The Guardian Angel




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

VOL. XX. — NOVEMBER, 1867. — NO. CXXI.

LAWYER PENHALLOW was seated in his study, his day’s work over, his feet in slippers, after the comfortable but inelegant fashion which Sir Walter Scott reprobates, amusing himself with a volume of old Reports. He was a knowing man enough, a keen country lawyer, but honest, and therefore less ready to suspect the honesty of others. He had a great belief in his young partner's ability, and, though he knew him to be astute, did not think him capable of roguery.

It was at his request that Mr. Bradshaw had undertaken his journey, which, as he believed, — and as Mr. Bradshaw had still stronger evidence of a strictly confidential nature which led him to feel sure, — would end in the final settlement of the great land claim in favor of their client. The case had been dragging along from year to year, like an English chancery suit ; and while courts and lawyers and witnesses had been sleeping, the property had been steadily growing. A railroad had passed close to one margin of the township, some mines had been opened in the county, in which a village calling itself a city had grown big enough to have a newspaper and Fourth of July orations. It was plain that the successful issue of the long process would make the heirs of the late Malachi Withers possessors of an ample fortune, and it was also plain that the firm of Penhallow and Bradshaw were like to receive, in such case, the largest fee that had gladdened the professional existence of its members.

Mr. Penhallow had his book open before him, but his thoughts were wandering from the page. He was thinking of his absent partner, and the probable results of his expedition. What would be the consequence if all this property came into the possession of Silence Withers ? Could she have any liberal intentions with reference to Myrtle Hazard, the young girl who had grown up with her, or was the common impression true, that she was bent on endowing an institution, and thus securing for herself a favorable consideration in the higher courts, where her beneficiaries would be, it might be supposed, influential advocates ? He could not help thinking that Mr. Bradshaw believed that Myrtle Hazard would eventually come to a part at least of this inheritance. For the story was, that he was paying his court to the young lady whenever he got an opportunity, and that he was cultivating an intimacy with Miss Cynthia Badlam. “ Bradshaw would n’t make a move in that direction,” Mr. Penhallow said to himself, “ until he felt pretty sure that it was going to be a paying business. If he was only a young minister now, there ’d be no difficulty about it. Let any man, young or old, in a clerical white cravat, step up to Myrtle Hazard, and ask her to be miserable in his company through this wretched life, and Aunt Silence would very likely give them her blessing, and add something to it that the man in the white cravat would think worth even more than that was. But I don’t know what she ’ll say to Bradshaw. Perhaps he’d better have a hint to go to meeting a little more regularly. However, I suppose he knows what he’s about.”

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.

He was thinking all this over when a visitor was announced, and Mr. Byles Gridley entered the study.

“ Good evening, Mr. Penhallow,” Mr. Gridley said, wiping his forehead. “ Quite warm, is n’t it, this evening ? ”

“ Warm ! ” said Mr. Penhallow, “ I should think it would freeze pretty thick to-night. I should have asked you to come up to the fire and warm yourself. But take off your coat, Mr. Gridley, — very glad to see you. You don’t come to the house half as often as you come to the office. Sit down, sit down.”

Mr. Gridley took off his outside coat and sat down. “ He does look warm, does n’t he ? ” Mr. Penhallow thought. “ Wonder what has heated up the old gentleman so. Find out quick enough, for he always goes straight to business.”

“ Mr. Penhallow,” Mr. Gridley began at once, “ I have come on a very grave matter, in which you are interested as well as myself, and I wish to lay the whole of it before you as explicitly as I can, so that we may settle this night before I go what is to be done. I am afraid the good standing of your partner, Mr. William Murray Bradshaw, is concerned in the matter. Would it be a surprise to you, if he had carried his acuteness in some particular case like the one I am to mention beyond the prescribed limits ? ”

The question was put so diplomatically that there was no chance for an indignant denial of the possibility of Mr. Bradshaw’s being involved in any discreditable transaction.

“ It is possible,” he answered, “ that Bradshaw’s keen wits may have betrayed him into sharper practice than I should altogether approve in any business we carried on together. He is a very knowing young man, but I can’t think he is foolish enough, to say nothing of his honesty, to make any false step of the kind you seem to hint. I think he might on occasion go pretty near the line, but I don’t believe he would cross it.”

" Permit me a few questions, Mr. Penhallow. You settled the estate of the late Malachi Withers, did you not ? ”

“ Mr. Wibird and myself settled it together.”

“ Have you received any papers from any of the family since the settlement of the estate ? ”

“ Let me see. Yes ; a roll of old plans of the Withers Place, and so forth, — not of much use, but labelled and kept. An old trunk with letters and account-books, some of them in Dutch, — mere curiosities. A year ago or more, I remember that Silence sent me over some papers she had found in an odd corner, — the old man hid things like a magpie. I looked over most of them, — trumpery not worth keeping, — old leases and so forth.”

“ Do you recollect giving some of them to Mr. Bradshaw to look over ? ” “ Now I come to think of it, I believe I did ; but he reported to me, if I remember right, that they amounted to nothing.”

“If any of those papers were of importance, should you think your junior partner ought to keep them from your knowledge ? ”

“ I need not answer that question, Mr. Gridley. Will you be so good as to come at once to the facts on which you found your suspicions, and which lead you to put these questions to me ? "

Thereupon Mr. Gridley proceeded to state succinctly the singular behavior of Murray Bradshaw in taking one paper from a number handed to him by Mr. Penhallow, and concealing it in a volume. He related how he was just on the point of taking out the volume which contained the paper, when Mr. Bradshaw entered and disconcerted him. He had, however, noticed three spots on the paper by which he should know it anywhere. He then repeated the substance of Kitty Fagan’s story, accenting the fact that she too noticed three remarkable spots on the paper which Mr. Bradshaw had pointed out to Miss Badlam as the one so important to both of them. Here he rested the case for the moment.

Mr. Penhallow looked thoughtful. There was something questionable in the aspect of this business. It did obviously suggest the idea of an underhand arrangement with Miss Cynthia, possibly involving some very grave consequences. It would have been most desirable, he said, to have ascertained what these papers, or rather this particular paper, to which so much importance was attached, amounted to. Without that knowledge there was nothing, after all, which it might not be possible to explain. He might have laid aside the spotted paper to examine for some object of mere curiosity. It was certainly odd that the one the Fagan woman had seen should present three spots so like those on the other paper, but people did sometimes throw treys at backgammon, and that which not rarely happened with two dice of six faces might happen if they had sixty or six hundred faces. On the whole, he did not see that there was any ground, so far, for anything more than a vague suspicion. He thought it not unlikely that Mr. Bradshaw was a little smitten with the young lady up at The Poplars, and that he had made some diplomatic overtures to the duenna, after the approved method of suitors. She was young for Bradshaw, — very young, — but he knew his own affairs. If he chose to make love to a child, it was natural enough that he should begin by courting her nurse.

Master Byles Gridley lost himself for half a minute in a most discreditable inward discussion as to whether Laura Penhallow was probably one or two years older than Mr. Bradshaw. That was his way, — he could not help it. He could not think of anything without these mental parentheses. But he came back to business at the end of his half-minute.

“ I can lay the package before you at this moment, Mr. Penhallow. I have induced that woman in whose charge it was left to intrust it to my keeping, with the express intention of showing it to you. But it is protected by a seal, as I have told you, which I should on no account presume to meddle with.”

Mr. Gridley took out the package of papers.

“ How damp it is ! ” Mr. Penhallow said; “must have been lying in some very moist neighborhood.”

“ Very,” Mr. Gridley answered, With a peculiar expression which said, “ Never mind about that.”

“ Did the party give you possession of these documents without making any effort to retain them ? ” the lawyer asked.

“ Not precisely. It cost some effort to induce Miss Badlam to let them go out of her hands. I hope you think I was justified in making the effort I did, not without a considerable strain upon my feelings, as well as her own, to get hold of the papers ? ”

“ That will depend something on what the papers prove to be, Mr. Gridley. A man takes a certain responsibility in doing just what you have done. If, for instance, it should prove that this envelope contained matters relating solely to private transactions between Mr. Bradshaw and Miss Badlam, concerning no one but themselves, — and if the words on the back of the envelope and the seal had been put there merely as a protection for a package containing private papers of a delicate but perfectly legitimate character — ”

The lawyer paused, as careful experts do, after bending the bow of an hypothesis, before letting the arrow go. Mr. Gridley felt very warm indeed, uncomfortably so, and applied his handkerchief to his face. Could n't be anything in such a violent supposition as that, — and yet such a craftyfellow as that Bradshaw, — what trick was he not up to ? Absurd ! Cynthia was not acting, — Rachel would n’t be equal to such a performance ! — “why then, Mr. Gridley,” the lawyer continued, “ I don't see but what my partner would have you at an advantage, and, if disposed to make you uncomfortable, could do so pretty effectively. But this, you understand, is only a supposed case, and not a very likely one. I don't think it would have been prudent in you to meddle with that seal. But it is a very different matter with regard to myself. It makes no difference, so far as I am concerned, where this package came from, or how it was obtained. It is just as absolutely within my control as any piece of property I call my own. I should not hesitate, if I saw fit, to break this seal at once, and proceed to the examination of any papers contained within the envelope. If I found any paper of the slightest importance relating to the estate, I should act as if it had never been out of my possession.

“ Suppose, however, I chose to know what was in the package, and, having ascertained, act my judgment about returning it to the party from whom you obtained it. In such case I might see fit to restore, or cause it to be restored, to the party, without any marks of violence having been used being apparent. If everything is not right, probably no questions would be asked by the party having charge of the package. If there is no underhand work going on, and the papers are what they profess to be, nobody is compromised but yourself, so far as I can see, and you are compromised at any rate, Mr. Gridley, at least in the good graces of the party from whom you obtained the documents. Tell that party that I took the package without opening it, and shall return it, very likely, without breaking the seal. Will consider of the matter, say a couple of days. Then you shall hear from me, and she shall hear from you. So. So. Yes, that’s it. A nice business. A thing to sleep on. You had better leave the whole matter of dealing with the package to me. If I see fit to send it back with the seal unbroken, that is my affair. But keep perfectly quiet, if you please, Mr. Gridley, about the whole matter. Mr. Bradshaw is off, as you know, and the business on which he is gone is important, — very important. He can be depended on for that; he has acted all along as if he had a personal interest in the success of our firm beyond his legal relation to it.”

Mr. Penhallow’s light burned very late in the office that night, and the following one. He looked troubled and absent-minded, and, when Miss Laura ventured to ask him how long Mr. Bradshaw was like to be gone, answered her in such a way that the girl who waited at table concluded that he did n't mean to have Miss Laury keep company with Mr. Bradshaw, or he’d never have spoke so dreadful hash to her when she ahst about him.



A DAY or two after Myrtle Hazard returned to the village, Master Byles Gridley, accompanied by Gifted Hopkins, followed her, as has been already mentioned, to the same scene of the principal events of this narrative. The young man had been persuaded that it would be doing injustice to his talents to crowd their fruit prematurely upon the market. He carried his manuscript back with him, having relinquished the idea of publishing for the present. Master Byles Gridley, on the other hand, had in his pocket a very flattering proposal from the same publisher to whom he had introduced the young poet, for a new and revised edition of his work, “ Thoughts on the Universe,” which was to be remodelled in some respects, and to have a new title not quite so formidable to the average reader.

It would be hardly fair to Susan Posey to describe with what delight and innocent enthusiasm she welcomed back Gifted Hopkins. She had been so lonely since he was away ! She had read such of his poems as she possessed — duplicates of his printed ones, or autographs which he had kindly written out for her — over and over again, not without the sweet tribute of feminine sensibility, which is the most precious of all testimonials to a poet’s power over the heart. True, her love belonged to another, — but then she was so used to Gifted ! She did so love to hear him read his poems,— and Clement had never written that “ little bit of a poem to Susie,” which she had asked him for so long ago ! She received him therefore with open arms, — not literally, of course, which would have been a breach of duty and propriety, but in a figurative sense, which it is hoped no reader will interpret to her discredit.

The young poet was in need of consolation. It is true that he had seen many remarkable sights during his visit to the city ; that he had got “ smarted up,” as his mother called it, a good deal ; that he had been to Mrs. Clymer Ketchum’s party, where he had looked upon life in all its splendors ; and that he brought back many interesting experiences, which would serve to enliven his conversation for a long time. But he had failed in the great enterprise he had undertaken. He was forced to confess to his revered parent, and his esteemed friend Susan Posey, that his genius, which was freely acknowledged, was not thought to be quite ripe as yet. He told the young lady some particulars of his visit to the publisher, how he had listened with great interest to one of his poems, — “ The Triumph of Song,” — how he had treated him with marked and flattering attention; but that he advised him not to risk anything prematurely, giving him the hope that by and by he would be admitted into that series of illustrious authors which it was the publisher’s privilege to present to the reading public. In short, he was advised not to print. That was the net total of the matter, and it was a pang to the susceptible heart of the poet. He had hoped to have come home enriched by the sale of his copyright, and with the prospect of seeing his name before long on the back of a handsome volume.

Gifted’s mother did all in her power to console him in his disappointment. — There was plenty of jealous people always that wanted to keep young folks from rising in the world. Never mind, she did n’t believe but what Gifted could make jest as good verses as any of them that they kept such a talk about. — She had a fear that he might pine away in consequence of the mental excitement he had gone through, and solicited his appetite with her choicest appliances, — of which he partook in a measure which showed that there was no immediate cause of alarm.

But Susan Posey was more than a consoler, — she was an angel to him in this time of his disappointment. “ Read me all the poems over again,” she said, — “ it is almost the only pleasure I have left, to hear you read your beautiful verses.” Clement Lindsay had not written to Susan quite as often of late as at some former periods of the history of their love. Perhaps it was that which had made her look paler than usual for some little time. Something was evidently preying on her. Her only delight seemed to be in listening to Gifted as he read, sometimes with fine declamatory emphasis, sometimes in low, tremulous tones, the various poems enshrined in his manuscript. At other times she was sad, and more than once Mrs. Hopkins had seen a tear steal down her innocent cheek, when there seemed to be no special cause for grief. She ventured to speak of it to Master Byles Gridley.

“Our Susan’s in trouble, Mr. Gridley, for some reason or other that s unbeknown to me, and I can' t help wishing you could jest have a few words with her. You’re a kind of a grandfather, you know, to all the young folks, and they’d tell you pretty much everything about themselves. I calc’late she is n’t at ease in her mind about somethin’ or other, and I kind o’ think, Mr. Gridley, you could coax it out of her.”

“Was there ever anything like it ?” said Master Byles Gridley to himself. “ I shall have all the young folks in Oxbow Village to take care of at this rate! Susan Posey in trouble, too ! Well, well, well, it ’s easier to get a birch-bark canoe off the shallows than a big ship off the rocks. Susan Posey’s trouble will be come at easily enough ; but Myrtle Hazard floats in deeper water. We must make Susan Posey tell her own story, or let her tell it, for it will all come out of itself.”

“ I am going to dust the books in the open shelves this morning. I wonder if Miss Susan Posey would n’t like to help for half an hour or so,” Master Gridley remarked at the breakfasttable.

The amiable girl’s very pleasant countenance lighted up at the thought of obliging the old man who had been so kind to her and so liberal to her friend, the poet. She would be delighted to help him ; she would dust them all for him, if he wanted her to. No, Master Gridley said, he always wanted to have a hand in it; and, besides, such a little body as she was could not lift those great folios out of the lower shelves without overstraining herself; she might handle the musketry and the light artillery, but he must deal with the heavy guns himself. “As low down as the octavos, Susan Posey, you shall govern ; below that, the Salic law.”

Susan did not know much about the Salic law ; but she knew he meant that he would dust the big books and she would attend to the little ones.

A very young and a very pretty girl is sometimes quite charming in a costume which thinks of nothing less than of being attractive. Susan appeared after breakfast in the study, her head bound with a kerchief of bright pattern, a little jacket she had outgrown buttoned, in spite of opposition, close about her up to the throat, round which a white handkerchief was loosely tied, and a pair of old gauntlets protecting her hands, so that she suggested something between a gypsy, a jaunty soubrette, and the fille du regiment.

Master Gridley took out a great volume from the lower shelf,— a folio in massive oaken covers with clasps like prison hinges, bearing the stately colophon, white on a ground of vermilion, of Nicholas Jenson and his associates. He opened the volume, —paused over its blue and scarlet initial letter, — he turned page after page, admiring its brilliant characters, its broad, white marginal rivers, and the narrower white creek that separated the black-typed twin-columns, — he turned back to the beginning and read the commendatory paragraph, “ Nam ipsorum omnia fulgent tum correctione dignissima, tum cura imprimendo splendida ac iniranda," and began reading, “ Incipit proemium super apparatum decretalium . .” when it suddenly occurred to him that this was not exactly doing what he had undertaken to do, and he began whisking an ancient bandanna about the ears of the venerable volume. All this time Miss Susan Posey was catching the little books by the small of their backs, pulling them out, opening them, and clapping them together, ’p-’p-’p! ’p-’p-’p! and carefully caressing all their edges with a regular professional dusting-cloth, so persuasively that they yielded up every particle that a year had drifted upon them, and came forth refreshed and rejuvenated. This process went on for a while, until Susan had worked down among the octavos, and Master Gridley had worked up among the quartos. He had got hold of Calmet’s Dictionary, and was caught by the article Solomon, so that he forgot his occupation again. All at once it struck him that everything was very silent, — the ’p-’p-’p ! of clapping the books had ceased, and the light rustle of Susan’s dress was no longer heard. He looked up and saw her standing perfectly still, with a book in one hand and her duster in the other. She was lost in thought, and by the shadow on her face and the glistening of her blue eyes he knew it was her hidden sorrow that had just come back to her. Master Gridley shut up his book, leaving Solomon to his fate, like the worthy Benedictine he was reading, without discussing the question whether he was saved or not.

“ Susan Posey, child, what is your trouble ? ”

Poor Susan was in the state of unstable equilibrium which the least touch upsets, and fell to crying. It took her some time to get down the waves of emotion so that speech would live upon them. At last it ventured out, — showing at intervals, like the boat rising on the billow, sinking into the hollow', and climbing again into notice.

“ O Mr. Grid—ley — I can't — I can’t — tell you or — any—body — what ’s the mat—mat — matter. — My heart will br—br—break.”

“No, no, no, child,” said Mr. Gridley, sympathetically stirred a little himself by the sight of Susan in tears and sobbing and catching her breath, “ that must n’t be, Susan Posey. Come off the steps, Susan Posey, and stop dusting the books,— I can finish them, — and tell me all about your troubles. I will try to help you out of them, and I have begun to think I know how to help young people pretty well. I have had some experience at it.”

But Susan cried and sobbed all the more uncontrollably and convulsively. Master Gridley thought he had better lead her at once to what he felt pretty sure was the source of her troubles, and that, when she had had her cry out, she would probably make the hole in the ice he had broken big enough in a very few minutes.

“ I think something has gone wrong between you and your friend, the young gentleman with whom you are in intimate relations, my child, and I think you had better talk freely with me, for I can perhaps give you a little counsel that will be of service.”

Susan cried herself quiet at last. “ There’s nobody in the world like you, Mr. Gridley,” she said, “and I’ve been wanting to tell you something ever so long. My friend—Mr. Clem—Clement Lindsay does n't care for me as he used to, — I know he does n’t. He has n't written to me for — I don’t know but it’s a month. And O Mr Gridley ! he’s such a great man, and I am such a simple person, — I can’t help thinking —he would be happier with somebody else than poor little Susan Posey! ”

This last touch of self-pity overcame her, as it is so apt to do those who indulge in that delightful misery, and she broke up badly, as a horse-fancier would say, so that it was some little time before she recovered her conversational road-gait.

“ O Mr. Gridley,” she began again, at length, “ if I only dared to tell him what I think, — that perhaps it would be happier for us both — if we could forget each other ! Ought I not to tell him so ? Don't you think he would find another to make him happy ? Would n't he forgive me for telling him he was free ? Were we not too young to know each other’s hearts when we promised each other that we would love as long as we lived ? Sha' n't I write him a letter this very day and tell him all ? Do you think it would be wrong in me to do it ? O Mr. Gridley, it makes me almost crazy to think about it. Clement must be free ! I cannot, cannot hold him to a promise he does n’t want to keep.”

There were so many questions in this eloquent rhapsody of Susan’s that they neutralized each other, as one might say, and Master Gridley had time for reflection. His thoughts went on something in this way: —

“ Pretty clear case ! Guess Mr. Clement can make up his mind to it. Put it well, did n’t she ? Not a word about our little Gifted! That ’s the trouble. Poets! how they do bewitch these school-girls ! And having a chance every day, too, how could you expect her to stand it ? ” Then aloud : “ Susan Posey, you are a good, honest little girl as ever was. I think you and Clement were too hasty in coming together for life before you knew what life meant. I think if you write Clement a letter, telling him that you cannot help fearing that you two are not perfectly adapted to each other, on account of certain differences for which neither of you is responsible, and that you propose that each should release the other from the pledge given so long ago, — in that case, I say, I believe he will think no worse of you for so doing, and may perhaps agree that it is best for both of you to seek your happiness elsewhere than in each other.”

The book-dusting came to as abrupt a close as the reading of Lancelot. Susan went straight to her room, dried her tears so as to write in a fair hand, but had to stop every few lines and take a turn at the “ dust-layers,” as Mrs. Clymer Ketchum’s friend used to call the fountains of sensibility. It would seem like betraying Susan’s confidence to reveal the contents of this letter, but the reader may be assured that it was simple and sincere and very sweetly written, without the slightest allusion to any other young man, whether of the poetical or cheaper human varieties.

It was not long before Susan received a reply from Clement Lindsay. It was as kind and generous and noble as she could have asked. It was affectionate, as a very amiable brother’s letter might be, and candidly appreciative of the reasons Susan had assigned for her proposal. He gave her back her freedom, — not that he should cease to feel an interest in her, always. He accepted his own release, not that he would ever think she could be indifferent to his future fortunes. And within a very brief period of time after sending his answer to Susan Posey, whether he wished to see her in person, or whether he had some other motive, he had packed his trunk, and made his excuses for an absence of uncertain length at the studio, and was on his way to Oxbow Village.



THE spring of 1861 had now arrived, — that eventful spring which was to lift the curtain and show the first scene of the first act in the mighty drama which fixed the eyes of mankind during four bloody years. The little schemes of little people were going on in all our cities and villages without thought of the fearful convulsion which was soon coming to shatter the hopes and prospects of millions. Our little Oxbow Village, which held itself by no means the least of human centres, was the scene of its own commotions, as intense and exciting to those concerned as if the destiny of the nation had been involved in them.

Mr. Clement Lindsay appeared suddenly in that important locality, and repaired to his accustomed quarters at the house of Deacon Rumrill. That worthy person received him with a certain gravity of manner, caused by his recollection of the involuntary transgression into which Mr. Lindsay had led him by his present of Ivanhoe. He was, on the whole, glad to see him, for his finances were not yet wholly recovered from the injury inflicted on them by the devouring element. But he could not forget that his boarder had betrayed him into a breach of the fourth commandment, and that the strict eyes of his clergyman had detected him in the very commission of the offence. He had no sooner seen Mr. Clement comfortably installed, therefore, than he presented himself at the door of his chamber with the book, enveloped in strong paper and very securely tied round with a stout string.

“ Here is your vollum, Mr. Lindsay,” the Deacon said. “ I understand it is not the work of that great and good mahn who I thought wrote it. I did not see anything immoral in it as fur as I read, but it belongs to what I consider a very dangerous class of publications. These novels and romances are awfully destructive to our youth. I should recommend you, as a young mahn of principle, to burn the vollum. At least I hope you will not leave it about anywhere unless it is carefully tied up. I have written upon the paper round it to warn off all the young persons of my household from meddling with it.”

True enough, Mr. Clement saw in strong black letters on the back of the paper wrapping his unfortunate Ivanhoe, —



“ I thought you said you had Scott’s picture hung up in your parlor. Deacon Rumrill,” he said, a little amused with the worthy man’s fear and precautions.

“It is the great Scott’s likeness that I have in my parlor,” he said ; “ I will show it to you if you will come with me.”

Mr. Clement followed the Deacon into that sacred apartment.

“That is the portrait of the great Scott,” he said, pointing to an engraving of a heavy-looking person whose phrenological developments were a somewhat striking contrast to those of the distinguished Sir Walter.

“ I will take good care that none of your young people see this volume,” Mr. Clement said ; “ I trust you read it yourself, however, and found something to please you in it. I am sure you are safe from being harmed by any such book. Didn’t you have to finish it, Deacon, after you had once begun ?”

“ Well, — I — I — perused a consicPable portion of the work,” the Deacon answered, in a way that led Mr. Clement to think he had not stopped much short of Finis. “Anything new in the city ? ”

“ Nothing except what you’ve all had, — Confederate States establishing an army and all that, — not very new either. What has been going on here lately, Deacon ? ”

“ Well, Mr. Lindsay, not a great deal. My new barn is pretty nigh done. I’ve got as fine a litter of pigs as ever you see. I don’t know whether you ’re a judge of pigs or no. The Hazard gal’s come back, spilt, pooty much, I guess. Been to one o’ them fashionable schools, — I ’ve heerd that she’s learnt to dance. I ’ve heerd say that that Hopkins boy’s round the Posey gal, — come to think, she’s the one you went with some when you was here, — I ’m gettin’ kind o’ forgetful. Old Doctor Hurlbut ’s pretty low, — ninety-four year old, — born in ’67, — folks ain’t ginerally very spry after they ’re ninety, but he held out wonderful.”

“ How’s Mr. Bradshaw ? ”

“ Well, the young squire, he’s off travellin’ somewhere in the West, or to Washin’ton, or somewhere else,— I don’t jestly know where. They say that he’s follerin’ up the courts in the business about old Malachi’s estate. I don’ know much about it.”

The news got round Oxbow Village very speedily that Mr. Clement Lindsay, generally considered the accepted lover of Miss Susan Posey, had arrived in that place. Now it had come to be the common talk of the village that young Gifted Hopkins and Susan Posey were getting to be mighty thick with each other, and the prevailing idea was that Clement's visit had reference to that state of affairs. Some said that Susan had given her young man the mitten, meaning thereby that she had signified that his services as a suitor were dispensed with. Others thought there was only a wavering in her affection for her lover, and that he feared for her constancy, and had come to vindicate his rights.

Some of the young fellows, who were doubtless envious of Gifted’s popularity with the fair sex, attempted in the most unjustifiable manner to play upon his susceptible nature. One of them informed him that he had seen that Lindsay fellah raound taown with the darndest big stick y’ ever did see. Looked kind o’ savage and wild like. Another one told him that perhaps he’d better keep a little shady ; that are chap that had got the mittin was praowlin’ abaout with a pistil, — one o’ them Darringers abaout as long as your thumb, an’ ’ll fire a bullet as big as a potato-ball, — a fellah carries one in his breeches-pocket, an’ shoots y’ right threugh his own pahnts, withaout ever takin’ on it aout of his pocket. The stable-keeper, who it may be remembered once exchanged a few playful words with Mr. Gridley, got a hint from some of these unfeeling young men, and offered the resources of his stable to the youth supposed to be in peril.

“ I’ve got a faäst colt, Mr. Hopkins, that ’ll put twenty mild between you an’ this here village, as quick as any four huffs ’ll dew it in this here caounty, if you should want to git away suddin. I’ve heern tell there was some lookin’ raound here that would n’t be wholesome to meet,—jest say the word, Mr. Hopkins, an’ I ’ll have ye on that are colt’s back in less than no time, an’ start ye off full jump. There’s a good many that’s kind o’ worried for fear something might happen to ye, Mr. Hopkins, — y’see fellahs don’t like to have other chaps cuttin’ on ’em aout with their gals.”

Gifted Hopkins had become excessively nervous by this time. It is true that everything in his intimacy with Susan Posey so far might come under the general head of friendship ; but he was conscious that something more was in both their thoughts. Susan had given him mysterious hints that her relations with Clement had undergone a change, but had never had quite courage enough, perhaps had too much delicacy, to reveal the whole truth.

Gifted was walking home, deeply immersed in thoughts excited by the hints which had been thus wantonly thrown out to inflame his imagination, when all at once, on lifting his eyes, he saw Clement Lindsay coming straight towards him. Gifted was unarmed, except with a pair of blunt scissors, which he carried habitually in his pocket. What should he do ? Should he fly ? But he was never a good runner, being apt to find himself scant o’ breath, like Hamlet, after violent exercise. His demeanor on the occasion did credit to his sense of his own virtuous conduct and his self-possession. He put his hand out, while yet at a considerable distance, and marched up towards Clement, smiling with all the native amiability which belonged to him.

To his infinite relief, Clement put out his hand to grasp the one offered him, and greeted the young poet in the most frank and cordial manner.

“ And how is Miss Susan Posey, Mr. Hopkins ?” asked Clement, in the most cheerful tone. “ It is a long while since I have seen her, and you must tell her that I hope I shall not leave the village without finding time to call upon her. She and I are good friends always, Mr. Hopkins, though perhaps I shall not be quite so often at your mother’s as I was during my last visit to Oxbow Village.”

Gifted felt somewhat as the subject of one of those old-fashioned forms of argument, formerly much employed to convince men of error in matters of religion, must have felt when the official who superintended the stretching-machine said, “ Slack up ! ”

He told Mr. Clement all about Susan, and was on the point of saying that if he, Mr. Clement, did not claim any engrossing interest in her, he, Gifted, was ready to offer her the devotion of a poet's heart. Mr. Clement, however, had so many other questions to ask him about everybody in the village, more particularly concerning certain young persons in whom he seemed to be specially interested, that there was no chance to work in his own revelations of sentiment.

Clement Lindsay had come to Oxbow Village with a single purpose. He could now venture to trust himself in the presence of Myrtle Hazard. He was free, and he knew nothing to show that she had lost the liberty of disposing of her heart. But after an experience such as he had gone through, he was naturally distrustful of himself, and inclined to be cautious and reserved in yielding to a new passion. Should he tell her the true relations in which they stood to each other, — that she owed her life to him, and that he had very nearly sacrificed his own in saving hers ? Why not ? He had a claim on her gratitude for what he had done in her behalf, and out of this gratitude there might naturally spring a warmer feeling.

No, he could not try to win her affections by showing that he had paid for them beforehand. She seemed to be utterly unconscious of the fact that it was he who had been with her in the abyss of waters. If the thought came to her of itself, and she ever asked him, it would be time enough to tell her the story. If not, the moment might arrive when he could reveal to her the truth that he was her deliverer, without accusing himself of bribing her woman’s heart to reward him for his services. He would wait for that moment.

It was the most natural thing in the world that .Mr. Lindsay, a young gentleman from the city, should call to see Miss Hazard, a young lady whom he had met recently at a party. To that pleasing duty he addressed himself the evening after his arrival.

“ The young gentleman’s goin' a courtin’, I calc’late,” was the remark of the Deacon’s wife when she saw what a handsome figure Mr. Clement was making at the tea-table.

“ A very hahnsome young mahn,” the Deacon replied, “ and looks as if he might know consid’able. An architect, you know,—a sort of a builder. Wonder if he has n’t got any good plans for a hahnsome pigsty. I suppose he’d charge somethin’ for one, but it could n’t be much, an’ he could take it out in board.”

“ Better ask him,” his wife said ; “ he looks mighty pleasant ; there’s nothin’ lost by askin’, an’ a good deal got sometimes, grandma used to say.”

The Deacon followed her advice. Mr. Clement was perfectly good-natured about it, asked the Deacon the number of snouts in his menagerie, got an idea of the accommodations required, and sketched the plan of a neat and appropriate edifice for the Porcellarium, as Master Gridley afterwards pleasantly christened it, which was carried out by the carpenter, and stands to this day a monument of his obliging disposition, and a proof that there is nothing so humble that taste cannot be shown in it.

“ What ’ll be your charge for the plan of the pigsty, Mr. Lindsay ? ” the Deacon inquired with an air of interest,— he might have been involved more deeply than he had intended. " How much should you call about right for the picter an’ figgerin’ ? ”

“ O, you ’re quite welcome to my sketch of a plan, Deacon. I've seen much showier buildings tenanted by animals not very different from those your edifice is meant for.”

Mr. Clement found the three ladies sitting together in the chill, dim parlor at The Poplars. They had one of the city papers spread out on the table, and Myrtle was reading aloud the last news from Charleston Harbor. She rose as Mr. Clement entered, and stepped forward to meet him. It was a strange impression this young man produced upon her, — not through the common channels of the intelligence,— not exactly that “ magnetic ” influence of which she had had experience at a former time. It did not overcome her as at the moment of their second meeting. But it was something she must struggle against, and she had force and pride and training enough now to maintain her usual tranquillity, in spite of a certain inward commotion which seemed to reach her breathing and her pulse by some strange, inexplicable mechanism.

Myrtle, it must be remembered, was no longer the simple country girl who had run away at fifteen, but a young lady of seventeen, who had learned all that more than a year’s diligence at a great school could teach her, who had been much with girls of taste and of culture, and was familiar with the style and manners of those who came from what considered itself the supreme order in the social hierarchy. Her natural love for picturesque adornment was qualified by a knowledge of the prevailing modes not usual in so small a place as Oxbow Village. All this had not failed to produce its impression on those about her. Persons who, like Miss Silence Withers, believe, not in education, inasmuch as there is no healthy nature to be educated, but in transformation, worry about their charges up to a certain period of their lives. Then, if the transformation does not come, they seem to think their cares and duties are at an end, and, considering their theories of human destiny, usually accept the situation with wonderful complacency. This was the stage which Miss Silence Withers had reached with reference to Myrtle. It made her infinitely more agreeable, or less disagreeable, as the reader may choose one or the other statement, than when she was always fretting about her “ responsibility.” She even began to take an interest in some of Myrtle’s worldly experiences, and something like a smile would now and then disarrange the chief-mourner stillness of her features, as Myrtle would tell some lively story she had brought away from the gay society she had frequented.

Cynthia Badlam kept her keen eyes on her like a hawk. Murray Bradshaw was away, and here was this handsome and agreeable youth coming in to poach on the preserve of which she considered herself the gamekeeper. What did it mean ? She had heard the story about Susan’s being off with her old love and on with a new one. Ah ha! this is the game, is it?

Clement Lindsay passed not so much a pleasant evening, as one of strange, perplexed, and mingled delight and inward conflict. He had found his marble once more turned to flesh and blood, and breathing before him. This was the woman he was born for ; her form was fit to model his proudest ideal from, —her eyes melted him when they rested for an instant on his face, — her voice readied those hidden sensibilities of his inmost nature, which never betray their existence until the outward chord to which they vibrate in response sends its message to stir them. But was she not already pledged to that other,— that cold-blooded, contriving, venal, cynical, selfish, polished, fascinating man of the world, whose artful strategy would pass with nine women out of ten for the most romantic devotion ?

If he had known the impression he made, he would have felt less anxiety with reference to this particular possibility. Miss Silence expressed herself gratified with his appearance, and thought he looked like a good young man, — he reminded her of a young friend of hers who — [It was the same who had gone to one of the cannibal islands as a missionary, — and stayed there.] Myrtle was very quiet. She had nothing to say about Clement, except that she had met him at a party in the city, and found him agreeable. Miss Cynthia wrote a letter to Murray Bradshaw that very evening, telling him that he had better come back to Oxbow Village as quickly as he could, unless he wished to find his place occupied by an intruder.

In the mean time, the country was watching the garrison in Charleston Harbor. All at once the first gun of the four years’ cannonade hurled its ball against the walls of Fort Sumter. There was no hamlet in the land which the reverberations of that cannon-roar did not reach. There was no valley so darkened by overshadowing hills that it did not see the American flag hauled down on the 13th of April. There was no loyal heart in the North that did not answer to the call of the country to its defenders which went forth two days later. The great tide of feeling reached the locality where the lesser events of our narrative were occurring. A meeting of the citizens was instantly called. The venerable Father Pemberton opened it with a prayer that filled every soul with courage and high resolve. The young farmers and mechanics of that whole region joined the companies to which they belonged, or organized in squads and marched at once, or got ready to march, to the scene of conflict.

The contagion of warlike patriotism reached the most peacefully inclined young persons.

“ My country calls me,” Gifted Hopkins said to Susan Posey, “and I am preparing to obey her summons. If I can pass the medical examination, which it is possible I may, though I fear my constitution may be thought too weak, and if no obstacle impedes me, I think of marching in the ranks of the Oxbow Invincibles. If I go, Susan, and if I fall, will you not remember me . . . as one who . . . cherished the tenderest . . . sentiments ... towards you . . . and who had looked forward to the time when . . . when . . .”

His eyes told the rest. He loved !

Susan forgot all the rules of reserve to which she had been trained. What were cold conventionalities at such a moment ? “ Never ! never ! ” she said, throwing her arms about his neck and mingling her tears with his, which were flowing freely. “ Your country does not need your sword, . . . but it does need . . . your pen. Your poems will inspire . . . our soldiers. . . . The Oxbow Invincibles will march to victory, singing your songs. ... If you go . . . and if you . . . fall . .. O Gifted! . . . I . . . I . . . yes I . . . shall die too ! ”

His love was returned. He was blest!

“Susan,” he said, “my own Susan, I yield to your wishes, at every sacrifice. Henceforth they will be my law. Yes, I will stay and encourage my brave countrymen to go forward to the bloody field. My voice shall urge them on to the battle-ground. I will give my dearest breath to stimulate their ardor. . . . O Susan ! My own, own Susan!

While these interesting events had been going on beneath the modest roof of the Widow Hopkins, affairs had been rapidly hastening to a similar conclusion under the statelier shadow of The Poplars. Clement Lindsay was so well received at his first visit that he ventured to repeat it several times, with so short intervals that it implied something more than a common interest in one of the members of the household. There was no room for doubt who this could be, and Myrtle Hazard could not help seeing that she was the object of his undisguised admiration. The belief was now general in the village that Gifted Hopkins and Susan Posey were either engaged, or on the point of being so ; and it was equally understood that, whatever might be the explanation, she and her former lover had parted company in an amicable manner.

Love works very strange transformations in young women. Sometimes it leads them to try every mode of adding to their attractions, — their whole thought is how to be most lovely in the eyes they would fill so as to keep out all other images. Poor darlings ! We smile at their little vanities, as if they were very trivial things compared with the last Congressman’s speech or the great election sermon ; but Nature knows well what she is about. The maiden’s ribbon or ruffle means a great deal more for her than the judge’s wig or the priest's surplice.

It was not in this way that the gentle emotion awaking in the breast of Myrtle Hazard betrayed itself. As the thought dawned in her consciousness that she was loved, a change came over her such as the spirit that protected her, according to the harmless fancy she had inherited, might have wept for joy to behold, if tears could flow from angelic eyes. She forgot herself and her ambitions, — the thought of shining in the great world died out in the presence of new visions of a future in which she was not to be her own, — of feelings in the depth of which the shallow vanities which had drawn her young eyes to them for a while seemed less than nothing. Myrtle had not hitherto said to herself that Clement was her lover, yet her whole nature was expanding and deepening in the light of that friendship which any other eye could have known at a glance for the great passion.

Cynthia Badlam wrote a pressing letter to Murray Bradshaw. “ There is no time to be lost; she is bewitched, and will be gone beyond hope if this business is not put a stop to.”

Love moves in an accelerating ratio ; and there comes a time when the progress of the passion escapes from all human formulæ, and brings two young hearts, which had been gradually drawing nearer and nearer together, into complete union, with a suddenness that puts an infinity between the moment when all is told and that which went just before.

They were sitting together by themselves in the dimly lighted parlor. They had told each other many experiences of their past lives, very freely, as two intimate friends of different sex might do. Clement had happened to allude to Susan, speaking very kindly and tenderly of her. He hoped this youth to whom she was attached would make her life happy. “ You know how simple-hearted and good she is ; her image will always be a pleasant one in my memory, — second to but one other.”

Myrtle ought, according to the common rules of conversation, to have asked, What other? but she did not. She may have looked as if she wanted to ask, — she may have blushed or turned pale, — perhaps she could not trust her voice ; but whatever the reason was, she sat still, with downcast eyes. Clement waited a reasonable time, but, finding it was of no use, began again.

Your image is the one other, — the only one, let me say, for all else fades in its presence, — your image fills all my thought. Will you trust your life and happiness with one who can offer you so little beside his love? You know my whole heart is yours.”

Whether Myrtle said anything in reply or not, — whether she acted like Coleridge’s Genevieve, — that is, “fled to him and wept,” or suffered her feelings to betray themselves in some less startling confession, we will leave untold. Her answer, spoken or silent, could not have been a cruel one, for in another moment Clement was pressing his lips to hers, after the manner of accepted lovers.

“ Our lips have met to-day for the second time,” he said, presently.

She looked at him in wonder. What did he mean ? The second time! How assuredly he spoke ! She looked him calmly in the face, and awaited his explanation.

“ I have a singular story to tell you. On the morning of the 16th of June, now nearly two years ago, I was sitting in my room at Alderbank, some twenty miles down the river, when I heard a cry for help coming from the river. I ran down to the bank, and there I saw a boy in an old boat —”

When it came to the “ boy ” in the old boat, Myrtle’s cheeks flamed so that she could not bear it, and she covered her face with both her hands. But Clement told his story calmly through to the end, sliding gently over its later incidents, for Myrtle’s heart was throbbing violently, and her breath a little catching and sighing, as when she had first lived with die new life his breath had given her.

“ Why did you ask me for myself, when you could have claimed me ?” she said.

" I wanted a free gift, Myrtle,” Clement answered, “ and I have it.”

They sat in silence, lost in the sense of that new life which had suddenly risen on their souls.

The door-bell rang sharply. Kitty Fagan answered its summons, and presently entered the parlor and announced that Mr. Bradshaw was in the library, and wished to see the ladies.