Doctor Johns

LIII.

REUBEN, meantime, is leading a dashing life in the city. The Brindlock family have taken him to their arms again as freely and heartily as if he had never entered the told over which the good Doctor exercised pastoral care, and as if he had never strayed from it again.

" I told you ’t would be all right, Mabel,” said Mr. Brindlock to his wife ; and neither of them ever rallied him upon his bootless experience in that direction.

But the kindly aunt had not forborne (how could she ?) certain pertinent inquiries in regard to the pretty Miss Maverick, under which Reuben had shown considerable disposition to flinch ; although he vainly fancied that he stood the interrogation with a high hand. Mrs. Brindlock drew her own conclusions, but was not greatly disturbed by them. Why should she be, indeed ? Reuben, with Iris present most promising establishment in business, and with a face and air that insured him a cordial welcome in that circle of wealthy acquaintances which Mrs. Brindlock especially cultivated, was counted a bon parti, independent of his position as presumptive heir to a large share of the Brindlock estate.

Once or twice since his leave of Ashfield he lias astonished the good people there by a dashing visit. Perhaps he has enjoyed (such things are sometimes enjoyed) setting forth before the quiet parishioners of his father his new consequence as a man of the world and of large moneyed prospects. It is even possible that he may have entertained agreeably the fancy of dazing the eyes of both Rose and Adèle with the glitter of his city distinctions. But their admiration, if they felt any, was not flatteringly expressed. Adele, indeed, was always graciously kind, and, seeing his confirmed godlessness, tortured herself secretly with the thought that, but for her rebuff, he might have made a better fight against the bedevilments of the world, and lived a truer and purer life. All that, however, was irrevocably past. As for Rose, if there crept into her little prayers a touch of sentiment as she pleaded for the backslidden son of the minister, her prayers were none the worse for it. Such trace of sentimental color — like the blush upon her fair cheek—gave a completed beauty to her appeals.

Reuben saw that Phil was terribly in earnest in his love, and he fancied, with some twinges, that he saw indications on the part of Adèle of its being not wholly unacceptable. Rose, too, seemed not disinclined to receive the assiduous attentions of the young minister, who had become a frequent visitor in the Elderkin household, and who preached with an unction and an earnestness that touched her heart, and that made her sigh despondingly over the outcast son of the old pastor. Watching these things with a look studiedly careless and indifferent, Reuben felt himself cut off more than ever from such charms or virtues as might possibly have belonged to continued association with the companions of his boyhood, and nerved himself for a new and firmer grip upon those pleasures of the outer world which had not yet proved an illusion. There were moments — mostly drifting over him in silent night-hours, within his old chamber at the parsonage — when it seemed to him that he had made a losing game of it. The sparkling eyes of Adèle, suffused with tears, — as in that memorable interview of the garden,—beam upon him, promising, as then, other guidance ; they gain new brilliance, and Wear stronger entreaty, as they shine lovingly upon him from the distance — growing greater and greater — which now lies between them. Her beauty, her grace, her tenderness, now that they are utterly beyond reach, are tenfold enticing ; and in that other sphere to which, in his night re very, they seem translated, the joyous face of Rose, like that of an attendant angel, looks down regretfully, full of a capacity for love to which he must be a stranger.

He is wakened by the bells next morning, — a Sunday morning, may be. There they go, —he sees them from the window, — the two comely damsels, picking their way through the light, fresh-fallen snow of March. Going possibly to teach the catechism ; he sneers at this thought, for he is awake now. Has the world no richer gift in store for him ? That Sophie Bovvrigg is a great fortune, a superb dancer, a gorgeous armful of a woman. What if they were to join their fortunes and come back some day to dazzle these quiet townsfolk with the splendor of their life ? His visits in Ashfield grow shorter and more rare. There is nothing particularly alluring. We shall not meet him there again until wre meet him for the last time.

Mr. Catesby is an “acceptable preacher.” He unfolds the orthodox doctrines with more grace than had belonged to the manner of the Doctor, and illustrates them from time to time with a certain youthful glow, and touches of passionate exhortation, which for many years the Ashfield pulpit had not known. The old ladies befriend him and pet him in their kindly way ; and if at times his speculative humor (which he is not wholly without) leads him beyond the bounds of the accepted doctrines, he compounds the matter by strong assertion of those sturdy generalities which lie at the bottom of the orthodox creed.

But his self-control is not so apparent in his social intercourse ; and before he has been three months in Ashfield, he has given tongue to gossip, and all the old ladies comment upon his enslavement to the pretty Rose Elderkin. And they talk by the book ; he is desperately enamored. Young clergymen have this way of falling, at sight, into the toils, which is vastly refreshing to middle-aged observers. But we have no occasion to detail his experience. An incident only of his recreative pursuits in this direction belongs to our narrative.

Upon one of the botanical excursions of later spring which he had inaugurated, and to which the maidenly modesty of Rose had suggested that Adèle should make a party, the young Cates by (who was a native of Eastern Massachusetts) had asked in his naïve manner after her family connections. An uncle of his had known a Mr. Maverick, who had long been a resident of Europe.

“ It may possibly be some relation of yours, Miss Maverick,” said the young minister.

“ Do you recall the first name ? ” said Rose.

Mr. Catesby hesitated in that interesting way in which lovers are wont to hesitate. No, he did not remember; but he was a jovial, generous-hearted man, (he had heard his uncle often describe him,) who must be now some fifty or sixty years old. — “ Frank Maverick, to be sure ; I have the name.”

“Why, it is my father,” said Adèle with a swift, happy rush of color to her face.

“ O no, Miss Maverick,” said the young Catesby with a smile, “ that is quite impossible. The gentleman of whom I speak, and my uncle visited him only three years ago, is a confirmed bachelor, and he had rallied him, I remember, upon never having married.”

The color left the cheeks of Adèle.

“ Frank, did you say ? ” persisted Rose.

" Frank was the name,” said the innocent young clergyman ; “ and he was a merchant, if I remember rightly, somewhere upon the Mediterranean.”

“ It's very strange,” said Rose, turning to Adèle.

And Adèle, all her color gone, had the fortitude to pat Rose lovingly upon the shoulder, and to say, with a forced smile, “ Life is very strange, Rose.”

But from this time till they reached home, — fortunately not far away, — Adèle said nothing more. Rose remarked an unwonted pallor in her cheeks.

“ You are tired, Adele,” said she ;

“ you are so pale ! ”

“ Child,” said Adèle, tapping her again, in a womanly way that was strange to her companion, “you have color for us both.”

At this, her reserve of dignity and fortitude being now wellnigh spent, she rushed away to her chamber. What wonder if she sought the little crucifix, sole memento of the unknown mother, and glued it to her lips, as she fell upon her knees by the bedside, and uttered such a prayer for help and strength as she had never uttered before ?

“ It is true ! it is true ! I see it now. The child of shame ! The child of shame ! O my lather, my father ! what wrong have you done me ! ” And again she prays for help and strength.

There is not a doubt in her mind where the truth lies. In a moment her thought has flashed over the whole chain of evidence. The father’s studied silence ; her alienation from any home of her own ; the mysterious hints of the Doctor; and the strange communication of Reuben, — all come up in stately array and confound her with the bitter truth. There is a little miniature of her father which she has kept among her choicest treasures. She seeks it now. Is it to throw it away in scorn? No, no, no. Our affections are after all not submissible to strict moral regimen. It is with set teeth and a hard look in her eye that she regards it at first; then her eyes suffuse with tears while she looks, and she kisses it passionately again and again.

“ Can there be some horrible mistake in all this?” she asks herself. At the thought she slips on hat and shawl and glides noiselessly down the stairs, (not for the world would she have been interrupted !) and walks swiftly away to her old home at the parsonage.

Dame Tourtelot meets her and says, “Good evening, Miss Adeel."

And Adèle, in a voice so firm that it does not seem her own, says, “ Good evening, Miss Tourtelot.” She wonders greatly at her own calmness.

LIV.

THE Doctor is alone in his study when Adèle comes in upon him, and she has reached his chair and dropped upon her knees beside him before he has time to rise.

“ New Papa, you have been so kind to me! I know the truth now, — the mystery, the shame ” ; —and she dropped her head upon his knees.

“ Adaly, Adaly, my dear child ! ” said the old man with a great tremor in his voice, “ what does this mean ? ”

She was sobbing, sobbing.

“ Adaly, my child, what can I do for you ? ”

“ Pray for me, New Papa ' ” and she lifted her eyes upon him with a tender, appealing look.

“ Always, always, Adaly ! ”

“Tell me, New Papa, — tell me honestly,— is it not true that I can call no one mother, — that I never could ? ”

The Doctor trembled : he would have given ten years of his life to have been able to challenge her story, to disabuse her mind of the belief which he saw was fastened past all recall. “Adaly,” said he, “ Christ befriended the Magdalen, — how much more you, then, if so be you are the unoffending child of-”

“ I knew it! I knew it ! ” and she fell to sobbing again upon the knee of the old gentleman, in a wild, passionate way.

In such supreme moments the mind reaches its decisions with electrical rapidity. Even as she leaned there, her thought flashed upon that poor Madame Arles who had so befriended her,— against whom they had cautioned her, who had shown such intense emotion at their first meeting, who had summoned her at the last, and who had died with that wailing cry,“ Ma fille!” upon her lip. Yes, yes, her mother indeed, who died in her arms ! (she can never forget that death-clasp.)

She hints as much to the Doctor, who, in view of his recent communication from Maverick, will not gainsay her.

When she moved away at last, as if for a leave-taking, silent and humiliated, the old man said to her, “ My child, are you not still my Adaly ? God is no respecter of persons ; his ministers should be like him.”

Whereupon Adèle came and kissed him with a warmth that reminded him of days long past.

She rejoiced in not having encountered the gray, keen eyes of the spinster. She knew they would read unfailingly the whole extent of the revelation that had dawned upon her. That the spinster herself knew the truth, and had long known it, she was sure; and she recalled with a shudder the look of those uncanny eyes upon the evening of their little frolic at the Elderkins. She dreaded the thought of ever meeting them again, and still more the thought of listening to the stiff, cold words of consolation which she knew she would count it her duty to administer.

It was dusk when she left the Doctor's door; he would have attended, hut she begged to be alone. It was an April evening, the chilliness of the earth just yielding to the coming summer; the frogs clamorous in all the near pools, and filling the air with the harsh uproar of their voices ; the delicate grass-blades, were just thrusting their tips through the brown web of the old year’s growth, and in sunny, close-trodden spots showing a mat of green, while the fleecy brown blossoms of the elm were tufting all the spray of the embowering trees. Here and there a village loiterer greeted her kindly. They all knew Miss Adèle. “They will all know it to-morrow,” she thought, “ and then — then — ”

With a swift but unsteady step she makes her way to the little graveyard ; she had gone there often, and there were those who said wantonly that she went to say her prayers before the little cross upon the tombstone she had placed over the grave of Madame Arles. Now she threw herselt prone upon the little hillock, with a low, sharp cry ot distress, like that of a wounded bird, —

“ My mother ! my mother ! ”

Every word, every look ot tenderness which the dead woman had lavished, she recalls now with a terrible distinctness. Those loud, vague appeals of her delirium come to her recollection with a meaning in them that is only too plain ; and then the tight, passionate clasp, when, strained to her bosom, relief came at last. Adèle lies there unconscious of the time, until the night dews warn her away ; she staggers through the gate. Where next ? She fancies they must know it all at the Elderkins’, —that she has no right there. Is she not an estray upon the world ? Shall she not — as well first as last — wander forth, homeless as she is, into the night ? And true to these despairing thoughts, she hurries away farther and farther from the town. The frogs croak monotonously in all the marshes, as it in mockery of her grief. On some near tree an owl is hooting, with a voice that is strangely and pitifully human. Presently an outlying farm-house shows its cheery, hospitable lightthrough the window-panes, and she is tempted to shorten her steps and steal a look into the room where the family sits grouped around the firelight. No such sanctuary for her ever was or ever can be. Even the lowing of a cow in the yard, and the answering bleat of a calf within the barn, seem to mock the outcast.

On she passes, scarce knowing whither her hurrying steps are bearing her, until at last she spies a low building in the fields away upon her right, which she knows. It is the home of that outlawed woman where Madame Arles had died. Here at least she will be met with sympathy, even if the truth were wholly knowm ; and yet perhaps last of all places would she have it known there. She taps at the door; she has wandered out of her way, and asks for a moment’s rest. The little boy of the house, when he has made out the visitor by a few furtive peeps from behind the mother’s chair, comes to her fawningly and familiarly ; and as Adèle looks into his bright, fearless eyes, a new courage seems to possess her. God’s children, all of us ; and He careth even for the sparrows. She will conquer her despairing weakness ; she will accept her cross and bear it resolutely. By slow degrees she is won over by the frolicsome humor of the curly-pated boy, who never once quits her side, into cheerful prattle with him. And when at last, fairly rested, she would set off on her return, the lone woman says she will see her safely as far as the village street; the boy, too, insists doggedly upon attending them ; and so, with her hand tightly clasped in the hand of the lad, Adèle makes her way back into the town. Along the street she passes, even under the windows of the parsonage, with her hand still locked in that of the outlawed boy ; and she wonders if in broad day the same courage would be meted to her ? They only part when within sight of the broad glow of light from the Elderkin windows ; and here Adèle, taking out her purse, counts out the half of her money and places it in the hands of the boy.

“ We will share and share alike, Willie,” said she. “ But never tell who gave you this.”

“ But, Miss Maverick, it’s too much,” said the woman.

“ No, it ’s not,” said the boy, clutching it eagerly.

With a parting good-night, Adèle darted within the gate, and opened softly the door, determined to meet courageously whatever rebuffs might be in store for her.

LV.

ROSE has detailed the story of the occurrence, with the innocent curiosity of girlhood, to the Squire and Mrs. Elderkin (Phil being just now away). The Squire, as he hears it, has passed a significant lock across to Mrs. Elderkin.

“ It ’s very queer, is n’t it ? ” asked Rose.

“ Very,” said tire Squire, who had for some time cherished suspicions of certain awkward relations existing between Maverick and the mother of Adèle, but never so decided as this story would seem to warrant. “And what said Adèle ? ” continued he.

“It disturbed her, I think, papa; she did n’t seem at all herself.”

“ Rose, my dear,” said the kindly old gentleman, “there is some unlucky family difference between Mr. and Mrs. Maverick, and I dare say the talk was unpleasant to Adèle ; if I were you, I would n't allude to it again ; don't mention it, please, Rose.”

If it could be possible, good Mrs. Elderkin greeted Adèle as she came in more warmly than ever. “ You must be careful, my dear, of these first spring days of ours ; you are late to-night.”

“ Yes,” says Adele, “ I was gone longer than I thought. I rambled off to tire churchyard, and I have been at the Doctor’s.

Again the okl people exchanged glances.

Why does she find herself watching their looks so curiously ? Yet there is nothing but kindness in them. She is glad Phil is not there.

The next morning the Squire stepped over at an early hour to the parsonage, and by an adroit question or two, which the good Doctor had neither the art nor the disposition to evade, unriddled the whole truth with respect to the parentage of Adèle. The Doctor also advised him of the delusion of the poor girl with respect to Madame Arles, and how he had considered it unwise to attempt any explanation until he should hear further from Mr. Maverick, whose recent letter he counted it his duty to lay before Mr. Elderkin.

“ It 's a sad business,” said he.

And the Doctor, “ The way of the wicked is as darkness ; they know not at what they stumbled

The Squire walks home in a brown study. Like all the rest, he has been charmed with the liveliness and grace of Adèle ; over and over he has said to his boy, “ How fares it, Phil ? Why, at your age, my boy, I should have had her in the toils long ago.”

Since her domestication under his own roof, the old gentleman’s liking for her had grown tenfold strong ; he had familiarized himself with the idea of counting her one of his own flock. But, the child of a French-

“ Well, well, we will see what the old lady may say,” reflected he. And he took the first private occasion to lay the matter before Mrs. Elderkin.

“ Well, mother, the suspicions of last night are all true, — true as a book.”

“ God help the poor child, then ! ” said Madam, holding up her hands.

“Of course He ’ll do that, wife. But what say you to Phil’s marriage now ? Does it look as tempting as it did ? ”

The old lady reflected a moment, lifting her hand to smooth the hair upon her temple, as if in aid of her thought, then said, — “ Giles, you know the world better than I; you know best what may be well for the boy. I love Adèle very much ; I do not believe that I should love her any less If she were the wife of Phil. But you know best, Giles ; you must decide.”

“ There’s a good woman ! ” said the Squire ; and he stayed his pace up and down the room to lay; his hand approvingly upon the head of the old lady, touching as tenderly those gray locks as ever he had done in earlier years the ripples of golden brown.

In a few days Phil returns,—blithe, hopeful, winsome as ever. He is puzzled, however, by the grave manner of the Squire, when he takes him aside, after the first he arty greetings, and says, “Phil, my lad, how fares it with the love matter ? Have things come to a crisis, eh ? ”

“What do you mean, father?” and Phil blushes like a boy of ten.

“ I mean to ask, Philip,” said the old gentleman, measuredly, “ it you have made any positive declaration to Miss Maverick.”

“Not yet,” said Phil, with a modest frankness.

“ Very good, my son. very good. And now, Phil, I would wait a little,—take time for reflection ; don’t do anything rashly. It’s an important step to take.”

“ But, father,” says Phil, puzzled by the old gentleman’s manner, “ what does this mean ? ”

“Philip,” said the Squire, with a seriousness that seemed almost comical by its excess, “would you really marry Adèle?”

“ To-morrow, if I could,” said Phil.

“ Tut, tut, Phil! It ’s the old hot blood in him ! ” {He says this, as if to himself.) “ Philip, I would n’t do so, my boy.”

And thereupon he gives him in his way a story of the revelations of the last few days.

At the first, Phil is disposed to an indignant denial, as if by no possibility any indignity could attach to the name or associations of Adèle. But in the whirl of his feeling he remembered that interview with Reuben, and his boast that Phil could not affront the conventionalities of the world. It confirmed the truth to him in a moment. Reuben then had known the whole, and had been disinterestedly generous. Should he be any less so ?

“ Well, father,” said Phil, after a minute or two of silence, “ I don’t think the story changes my mind one whit. I would marry her to-morrow, if I could,” and he looked the Squire fairly and squarely in the face.

“ Gad, boy,” said the old gentleman, “you must love her as I loved your mother ! ”

“ I hope I do,” said Phil, — “that is if I win her. I don't think she’s to be had for the asking.”

“Aha ! the pinch lies there, eh ?” said the Squire, and he said it in better humor than he would have said it ten days before. “What’s the trouble, Philip ?”

“ Well, sir, I think she always had a tenderness for Reuben; I think she loves him now in her heart.”

“ So, so ! The wind lies there, eh ? Well, let it bide, my boy ; let it bide awhile. We shall know something more of the matter soon.”

And there the discourse of the Squire ended.

Meantime, however, Rose and Adèle are having a little private interview above stairs, which in its subject-matter is not wholly unrelated to the same theme.

“ Rose,” Adèle had said, as she fondled her in her winning way, “ your brother Phil has been very kind to me.”

“ He always meant to be,” said Rose, with a charming glow upon her face.

“ He always has been,” said Adele ; “ but, dear Rose, I know I can talk as plainly to you as to another self almost.”

“You can, — you can, Ady,” said she.

“ I have thought,” continued Adèle, “though I know it is very unmaidenly in me to say it, that Phil was disposed sometimes to talk even more warmly than he has ever talked, and to ask me to be a nearer friend to him even than you, dear Rose. May be it is only my own vanity that leads me sometimes to suspect this.”

“ O, I hope it may be true ! ” burst forth Rose.

“ I hope not,” said Adele, with a voice so gravely earnest that Rose shuddered.

“O Ady, you don’t mean it! you who are so good, so kind ! Phil’s heart will break.”

“ I don’t think that,” said Adèle, with a faint hard smile, in which her womanly vanity struggled with her resolution. “ And whatever might have been, that which I have hinted at must not be now, dear Rose. You will know some day why—why it would be ungrateful in me to determine otherwise. Promise me, darling, that you will discourage any inclination toward it, wherever you can best do so. Promise me, dear Rose ! ”

“ Do you really, truly mean it ? ” said the other, with a disappointment she but poorly concealed.

“ With all my heart, I do,” said Adèle.

And Rose promised, while she threw herself upon the neck of Adèle and said, “ I am so sorry ! It will be such a blow to poor Phil! ”

After this, things went on very much in their old way. To the great relief of Adèle there was no explosive village demonstration of the news which had come home so cruelly to herself. The Doctor had given an admonition to the young minister, and the old Squire had told him, in a pointed and confidential way, that he had heard of his inquiries and assertions with respect to Mr. Maverick, and begged to hint that the relations between the father and mother of Adèle were not of the happiest, and it was quite possible that Mr. Maverick had assumed latterly the name of a bachelor; it was not, however, a very profitable subject of speculation or of gossip, and if he valued the favor of the young ladies he would forbear all allusion to it. A suggestion which Mr. Catesby was not slow to accept religiously, and scrupulously to bear in mind,

Phil was as hot a lover as ever, though for a time a little more distant : and the poor fellow remarked anew timidity and reserve about Adèle, which, so far from abating, only fed the flame ; and there is no knowing to what reach it might have blazed out, if a trifling little circumstance had not paralyzed his zeal.

From time to time, Phil had been used to bring home a rare flower or two as a gift for Adèle, which Rose had always lovingly arranged in some coquettish fashion, either upon the bosom or in the hair of Adèle ; but a new and late gift of this kind — a little tuft of the trailing arbutus which he has clambered over miles of woodland to secure—is not worn by Adèle, but by Rose, who glances into the astounded face of Phil with a pretty, demure look of penitence.

“ I say, Rose,” says he, seizing his chance for a private word, — “ that’s not for you.”

“ I know it, Phil ; Adèle gave it to me.”

“And that ’s her favorite flower.”

“Yes, Phil,” and there is a shake in her voice now. “ I think she 's grown tired of such gifts, Phil ” ; — whereat she glances keenly and pitifully at him.

Truly, Rose ? ” says Phil, with the color on a sudden quitting his cheeks.

“ Truly, — truly, Phil,” — and in spite of herself the pretty hazel eyes arc brimming full, and, under pretence of some household duty, she dashes away. For a moment Phil stands confounded. Then, through his set teeth, he growls, “ I was a fool not to have known it! ”

But Phil was not a fool, but a sturdy, brave-hearted fellow, who bore whatever blows fortune gave him, or seemed to give, with a courage that had a fine elastic temper in it. He may have made his business engagements at the river or in the city a little more frequent and prolonged after this ; but always there was the same deferential show of tender feeling toward his father’s guest, whenever he happened in Ashfield. Indeed, he felt immensely comforted by a little report which Rose made to him in her most despairing manner. Adèle had told her that she “ would never, never marry.”

There are a great many mothers of fine families who have made such a speech at twenty or thereabout; and Phil knew it.

LVI.

WE by no means intend to represent our friend Adèle as altogether a saint. Such creatures are very rare, and not always the most lovable, according to our poor human ways of thinking; but she may possibly grow into saintship, in view of a certain sturdy religious sense of duty that belongs to her, and a faith that is always glowing. At present she is a high-spirited, sensitive girl, — not without her pride and her lesser vanities, not without an immense capacity for loving and being loved, but just now trembling under that shock to her sensibilities which we have detailed, — but never fainting, never despairing. Not even relinquishing her pride, but guarding it with triple defences, by her reserve in respect to Phil, as well as by a certain new dignity of manner which has grown out of her conflict with the opprobrium that seems to threaten, for no fault of her own.

Adèle sees clearly now the full burden of Reuben’s proposal to cherish and guard her against whatever indignities might threaten ; she sees more clearly than ever the rich, impulsive generosity of his nature reflected, and it disturbs her grievously to think that she had met it only with reproach. The thought of the mad, wild, godless career upon which he may have entered, and of which the village gossips are full, is hardly more afflictive to her than her recollection of that frank, self-sacrificing generosity, so ignobly requited. She longs in her heart to clear the debt,— to tell him what grateful sense she has of his intended kindness. But how ? Should she,—being what she is, — even by a word, seem to invite a return of that devotion which may be was but the passion of an hour, and which it were fatal to renew ? Her pride revolts at this. And yet — and yet — so brave a generosity shall not be wholly unacknowledged. She writes: —

“Reuben, I know now the full weight of the favor of what you promised to bestow upon me when I so blindly reproached you with intrusion upon my private griefs. Forgive me, Reuben ! I thank you now, late as it is, with my whole heart. It is needless to tell you how I came to know what, perhaps, I had better never have known, but which must always have overhung me as a dark cloud charged with a blasting fate. This knowledge, dear Reuben, which separates us so surely and so widely, relieves me of the embarrassment which I might otherwise have felt in telling you of my lasting gratitude, and (if as a sister I may say it) my love. If your kind heart could so overflow with pity then, you will surely pity me the more now ; yet not too much, Reuben, for my pride as a woman is as strong as ever. The world was made for me, as much as it was made for others ; and if I bear its blight, I will find some flowers yet to cherish. I do not count it altogether so grim and odious a world, — even under the broken light which shines upon it for me, — as in your last visits you seemed disposed to reckon it.

“ And this reminds me, Reuben, that I have told you frankly how the cloud which overhung me has opened with a terrible surety. How is it with the cloud that lay upon you ? Is there any light ? Ah, Reuben, when I recall those days in which long ago your faith in something better beyond this world than lies in it seemed to be so much stronger and firmer than mine, and when your trust was so confident as to make mine stronger, it seems like a strange dream to me, — all the more when now you, who should reason more justly than I, believe in ‘nothing,’ (was not that your last word?) —and yet, dear Reuben, I cling, — I cling. Do you remember the old hymn I sung in those days:—

' Ingemisco tanquam reus,
Culpa rubet vultus mcus ;
Supplicant! parce, Deus.’

Even the old Doctor, who was so troubled by the Romish hymns, said it must have been written by a good man.”

Much more she writes in this vein, but returns ever and again to that noble generosity of his, — her delicacy struggling throughout with her tender gratitude, — yet she fails not to show a deep, earnest undercurrent of affection, which surely might develop under sympathy into a very fever of love. Will it not touch the heart of Reuben ? Will it not divert him from the trail where he wanders blindly ? If we have read his character rightly, surely this letter, in which a delicate sensibility hardly veils a great passionate wealth of feeling, will stir him to a new and more hopeful venture.

God send that the letter may reach him safely!

For a long time Adèle has not written to Reuben, and it occurs to her, as she strolls away toward the village post, that to mail it herself may possibly provoke new town gossip. In this perplexity she presently encounters her boy friend, Arthur, who for a handful of pennies, and under injunction of secrecy, cheerfully undertakes the duty. To the house of the lad’s mother, far away as it was, Adèle had wandered frequently of late, and had borne away from time to time some trifling memento of the dead one whose memory so endeared the spot. It happens that she continues her stroll thither on this occasion ; and the poor woman, toward whom Adèle's charities have flowed with a profusion that has astounded the Doctor, repays some new gift by placing in her hands a little embroidered kerchief, “ too fine for such as she,” which had belonged to Madame Arles. A flimsy bit of muslin daintily embroidered ; but there is a name stitched upon its corner, for which Adèle treasures it past all reckoning, — the name of Julie Chalet.

It was as if the dead one had suddenly come back and whispered it in her ear, — Julie Chalet. The spring birds sung the name in chorus as she walked home ; and on the grave-stone, under the cross, she seemed to see it cut upon the marble, — Julie Chalet.

Adèle has written to her father, of course, in those days when the first shock of the new revelation had passed. How could she do otherwise? It she has poured out the bitterness of her grief and of her isolation, she has mercifully spared him any reproach !

“ I think I now understand,” she writes, “ the reason of your long absence from me. Whatever other griefs I bear, I will not believe that it has been from lack of affection for me. I recall that day, dear papa, when, with my head lying on your bosom, you said to me, ‘ She is unworthy ; I will love you tor both.’ You must! But was she, papa, so utterly unworthy ? I think I have known her ; nay, I feel almost sure, — sure that these arms held her in the moment when she breathed adieu to the world. If ever bad, I am sure that she must have grown into goodness. I cannot, 1 will not, think otherwise. I can tell you so many of her kind deeds as will take away your condemnation. In this hope I live, dear pepa.

“ I have found her true name too, at last, — Julie Chalet, — is it not so? I wonder with what feeling you will read it ; will it be with a wakened fondness ? will it be with loathing ? I tremble while I ask. You shall go with me (will you not ?) to her grave; and there a kind Heaven will put in our hearts what memories are best.

“ I know now the secret of your caution in respect to Reuben ; you have been unwilling that your child should bring any possible shame to the household of a friend ! Trust to me, — trust to me, papa, your sensitiveness cannot possibly be keener, if it be more generous, than my own. Yet I have never told you — what I have since learned — of the unselfish devotion of Reuben, which declared itself when he knew all, — all. Would I not be almost tempted to thank him with — myself ? Yet, trust me, if I have written him with an almost unmaklenly warmth, I have called to his mind the great gulf that must lie between us.

“Is the old godmother, of whom you used to speak, still alive? It seems that I should love to hang about her neck in memory of days gone ; it seems that I should love the warm sky under which I was born, — I am sure I should love the olive orchards, and the vines, and the light upon the sea. I feel as if I were living in chains now. When, when will you come to break them, and set me free ? ”

In those days of May, when the leaflets were unfolding, and when the downy bluebells were lifting their clustered blossoms filled with a mysterious fragrance, like the breath of young babes, Adèle loved to linger in the study of the parsonage ; more than ever the good Doctor seemed a “ New Papa,” — more than ever his eye dwelt upon her with a parental smile. It was not that she loved Rose less, that she lingered here so long; but she could not shake off the conviction that some day soon Rose might shrink from her. The good Doctor never would. Nor can it be counted strange if there, in the study so familiar to her childhood, she should recall the days when she had frolicked down the orchard, when Reuben had gathered flowers for her, when life seemed enchanting. Was it enchanting now ?

The Doctor was always gravely kind. “Have courage, Adaly, have courage ! ” he was wont to say, “ God orders all things right.”

And somehow, when she hears him say it, she believes it more than ever.

Ten days, a fortnight, and a month pass, and there is no acknowledgment from Reuben of her grateful letter. He does not count it worth his while, apparently, to break his long silence ; or, possibly, he is too much engrossed with livelier interests to give a thought to this episode of his old life in Ashfield. Adèle is disturbed by it ; but the very disturbance gives her new courage to combat faithfully the difficulties of her position. “One cheering word I would have thought he might have given me,” said she.

The appeal to her father, too, has no answer. Before it reaches its destination, Maverick has taken ship for America ; and, singularly enough, it is fated that the letter of Adèle should be first opened and read — by her mother.

LVII.

SOME time in mid-May of this year Maverick writes : —

“ My dear Johns, — I shall again greet you, God willing, in your own home, some forty days hence, and I shall come as a repentant Benedick ; for I now wear the dignities of a married man. Your kind letter counted for a great deal toward my determination ; but I will not affect to conceal from you, that my tender interest in the future of Adèle counted for a great deal more. As I had supposed, the communication to Julie (which I effected through her brother) that her child was still living, and living motherless, woke all the tenderness of her nature. I cannot say that the sudden change in her inclinations was any way flattering to me ; but knowing her recent religious austerities, I was prepared for this. I shall not undertake to describe to you our first interview, which I can never forget. It belongs to those heart-secrets which cannot be spoken of; but this much I may tell you, — that, if there was no kindling of the old and wayward love, there grew out of it a respect for her present severity and elevation of character that I had never anticipated. At our age, indeed, (though, when I think of it, I must be many years your junior,) a respect for womanly character most legitimately takes the place of that disorderly sentiment which twenty years ago blazed out in passion.

“We have been married according to the rites of the Romish Church. If I had proposed other ceremony, more agreeable to your views, I am con fident that she would not have listened to me. She is wrapped as steadfastly in her creed as ever you in yours. To do otherwise in so sacred a matter —and with her it wore solely that aspect — than as her Church commands, would have been to do foully and vainly. I had prepared you, I think, for her perversity in this matter ; nor do I think that all your zeal and powers of persuasion could make her recreant to the faith for which she has immolated all the womanly vanities which certainly once belonged to her. Indeed, the only trace of worldliness which I see in her is her intense yearning toward our dear Adèle, and her passionate longing to clasp her child once more to her heart. Nor will I conceal from you that she hopes, with all the fervor of a mother's hope, to wean her from what she counts the heretical opinions under which she lias been reared, and to bring her into the fold of the faithful.

“You will naturally ask, my dear Johns, why I do not combat this ; but I am too old and too far spent for a fight about creeds. I should have made a lame fight on that score at any day ; but now my main concern, it would seem, should be to look out personally for the creed which has most of mercy in it. If I seem to speak triflingly, my dear Johns, I pray you excuse me ; it is only my business way of stating the actual facts in the case. As for Madame Maverick, I am sure you will find no trifling in her (if you ever meet her); she is terribly in earnest. I tell her she would have made a magnificent lady prioress, whereat she thumbs her beads and whispers a Latin distich, as if she were exorcising a demon. Yet I should do wrong if I were to represent her as always severe, even upon such a theme ; there certainly belongs to her a tender, appealing manner (reminding of Adèle in a way that brings tears to my eyes); but it is always bounded by allegiance to her sworn faith. You will think it an exaggeration, but she reminds me at times of those women of the New Testament (which I have not altogether forgotten) who gave up all for the following of the Master. If I were in your study, my dear Johns, you might ask me who those women were ? And for my soul I could not tell you. Yet I have a vague recollection that there were those who showed a beautiful devotion to the Christian faith, that somehow sublimated their lives and memories. Again, I feel constrained to put before you another feature in her character, which I am confident will make you feel kindly toward her ; my home near to Marseilles, which has been but a gypsy home for so many years, she has taken under her hand, and by its new appointments and order has convicted me of the losses I have felt so long. True, you might object to the oratoire; but in all else I am confident you would approve, and in all else felicitate Adèle upon the home which was preparing for her.

“ Madame Maverick will not sail with me for America ; although the marriage, under French law, may have admitted Adèle to all rights and even social immunities, yet I have represented that another law and custom rules with you. Whatever opprobrium might attach to the mother, Julie, with her exalted religious sentiment, would not weigh for a moment; but as regards Adèle, she manifests a strange tenderness. To spare her any pang, or possible pangs, she is content to wait. I have feared, too, I must confess, that any undue expression of condemnation or distrust might work revulsion of her own feeling. But while site assents, — with some reluctance, 1 must admit, — to this plan of deferring her meeting with Adèle, on whom all her affections seem to centre, she insists, in a way that I find it difficult to combat, upon her child’s speedy return. That her passionate love will insure entire devotion on the part ot Adèle, I cannot doubt. And how the anti - Romish faith which must have been instilled in the dear girl by your teachings, as well as by her associations, may withstand the earnest attack of Madame Maverick, I cannot tell. I have a fear it may lead to some dismal complications. You know what the earnestness of your own faith is; but I don’t think you yet know the earnestness of an opposing faith, with a Frenchwoman to back it. Even as I write, she comes to cast a glance at my work, and says, ‘ Monsieur Maverick,’ (she called me Frank once,) ‘ what are you saying there to the heretical Doctor ? ’

“ Whereupon I translate for her ear a sentence or two. ' Tell him,’ says she, ‘ that I thank him for his kindness ; tell him besides, that I can in no way better atone for the guiltiness of the past, than by bringing back this wandering lamb into the true fold. Only when we kneel before the same altar, her hand in mine, can I feel that she is truly my child.’

“ I fear greatly this zeal may prove infectious.

“ And now, my dear Johns, in regard to the revelation to Adèle of what is written here, — of the whole truth, in short, for it must come out, — I have n't the heart or the courage to make it myself. I must throw myself on your charity. For Heaven’s sake, tell the story as kindly as you can. Don’t let her think too harshly of me. See to it, I pray, that my name don’t become a bugbear in the village. I have pretty broad shoulders, and could bear it, if I only were to be sufferer; but I am sure ’t would react fearfully on the sensibilities of poor Adèle. That sin is past cure and past preachment; no good can come from trumpeting wrath against it. Do me this favor, Johns, and you will find me a more willing listener in what is to come. I can’t promise, indeed, to accept all your dogmas ; there is a thick crust of the world on me, and I doubt if you could force them through it ; but, for Adèle’s sake, I think I could become a very orderly and presentable person, even for a New England meeting-house. I will make a beginning now by turning over the little property which you hold for Adèle, in trust, for disbursement in your parish charities. The dear child won't need it, and the parish may.”

The Doctor was happy to be relieved of the worst part of the revelation ; but he had yet to communicate the fact that the mother was still alive, and (what was to him worst of all) that she was imbruted with the delusions of the Romish Church. He chose his hour, and, meeting her upon the village street, asked her into his study.

“Adaly, your father is coming. He will be here within a month.”

“At last ! at last! ” said she, with a cry of joy.

“But, Adaly,” continued he, with great gravity, “ I have perhaps led you into error. Your mother, Adaly,—your mother is still living.”

“ Living ! ” and an expression almost of radiance shot over the fair face. But in an instant it was gone. Was not the poor lady she had so religiously mourned over her mother ? That death embrace and the tomb were, then, only solemn mockeries ! With a frightful alertness her thought ran to them, — weighed them. “New Papa,” said she, approaching him with a gravity that matched his own, “ is this some new delusion ? Is it true ? Has he written me ? ”

“ He has not written you, my child; but I have a letter, informing me of his marriage, and begging me to make the revelation to you as kindly as I might.”

“ Marriage ! Marriage to whom ? ” says Adèle, her eyes flashing fire, and her lips showing a tempest of scarce controllable feeling.

“ Marriage to your mother, Adaly. He would be just at last.”

“ O my God ! ” exclaimed Adèle, with a burst of tears. “ It’s false ! I shall never see my mother again in this world. I know it ! I know it! ”

“ But, Adaly, my child, consider ! ” said the old gentleman.

Adèle did not heed him. She was lost in her own griefs. She could only exclaim, “ O my father ! my father ! ”

The old Doctor was greatly moved ; he laid down his spectacles, and paced up and down the room. The earnestness of her doubt made him almost believe that he was himself deceived.

“Can it be? can it be?” he muttered, half under breath, while Adèle sat drooping in her chair. “ May be the instinct of the poor girl is right, after all,” thought he,— “sin is so full of disguises.”

At this moment there is a sharp tap at the door, and Miss Eliza steps in, the bearer of a letter from Reuben.