may establish myself in my own country again. Should you wish it, I could arrange for the attendant to remain with her ; but I confess that I should prefer the contrary. I want to separate her for the time, so far as I can, from all the influences to which she has been subject here; and further than this, I have a strong faith in that selfdependence which seems to me to grow out of your old-fashioned New England training.”

“ That is all,” said the Doctor, quietly folding the letter. “ What do you think of the proposal, Eliza ? ”

“ I like it, Benjamin.”

The spinster was a woman of quick decision. Had it been proposed to receive an ordinary pupil in the house for any pecuniary consideration, her pride would have revolted on the instant. But here was a child of an old friend of the Doctor, a little Christian waif, as it were, floating toward them from that unbelieving world of France.

“ Surely it will be a worthy and an honorable task for Benjamin” (so thought Miss Eliza) “to redeem this little creature from its graceless fortune ; possibly, too, the companionship may soften that wild boy, Reuben. This French girl, Adele, is rich, well-born; what if, from being inmates of the same house, the two should come by-and-by to be joined by some tenderer tie?”

The possibility, even, of such a dawn of sentiment under the spinster’s watchful tutelage was a delightful subject of reflection to her. It is remarkable how even the cunningest and the coolest of practical-minded women delight in watching the growth of sentiment in others, — and all the more strongly, if they can foster it by their artifices and provoke it into demonstration.

Miss Johns, too, without being imaginative, prefigured in her mind the image of the little French stranger, with foreign air and dress, tripping beside her up the meeting-house aisle, looking into her face confidingly for guidance, attracting the attention of the simple townspeople in such sort that a distinction would belong to her protegee which would be pleasantly reflected upon herself. A love of distinction was the spinster’s prevailing sin,—a distinction growing out of the working of good deeds, if it might be, but at any rate some worthy and notable distinction. The Doctorate of her good brother, his occasional discourses which had been subject of a public mention that she never forgot, were objects of a more than sisterly fondness. If her sins were ever to meet with a punishment in the flesh, they would know no sharper one than in a humiliation of her pride.

“I think,” said she, “that you can hardly decline the proposal of Mr. Maverick, Benjamin.”

“ And you will take the home care of her ? ” asked the Doctor.

“ Certainly. She would at first, I suppose, attend school with Reuben and the young Elderkins ? ”

“Probably,” returned the Doctor; “ but the more special religious training which I fear the poor girl needs must be given at home, Eliza.”

“Of course, Benjamin.”

It was further agreed between the two that a French attendant would make a very undesirable addition to the household, as well as sadly compromise their efforts to build up the little stranger in full knowledge of the faith.

The Doctor was earnest in his convictions of the duty that lay before him, and his sister’s consent to share the charge left him free to act. He felt all the best impulses of his nature challenged by the proposal. Here, at least, was one chance to snatch a brand from the burning,—to lead this poor little misguided wayfarer into those paths which are “paths of pleasantness.” No image of French grace or of French modes was prefigured to the mind of the parson; his imagination had different range. He saw a young innocent (so far as any child in his view could be innocent) who prattled in the terrible language of Rousseau and Voltaire, who by the providence of God had been born in a realm where all iniquities flourished, and to whom, by the further and richer providence of God, a means of escape was now offered. He would no more have thought of declining the proposed service, even though the poor girl were dressed in homespun and clattered in sabots, than he would have closed his ear to the cry of a drowning child.

Within that very week the Doctor wrote his reply to Maverick. He assured him that he would most gladly undertake the trust he had proposed, — “hoping, by God’s grace, to lead the little one away from the delusions of sense and the abominations of Antichrist, to the fold of the faithful.”

“ I could wish,” he continued, “ that you had given me more definite information in regard to the character of her early religious instruction, and told me how far the child may still remain under the mother’s influence in this respect; for, next to special interposition of Divine Grace, I know no influence so strong in determining religious tendencies as the early instruction or example of a mother.

“ My sister has promised to give home care to the little stranger, and will, I am sure, welcome her with zeal. It will be our purpose to place your daughter at the day-school of a worthy person, Miss Betsey Onthank, who has had large experience, and under whose tuition my boy Reuben has been for some time established. My sister and myself are both of opinion that the presence of any French attendant upon the child would be undesirable.

“ I hope that God may have mercy upon the French people, — and that those who dwell temporarily among them may be watched over and be graciously snatched from the great destruction that awaits the ungodly.”

XVII.

MEANTIME Reuben grew into a knowledge of all the town mischief, and into the practice of such as came within the scope of his years. The proposed introduction of the young stranger from abroad to the advantages of the parsonage home did not weigh upon his thought greatly. The prospect of such a change did not soften him, whatever might come of the event. In his private talk with Esther, he had said, “ I hope that French girl ’ll be a clever un ; if she a’n’t, I ’ll ”and he doubled up a little fist, and shook it, so that Esther laughed outright.

Not that the boy had any cruelty in him, but he was just now learning from his older companions of the village, who were more steeped in iniquity, that defiant manner by which the Devil in all of us makes his first pose preparatory to the onslaught that is to come.

“ Nay, Ruby, boy,” said Esther, when she had recovered from her laughter, “you would n’t hurt the little un, would ye ? Don’t ye want a little playfellow, Ruby ? ”

“I don’t play with girls, I don’t,” said Reuben. “ But, I say, Esther, what ’ll papa do, if she dances ? ”

“What makes the boy think she ’ll dance ? ” said Esther.

“Because the Geography says the French people dance ; and Phil Elderkin showed me a picture with girls dancing under a tree, and, says he, ‘That ’s the sort that ’s comin’ to y’r house.’ ”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Esther, “ but I guess your Aunt Eliza’d cure the dancin’.”

“ She would n’t cure me, if I wanted to,” said Reuben, who thought it needful to speak in terms of bravado about the spinster, with whom he kept up a series of skirmishing fights from week to week. The truth is, the keen eye of the good lady ferreted out a great many of his pet plans of mischief, and nipped them before they had time to ripen. Over and over, too, she warned him against the evil associates whom he would find about the village tavern, where he strayed from time to time to be witness to some dog-fight, or to receive a commendatory glance of recognition from one Nat Boody, the tavern-keeper’s son, who had run away two years before and made a voyage down the river in a sloop laden with apples and onions to “ York.” He was a head taller than Reuben, and the latter admired him intensely: we never cease admiring those “a head taller ” than ourselves. Reuben absolutely pined in longing wonderment at the way in which Nat Boody could crack a coach-whip, and with a couple of hickory sticks could “call the roll” upon a pine table equal to a drum-major. Wonderful were the stories this boy could tell, to special cronies, of his adventures in the city : they beat the Geography “all hollow.” Such an air, too, as this Boody had, leaning against the pump-handle by his father’s door, and making cuts at an imaginary span of horses ! — such a pair of twilled trousers, cut like a man’s !—such a jacket, with lapels to the pockets, which he said “ the sailors wore on the sloops, and called ’em monkey-jackets ” ! — such a way as he had of putting a quid in his mouth ! for Nat Boody chewed. It is not strange that Reuben, feeling a little of ugly constraint under the keen eye of the spinster Eliza, should admire greatly the free-and-easy manner of the tavern-boy, who had such familiarity with the world and such large range of action. The most of us never get over a wonderment at the composure and complacency which spring from a wide knowledge of the world ; and the man who can crack his whip well, though only at an imaginary pair of horses, is sure to have a throng of admirers.

By this politic lad, Nat Boody, the innocent Reuben was decoyed into many a little bargain which told more for the shrewdness of the tavern than for that of the parsonage. Thus, he bartered one day a new pocket-knife, the gift of his Aunt Mabel of Greenwich Street, for a knit Scotch cap, halfworn, which the tavern traveller assured him could not be matched for any money. And the parson’s boy, going back with this trophy on his head, looking very consciously at those who give an admiring stare, is pounced upon at the very door-step by the indefatigable spinster.

“ What now, Reuben ? Where in the world did you get that cap ? ”

“ Bought it,” — in a grand way.

“ But it ’s worn,” says the aunt. “ Ouf! whose was it ? ”

“ Bought it of Nat Boody,” says Reuben ; “ and he says there is n’t another can be had.”

“ Bah ! ” says the spinster, making a dash at the cap, which she seizes, and, straightway rushing in-doors, souses in a kettle of boiling water.

After which comes off a new skirmish, followed by the partial defeat of Reuben, who receives such a combing down (with sundry killed and wounded) as he remembers for a month thereafter.

The truth is, that it was not altogether from admiration of the accomplished Nat Boody that Reuben was prone to linger about the tavern neighborhood. The spinster had so strongly and constantly impressed it upon him that it was a low and vulgar and wicked place, that the boy, growing vastly inquisitive in these years, was curious to find out what shape the wickedness took ; and as he walked by, sometimes at dusk, when thoroughly infused with the last teachings of Miss Eliza, it seemed to him that he might possibly catch a glimpse of the hoofs of some devil (as he had seen devils pictured in an illustrated Milton) capering about the doorway, — and if he had seen them, truth compels us to say that he would have felt a strong inclination to follow them up, at a safe distance, in order to see what kind of creatures might be wearing them. But he was far more apt to see the lounging figure of the shoemaker from down the street, or of Mr. Postmaster Troop, coming thither to have an evening’s chat about VicePresident Calhoun, or William Wirt and the Anti-Masons. Or possibly, it might be, he would see the light heels of Suke Boody, the pretty daughter of the tavern-keeper, who had been pronounced by Phil Elderkin, who knew, (being a year his senior,) the handsomest girl in the town. This might well be ; for Suke was just turned of fifteen, with pink arms and pink cheeks and blue eyes and a great flock of brown hair: not very startling in her beauty on ordinary days, when she appeared in a pinned-up quilted petticoat, and her curls in papers, sweeping the tavern-steps ; but of a Saturday afternoon, in red and white calico, with the curls all streaming, — no wonder Phil Elderkin, who was tall of his age, thought her handsome. So it happened that the inquisitive Reuben, not finding any cloven feet in his furtive observations, but encountering always either the rosy Suke, or “ Scamp,” (which was Nat’s pet fighting-clog,) or the shoemaker, or the round - faced Mr. Boody himself, could justify and explain his aunt’s charge of the tavern wickedness only by distributing it over them all. And when, one Sunday, Miss Suke appeared at meeting (where she rarely went) in hat all aflame with ribbons, Reuben, sorely puzzled at the sight, says to his Aunt Eliza, —

“ Why did n’t the sexton put her out ? ”

“ Put her out ! ” says the spinster, horrified, — “what do you mean, Reuben ? ”

“Is n’t she wicked ? ” says he ; “ she came from the tavern, and she lives at the tavern.”

“ But don’t you know that preaching is for the wicked, and that the good had much better stay away than the bad ?”

“ Had they ?” said Reuben, thoughtfully, pondering if there did not lie somewhere in this averment the basis for some new moral adjustment of his own conduct.

There are a vast many prim preachers, both male and female, in all times, who imagine that certain styles of wickedness or vulgarity are to be approached with propriety only across a church; — as if better preaching did not lie, nine times out of ten, in the touch of a hand or a whisper in the ear !

Pondering, as Reuben did, upon the repeated warnings of the spinster against any familiarity with the tavern or tavern people, he came in time to reckon the old creaking sign-board of Mr. Boody, and the pump in the inn-yard, as the pivotal points of all the town wickedness, just as the meeting-house was the centre of all the town goodness ; and since the great world was very wicked, as he knew from overmuch iteration at home, and since communication with that wicked world was kept up mostly by the stage-coach that stopped every noon at the tavern-door, it seemed to him that relays of wickedness must flow into the tavern and town daily upon that old swaying stage-coach, just as relays of goodness might come to the meetinghouse on some old lumbering chaise of a neighboring parson, who once a month, perhaps, would “ exchange ” with the Doctor. And it confirmed in Reuben’s mind a good deal that was taught him about natural depravity, when he found himself looking out with very much more eagerness for the rumbling coach, that kept up a daily wicked activity about the tavern, than he did for Parson Hobson, who snuffled in his reading, and who drove an old, thin-tailed sorrel mare, with lopped ears and lank jaws, that made passes at himself and Phil, if they teased her, as they always did.

So, too, he came to regard, in virtue of misplaced home instruction, the monkey-jacket of Nat Boody, and his fighting-dog “ Scamp,” and the pink arms and pink cheeks and brown ringlets of Suke Boody, as so many types of human wickedness; and, by parity of reasoning, he came to look upon the two flat curls on either temple of his Aunt Eliza, and her pragmatic way, and upon the yellow ribbons within the scoop-hat of Almira Tourtelot, who sang treble and never went to the tavern, as the types of goodness. What wonder, it he swayed more and more toward the broad and easy path that lay around the tavern-pump, (“ Scamp ” lying there biting at the flies,) and toward the barroom, with its flaming pictures of some past menagerie-show, and big tumblers with lemons atop, rather than to the strait and narrow path in which his Aunt Eliza and Miss Almira would guide him with sharp voices, thin faces, and decoy of dyspeptic doughnuts ?

Phil and he sauntering by one day, Phil says,—

“ Darst you go in, Reub ? ”

Phil was under no law of prohibition. And Reuben, glancing around the Common, says, —

“ Yes, I ’ll go.”

“ Then,” says Phil, “ we ’ll call for a glass of lemonade. Fellows ’most always order somethin’, when they go in.”

So Phil, swelling with his ten years, and tall of his age, walks to the bar and calls for two tumblers of lemonade, which Old Boody stirs with an appetizing rattle of the toddy-stick,—dropping, meantime, a query or two about the Squire, and a look askance at the parson’s boy, who is trying very hard to wear an air as if he, too, were ten, and knew the ropes.

“ It’s good, a’n’t it ? ” says Phil, putting down his money, of which he always had a good stock.

“ Prime ! ” says Reuben, with a smack of the lips.

And then Suke comes in, hunting over the room for last week’s “ Courant"; and the boys, with furtive glances at those pink cheeks and brown ringlets, go down the steps.

“A’n't she handsome ?” says Phil.

Reuben is on the growth. And when he eats dinner that day, with the grave Doctor carving the rib-roast and the prim aunt ladling out the sauces, he is elated with the vague, but not unpleasant consciousness, that he is beginning to be familiar with the world.

XVIII.

IT was some four or five months after the despatch of the Doctor’s letter to Maverick before the reply came. His friend expressed the utmost gratitude for the Doctor’s prompt and hearty acceptance of his proposal. With his little Adele frolicking by him, and fastening more tenderly upon his heart every year, he was sometimes half-disposed to regret the scheme ; but, believing it to be for her good, and confident of the integrity of those to whom he intrusted her, he reconciled himself to the long separation.

It does not come within the limits of this simple New England narrative to enter upon any extended review of the family relations or the life ot Maverick abroad. Whatever details may appear incidentally, as the story progresses, the reader will please to regard as the shreds and ravelled edges of another and distinct life, which cannot be fairly interwoven with the homespun one of the parsonage, nor yet be wholly brushed clear of our story.

“ I want,” said Maverick in his letter, “that Adèle, while having a thorough womanly education, should grow up with simple tastes. I think I see a little tendency in her to a good many idle coquetries of dress, (which you will set down, I know, to her French blood,) which I trust your good sister will see the prudence of correcting. My fortune is now such that I may reasonably hope to put luxuries within her reach, if they be desirable; but of this I should prefer that she remain ignorant. I want to see established in her what you would call those moral and religious bases of character that will sustain her under any possible reverses or disappointments. You will smile, perhaps, at my talking in this strain ; but if I have been afloat in these matters, at least you will do me the credit that may belong to hoping better things for my little Adele. It ’s not much, I know ; but I do sincerely desire that she may find some rallyingpoint of courage and of faith within herself against any possible misfortune. Is it too much to hope, that, under your guidance, and under the quiet religious atmosphere of your little town, she may find such, and that she may possess herself of the consolations of the faith you teach, without sacrificing altogether her natural French vivacity ?

“And now, my dear Johns, I come to refer to a certain allusion in your letter with some embarrassment. You speak of the weight of a mother’s religious influence, and ask what it may have been. Since extreme childhood, Adele has been almost entirely under the care of her godmother, a quiet old lady, who, though a devotee of the Popish Church, you must allow me to say, is a downright good Christian woman. I am quite sure that she has not pressed upon the conscience of little Adele any bigotries of the Church. My wish in this matter I am confident that she has religiously regarded, and while giving the example of her own faith by constant and daily devotions, I think, as I said in my previous letter, that you will find the heart of my little girl as open as the sky. Why it is that the mother’s relations with the child have been so broken you will spare me the pain of explaining.

“Would to God, I think at times, that I had married years ago one nurtured in our old-fashioned faith of New England, — some gentle, pure, loving soul! Shall I confess it, Johns ? — the little glimpse of your lost Rachel gave me an idea of the tenderness and depth of devotion and charming womanliness of many of those whom I had counted stiff and utterly repulsive, which I never had before.

“Pardon me, my friend, for an allusion which may provoke your grief, and which may seem utterly out of place in the talk of one who is just now confiding to you his daughter.

“Johns, I have this faith in you, from our college-days : I know that on the score of the things touched upon in the last paragraphs of my letter you will not press me with inquiries. It is enough for you to know that my life has not been all ‘plain-sailing.’ For the present, let us say nothing of the griefs.

“ As little Adèle comes to me, and sits upon my knee, as I write, I almost lose courage.

“ ‘ Adèle,’ I say, ‘ will you leave your father, and go far away over seas, to stay perhaps for years ? ’

“ ‘ You talk nonsense, papa,’ she says, and leaps into my arms.

“ My heart cleaves strangely to her: I do not know wholly why. And yet she must go : it is best.

“ The vessel of which I spoke will sail in three weeks from the date of my letter for the port of New York. I have made ample provision for her comfort on the passage ; and as the date of the ship’s arrival in New York is uncertain, I must beg you to arrange with some friend there, if possible, to protect the little stranger, until you are ready to receive her. I inclose my draft for three hundred dollars, which I trust may be sufficient for a year’s maintenance, seeing that she goes well provided with clothing : if otherwise, you will please inform me.”

Dr. Johns was not a man to puzzle himself with idle conjectures in regard to the private affairs of his friend. With all kind feeling for him, — and Maverick’s confidence in the Doctor had insensibly given large growth to it, — the parson dismissed the whole affair with this logical reflection : —

“My poor friend has been decoyed into marrying a Frenchwoman. Frenchwomen (like Frenchmen) are all children of Satan. He is now reaping the bitter results.

“ As for the poor child,” thought the Doctor, and his heart glowed at the thought, “ I will plant her little feet upon safe places. With God s help, she shall come into the fold of the elect. ”

He arranges with Mrs. Brindlock to receive the child temporarily upon her arrival. Miss Eliza puts even more than her usual vigor and system into her arrangements for the reception of the new comer. Nothing could be neater than the little chamber, provided with its white curtains, its spotless linen, its dark old mahogany furniture, its Testament and Catechism upon the toilet-table ; one or two vases of old china had been brought up and placed upon brackets out of reach of the little hands that might have been tempted by their beauty, and a coquettish porcelain image of a flower-girl had been added to the other simple adornments which the ambitious spinster had lavished upon the chamber. Her pride as housekeeper was piqued. The young stranger must be duly impressed with the advantages of her position at the start.

“ There,” said she to Esther, as she gave a finishing touch to the disposal of the blue and white hangings about the high-post bedstead, “ I wonder if that will be to the taste of the little French lady ! ”

“ I should think it might, Marm ; it’s the beautifullest room I ever see, Marm.”

Reuben, boy-like, passes in and out with an air of affected indifference, as if the arrangements for the new arrival had no interest for him ; and he whistles more defiantly than ever.

XIX.

IN early September of 1829, when the orchard behind the parsonage was glowing with its burden of fruit, when the white and crimson hollyhocks were lifting their slanted pagodas of bloom all down the garden, and the buckwheat was whitening with its blossoms broad patches of the hillsides east and west of Ashfield, news came to the Doctor that his expected guest had arrived safely in New York, and was waiting his presence there at the elegant home of Mrs. Brindlock. And Sister Mabel writes to the Doctor in the letter which conveys intelligence of the arrival, — “She ’s a charming little witch ; and if you don't like to take her with you, she may stay here.” Mrs. Brindlock had no children.

A visit to New York was an event for the parson. The spinster, eager for his good appearance at the home of her stylish sister, insisted upon a toilet that made the poor man more awkward than ever. Yet he did not think of rebelling. He rejoiced, indeed, that he did not dwell where such hardships would be daily demanded ; but remembering that he was bound to a city of strangers, he recalled the Scriptural injunction,— “ Render unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s.”

The Brindlocks, well-meaning and showy people, received the parson with an effervescence of kindness that disturbed him almost as much as the stiff garniture in which he had been invested by the solicitude of Miss Eliza ; and when, in addition to his double embarrassment, a little saucy-eyed, brownfaced girl, full of mirthful exuberance, with her dark hair banded in a way that was utterly strange to him, and with coquettish bows of ribbon at her throat, at either armlet of her jaunty frock, and all down either side of her silk pinafore, came toward him with a smiling air, as if she were confident of his caresses, the awkwardness of the poor Doctor was complete.

But, catching sight of a certain frank outlook in the little face which reminded him of his friend Maverick, he felt his heart stirred within him, and in his grave way dropped a kiss upon her forehead, while he took both her hands in his.

“This, then, is little Adaly?”

“ Ha ! ha ! ” laughed Addle, merrily, and, turning round to her new-found friends, says, — “ My new papa calls me Adaly ! ”

The straightforward parson was, indeed, as inaccessible to French words as to French principles. Adele had somehow a smack in it of the Gallic Pandemonium : Adaly, to his ear, was a far honester sound.

And the child seemed to fancy it,— whether for its novelty, or the kindliness that beamed on her from the gravest face she had ever seen, it would be hard to say.

“ Call me Adaly, and I will call you New Papa,” said she.

And though the parson was not a bargaining man, every impulse of his heart went to confirm this arrangement. It was flattering to his self-love, if not to his principles, to have apparent sanction to his prejudices against French forms of speech ; and the “ New Papa ” on the lips of this young girl touched him to the quick. Wifeless men are more easily accessible to demonstrations of even apparent affection on the part of young girls than those whose sympathies are hedged about by matrimonial relations.

From all this it chanced that the best possible understanding was speedily established between the Doctor and his little ward from beyond the seas. For an hour after his arrival, the little creature hung upon his chair, asking questions about her new home, about the schools, about her playmates, patting the great hand of the Doctor with her little fingers, and reminding him sadly of days utterly gone.

Mrs. Brindlock, with her woman’s curiosity, seizes an occasion, before they leave, to say privately to the Doctor, —

“Benjamin, the child must have a strange mother to allow this long separation, and the little creature so loving as she is.”

“It would be strange enough for any but a Frenchwoman,” said he.

“ But Addle is full of talk about her father and her godmother ; yet she can tell me scarce anything of her mother. There ’s a mystery about it, Benjamin.”

“ There’s a mystery in all our lives, Mabel, and will be until the last day shall come.”

The parson said this with extreme gravity, and then added, —

“ He has written me regarding it, — a very unfortunate marriage, I fear. Only this much he has been disposed to communicate; and for myself, I am only concerned to redeem his little girl from gross worldly attachments to the truths which take hold upon heaven.”

The next day the Doctor set off homeward upon the magnificent new steamboat Victory, which, with two wonderful smoke-pipes, was then plying through the Sound and up the Connecticut River. It was an object of almost as much interest to the parson as to his little companion. A sober costume had nowreplaced the coquettish one with its furbelows, which Adèle had warn in the city ; but there was a bright lining to her little hat that made her brown face more piquant than ever. And as she inclined her head jauntily to this side or that, in order to a better listening to the old gentleman’s somewhat tedious explanations, or with a saucy smile cut him short in the midst of them, the parson felt his heart warming more and more toward this poor child of heathen France. Nay, he felt almost tempted to lay his lips to the little white ears that peeped forth from the masses of dark hair and seemed fairly to quiver with the eagerness of their listening.

With daylight of next morning came sight of the rambling old towns that lay at the river’s mouth,— being little more than patches of gray and white, strewed over an almost treeless country, with some central spire rising above them. Then came great stretches of open pasture, scattered over with huge grayrocks, amid which little flocks of sheep were rambling ; or some herd of young cattle, startled by the splashing of the paddles, and the great plumes of smoke, tossed their tails in the air, and galloped away in a fright, — at which Adele clapped her hands, and broke into a laugh that was as cheery as the new dawn. Next came low, flat meadows of sedge, over which the tide oozed slowly, and where flocks of wild ducks, scared from their feeding - ground, rose by scores, and went flapping off seaward in long, black lines. And from between the hills on either side came glimpses of swamp woodland, in the midst of which some maple, earlier than its green fellows, had taken a tinge of orange, and flamed in the eyes of the little traveller with a gorgeousness she had never seen in the woods of Provence. Then came towns nestling under bluffs of red quarry-stones, towns upon wooded plains,— all with a white newness about them ; and a brig, with horses on its deck, piled over with bales of hay, comes drifting lazily down with the tide, to catch an offing for the West Indies; and queershaped flat-boats, propelled by broadbladed oars, surge slowly athwart the stream, ferrying over some traveller, or some fish-peddler bound to the “ P’int ” for “ sea-food.”

Toward noon the travellers land at a shambling dock that juts into the river, from which point they are to make their way, in such country vehicle as the little village will supply, across to Ashfield. And when they are fairly seated within, the parson,judging that acquaintance has ripened sufficiently to be put to serious uses, says, with more than usual gravity, —

“ I trust, Adaly, that you are grateful to God for having protected you from all the dangers of the deep.”

“ Do you think there was much danger, New Papa ?”

“ There ’s always danger,” said the parson, gravely. “ The Victory might have been blown in pieces last night, and we all been killed, Adaly. ”

“ Oh, terrible ! “ says Adele. “ And did such a thing ever really happen ? ”

“ Yes, my child.”

“Tell me all about it, New Papa, please ” ; and she put her little hand in his.

“ Not now, Adaly, — not now. I want to know if you have been taught about God, in your old home.”

“ Oh, the good God ! To be sure I have, over and over and over”; and she made a little piquant gesture, as if the teaching had been sometimes wearisome.

This gayety of speech on such a theme was painful to the Doctor.

“ And you have been taught to pray, Adaly ? ”

“ Oh, yes ! Listen now. Shall I tell you one of my prayers, New Papa ? Voyons, how is it ”-

“ Never mind, —never mind, Adaly ; not here, not here. We are taught to enter into our closets when we pray.”

“ Closets ? ”

“ Yes, my child, — to be by ourselves, and to be solemn.”

“ I don’t like solemn people much,” said Adele, in a quiet tone.

“ But do you love God, my child ? ”

“Love Him? To be sure I do”; and after a little pause, — “All good children love Him ; and I 'm good, you know, New Papa, don’t you ? ”—and she turned her eyes up toward him with a halt-coaxing, half-mischievous look that came near to drive away all his solemnity.

“ Ah, Adaly ! Adaly ! we are all wicked ! ” said he.

Adele stared at him in amazement.

“ You, too ! Yet papa told me you were so good ! Ah, you are telling me now a little — what you call — lie ! a’n't you, New Papa ? ”

And she looked at him with such a frank, arch smile, — so like the memory he cherished of the college-boy, Maverick, — that he could argue the matter no further, but only patted her little hand, as it lay upon the cushion of the carriage, as much as to say, — “ Poor thing ! poor thing ! ”

Upon this, he fell away into a train of grave reflection on the method which it would be best to pursue in bringing this little benighted wanderer into the fold of the faithful.

And he was still musing thus, when suddenly the spire of Ashfield broke upon the view.

“ There it is, Adaly ! There is to be your new home ! ”

“ Where ? where ? ” says Adele, eagerly.

And straightway she is all aglow with excitement. Her swift questions patter on the ears of the old gentleman thick as rain-drops. She looks at the houses, the hills, the trees, the face of every passer-by, — wondering how she shall like them all; fashioning to herself some image of the boy Reuben and of the Aunt Eliza who are to meet her ; yet, through all the torrent of her vexed fancies, carrying a great glow of hope, and entering, with all her fresh, girlish enthusiasms unchecked, upon that new phase of life, so widely different from anything she has yet experienced, under the grave atmosphere of a New England parsonage.

DD