The Guardian Angel



A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.



NOT long after the tableau performance had made Myrtle Hazard’s name famous in the school and among the friends of the scholars, she received the very flattering attention of a call from Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, of 24 Carat Place. This was in consequence of a suggestion from Mr. Livingston Jenkins, a particular friend of the family.

“They’ve got a demonish splendid school-girl over there,” he said to that lady,−“made the stunningest-looking Pocahontas at the show there the other day. Demonish plucky-looking filly as ever you saw. Had a row with another girl,−gave the war-whoop, and went at her with a knife. Festive,−hey? Say she only meant to scare her,− looked as if she meant to stick her, anyhow. Splendid style. Why can't you go over to the shop and make ’em trot her out ?”

The lady promised Mr. Livingston Jenkins that she certainly would, just as soon as she could find a moment’s leisure,−which, as she had nothing in the world to do, was not likely to be very soon. Myrtle in the mean time was busy with her studies, little dreaming what an extraordinary honor was awaiting her.

That rare accident in the lives of people who have nothing to do, a leisure morning, did at last occur. An elegant carriage, with a coachman in a wonderful cape, seated on a box lofty as a throne, and wearing a hat-band as brilliant as a coronet, stopped at the portal of Madam Delacoste's establishment. A card was sent in bearing the open sesame of Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, the great lady of 24 Carat Place. Miss Myrtle Hazard was summoned as a matter of course, and the fashionable woman and the young girl sat half an hour together in lively conversation.

Myrtle was fascinated by her visitor, who had that flattering manner which, to those not experienced in the world’s ways, seems to imply unfathomable depths of disinterested devotion. Then it was so delightful to look upon a perfectly appointed woman,−one who was as artistically composed as a poem or an opera,−in whose costume a kind of various rhythm undulated in one fluent harmony, from the spray that nodded on her bonnet to the rosette that blossomed on her sandal. As for the lady, she was captivated with Myrtle. There is nothing that your fashionable woman, who has ground and polished her own spark of life into as many and as glittering social facets as it will bear, has a greater passion for than a large rough diamond, which knows nothing of the sea of light it imprisons, and which it will be her pride to have cut into a brilliant under her own eye, and to show the world for its admiration and her own reflected glory. Mrs. Clymer Ketchum had taken the entire inventory of Myrtle’s natural endowments before the interview was over. She had no marriageable children, and she was thinking what a killing bait Myrtle would be at one of her own parties.

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1867, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

She soon got another letter from Mr. William Murray Bradshaw, which explained the interest he had taken in Madam Delacoste’s school,−all which she knew pretty nearly beforehand, for she had found out a good part of Myrtle’s history in the half-hour they had spent in company.

“I had a particular reason for my inquiries about the school,” he wrote. “There is a young girl there I take an interest in. She is handsome and interesting, and−though it is a shame to mention such a thing−has possibilities in the way of fortune not to be undervalued. Why can't you make her acquaintance and be civil to her? A country girl, but fine old stock, and will make a figure some time or other, I tell you. Myrtle Hazard,− hat’s her name. A mere school-girl. Don’t be malicious and badger me about her, but be polite to her. Some of these country girls have got ‘blue blood’ in them, let me tell you, and show it plain enough.”

(“In huckleberry season !”) said Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, in a parenthesis,− and went on reading.

“Don’t think I'm one of your love-ina-cottage sort, to have my head turned by a village beauty. I’ve got a career before me, Mrs. K., and I know it. But this is one of my pets, and I want you to keep an eye on her. Perhaps when she leaves school you would n’t mind asking her to come and stay with you a little while. Possibly I may come and see how she is getting on if you do,− won’t that tempt you, Mrs. C. K. ?”

Mrs. Clymer Ketchum wrote back to her relative how she had already made the young lady’s acquaintance.

“Livingston Jenkins (you remember him) picked her out of the whole lot of girls as the ‘prettiest filly in the stable.’ That’s his horrid way of talking. But your young milkmaid is really charming, and will come into form like a Derby three-year-old. There, now, I’ve caught that odious creature’s horsetalk, myself. You ’re dead in love with this girl, Murray, you know you are.

“After all, I don’t know but you're right. You would make a good country lawyer enough, I don’t doubt. I used to think you had your ambitions, but never mind. If you choose to risk yourself on ‘possibilities,’ it is not my affair, and she’s a beauty,−there’s no mistake about that.

“There are some desirable partis at the school with your Dulcinea. There’s Rose Bugbee. That last name is a good one to be married from. Rose is a nice girl,−there are only two of them. The estate will cut up like one of the animals it was made out of,−you know, −the sandwich-quadruped. Then there’s Berengaria. Old Topping owns the Planet Hotel among other tilings, −so big, they say, there’s always a bell ringing from somebody’s room day and night the year round. Only child− unit and six ciphers−carries diamonds loose in her pocket−that ’s the story−good-looking−lively−a little slangy−called Livingston Jenkins 'Living Jingo’ to his face one day. I want you to see my lot before you do anything serious. You owe something to the family, Mr. William Murray Bradshaw! But you must suit yourself, after all: if you are contented with a humble position in life, it is nobody’s business that I know of. Only I know what life is, Murray B. Getting married is jumping overboard, any way you look at it, and if you must save some woman from drowning an old maid, try to find one with a cork jacket, or she ’ll carry you down with her.”

Murray Bradshaw was calculating enough, but he shook his head over this letter. It was too demonish cold-blooded for him, he said to himself. (Men cannot pardon women for saying aloud what they do not hesitate to think in silence themselves.) Nevermind,−he must have Mrs. Clymer Ketchum’s house and influence for his own purposes. Myrtle Hazard must become her guest, and then, if circumstances were favorable, he was certain of obtaining her aid in his project.

The opportunity to invite Myrtle to the great mansion presented itself unexpectedly. Early in the spring of 1861 there were some cases of sickness in Madam Delacoste’s establishment, which led to closing the school for a while. Mrs. Clymer Ketchum took advantage of the dispersion of the scholars to ask Myrtle to come and spend some weeks with her. There were reasons why this was more agreeable to the young girl than returning to Oxbow Village, and she very gladly accepted the invitation.

It was very remarkable that a man living as Master Byles Gridley had lived for so long a time should all at once display such liberality as he showed to a young woman who had no claim upon him, except that he had rescued her from the consequences of her own imprudence and warned her against impending dangers. Perhaps he cared more for her than if the obligation had been the other way,−students of human nature say it is commonly so. At any rate, either he had ampler resources than it was commonly supposed, or he was imprudently giving way to his generous impulses, or he thought he was making advances which would in due time be returned to him. Whatever the reason was. he furnished her with means, not only for her necessary expenses, but sufficient to afford her many of the elegances which she would be like to want in the fashionable society with which she was for a short time to mingle.

Mrs. Clymer Ketchum was so well pleased with the young lady she was entertaining, that she thought it worth while to give a party while Myrtle was staying with her. She had her jealousies and rivalries, as women of the world wall, sometimes, and these may have had their share in leading her to take the trouble a large party involved. She was tired of the airs of Mrs. Pinnikle, who was of the great Apex family, and her terribly accomplished daughter Rhadamantha, and wanted to crush the young lady, and jaundice her mother, with a girl twice as brilliant and ten times handsomer. She was very willing, also, to take the nonsense out of the Capsheaf girls, who thought themselves the most stylish personages of their city world, and would bite their lips well to see themselves distanced by a country miss.

In the mean time circumstances were promising to bring into Myrtle's neighborhood several of her old friends and admirers. Mrs. Clymer Ketchum had written to Murray Bradshaw that she had asked his pretty milkmaid to come and stay awhile with her, but he had been away on business, and only arrived in the city a day or two before the party. But other young fellows had found out the attractions of the girl who was “hanging out at the Clymer Ketchum concern,” and callers were plenty, reducing tête-à-têtes in a corresponding ratio. He did get one opportunity, however, and used it well. They had so many things to talk about in common, that she could not help finding him good company. She might well be pleased, for he was an adept in the curious art of being agreeable, as other people are in chess or billiards, and had made a special study of her tastes, as a physician studies a patient s constitution. What he wanted was to get her thoroughly interested in himself, and to maintain her in a receptive condition until such time as he should be ready for a final move. Any day might furnish the decisive motive; in the mean time he wished only to hold her as against all others.

It was well for her, perhaps, that others had flattered her into a certain consciousness of her own value. She felt her veins full of the same rich blood as that which had flushed the cheeks of handsome Judith in the long summer of her triumph. Whether it was vanity, or pride, or only the instinctive sense of inherited force and attraction, it was the best of defences. The golden bracelet on her wrist seemed to have brought as much protection with it as if it had been a shield over her heart.

But far away in Oxbow Village other events were in preparation. The “fugitive pieces” of Mr. Gifted Hopkins had now reached a number so considerable, that, it collected and printed in large type, with plenty of what the unpleasant printers call "fat,”—meaning thereby blank spaces,—upon a good, substantial, not to say thick paper, they might perhaps make a volume which would have substance enough to bear the title, printed lengthwise along the back, “Hopkins’s Poems.” Such a volume that author had in contemplation. It was to be the literary event of the year 1861.

He could not mature such a project, one which he had been for some time contemplating, without consulting Mr. Byles Gridley, who, though he had not unfrequently repressed the young poet’s too ardent ambition, had yet always been kind and helpful.

Mr. Gridley was seated in his large arm-chair, indulging himself in the perusal of a page or two of his own work before repeatedly referred to. His eye was glistening, for it had just rested on the following passage:—

"There is infinite pathos in unsuccessful authorship. The book that perishes unread is the deaf mute of literature. The great asylum of Oblivion is full of such, making inaudible signs to each other in leaky garrets and unattainable dusty upper shelves." He shut the book, for the page grew a little dim as he finished this elegiac sentence, and sighed to think how much more keenly he felt its truth than when it was written,—than on that memorable morning when he saw the advertisement in all the papers, “This day published, 'Thoughts on the Universe. By Byles Gridley, A. M.'”

At that moment he heard a knock at his door. He closed his eyelids forcibly for ten seconds, opened them, and said, cheerfully, “Come in !”

Gifted Hopkins entered. He had a collection of manuscripts in his hands which it seemed to him would fill a vast number of pages. He did not know that manuscript is to type what fresh dandelions are to the dish of greens that comes to table, of which last Nurse Byloe, who considered them very wholesome spring grazing for her patients, used to say that they “biled down dreadful.”

“I have brought the autographs of my poems, Master Gridley, to consult you about making arrangements for publication. They have been so well received by the public and the leadingcritics of this part of the State, that I think of having them printed in a volume. I am going to the city for that purpose. My mother has given her consent. I wish to ask you several business questions. Shall I part with the copyright for a downright sum of money, which I understand some prefer doing, or publish on shares, or take a percentage on the sales? These, I believe, are the different ways taken by authors.”

Mr. Gridley was altogether too considerate to reply with the words which would most naturally have come to his lips. He waited as if he were gravely pondering the important questions just put to him, all the while looking at Gifted with a tenderness which no one who had not buried one of his soul’s children could have felt for a young author trying to get clothing for his new-born intellectual offspring.

“I think,” he said presently, “you had better talk with an intelligent and liberal publisher, and be guided by his advice. I can put you in correspondence with such a person, and you had better trust him than me a great deal. Why don’t you send your manuscript by mail ?”

“What, Mr. Gridley? Trust my poems, some of which are unpublished, to the post-office? No, sir, I could never make up my mind to such a risk. I mean to go to the city myself, and read them to some of the leading publishers. I don’t want to pledge myself to anyone of them. I should like to set them bidding against each other for the copyright, if I sell it at all.

Mr. Gridley gazed upon the innocent youth with a sweet wonder in his eyes that made him look like an angel, a little damaged in the features by time, but full of celestial feelings.

“It will cost you something to make this trip, Gifted. Have you the means to pay for your journey and your stay at a city hotel ?”

Gifted blushed. “My mother has laid by a small sum for me,” he said. “She knows some of my poems by heart, and she wants to see them all in print.

Master Gridley closed his eyes very firmly again, as if thinking, and opened them as soon as the foolish film had left them. He had read many a page of “Thoughts on the Universe” to his own old mother, long, long years ago, and she had often listened with tears of modest pride that Heaven had favored her with a son so full of genius.

"I’ll tell you what, Gifted,” he said. I have been thinking for a good while that I would make a visit to the city, and if you have made up your mind to try what you can do with the publishers, I will take you with me as a companion. It will be a saving to you and your good mother, for I shall bear the expenses of the expedition.”

Gifted Hopkins came very near going down on his knees. He was so overcome with gratitude that it seemed as if his very coat-tails wagged with his emotion.

“Take it quietly,” said Master Gridley. “Don’t make a fool of yourself. Tell your mother to have some clean shirts and things ready for you, and we will be off day after to-morrow morning.”

Gifted hastened to impart the joyful news to his mother, and to break the fact to Susan Posey that he was about to leave them for a while, and rush into the deliriums and dangers of the great city.

Susan smiled. Gifted hardly knew whether to be pleased with her sympathy, or vexed that she did not take his leaving more to heart. The smile held out bravely for about a quarter of a minute. Then there came on a little twitching at the corners of the mouth. Then the blue eyes began to shine with a kind of veiled glimmer. Then the blood came up into her cheeks with a great rush, as if the heart had sent up a herald with a red flag from the citadel to know what was going on at the outworks. The message that went back was of discomfiture and capitulation. Poor Susan was overcome, and gave herself up to weeping and sobbing.

The sight was too much for the youngpoet. In a wild burst of passion he seized her hand, and pressed it to his lips, exclaiming, “Would that you could be mine forever!” and Susan forgot all that she ought to have remembered, and, looking half reproachfully but half tenderly through her tears, said, in tones of infinite sweetness, “O Gifted!”



IT was settled that Master Byles Gridley and Mr. Gifted Hopkins should leave early in the morning of the day appointed, to take the nearest train to the city. Mrs. Hopkins labored bard to get them ready, so that they might make a genteel appearance among the great people whom they would meet in society. She brushed up Mr. Gridley's best black suit, and bound the cuffs of his dress-coat, which were getting a little worried. She held his honest-looking hat to the fire, and smoothed it while it was warm, until one would have thought it had just been ironed by the hatter himself. She had his boots and shoes brought into a more brilliant condition than they had ever known: if Gifted helped, it was to his credit as much as if he had shown his gratitude by polishing off a copy of verses in praise of his benefactor.

When she had got Mr. Gridley’s encumbrances in readiness for the journey, she devoted herself to fitting out her son Gifted. First, she had down from the garret a capacious trunk, of solid wood, but covered with leather, and adorned with brass-headed nails, by the cunning disposition of which, also, the paternal initials stood out on the rounded lid, in the most conspicuous manner. It was his father’s trunk, and the first thing that went into it, as the widow lifted the cover, and the smothering, shut-up smell struck an old chord of associations, was a single tear-drop. How well she remembered the time when she first unpacked it for her young husband, and the white shirt bosoms showed their snowy plaits! O dear, dear!

But women decant their affection, sweet and sound, out of the old bottles into the new ones,−off from the lees of the past generation, clear and bright, into the clean vessels just made ready to receive it. Gifted Hopkins was his mother’s idol, and no wonder. She had not only the common attachment of a parent for him, as her offspring, but she felt that her race was to be rendered illustrious by his genius, and thought proudly of the time when some future biographer would mention her own humble name, to be held in lasting remembrance as that of the mother of Hopkins.

So she took great pains to equip this brilliant but inexperienced young man with everything he could by any possibility need during his absence. The great trunk filled itself until it bulged with its contents like a boa-constrictor who has swallowed his blanket. Best clothes and common clothes, thick clothes and thin clothes, flannels and linens, socks and collars, with handkerchiefs enough to keep the pickpockets busy for a week, with a paper of gingerbread and some lozenges for gastralgia, and “hot drops,” and ruled paper to write letters on, and a little Bible, and a phial with hiera picra, and another with paregoric, and another with “camphire” for sprains and bruises,− Gifted went forth equipped for every climate from the tropic to the pole, and armed against every malady from Ague to Zoster. He carried also the paternal watch, a solid silver bull’s-eye, and a large pocket-book, tied round with a long tape, and, by way of precaution, pinned into his breast-pocket. He talked about having a pistol, in case he were attacked by any of the ruffians who are so numerous in the city, but Mr. Gridley told him, No! he would certainly shoot himself, and he should n’t think of letting him take a pistol.

They went forth, Mentor and Telemachus, at the appointed time, to dare the perils of the railroad and the snares of the city. Mrs. Hopkins was firm up to near the last moment, when a little quiver in her voice set her eyes off. and her face broke up all at once, so that she had to hide it behind her handkerchief. Susan Posey showed the truthfulness of her character in her words to Gifted at parting. “Farewell,” she said, “and think of me sometimes while absent. My heart is another’s, but my friendship, Gifted −my friendship−”

Both were deeply affected. He took her hand and would have raised it to his lips; but she did not forget herself, and gently withdrew it, exclaiming, “O Gifted!” this time with a tone of tender reproach which made him feel like a profligate. He tore himself away, and when at a safe distance flung her a kiss, which she rewarded with a tearful smile.

Master Byles Gridley must have had some good dividends from some of his property of late. There is no other way of accounting for the handsome style in which he did things on their arrival in the city. He went to a tailor’s and ordered a new suit to be sent home as soon as possible, for he knew his wardrobe was a little rusty. He looked Gifted over from head to foot, and suggested such improvements as would recommend him to the fastidious eyes of the selecter sort of people, and put him in his own tailor’s hands, at the same time saying that all bills were to be sent to him, B. Gridley, Esq., parlor No. 6, at the Planet House. Thus it came to pass that in three days from their arrival they were both in an eminently presentable condition. In the mean time the prudent Mr. Gridley had been keeping the young man busy, and amusing himself by showing him such, of the sights of the city and its suburbs as he thought would combine instruction with entertainment.

When they were both properly equipped and ready for the best company, Mr. Gridley said to the young poet, who had found it very hard to contain his impatience, that they would now call together on the publisher to whom he wished to introduce him, and they set out accordingly.

“My name is Gridley,” he said with modest gravity, as he entered the puDlisher’s private room. “I have a note of introduction here from one of your authors, as I think he called himself, −a very popular writer for whom you publish.”

The publisher rose and came forward in the most cordial and respectful manner. “Mr. Gridley?—Professor Byles Gridley,−author of ‘Thoughts on the Universe’?”

The brave-hearted old man colored as if he had been a young girl. His dead book rose before him like an apparition. He groped in modest confusion for an answer. “A child I buried long ago, my dear sir,” he said. "Its title-page was its tombstone. I have brought this young friend with me,−this is Mr. Gifted Hopkins of Oxbow Village,−who wishes to converse with you about−”

“I have come, sir−” the young poet began, interrupting him.

“Let me look at your manuscript, if you please, Mr. Popkins,” said the publisher, interrupting in his turn.

“Hopkins, if you please, sir,” Gifted suggested mildly, proceeding to extract the manuscript, which had got wedged into his pocket, and seemed to be holding on with all its might. He was wondering all the time over the extraordinary clairvoyance of the publisher, who had looked through so many thick folds, broadcloth, lining, brown paper, and seen his poems lying hidden in his breast-pocket. The idea that a young person coming on such an errand should have to explain his intentions would have seemed very odd to the publisher. He knew the look which belongs to this class of enthusiasts just as a horsedealer knows the look of a green purchaser with the equine fever raging in his veins. If a young author had come to him with a scrap of manuscript hidden in his boots, like Major André’s papers, the publisher would have taken one glance at him and said, “Out with it!”

While he was battling for the refractory scroll with his pocket, which turned half wrong side out, and acted as things always do when people are nervous and in a hurry, the publisher directed his conversation again to Master Byles Gridley.

“A remarkable book, that of yours, Mr. Gridley,−would have a great run if it were well handled. Came out twenty years too soon,−that was the trouble. One of our leading scholars was speaking of it to me the other day. ‘We must have a new edition, he said; ‘people are just ripe for that book.’ Did you ever think of that? Change the form of it a little, and give it a new title, and it will be a popular book. Five thousand or more, very likely.”

Mr. Gridley felt as if he had been rapidly struck on the forehead with a dozen, distinct blows from a hammer not quite big enough to stun him. He sat still without saying a word. He had forgotten for the moment all about poor Gifted Hopkins, who had got out his manuscript at last, and was calming the disturbed corners of it. Coming to himself a little, he took a large and beautiful silk handkerchief, one of his new purchases, from his pocket, and applied it to his face, for the weather seemed to have grown very warm all at once. Then he remembered the errand on which he had come, and thought of this youth, who had got to receive his first hard lesson in life, and whom he had brought to this kind man that it should be gently administered.

“You surprise me,” he said,−“you surprise me. Dead and buried. Dead and buried. I had sometimes thought that−at some future period, after I was gone, it might−but I hardly know what to say about your suggestions. But here is my young friend, Mr. Hopkins, who would like to talk with you, and I will leave him in your hands. I am at the Planet House, if you should care to call upon me. Good morning. Mr. Hopkins will explain everything to you more at his ease, without me, I am confident.”

Master Gridley could not quite make up his mind to stay through the interview between the young poet and the publisher. The flush of hope was bright in Gifted’s eye and cheek, and the good man knew that young hearts are apt to be over-sanguine, and that one who enters a shower-bath often feels very differently from the same person when he has pulled the string.

“ I have brought you my Poems in the original autographs, sir,” said Mr. Gifted Hopkins.

He laid the manuscript on the table, caressing the leaves still with one hand, as loath to let it go.

“What disposition had you thought of making of them ? ” the publisher asked, in a pleasant tone. He was as kind a man as lived, though he worked the chief engine in a chamber of torture.

“I wish to read you a few specimens of the poems,” he said, “with reference to their proposed publication in a volume.”

“By all means," said the kind publisher, who determined to be very patient with the protégé of the hitherto little-known, but remarkable writer, Professor Gridley. At the same time he extended his foot in an accidental sort of way, and pressed it on the righthand knob of three which were arranged in a line beneath the table. A little bell in a distant apartment−the little bell marked C.−gave one slight note, loud enough to start a small boy up, who looked at the clock, and knew that he was to go and call the publisher in just twenty-five minutes. “A, five minutes; B, ten minutes; C, twenfive minutes”;−that was the small boy’s working formula. Mr. Hopkins was treated to the full allowance of time, as being introduced by Professor Gridley.

The young man laid open the manuscript so that the title-page, written out very handsomely in his own hand, should win the eye of the publisher.




“A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.”


“Shall I read you some of the rhymed pieces first, or some of the blank-verse poems, sir?” Gifted asked.

“Read what you think is best,−a specimen of your first-class style of composition.”

“I will read you the very last poem I have written,” he said, and he began:−


“I met that gold-haired maiden, all too dear;
And I to her: Lo ! thou art very fair,
Fairer than all the ladies in the world
That fan the sweetened air with scented fans,
And I am scorchéd with exceeding love,
Yea, crispéd till my bones are dry as straw.
Took not away with that high-archéd brow,
But turn its whiteness that I may behold,
And lift thy great eyes till they blare on mine.
And lay thy finger on thy perfect mouth,
And let thy iucent ears of carven pearl
Drink in the murmured music of my soul,
A the lush grass drinks in the globéd dew;
For I have many scrolls of sweetest rhyme
I will unroll and make time glad to hear.
“Then she: O shaper of the marvellous phrase
That openeth woman’s heart as doth a key,
I dare not hear thee−lest the bolt should slide
That locks another’s heart within my own.
Go, leave me,−and she let her eyelids fall
And the great tears rolled from her large blue eyes.
“Then I: If thou not hear me, I shall die,
Yea, in my desperate mood may lift my hand
And do myself a hurt no leech can mend;
For poets ever were of dark resolve,
And swift stern deed−
That maiden heard no more,
But spake: Alas! my heart is very weak,
And but for−Stay! And if some dreadful morn,
After great search and shouting thorough the wold,
We found thee missing,−Strangled,−drowned i’ the mere,−
Then should I go distraught and be clean mad !
O poet, read! read all thy wondrous scroll !
Yea, read the verse that maketh glad to hear!
Then 1 began arid read two sweet, brief hours,
And she forgot all love save only mine !

” “Is all this from real life?” asked the publisher.

“It−no, sir−not exactly from real life−that is, the leading female person is not wholly fictitious−and the incident is one which might have happened. Shall I read you the poems referred to in the one you have just heard, sir?”

“Allow me, one moment. Two hours’ reading, I think, you said. I fear I shall hardly be able to spare quite time to hear them all. Let me ask what you intend doing with these productions, Mr−−−rr−Popkins.”

“Hopkins, if you please, sir, not Popkins,” said Gifted, plaintively. He expressed his willingness to dispose of the copyright, to publish on shares, or perhaps to receive a certain percentage on the profits.

“Suppose we take a glass of wine together, Mr.−−Hopkins, before we talk business,” the publisher said, opening a little cupboard and taking therefrom a decanter and two glasses. He saw the young man was looking nervous. He waited a few minutes, until the wine had comforted his epigastrium, and diffused its gentle glow through his unspoiled and consequently susceptible organization.

“Come with me,” he said.

Gifted followed him into a dingy apartment in the attic, where one sat at a great table heaped and piled with manuscripts. By him was a huge basket, half full of manuscripts also. As they entered he dropped another manuscript into the basket and looked up.

“Tell me,” said Gifted, “what are these papers, and who is he that looks upon them and drops them into the basket ?”

“These are the manuscript poems that we receive, and the one sitting at the table is commonly spoken of among us as The Butcher. The poems he drops into the basket are those rejected as of no account.”

“But does he not read the poems before he rejects them ?”

“He tastes them. Do you eat a cheese before you buy it ?”

“And what becomes of all these that he drops into the basket ?”

“If they are not claimed by their author in proper season they go to the devil.”

“What!” said Gifted, with his eyes stretched very round.

“To the paper factory, where they have a horrid machine they call the devil, that tears everything to bits,− as the critics treat our authors, sometimes,−sometimes, Mr. Hopkins.”

Gifted devoted a moment to silent reflection.

After this instructive sight they returned together to the publisher’s private room. The wine had now warmed the youthful poet’s præcordia, so that he began to feel a renewed confidence in his genius and his fortunes.

“I should like to know what that critic of yours would say to my manuscript,” he said boldly.

“You can try it, if you want to,” the publisher replied, with an ominous dryness of manner which the sanguine youth did not perceive, or, perceiving, did not heed.

“How can we manage to get an impartial judgment ?”

“O, I’ll arrange that. He always goes to his luncheon about this time. Raw meat and vitriol punch,−that 's what the authors say. Wait till we hear him go, and then I will lay your manuscript so that he will come to it among the first after he gets back. You shall see with your own eyes what treatment it gets. I hope it may please him, but you shall see.”

They went back to the publisher’s private room and talked awhile. Then the small boy came up with some vague message about a gentleman−business −wants to see you, sir, etc., according to the established programme; all in a vacant, mechanical sort of way, as if he were a talking-machine just running down.

The publisher told the small boy that he was engaged, and the gentleman must wait. Very soon they heard The Butcher’s heavy footstep as he went out to get his raw meat and vitriol punch.

“Now, then,” said the publisher, and led forth the confiding literary lamb once more, to enter the fatal door of the critical shambles.

“Hand me your manuscript, if you please, Mr. Hopkins. I will lay it so that it shall be the third of these that are coming to hand. Our friend here is a pretty good judge of verse, and knows a merchantable article about as quick as any man in his line of business. If he forms a favorable opinion of your poems, we will talk over your propositions.”

Gifted was conscious of a very slight tremor as he saw his precious manuscript deposited on the table under two others, and over a pile of similar productions. Still he could not help feeling that the critic would be struck by his title. The quotation from Gray must touch his feelings. The very first piece in the collection could not fail to arrest him. He looked a little excited, but he was in good spirits.

“We will be looking about here when our friend comes back,” the publisher said. “He is a very methodical person, and will sit down and go right to work just as if we were not here. We can watch him, and if he should express any particular interest in your poems, I will, if you say so, carry you up to him and reveal the fact that you are the author of the works that please him.”

They waited patiently until The Butcher returned, apparently refreshed by his ferocious refection, and sat down at his table. He looked comforted, and not in ill humor. The publisher and the poet talked in low tones, as if on business of their own, and watched him as he returned to his labor.

The Butcher took the first manuscript that came to hand, read a stanza here and there, turned over the leaves, turned back and tried again,−shook his head −held it for an instant over the basket, as if doubtful,−and let it softly drop. He took up the second manuscript, opened it in several places, seemed rather pleased with what he read, and laid it aside for further examination.

He took up the third. “Blossoms of the Soul,” etc. He glared at it in a dreadfully ogreish way. Both the lookers-on held their breath. Gifted Hopkins felt as if half a glass more of that warm sherry would not hurt him. There was a sinking at the pit of his stomach, as if he was in a swing, as high as he could go, close up to the swallows’ nests and spiders’ webs. The Butcher opened the manuscript at random, read ten seconds, and gave a short, low grunt. He opened again, read ten seconds, and gave another grunt, this time a little longer and louder. He opened once more, read five seconds, and, with something that sounded like the snort of a dangerous animal, cast it impatiently into the basket, and took up the manuscript that came next in order.

Gifted Hopkins stood as if paralyzed for a moment.

“Safe, perfectly safe,” the publisher said to him in a whisper. “I’ll get it for you presently. Come in and take another glass of wine,” he said, leading him back to his own office.

“No, I thank you,” he said faintly, “I can bear it. But this is dreadful, sir. Is this the way that genius is welcomed to the world of letters ?”

The publisher explained to him, in the kindest manner, that there was an enormous over-production of verse, and that it took a great part of one man’s time simply to overhaul the cart-loads of it that were trying to get themselves into print with the imprimatur of his famous house. “You 're young, Mr. Hopkins. I advise you not to try to force your article of poetry on the market. The B—, our friend, there, that is, knows a thing that will sell as soon as he sees it. You are in independent circumstances, perhaps? If so, you can print−at your own expense−whatever you choose. May I take the liberty to ask your−profession ?”

Gifted explained that he was “clerk” in a “store,” where they sold drygoods and West India goods, and goods promiscuous.

“O, well, then,” the publisher said, “you will understand me. Do you know a good article of brown sugar when you see it ?”

Gifted Hopkins rather thought he did. He knew at sight whether it was a fair, salable article or not.

“Just so. Now our friend, there, knows verses that are salable and unsalable as well as you do brown sugar.−Keep quiet now, and I will go and get your manuscript for you.There, Mr. Hopkins, take your poems, −they will give you a reputation in your village, I don’t doubt, which is pleasant, but it will cost you a good deal of money to print them in a volume. You are very young; you can afford to wait. Your genius is not ripe yet, I am confident, Mr. Hopkins. These verses are very well for a beginning, but a man of promise like you, Mr. Hopkins, must n’t throw away his chance by premature publication ! I should like to make you a present of a few of the books we publish. By and by, perhaps, we can work you into our scries of poets; but the best pears ripen slowly, and so with genius.− Where shall I send the volumes ?”

Gifted answered, to parlor No. 6, Planet Hotel, where he soon presented himself to Master Gridley, who could guess pretty well what was coming. But he let him tell his story.

“Shall I try the other publishers?” said the disconsolate youth.

“I would n’t, my young friend, I would n't. You have seen the best one of them all. He is right about it, quite right: you are young, and had better wait. Look here, Gifted, here is something to please yon. We are going to visit the gay world together. See what has been left here tins forenoon.”

He showed him two elegant notes of invitation requesting the pleasure of Professor Byles Gridley's and of Mr. Gifted Hopkins’s company on Thursday evening, as the guests of Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, of 24 Carat Place.



MYRTLE HAZARD had flowered out as beyond question the handsomest girl of the season. There were hints from different quarters that she might possibly be an heiress. Vague stories were about of some contingency which might possibly throw a fortune into her lap. The young men about town talked of her at the clubs in their free-and-easy way, but all agreed that she was the girl of the new crop,−“best filly this grass,” as Livingston Jenkins put it. The general understanding seemed to be that the young lawyer who had followed her to the city was going to capture her. She seemed to favor him certainly as much as anybody. But Myrtle saw many young men now, and it was not so easy as it would once have been to make out who was an especial favorite.

There had been times when Murray Bradshaw would have offered his heart and hand to Myrtle at once, if he had felt sure that she would accept him. But he preferred playing the safe game now, and only wanted to feel sure ot her. He had done his best to be agreeable, and could hardly doubt that he had made an impression. He dressed well when in the city,−even elegantly,—he had many of the lesser social accomplishments, was a good dancer, and compared favorably in all such matters with the more dashing young fellows in society. He was a better talker than most of them, and he knew more about the girl he was dealing with than they could know. “You have only got to say the word, Murray,” Mrs. Clymer Ketchum said to her relative, “and you can have her. But don't be rash. I believe you can get Berengaria if you try; and there’s something better there than possibilities.” Murray Bradshaw laughed, and told Mrs. Clymer Ketchum not to worry about him; he knew what he was doing.

It so happened that Myrtle met Master Byles Gridley walking with Mr. Gifted Hopkins the day before the party. She longed to have a talk with her old friend, and was glad to have a chance of pleasing her poetical admirer. She therefore begged her hostess to invite them both to her party to please her, which she promised to do at once. Thus the two elegant notes were accounted for.

Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, though her acquaintances were chiefly in the world of fortune and of fashion, had yet a certain weakness for what she called clever people. She therefore always variegated her parties with a streak of young artists and writers, and a literary lady or two; and, if she could lay hands on a first-class celebrity, was as happy as an Amazon who had captured a Centaur.

“There ’s a demonish clever young fellow by the name of Lindsay,” Mr. Livingston Jenkins said to her a little before the day of the party. “Better ask him. They say he’s the rising talent in his line, architecture mainly, but has done some remarkable things in the way of sculpture. There’s some story about a bust he made that was quite wonderful. I’ll find his address for you.” So Mr. Clement Lindsay got his invitation, and thus Mrs. Clymer Ketchum’s party promised to bring together a number of persons with whom we are acquainted, and who were acquainted with each other.

Mrs. Clymer Ketchum knew how to give a party. Let her only have carte blanche for flowers, music, and champagne, she used to tell her lord, and she would see to the rest,−lighting the rooms, tables, and toilet. He need n’t be afraid: all he had to do was to keep out of the way.

Subdivision of labor is one of the triumphs of modern civilization. Labor was beautifully subdivided in this lady’s household. It was old Ketchum’s business to make money, and he understood it. It was Mrs. K.’s business to spend money, and she knew how to do it. The rooms blazed with light like a conflagration; the flowers burned like lamps of many-colored flame; the music throbbed into the hearts of the promenaders and tingled through all the muscles of the dancers.

Mrs. Clymer Ketchum was in her glory. Her point d' Alençon must have spoiled ever so many French girls’ eyes. Her bosom heaved beneath a kind of breastplate glittering with a heavy dew of diamonds. She glistened and sparkled with every movement, so that the admirer forgot to question too closely whether the eyes matched the brilliants, or the cheeks glowed like the roses. Not far from the great lady stood Myrtle Hazard. She was dressed as the fashion of the day demanded, but she had added certain audacious touches of her own, reminiscences of the time when the dead beauty had flourished, and which first provoked the question and then the admiration of the young people who had a natural eye for effect. Over the long white glove on her left arm was clasped a rich bracelet, of so quaint an antique pattern that nobody had seen anything like it, and as some one whispered that it was “the last thing out,” it was greatly admired by the fashion-plate multitude, as well as by the few who had a taste of their own. If the soul of Judith Pride, long divorced from its once beautifully moulded dust, ever lived in dim consciousness through any of those who inherited her blood, it was then and there that she breathed through the lips of Myrtle Hazard. The young girl almost trembled with the ecstasy of this new mode of being, soliciting every sense with light, with perfume, with melody, -al]l that could make her feel the wonderful complex music of a fresh life when all its chords first vibrate together in harmony. Miss Rhadamantha Pinnikle, whose mother was an Apex (of whose race it was said that they always made an obeisance when the family name was mentioned, and had all their portraits painted with halos round their heads), found herself extinguished in this new radiance. Miss Victoria Capsheaf stuck to the wall as if she had been a fresco on it. The fifty-year-old dynasties were dismayed and dismounted. Myrtle iossilized them as suddenly as if she had been a Gorgon, instead of a beauty.

The guests in whom we may have some interest were in the mean time making ready for the party, which was expected to be a brilliant one; for 24 Carat Place was well known for the handsome style of its entertainments.

Clement Lindsay was a little surprised by his invitation. He had, however, been made a lion of several times of late, and was very willing to amuse himself once in a while with a peep into the great world. It was but an empty show to him at best, for his lot was cast, and he expected to lead a quiet domestic life after his student days were over.

Master Byles Gridley had known what society was in his earlier time, and understood very well that all a gentleman of his age had to do was to dress himself in his usual plain way, only taking a little more care in his arrangements than was needed in the latitude of Oxbow Village. But Gifted must be looked after, that he should not provoke the unamiable comments of the city youth by any defect or extravagance of costume. The young gentleman had bought a light sky-blue neckerchief, and a very large breastpin containing a gem which he was assured by the vendor was a genuine stone. He considered that both these would be eminently effective articles of dress, and Mr. Gridley had some trouble to convince him that a white tie and plain shirt-buttons would be more fitted to the occasion.

On the morning of the day of the great party Mr. William Murray Bradshaw received a brief telegram, which seemed to cause him great emotion, as he changed color, uttered a forcible exclamation, and began walking up and down his room in a very nervous kind of way. It was a foreshadowing of a certain event now pretty sure to happen. Whatever bearing this telegram may have had upon his plans, he made up his mind that he would contrive an opportunity somehow that very evening to propose himself as a suitor to Myrtle Hazard. He could not say that he felt as absolutely certain of getting the right answer as he had felt at some previous periods. Myrtle knew her price, he said to himself, a great deal better than when she was a simple country girl. The flatteries with which she had been surrounded, and the effect of all the new appliances of beauty, which had set her off so that she could not help seeing her own attractions, rendered her harder to please and to satisfy. A little experience in society teaches a young girl the arts and the phrases which all the Lotharios have in common. Murray Bradshaw was ready to land his fish now, but he was not quite sure that she was yet hooked, and he had a feeling that by this time she knew every fly in his book. However, as he had made up his mind not to wait another day, he addressed himself to the trial before him with a determination to succeed, if any means at his command would insure success. He arrayed himself with faultless elegance: nothing must be neglected on such an occasion. He went forth firm and grave as a general going into a battle where all is to be lost or won. He entered the blazing saloon with the unfailing smile upon his lips, to which he set them as he set his watch to a particular hour and minute.

The rooms were pretty well filled when he arrived and made his bow before the blazing, rustling, glistening, waving, blushing appearance under which palpitated, with the pleasing excitement of the magic scene over which its owner presided, the heart of Mrs. Clymer Ketchum. He turned to Myrtle Hazard, and if he had ever doubted which way his inclinations led him, he could doubt no longer. How much dress and how much light can a woman bear? That is the way to measure her beauty. A plain girl in a simple dress, if she has only a pleasant voice, may seem almost a beauty in the rosy twilight. The nearer she comes to beinghandsome, the more ornament she will bear, and the more she may defy the sunshine or the chandelier. Murray Bradshaw was fairly dazzled with the brilliant effect of Myrtle in full dress. He did not know before what handsome arms she had,−Judith Pride’s famous arms, which the high-colored young men in top-boots used to swear were the handsomest pair in New England. right over again. He did not know before with what defiant effect she would light up, standing as she did directly under a huge lustre, in full flower of flame, like a burning azalea. He was not a man who intended to let his sentiments carry him away from the serious interests of his future, yet, as he looked upon Myrtle Hazard, his heart gave one throb which made him feel in every pulse that this was a woman who in her own right, simply as a woman, could challenge the homage of the proudest young man of her time. He hardly knew till this moment how much of passion mingled with other and calmer motives of admiration. He could say I love you as truly as such a man could ever speak these words, meaning that he admired her, that he was attracted to her, that he should be proud of her as his wife, that he should value himself always as the proprietor of so rare a person, that no appendage to his existence would take so high a place in his thoughts. This implied also, what is of great consequence to a young woman’s happiness in the married state, that she would be treated with uniform politeness, with satisfactory evidences of affection, and with a degree of confidence quite equal to what a reasonable woman should expect from a very superior man, her husband.

If Myrtle could have looked through the window in the breast against which only authors are privileged to flatten their features, it is for the reader to judge how far the programme would have satisfied her. Less than this, a great deal less, does appear to satisfy many young women; and it may be that the picture just drawn, fairly judged, belongs to a model lover and husband. Whether it does or not, Myrtle did not see this picture. There was a beautifully embroidered shirt-bosom in front of that window through which we have just looked, that intercepted all sight of what was going on within. She onlysaw a man, young, handsome, courtly, with a winning tongue, with an ambitious spirit, whose every look and tone implied his admiration of herself, and who was associated with her past life in such a way that they alone appeared like old friends in the midst of that cold, alien throng. It seemed as if he could not have chosen a more auspicious hour than this; for she never looked so captivating, and her presence must inspire his lips with the eloquence of love. And she−was not this delirious atmosphere of light and music just the influence to which he would wish to subject her before trying the last experiment of all which can stir the soul of a woman? He knew the mechanism of that impressionable state which served Coleridge so excellently well,−

"All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve ;
The music, and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve,”−

though he hardly expected such startling results as happened in that case,− which might be taken as an awtul warning not to sing moving ballads to young ladies of susceptible feelings, unless one is prepared tor very serious consequences. Without expecting that Myrtle would rush into his arms, he did think that she could not help listening to him in the intervals of the delicious music, in some recess where the roses and jasmines and heliotropes made the air heavy with sweetness, and the crimson curtains drooped in heavy folds that half hid their forms from the curious eyes all round them. Her heart would swell like Genevieve’s as he told her in simple phrase that she was his life, his love, his all,−for in some two or three words like these he meant to put his appeal, and not in fine poetical phrases : that would do for Giited Hopkins and rhyming tomtits of that feather.

Full of his purpose, involving the plans of his whole life, implying, as he saw clearly, a brilliant future or a disastrous disappointment, with a great unexploded mine of consequences under his feet, and the spark ready to fall into it, he walked about the gilded saloon with a smile upon his lips so perfectly natural and pleasant, that one would have said he was as vacant of any aim, except a sort of superficial good-natured disposition to be amused, as the blankest-eyed simpleton who had tied himself up in a white cravat and come to bore and be bored.

Yet under this pleasant smile his mind was so busy with its thoughts that he had forgotten all about the guests from Oxbow Village who, as Myrtle had told him, were to come this evening. His eye was all at once caught by a familiar figure, and he recognized Master Byles Gridiey, accompanied by Mr. Gifted Hopkins, at the door of the saloon. He stepped forward at once to meet and to present them.

Mr. Gridiey in evening costume made an eminently dignified and respectable appearance. There was an unusual look of benignity upon his firmly moulded features, and an air of ease which rather surprised Mr. Bradshaw, who did not know all the social experiences which had formed a part of the old Master’s history. The greeting between them was courteous, but somewhat formal, as Mr. Bradshaw was acting as one of the masters of ceremony. He nodded to Gifted in an easy way, and led them both into the immediate Presence.

“This is my friend Professor Gridley, Mrs. Ketchum, whom I have the honor of introducing to you,−a very distinguished scholar, as I have no doubt you are well aware. And this is my friend Mr. Gifted Hopkins, a young poet of distinction, whose fame will reach you by and by, if it has not come to your ears already.”

The two gentlemen went through the usual forms, the poet a little crushed by the Presence, but doing his best. While the lady was making polite speeches to them, Myrtle Hazard came forward. She was greatly delighted to meet her old friend, and even looked upon the young poet with a degree of pleasure she would hardly have expected to receive from his company. They both brought with them so many reminiscences of familiar scenes and events, that it was like going back for the moment to Oxbow Village. But Myrtle did not belong to herself that evening, and had no opportunity to enter into conversation just then with either of them. There was to be dancing by and by, and the younger people were getting impatient that it should begin. At last the music sounded the well-known summons, and the floors began to ring to the tread of the dancers. As usual on such occasions there were a large number of non-combatants, who stood as spectators around those who were engaged in the campaign of the evening. Mr. Byles Gridiey looked on gravely, thinking of the minuets and the gavots of his younger days. Mr. Gifted Hopkins, who had never acquired the desirable accomplishment of dancing, gazed with dazzled and admiring eyes at the wonderful evolutions of the graceful performers. The music stirred him a good deal; he had also been introduced to one or two young persons as Mr. Hopkins, the poet, and he began to feel a kind of excitement, such as was often the prelude of a lyric burst from his pen. Others might have wealth and beauty, he thought to himself, but what were these to the gift of genius ? In fifty years the wealth of these people would have passed into other hands. In fifty years all these beauties would be dead, or wrinkled and double-wrinkled great-grandmothers. And when they were all gone and forgotten, the name of Hopkins would be still fresh in the world’s memory. Inspiring thought! A smile of triumph rose to his lips ; he felt that the village boy who could look forward to fame as his inheritance was richer than all the millionnaires, and that the words he should set in verse would have a lustre in the world’s memory to which the whiteness of pearls was cloudy, and the sparkle of diamonds dull.

He raised his eyes, which had been cast down in reflection, to look upon these less favored children of Fortune, to whom she had given nothing but perishable inheritances. Two or three pairs of eyes, he observed, were fastened upon him. His mouth perhaps betrayed a little self-consciousness, but he tried to show his features in an aspect of dignified self-possession. There seemed to be remarks and questionings going on, which he supposed to be something like the following:−

Which is it? Which is it?−Why, that one, there,−that young fellow,− don't you see?−What young fellow are you two looking at? Who is he? What is he ?−Why, that is Hopkins, the poet.−Hopkins, the poet! Let me see him! Let me see him !−Hopkins? What! Gifted Hopkins? etc., etc.

Gifted Hopkins did not hear these words except in fancy, but he did unquestionably find a considerable number of eyes concentrated upon him, which he very naturally interpreted as an evidence that he had already begun to enjoy a foretaste of the fame of which he should hereafter have his full allowance. Some seemed to be glancing furtively, some appeared as if they wished to speak, and all the time the number of those looking at him seemed to be increasing. A vision came through his fancy of himself as standing on a platform, and having persons who wished to look upon him and shake hands with him presented, as he had heard was the way with great people when going about the country. But this was only a suggestion, and by no means a serious thought, for that would have implied infatuation.

Gifted Hopkins was quite right in believing that he attracted many eyes. At last those of "Myrtle Hazard were called to him, and she perceived that an accident was making him unenviably conspicuous. The bow of his rather large white neck-tie had slid round and got beneath his left ear. A not very good-natured or well-bred young fellow had pointed out the subject of this slight misfortune to one or two others of not much better taste or breeding, and thus the unusual attention the youthful poet was receiving explained itself. Myrtle no sooner saw the little accident of which her rural friend was the victim, than she left her place in the dance with a simple courage which did her credit. “I want to speak to you a minute,” she said. “Come into this alcove.”

And the courageous young lady not only told Gifted what had happened to him, but found a pin somehow, as women always do on a pinch, and had him in presentable condition again almost before the bewildered young man knew what was the matter. On reflection it occurred to him, as it has to other provincial young persons going to great cities, that he might perhaps have been hasty in thinking himself an object of general curiosity as yet. There had hardly been time for his name to have become very widely known. Still, the feeling had been pleasant for the moment, and had given him an idea of what the rapture would be, when, wherever he went, the monster digit (to hint a classical phrase) of the collective admiring public would be lifted to point him out, and the whisper would pass from one to another, “That’s him! That’s Hopkins ! ”

Mr. Murray Bradshaw had been watching the opportunity for carrying out his intentions, with his pleasant smile covering up all that was passing in his mind, and Master Byles Gridley, looking equally unconcerned, had been watching him. The young man’s time came at last. Some were at the suppertable, some were promenading, some were talking, when he managed to get Myrtle a little apart from the rest, and led her towards one of the recesses in the apartment, where two chairs were invitingly placed. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were sparkling,−the influences to which he had trusted had not been thrown away upon her. He had no idea of letting his purpose be, seen until he was fully ready. It required all his self-mastery to avoid betraying himself by look or tone, but he was so natural that Myrtle was thrown wholly off her guard. He meant to make her pleased with herself to begin with, and that not by point-blank flattery, of which she had had more than enough of late, but rather by suggestion and inference, so that she should find herself feeling happy without knowing how. It would be easy to glide from that to the impression she had produced upon him, and get the two feelings more or less mingled in her mind. And so the simple confession he meant to make would at length evolve itself logically, and hold by a natural connection to the first agreeable train of thought which he had called up. Not the way, certainly, that most young men would arrange their great trial scene; but Murray Bradshaw was a lawyer in love as much as in business, and considered himself as pleading a cause before a jury of Myrtle Hazard’s conflicting motives. What would any lawyer do in a jury case, but begin by giving the twelve honest men and true to understand, in the first place, that their intelligence and virtue were conceded by all, and that he himself had perfect confidence in them, and leave them to shape their verdict in accordance with these propositions and his own side of the case ?

Myrtle had, perhaps, never so seriously inclined her car to the pleasing accents of the young pleader. He flattered her with so much tact, that she thought she heard an unconscious echo through his lips of an admiration which he only shared with all around him. But in him he made it seem discriminating, deliberate, not blind, but very real. This it was which had led him to trust her with his ambitions and his plans,−they might be delusions, but he could never keep them from her, and she was the one woman in the world to whom he thought he could safely give his confidence.

The dread moment was close at hand. Myrtle was listening with an instinctive premonition of what was coming, −ten thousand mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and so on, had passed through it all in preceding generations until time reached backwards to the sturdy savage who asked no questions of any kind, but knocked down the great primeval grandmother of all, and carried her off to his hole in the rock, or into the tree where he had made his nest. Why should not the coming question announce itself by stirring in the pulses and thrilling in the nerves of the descendant of all these grandmothers ?

She was leaning imperceptibly towards him, drawn by the mere blind elemental force, as the plummet was attracted to the side of Schehallion. Her lips were parted, and she breathed a little faster than so healthy a girl ought to breathe in a state of repose. The steady nerves of William Murray Bradshaw felt unwonted thrills and tremors tingling through them, as he came nearer and nearer the few simple words with which he was to make Myrtle Hazard the mistress of his destiny. His tones were becoming lower and more serious; there were slight breaks once or twice in the conversation; Myrtle had cast down her eyes.

“There is but one word more to add,” he murmured softly, as he bent towards her−

A grave voice interrupted him. “Excuse me, Mr. Bradshaw,” said Master Byles Gridley. “I wish to present a young gentleman to my friend here. I promised to show him the most charming young person I have the honor to be acquainted with, and I must redeem my pledge. Miss Hazard, I have the pleasure of introducing to your acquaintance my distinguished young friend, Mr. Clement Lindsay.”

Once more, for the third time, these two young persons stood face to face. Myrtle was no longer liable to those nervous seizures which any sudden impression was liable to produce when she was in her half-hysteric state of mind and body. She turned to the new-comer, who found himself unexpectedly submitted to a test which he would never have risked of his own will. He must go through it, cruel as it was, with the easy self-command which belongs to a gentleman in the most trying social exigencies. He addressed her, therefore, in the usual terms of courtesy, and then turned and greeted Mr. Bradshaw, whom he had never met since their coming together at Oxbow Village. Myrtle was conscious, the instant she looked upon Clement Lindsay, of the existence of some peculiar relation between them; but what, she could not tell. Whatever it was, it broke the charm that had been weaving between her and Murray Bradshaw. He was not foolish enough to make a scene. What fault could he find with Clement Lindsay, who had only done as any gentleman would do with a lady to whom he had just been introduced, −addressed a few polite words to her ? After saying those words, Clement had turned very courteously to him, and they had spoken with each other. But Murray Bradshaw could not help seeing that Myrtle had transferred her attention, at least for the moment, from him to the new-comer. He folded his arms and waited,−but he waited in vain. The hidden attraction which drew Clement to the young girl with whom he had passed into the Valley of the Shadow of Death overmastered all other feelings, and he gave himself up to the fascination of her presence.

The inward rage of Murray Bradshaw at being interrupted just at the moment when he was, as he thought, about to cry checkmate and finish the first great game he had ever played, may well be imagined. But it could not be helped. Myrtle had exercised the customary privilege of young ladies at parties, and had turned from talking with one to talking with another,−that was all. Fortunately for him the young man who had been introduced at such a most critical moment was not one from whom he need apprehend any serious interference. He felt grateful beyond measure to pretty Susan Posey, who, as he had good reason for believing, retained her hold upon her early lover, and was looking forward with bashful interest to the time when she should become Mrs. Lindsay. It was better to put up quietly with his disappointment; and, if he could get no favorable opportunity that evening to resume his conversation at the interesting point where he left it off, he would call the next day and bring matters to a conclusion.

He called accordingly, the next morning, but was disappointed in not seeing Myrtle. She had hardly slept that night, and was suffering from a bad headache, which last reason was her excuse for not seeing company.

He called again, the following day, and learned that Miss Hazard had just left the city, and gone on a visit to Oxbow Village.