MADAME ARLES was a mild and quiet little woman, with a singular absence of that vivacity which most people are disposed to attribute to all of French blood. Her age — so far as one could judge from outward indications — might have been anywhere from twenty-eight to forty. There were no wrinkles in that smooth, calm forehead of hers ; and if there were lines of gray amid her hair, this indication of age was so contradicted by the youthfulness of her eye, that a keen observer would have been disposed to attribute it rather to some weight of past grief that had left its silvery imprint than to the mere dull burden of her years.
There are those who stolidly measure a twelve-month always by its count, and age by such token as a gray head ; but who has not had experience of months so piled with life that two or three or four of them count more upon the scale of mortality than a score of other and sunny ones ? Who cannot reckon such ? Who, looking back, cannot summon to his thought some passage of a week in which he seemed to stride toward the END with a crazy swiftness, and under which he felt that every outward indication of age was deepening its traces with a wondrous surety ? Ay, we slip, we are forged upon the anvil of Time, — God, who deals the blows, only knows how fast!
Yet in Madame Arles we have no notable character to bring forward ; if past griefs have belonged to her, they have become long since a part of her character ; they are in no way obtrusive. There was, indeed, a singular cast in one of her eyes, which in moments of excitement — such few as came over her — impressed the observer very strangely ; as if, while she looked straight upon you and calmly with one eye, the other were bent upon some scene far remote and out of range, some past episode it might be of her own life, by over-dwelling upon which she had brought her organs of sight into this tortured condition. Nine out of ten observers, however, would never have remarked the peculiarity we have mentioned, and would only have commented upon Madame Arles — if they had commented at all—as a quiet person, in whom youth and age seemed just now to struggle for the mastery, and in whom no trace of French birth and rearing was apparent, save her speech, and a certain wonderful aptitude in the arrangement of her dress. The poor lady, moreover, who showed traces of a vanished beauty, was a sad invalid, and for this reason, perhaps, had readily accepted the relief afforded by this summer vacation with two of her city pupils. A violent palpitation of the heart, from time to time, after sudden or undue exertion or excitement, shook the poor woman’s frail hold upon life. Possibly from this cause—as is the case with many who are compelled to listen to those premonitory raps of the grim visitor at the very seat of life — Madame Arles was a person of strong religious proclivities. Death is knocking at all hearts, indeed, pretty regularly, and his pace toward triumph is as formally certain as a pulsebeat ; but it is, after all, those disorderly summons of his, — when in a kind of splenetic rage he grips at our heartstrings, and then lets go, — which keep specially active the religious sentiment. Madame Arles had been educated in the Romish faith, and accepted all its tenets with the same unquestioning placidity with which she enjoyed the sunshine. Without any particular knowledge of the way in which this faith diverged from other Christian forms, she leaned upon it (as so many fainting spirits do and will) because the most available and accessible prop to that religious yearning in her which craved support. So instinctive and unreasoning a faith was not, however, such as to provoke any proselytizing zeal or noisy demonstration. Had it been otherwise, indeed, it could hardly have disturbed her position with the Bowriggs or interrupted relations with her city patrons.
In Ashfield the case was far different.
Adèle, accompanied by her friend Rose,— who, notwithstanding the quiet remonstrances of the Doctor, had won her mother's permission for such equipment in French as she could gain from a summer’s teaching, — went with early greeting to the Bowriggs. The curiosity of Adèle was intense to listen to the music of her native speech once more ; and when Madame Arles slipped quietly into the room, Adèle darted toward her with warm, girlish impulse, and the poor woman, excited beyond bounds by this heartiness of greeting, and murmuring some tender words of endearment, had presently folded her to her bosom.
Adèle, blushing as much with pleasure as with a half-feeling of mortification at the wild show of feeling she had made, was stammering her apology, when she was arrested by a sudden change in the aspect of her new friend.
“My dear Madame, you are suffering ? ”
“ A little, my child ! ”
It was too true, as the quick glance of her old pupils saw in an instant. Her lips were pinched and blue ; that strange double look in her eyes, — one hastened upon Adèle, and the other upon vacancy ; her hands clasped over her heart as if to stay its mad throbbings. While Sophie supported and conducted the sufferer to her own chamber, the younger sister explained to Adele that such spasmodic attacks were of frequent occurrence, and their physician had assured them must, at a very early day, destroy her.
Nothing more was needed to enlist Adèle’s sympathies to the full. She carried home the story of it to the Doctor, and detailed it in such an impassioned way, and with such interpretation of the kind lady’s reception of herself, that the Doctor was touched, and abated no small measure of the prejudice he had been disposed to entertain against the Frenchwoman.
But her heresies in the matter of religion remained, — it being no secret that Madame Arles was thoroughly Popish ; and these disturbed the good Doctor the more, as he perceived the growing and tender intimacy which was establishing itself, week by week, between Adèle and her new teacher. Indeed, he has not sanctioned this without his own private conversation with Madame, in which he has set forth his responsibility respecting Adèle and the wishes of her father, and insisted upon entire reserve of Madame’s religious opinions in her intercourse with his protégée. All which the poor lady had promised with a ready zeal that surprised the minister.
“Indeed, I know too little, Doctor; I could wish she might be better than I. May God make her so ! ”
“ I do not judge you, Madame ; it is not ours to judge ; but I would keep Adaly securely, if God permit, in the faith which we reverence here, and which I much fear she could never learn in her own land or her own language.”
“May-be, may-be, my good Doctor; her faith shall not be disturbed by me, I promise you.”
Adèle, with her quick ear and eye, has no difficulty in discovering the ground of the Doctor's uneasiness and of Miss Eliza’s frequent questionings in regard to her intercourse with the new teacher.
“ I am sure they think you very bad,” she said to Madame Arles, one day, in a spirit of mischief.
“ Bad ! bad ! Adèle, why ? how ? ” — and that strange tortuous look came to her eye, with a quick flush to her cheeks.
“Ah, now, dear Madame, don’t be disturbed ; ’t is only your religion they think so bad, and fear you will mislead me. Tenez ! this little rosary” (and she displays it to the eye of the wondering Madame Arles) “they would have taken from me.”
Madame pressed the beads reverently to her lips, while her manner betrayed a deep religious emotion, (as it seemed to Adéle,) which she had rarely seen in her before.
“ And you claimed it, my child ?”
“ Not for any faith I had in it; but it was my mother’s.”
The good woman kissed Adèle.
“You must long to see her, my child ! ”
A shade of sorrow and doubt ran over the face of the girl. This did not escape the notice of Madame Arles, who, with a terribly dejected and distracted air, replaced the rosary in her hands.
“Mon ange !” (in this winsome way she was accustomed at times to address Adèle) “we cannot talk of these things. I have promised as much to the Doctor ; it is better so ; he is a good man.”
Adèle sat toying for a moment with the rosary upon her fingers, looking down ; then, seeing that woe - begone expression that had fastened upon the face of her companion, she sprang up, kissed her forehead, and, restoring thus — as she knew she could do — a cheeriness to her manner, resumed her lesson.
But from this time forth she showed an eagerness to unriddle, so far as she might, the mystery of that faith which the Doctor clothed in his ponderous discourses, — weighed down and oppressed by his prolixity, and confounded by doctrines she could not comprehend, yet recognizing, under all, his serene trust, and gratefully conscious of his tender regard and constant watchfulness. But, more than all, it was a subject of confusion to her, that the prim and austere Miss Eliza, whose pride and selfishness her keen eye could not fail to see, should be possessed of a truer faith than the poor stranger whose gentleness, and suffering so patiently borne, seemed in a measure to Christianize and dignify character. And if she dropped a hint of these doubts, as she sometimes did, in the ear of the motherly Mrs. Elderkin, that good woman took her hand tenderly, — “ My dear Adèle, we are all imperfect; but God sees with other eyes than ours. Trust Him, — trust Him above all, Adèle ! ”
Yes, she trusts Him, — she knows she trusts Him. Why not ? Whom else to trust ? No tender motherly care and guidance ; the father, by these years of absence, made almost a stranger. The low voice of her native land, that comes to her ear with a charming flow from the lips of her new teacher, never to speak of her doubts or questionings ; the constrained love of the Doctor, her New Papa, framing itself, whenever it touches upon the deeper motives of her nature, in stark formulas of speech, that blind and confound her ; the spinster sister talking kindly, but commending the tie of her hat-ribbons in the same tone with which she urges adherence to some cumbrous enunciation of doctrine, And Adele cherishes her little friendships (most of all with Rose); not alive as yet to any tenderer and stronger passion that shall engross her, and make or mar her life ; swinging her reticule, as in the days gone by, under the trees that embower the village street; loving the bloom, the verdure, the singing of the birds, but with every month now — as she begins to fathom the abyss of life with her own thought — grown more serious. It is always thus : the girl we toyed with yesterday with our inanities of speech is to-morrow, by some sudden reach of womanly thought, another creature, — out of range, and so alert, that, if we would conquer her, we must bring up our heaviest siege-trains.
IN the summer of 1837, Maverick, who had continued eminently successful, determined to sail for America, and to make good his promise of a visit to the Doctor and Adèle. It may appear somewhat inexplicable that a father should have deferred to so late a day the occasion of meeting and greeting an only child. That his attachment was strong, his letters, full of expressions of affection, had abundantly shown ; but the engrossments of business had been unceasing, and he had met them with that American abandonment of other thought, which, while it insures special success, is too apt to make shipwreck of all besides. He was living, moreover, without experience of those tender family ties which ripen a man’s domestic affections, and make the absence of a child — most of all, an only child — a daily burden.
Maverick shows no more appearance of age than when we saw him ten years since, placing his little offering of flowers upon the breakfast-table of poor Rachel, — an excellently well-preserved man, -— dressed always in that close conformity to the existing mode which of itself gives a young air, —brushing his hair sedulously so as to cover the growing spot of baldness, — regulating all his table indulgences with the same precision with which he governs his business, — using all the appliances of flesh-brushes and salt-baths to baffle any insidious ailment, —a strong, hale, cheery man, who would have ranked by a score (judging from his exterior) younger than the Doctor. In our time the clerical fraternity are putting a somewhat wiser valuation upon those aids to firm muscle and good digestion which forty years ago in New England their brethren gave over contemptuously to men of the world. What fearful, pinching dyspepsias, what weak, trembling knees and aching sides have been carried into pulpits, and have been strained to the propagation of spiritual doctrine, under the absurd belief that these bodies of ours were not given us to be cherished ! As if a Gabriel would not need clean limbs and a firm hand in a grapple with the ministers of misrule !
Shall we look for a moment at the French home which Maverick is leaving ? A compact country-house of yellow stone upon a niche of the hills that overlook the blue Bay of Lyons ; a green arbor over the walk leading to the door ; clumps of pittosporum and of jessamine, with two or three straggling fig-trees, within the inclosure ; a billiard-room and salle-à-manger upon the ground-floor, and au premier a salon, opening, by its long, heavily draped windows, upon a balcony shielded with striped awning. Here on many an evening, when the night wind comes in from the sea, Maverick lounges sipping at his demi-tasse, whiffing at a fragrant Havana, (imported to order,) and chatting with some friend he has driven out from the stifling streets of Marseilles about the business chances of the morrow. A tall, agile Alsatian woman, with a gilt crucifix about her neck, and a great deal of the peasant beauty still in her face, glides into the salon from time to time, acting apparently in the capacity of mistress of the establishment, — respectfully courteous to Maverick and his friend, yet showing something more than the usual familiarity of a dependent housekeeper.
The friend who sits with him enjoying the night breeze and those rare Havanas is an open-faced, middle-aged companion of the city, with whom Maverick has sometimes gone to a bourgeois home near to Montauban, where a wrinkle-faced old Frenchman in velvet skull-cap — the father of his friend — has received him with profound obeisance, brought out for him his best cru of St. Peray, and bored him with long stories of the times of 1798, in which he was a participant. Yet the homescenes there, with the wrinkled old father and the stately mamma for partners at whist or boston, have been grateful to Maverick, as reminders of other home-scenes long passed out of reach ; and he has opened his heart to this son of the house.
“Monsieur Papiol,” (it is the Alsatian woman who is addressing the friend of Maverick,) “ask, then, why it is Monsieur Frank is going to America.”
“ Ah, Lucille, do you not know, then, there is a certain Puritan belle he goes to look after ? ”
“ Pah ! ” says the Alsatian. “ Monsieur is not so young ! ”
Maverick puffs at his cigar thoughtfully,— a thoughtfulness that does not encourage the Alsatian to other speech, — and in a moment more she is gone.
“ Seriously, Maverick,” says Papiol, when they are alone again, “ what will you do with this Puritan daughter of yours ? ”
“ Keep her from ways of wickedness,” said Maverick, without losing his thoughtfulness.
“ Excellent ! ” said the friend, laughing ; “ but you will hardly bring her to this home of yours, then ? ”
“ Hardly to this country of yours, Pierre.”
“ Nonsense, Maverick ! You will be too proud of her, man ami. I ’m sure of that. You ’ll never keep her cribbed yonder. We shall see you escorting her some day up and down the Prado, and all the fine young fellows hereabout paying court to the belle Americaine. My faith ! I shall be wishing myself twenty years younger ! ”
Maverick is still very thoughtful.
“What is it, my good fellow? Is it —that the family question gives annoyance among your friends yonder ?”
“ On the contrary,” says Maverick, — and reaching a file of letters in his cabinet, he lays before his companion that fragment of the Doctor’s epistle which had spoken of the rosary, and of his discovery that it had been the gift of the mother, “ so near, and he trusted dear a relative.”
“ Mais, comme it est innocent, your good old friend there ! ”
“ I wish to God, Pierre, I were as innocent as he,” said Maverick, and tossed his cigar over the edge of the balcony.
Upon his arrival at New York, Maverick did not communicate directly with the Doctor, enjoying the thought, very likely, of surprising his old friend by his visit, very much as he had surprised him many years before. He takes boat to a convenient point upon the shore of the Sound, and thence chooses to approach the town that holds what is most dear to him by an old, lumbering stagecoach, which still plies across the hills, as twenty years before, through the parish of Ashfield. The same patches of tasselled corn, (it is August,) the same outlying bushy pastures, the same reeling walls of mossy cobble-stones meet his eye that he remembered on his previous visit. But he looks upon all wayside views carelessly, — as one seeing, and yet not seeing them.
His daughter Adèle, she who parted from him a toy-child eight years gone, whom a new ribbon would amuse in that day, must have changed. That she has not lost her love of him, those letters have told ; that she has not lost her girlish buoyancy, he knows. She must be tall now, and womanly in stature, he thinks. She promised to be graceful. That he will love her, he feels ; but will he be proud of her ? A fine figure, a sweet, womanly voice, an arch look, a winning smile, a pretty coquetry of glance,—will he find these ? And does he not build his pride on hope of these ? Will she be clever ? Will there be traces, ripened in these last years, of the mother, — offensive traces possibly ?
But Maverick is what the world calls a philosopher ; he hums, unconsciously, a snatch of a French song, by which he rouses the attention of the spectacled old lady, (the only other occupant of the coach,) with whom he has already made some conversational ventures, and who has just finished a lunch which she has drawn from her capacious work - bag. Reviving now under the influence of Maverick’s chance fragment of song, and dusting the crumbs from her lap, she says, —
“ We don’t have very good singin’ now in the Glostenbury meetin’.”
“Ah !” says Maverick.
“ No: Squire Peter's darters have bin gittin’ married, and the young girls ha’n’t come on yit.”
“ You attend the Glostenbury Church, then, Madam ?” says Maverick, who enjoys the provincialisms of her speech, like a whiff of the lilac perfume which he once loved.
“ In gineral, Sir ; but we come down odd spells to hear Dr. Johns, who preaches at the Ashfield meetin’-house. He’s a real smart man.”
“ Ah ! And this Dr. Johns has a family, I think ? ”
“Waäl, the Doctor lost his wife, you see, quite airly; and Miss Johns —that ’s his sister — has bin a-keepin’ house for him ever sence. I ’m not acquainted with her, but I ’ve heerd she ’s a very smart woman. And there ’s a French girl that came to live with ’em, goin’ on now seven or eight year, who was a reg’lar Roman Catholic ; but I kind o’ guess the old folks has tamed her down afore now.”
“ Ah ! I should think that a Roman Catholic would have but a poor chance in a New England village.”
“ Not much of a chance anywhere,
I guess,” said the old lady, wiping her spectacles, “if folks only preached the Gospil.”
Even now the coach is creaking along through the outskirts of Ashfield ; and presently the driver’s horn wakes the echoes of the hills, while the horses plunge forward at a doubled pace. The eyes of Maverick are intent upon every house, every open window, every moving figure.
“ It ’s a most a beautiful town,” said the old lady.
“ Charming, charming, Madam ! ” — and even as he spoke, Maverick’s eye fastens upon two figures before them with a strange yearning in his gaze,— two figures of almost equal height: a little, coquettish play of ribbons about the head of one, which in the other are absent; a girlish, elastic step to one, that does not belong to the other.
Is there something in the gait, something in the poise of the head, to which the memory of Maverick so cleaves ? It is, indeed, Adèle, taking her noonday walk with Madame Arles. A lithe figure and a buoyant step, holding themselves tenderly in check for the slower pace of the companion. Maverick's gaze keeps fast upon them, — fast upon them, until the old coach is fairly abreast, — fast upon them, until by a glance back he has caught full sight of the faces.
“ Mon Dieu!" he exclaims, and throws himself back in the coach.
“ Häow ? ” says the old lady.
“Mon Dieu, it is she!” continues Maverick, speaking under intense excitement to himself, as if unconscious of any other presence.
“Häow?” urged the old lady, more persistently.
“ Damn it, nothing, Madam!”
And the old lady drew the strings of her bag closely, and looked full out of the opposite window.
Within a half-hour the stage-coach arrived at the Eagle Tavern. Maverick demanded a chamber, and asked to see the landlord. The stout, blear-eyed Boody presently made his appearance.
“ How can I reach New York soonest, my friend ? ”
Mr. Boody consulted his watch.
“ Well, by fast driving you might catch the night-boat on the river.”
“ Can you get me there in time?”
“ Well, Sir,” reflecting a moment, “ I guess I can.”
“Very good. Have your carriage ready as soon as possible.”
And within an hour, Maverick, dejected, and with an anxious air, was on his return to the city.
Three days after, the Doctor summons Adèle into his study.
“ Adaly, here is a letter from your father, which I wish you to read.”
The girl takes it eagerly, and at the first line exclaims,—
“ He is in New York! Why does n’t he come here ? ”
“ MY DEAR JOHNS,” (SO his letter runs,) “ I had counted on surprising you completely by dropping in upon you at your parsonage, (so often in my thought,) at Ashfield ; but circumstances have prevented. Can I ask so large a favor of you as to bring my dear Adèle to meet me here ? If your parochial duties forbid this utterly, can you not see her safely on the river-boat, and I will meet her at the wharf in New York ? But, above all, I hope you will come with her. I fancy her now so accomplished a young lady, that there will be needed some ceremony of presentation at your hands ; besides which. I want a long talk with you. We are both many years older since we have met ; you have had your trials, and I have escaped with only a few rubs. Let us talk them over. Slip away quietly, if you can ; beyond Adèle and your good sister, can’t you conceal your errand to the city ? Your country villages are so prone to gossip, that I would wish to clasp my little Adèle before your townsfolk shall have talked the matter over. Pray ask your good sister to prepare the wardrobe of Adèle for a month or two of absence, since I mean she shall be my attendant on a little jaunt through the country. I long to greet her ; and your grave face, my dear Johns, is always a welcome sight.”
Adèle is in a fever of excitement. In her happy glee she would have gone out to tell all the village what pleasure was before her. Even the caution she receives from the Doctor cannot control her spirits absolutely. She makes her little adieux, for a while, under a certain control that surprises herself. But when, in her light-hearted ramble, she comes to say good-bye to Madame Arles, toward whom her sympathies seem to flow in spite of herself, she cannot forbear saying, “ What harm, pray, can there be in this ? ”
“Such a secret, chère Madame! I am going to New York, you know, with Dr. Johns, the good man! and — such a secret! don’t whisper it ! — Papa has come, and has sent for me, and we are to travel together ! ” And she sprang at Madame Arles, and, clasping her arms around her neck, kissed her with a vehemence that might have startled even a less excitable person.
“ Is it possible, my child ! I wish you all joy, with all my heart.”
And as if the exuberance of the wish had started her old ailment into new vigor, she has clasped her hands wildly over that bosom, to stay, if it might be, those inordinate throbbings.
But the adieux are at last all spoken. Mrs. Elderkin had said, “ My child, I rejoice with you ; and if I never see you again,” — (for she had her suspicions that the sudden movement had some connection with the wishes of her father,)— “if I never see you again, I hope vou may keep always the simplicity and the love of truth I believe you have now.”
Rose, almost bewildered by the gleeful excitement of her friend, enters eagerly into all her arrangements, trips into her chamber to assist in her packing, insists, over and over, that she must write often, and long letters.
Girls of sixteen or thereabout are prone to expectancies of this kind. Their friendships cover reams. Their promises of never-dying attachment are so full, so rich ! But as the years drop these girl friends into their separate spheres, with a new world of interests, domestic buffetings, nursery clamor, growing up around them, the tender correspondence, before they know it, is gone by. And the budget of sweet and gushing school-day epistles is cut through and through with the ruthless family shears to kindle the family lamp or to light the cigar of some exacting and surly pater-familias.
“ I suppose you will see Reuben in the city,” Rose had said, in a chance way.
“ Oh, I hope so ! ” said Adèle.
And of Reuben neither of them said anything more.
Then with what a great storm of embraces Adèle parted from Rose ! A parting only for a month, perhaps : both knew that. But the friendship of young girls can build a week into a monstrous void. God bless their dear hearts, and, if the wish be not wicked, keep them always as fresh !
Phil, who is a sturdy and somewhat timid lover, without knowing it, affects an air of composure, and says,—
“ I hope you ’ll have a good time, Adèle ; and I suppose you ’ll forget us all here in Ashfield.”
“No, you don’t suppose any such thing, Mister Philip,” says Adele, roundly, and with a frank, lull look at him that makes the color come to his face ; and he laughs, but not easily.
“Well, good bye, Adèle.”
She takes his hand, eagerly.
“ Good bye, Phil ; you ’re a dear, good fellow ; and you ’ve been very kind to me.”
Possibly there may have been a little water gathering in her eye as she spoke. It is certain that the upper lip oi Phil trembled as lie strolled away. After walking a few paces out of sight and hearing, snapping his fingers nervously the while, he used some bad interjectional language, which we shall express more moderately.
“ Hang it, I ’m sorry, deused sorry! I did n't think I liked her so.”
——. Walking, with head down, snapping those fingers of his,—past his own gate a long way, (though it is full dinner-hour,) — mumbling again, —
“ By George ! I believe I ought to have said something; but, hang it, what could a fellow say ? ”
He hears the coach driving off, and with a sudden thought rushes home, enters quietly, goes up the stairs, makes a feint as if he were entering his chamber, but passes on tiptoe into the garret, opens the roof-door, and from the housetop catches a last glimpse of the stagecoach rattling down the south road. A wood hides it presently.
“ Confound it all ! ” he says, with great heartiness, and goes down to dinner.
“ My son, you have n’t a good appetite,” says the kindly mother.
“ I ate a big lunch,” says Phil.
He knew it was a whopper.
IT is at Jennings’s old City Hotel, far down Broadway, that Maverick has taken rooms and awaits the arrival of Adèle. That glimpse of her upon the street of Ashfield (ay, he knew it must be she !) has added pride to the instinctive love of the parent. The elastic step, the graceful figure, the beaming, sunny face, — they all haunt him ; they put him in a fever of expectation. He reads over again the few last letters of hers under a new light; up and down along the page, that lithe, tall figure is always coming forward, and the words of endearment are coupled with that sunny face.
He even prepares his toilette to meet her, as a lover might do to meet his affianced. And the meeting, when it comes, only deepens the pride. Graceful ? Yes ! That bound toward him, — can anything be fuller of grace? Natural ? The look and the speech of Adèle are to Maverick a new revelation of Nature. Loving? That clinging kiss of hers was worth his voyage over the sea.
And she, too, is so beautifully proud of her father ! She has loved the Doctor for his serenity, his large justice, notwithstanding his stiffness and his awkward gravity ; but she regards with new eyes the manly grace of her father, his easy self-possession, his pliability of talk, his tender attention to her comfort, his wistful gaze at her, so full of a yearning affection, which, if the Doctor had ever felt, he had counted it a duty to conceal. Nay, the daughter, with a womanly eye, took pride in the aptitude and becomingness of his dress, — so different from what she had been used to see in the clumsy toilette of the Doctor, or of the good-natured Squire Elderkin. Henceforth she will have a new standard of comparison, to which her lovers, if they ever declare themselves, must submit.
Adèle, enjoying this easy familiarity with such a pattern of manhood, — as she fondly imagines her father to be,— indulges in full, hearty story of her experiences, at school, with Miss Johns, with the Elderkins, with all those whom she has learned to call friends. And Maverick listens, as he never listened to a grand opera in the theatre of Marseilles.
“ And so you have stolen a march upon them all, Adèle ? I suppose they have n’t a hint of the person you were to meet ? ”
“ All, — at least nearly all, dear papa; there was only good Madame Arles, to whom I could not help saying that I was coming to see you.”
A shade passed over the face of Maverick, which it required all his self-possession to conceal from the quick eye of his daughter.
“And who, pray, is this Madame Arles, Adèle ? ”
“ Oh, a good creature ! She has taught me French ; no proper teaching, to be sure ; but in my talk with her, all the old idioms have come back to me : at least, I hope so.”
And she rattles on in French speech, explaining how it was, — how they walked together in those sunny noontides at Ashfield ; and taking a girlish pride in the easy adaptation of her language to forms which her father must know so well, she rounds off a little torrent of swift narrative with a piquant, coquettish look, and says, —
“ N’est ce pas, que j’y suis, mon père ? ”
“Parfaitement, ma chère," says the father, and drops an admiring kiss upon the glowing cheeks of Adèle.
But the shade of anxiety has not passed from the face of Maverick.
“ This Madame Arles, Adèle, — has she been long in the country ? ”
“ I don’t know, papa ; yet it must be some years ; she speaks English passably well.”
“ And she has told you, I suppose, very much about the people among whom you were born, Adèle ? ”
“ Not much, papa, — and never anything about herself or her history; yet I have been so curious ! ”
" Don’t be too curious, petite ; you might learn only of badness.”
“Not badness, I am very, very sure, papa! ”
Adèle is sitting on the arm of his chair, fondling those sparse locks of his, sprinkled with gray. It is a wholly new sensation for him ; charming, doubtless ; but even under the caresses of this daughter, of whom he has reason to be proud, anxious thoughts crowd upon him. Are not our deepest loves measured, after all, by the depth of the accompanying solicitude ?
The Doctor is met very warmly by Maverick, and feels something like a revival of the glow of his youthful days as he takes his hand ; and yet they are wider apart by far than when they met in the lifetime of Rachel. Both feel it; they have travelled widely divergent roads, these last twenty years. The Doctor is satisfied by the bearing and talk of Maverick (whatever kindness may lie in it) that his worldliness is more engrossing and decided than ever. And Maverick, on his part, scrutinizing, carelessly, but unerringly, that embarrassed country manner of the parson’s, that stark linen in which he is arrayed by the foresight of the spinster sister, and the constraint of his speech, is sure that his old friend more than ever bounds his thought by the duties of his sacred office.
The Doctor is, moreover, sadly out of place in that little parlor of the hotel, looking out upon Broadway; there is no adaptiveness in his nature ; he comes out from the little world of his study, where Tillotson and Poole and Newton have been his companions, athwart the roar of the city street which sounds in his ear like an echo of the murmurs of Pandemonium. Under these circumstances he scarce dares to expostulate so boldly as he would wish with Maverick upon the worldliness of his career ; it would seem like bearding the lion in his own den. Nor, indeed, does Maverick provoke such expostulation ; he is so considerate of the Doctor’s feelings, so grateful for his attentions to Adèle, so religiously disposed (it must be said) in all that concerns the daughter’s education and future, and waives the Doctor's personal advices with so kind and easy a grace, that the poor parson despairs of reaching him with the point of the sword of Divine truth.
“ My good friend,” says Maverick, “ you have been a father to my child, — a better one than I have made,— I wish I could repay you.”
The Doctor bows stiffly ; he has lost the familiarity which at their last interview had lingered from their boyish days at college.
“ I suppose that under your teaching,” continues Maverick, “ she is so fixed in the New England faith of our fathers, that she might be trusted now even to my bad guidance.”
“ I have tried to do my duty, Maverick. I could have wished to see more of self-abasement in her, and a clearer acceptance of the doctrine we are called upon to teach.”
“ But she has been constant in the performance of all the duties you have enjoined, has n’t she, Doctor ? ”
“ Entirely so, — entirely ; but, my friend, our poor worldly efforts at duty do not always call down the gilt of Grace.”
“ By Jove, Doctor, but that seems hard doctrine.”
“ Hard to carnal minds, Maverick ; but the evidences are abundant that justification ” ——
“ Nay, nay,” said Maverick, interrupting him ; “ you know I'm not strong in theology ; I don’t want to be put hors du combat by you ; I know I should be. But about that little affair of the rosary, — no harm came of it, I hope ? ”
“ None, I believe,” said the Doctor, “ but I must not conceal from you, Maverick, that a late teacher of hers, to whom unfortunately she seems very much attached, is strongly wedded to the iniquities of the Romish Church.
“ That would seem a very awkward risk to take. Doctor,” said Maverick, with more of seriousness than he had yet Shown.
“ A risk, certainly ; but I took the precaution of warning Madame Arles, who is the party in question, against any conversation with Adaly upon religious subjects.”
“And you ventured to trust her? Upon my word, Johns, you give me a lesson in faith. I should have been more severe than you. I would n’t have admitted such intercourse ; and, my good friend, if I should ask permission to reinstate Adèle in your household for a time, promise me that all intercourse with Madame Arles shall be cut off. I know Frenchwomen better than you, my friend.”
The Doctor assured him that he would do as he desired, and would be glad to have the father’s authority for the interruption of an intercourse which had almost the proportions of a tender friendship.
Maverick was thoughtful for a moment.
“ Well, yes, Doctor, be gentle — I know you are always — with the dear girl ; but if there be any demur on her part, pray give her to understand that what you will ask in this respect has my express sanction. If I know myself, Johns, there is no object I have so near at heart as the happiness of my child ; not alone now ; but in her future, I hope to God (I speak reverently, Doctor) that she may have immunity from suffering of whatever kind. I wish wealth could buy it; but it can’t. Mind the promise, Johns; keep her away from this Frenchwoman.”
The Brindlocks, of course, with whom the Doctor was quartered during his stay, took an early occasion to show civilities to Mr. Maverick and his daughter; and Mrs. Brindlock kindly offered her services to Adèle in negotiating such additions to her wardrobe as the proud father insisted upon her making ; and in the necessary excursions up and down the city, Reuben, by the pleasant devices of Mrs. Brindlock, was an almost constant out-of-door attendant
He was no longer the shy boy Adèle had at first encountered. Nay, grown bold by his city experiences, he was disposed to assume a somewhat patronizing air toward the bright-eyed countrygirl who was just now equipping herself for somewhat larger contact with the world. Adèle did not openly resent the proffered patronage, but, on the contrary, accepted it with an excess of grateful expressions, whose piquant irony, for two whole days, Reuben, with his blunter perceptions, never suspected. What boy of eighteen is a match for a girl of sixteen ? Patronize, indeed ! But suspicion came at last, and full knowledge broke upon him under a musical little laugh of Adèle’s, (half smothered in her kerchief,) when the gallant young man had blundered into some idle compliment. The instinct of girls in matters of this sort is marvellously quick.
But if the laugh of Adède cured Reuben of his patronage, it did not cure him of thought about her. It kindled a new train, indeed, of whose drift he was himself unconscious.
“ Is n’t she pretty ? ” said Mrs. Brindlock, on a certain occasion, upon their return from one of the excursions named.
“ Oh, so, so ! ” said Reuben.
“ But I think she ’s perfectly charming,” said Mrs. Brindlock.
“ Pho, Aunt Mabel! I could name ten girls as pretty.”
And he could. But this did not forbid his accepting his Aunt Mabel’s invitation for the next day’s shopping.
He is not altogether the same lad we saw upon the deck of the Princess, under Captain Saul. He would hardly sail for China now in a tasselled cap. He never will, — this much we can say, at least, without anticipating the burden of our story.