A Chance Acquaintance



WITH the two young people whose days now lapsed away together, it could not be said that Monday varied much from Tuesday, or ten o’clock from half past three ; they were not always certain what day of the week it was, and sometimes they fancied that a thing which happened in the morning had taken place yesterday afternoon.

But whatever it was, and however uncertain in time and character their slight adventure was to themselves, Mrs. Ellison secured all possible knowledge of it from Kitty. Since it was her misfortune that promoted it, she considered herself a martyr to Kitty’s acquaintance with Mr. Arbuton, and believed that she had the best claim to any gossip that could come of it. She lounged upon her sofa, and listened with a patience superior to the maiden caprice with which her inquisition was sometimes met; for if that delayed her satisfaction it also employed her arts, and the final triumph of getting everything out of Kitty afforded her a delicate self-flattery. But commonly the young girl was ready enough to speak, for she was glad to have the light of a worldlier mind and a greater experience than her own on Mr. Arbuton’s character : if Mrs. Ellison was not the wisest head, still talking him over was at least a relief from thinking him over ; and then, at the end of the ends, when were ever two women averse to talk of a man ?

She commonly sought Fanny’s sofa when she returned from her rambles through the city, and gave a sufficiently strict account of what had happened. This was done light-heartedly and with touches of burlesque and extravagance at first; but the reports grew presently to have a more serious tone, and latterly Kitty had been so absent at times that she would fall into a puzzled silence in the midst of her narration ; or else she would meet a long procession of skilfully marshalled questions with a flippancy that no one but a martyr could have suffered. But Mrs. Ellison bore all and would have borne much more in that cause. Baffled at one point, she turned to another, and the sum of her researches was often a clearer perception of Kitty’s state of mind than the young girl herself possessed. For her, indeed, the whole affair was full of mystery and misgiving.

“ Our acquaintance has the charm of novelty every time we meet,” she said once, when pressed hard by Mrs. Ellison. “We are growing better strangers, Mr. Arbuton and I. By and by, some morning, we shall not know each other by sight. I can barely recognize him now, though I thought I knew him pretty well once. I want you to understand that I speak as an unbiassed spectator, Fanny.”

“ O Kitty ! how can you accuse me of trying to pry into your affairs ! ” cries injured Mrs. Ellison, and settles herself in a more comfortable posture for listening.

“ I don’t accuse you of anything. I ’m sure you’ve a right to know everything about me. Only, I want you really to know.”

“Yes, dear,” says the matron, with hypocritical meekness.

“Well,” resumes Kitty, “ there are things that puzzle me more and more about him, — things that I used to laugh about at first, because I did n’t actually believe that they could be, and that I felt like defying afterwards. But now I can’t bear up against them. They frighten me, and seem to deny me the right to be what I know I am.”

“ I don’t understand you, Kitty.”

“Why, you know how it is with us at home, and how Uncle Jack has brought us up. We never had a rule for anything except to do what was right, and to be careful of the rights of others.”

“ Well.”

“ Well, Mr. Arbuton seems to have lived in a world where everything is regulated by some rigid law that it would be death to break. Then, you know, at home we are always talking about people, and discussing them ; but we always talk of each person for what he is in himself, and I’ve always thought a person could refine himself if he tried, and was sincere, and not conceited. But he seems to judge people according to their origin and calling, and to believe that all refinement must come from a certain training in a certain set of circumstances. Sometimes, I feel like gasping for breath, and the whole world turns stiff and wooden. He does n’t appear to dream that anything different can be. Without knowing it he tramples upon all that I’ve been taught to believe ; and though I cling the closer to my idols, I can’t help, now and then, trying myself by his criterions ; and then I find myself wanting in every civilized trait, and my whole life coarse and poor, and all my associations hopelessly degraded. I think his ideas are hard and narrow, and I believe that even my little experience of life would prove them false ; but then, they are his, and I don’t know how to reconcile them with what I know is good in him.”

Kitty spoke with half-averted face where she sat beside one of the front windows, looking absently out on the distant line of violet hills beyond Charlesbourg, and now and then lifting her glove from her lap and letting it drop again.

“ Kitty,” said Mrs. Ellison in reply to her difficulties, “you ought n’t to sit against a light like that. It makes your profile quite black to any one back in the room.”

“ O well, Fanny, you know I ’m not black in reality.”

“Yes, but a young lady ought always to think how she is looking. Suppose some one was to come in.”

“ Dick’s the only one likely to come in just now, and he would n’t mind it. But if you like it better, I ’ll come and sit by you,” said Kitty, and took her place beside the sofa.

Her hat was in her hand, her sack on her arm ; the fatigue of a recent walk expressed itself in a soft pallor, and languor of face and attitude. Mrs. Ellison admired her pretty looks with a generous regret that they should be wasted on herself, and then asked, “ Where were you this afternoon ? ”

“ O, we went to the Hotel Dieu, for one thing, and afterwards we looked into the court-yard of the convent ; and there another of his pleasant little traits came out, —a way he has of always putting you in the wrong even when it’s a matter of no consequence any way, and there need n’t be any right or wrong about it. I remembered the place because Mrs. March, you know, showed us a rose that one of the nuns in the hospital gave her, and I tried to tell Mr. Arbuton about it, and he graciously took it as if poor Mrs. March had made an advance towards his acquaintance. I do wish you could see what a lovely place that court-yard is, Fanny. It’s so strange that such a thing should be right there, in the heart of this crowded city ; but there it was, with its peasant cottage on one side, and its long, low barns on the other, and those wide-horned Canadian cows munching at the racks of hay outside, and pigeons and chickens all about among their feet . . . .”

“ Yes, yes ; never mind all that, Kitty. You know I hate nature. Go on about Mr. Arbuton,” said Mrs. Ellison, who did not mean a sarcasm.

“ It looked like a farm-yard in a picture, far out in the country somewhere,” resumed Kitty ; “ and Mr. Arbuton did it the honor to say it was just like Normandy.”

“ Kitty! ”

“ He did, indeed, Fanny ; and the cows did n’t go down on their knees out of gratitude, either. Well, off on the right were the hospital buildings climbing up, you know, with their stone walls and steep roofs, and windows dropped about over them, like our convent here ; and there was an artist, there, sketching it all; he had such a brown, pleasant face, with a little black mustache and imperial, and such gay black eyes that nobody could help falling in love with him ; and he was talking in such a free-and-easy way with the lazy workmen and women overlooking him. He jotted down a little image of the Virgin in a niche on the wall, and one of the people called out,— Mr. Arbuton was translating, — ‘Look there! with one touch he ’s made our Blessed Lady.’ ‘ O,’ says the painter, ‘ that’s nothing ; with three touches I can make the entire Holy Family.’ And they all laughed; and the little joke, you know, won my heart, — I don't hear many jokes from Mr. Arbuton ; — and so I said what a blessed life a painter’s must be, for it would give you a right to be a vagrant, and you could wander through the world, seeing everything that was lovely and funny, and nobody could blame you ; and I wondered everybody who had the chance did n’t learn to sketch. Mr. Arbuton took it seriously, and said people had to have something more than the chance to learn before they could sketch, and that most of them were an affliction with their sketch - books, and he had seen too much of the sad effects of drawing from casts. And he put me in the wrong, as he always does. Don't you see ? I didn’t want to learn drawing ; I wanted to be a painter, and go about sketching beautiful old convents, and sit on camp-stools on pleasant afternoons, and joke with people. Of course, he could n’t see that. But I know the artist could. O Fanny, if it had only been the painter whose arm I took that first day on the boat, instead of Mr. Arbuton ! But the worst of it is, he is making a hypocrite of me, and a cowardly, unnatural girl. I wanted to go nearer and look at the painter’s sketch ; but I was ashamed to say I’d never seen a real artist’s sketch before, and I’m getting to be ashamed, or to seem ashamed, of a great many innocent things. He has a way of not seeming to think it possible that any one he associates with can differ from him. And I do differ from him. I differ from him as much as my whole past life differs from his; I know I’m just the kind of production that he disapproves of, and that I ’m altogether irregular and unauthorized and unjustifiable ; and though it’s funny to have him talking to me as if I must have the sympathy of a rich girl with his ideas, it’s provoking, too, and it’s very bad for me. Up to the present moment, Fanny, if you want to know, that’s the principal effect of Mr. Arbuton on me. I’m being gradually snubbed and scared into treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”

Mrs. Ellison did not find all this so very grievous, for she was one of those women who like a snub from the superior sex, if it does not involve a slight to their beauty or their power of pleasing. But she thought it best not to enter into the question, and merely said, “ But surely, Kitty, there are a great many things in Mr. Arbuton that you must respect.”

“ Respect ? O, yes, indeed ! But respect is n’t just the thing for one who seems to consider himself sacred. Say revere, Fanny ; say revere ! ”

Kitty had risen from her chair, but Mrs. Ellison waved her again to her seat with an imploring gesture. “ Don’t go, Kitty ; I ’m not half done with you yet. You must tell me something more. You’ve stirred me up so, now. I know you don’t always have such disagreeable times. You’ve often come home quite gay. What do you generally find to talk about ? Do tell me some particulars for once.”

“ Why, little topics come up, you know. But sometimes we don’t talk at all, because I don’t like to say what I think or feel, for fear I should be thinking or feeling something vulgar. Mr. Arbuton is rather a blight upon conversation in that way. He makes you doubtful whether there is n’t something a little common in breathing and the circulation of the blood, and whether it would n’t be true refinement to stop them.”

“ Stuff, Kitty ! He’s very cultivated, is n’t he ? Don’t you talk about books? He’s read everything, I suppose.”

“ O yes, he’s read enough.”

“ What do you mean ? ”

“ Nothing. Only sometimes it seems to me as if he had n’t read because he loved it, but because he thought it due to himself. But maybe I ’m mistaken. I could imagine a delicate poem shutting up half its sweetness from his cold, cold scrutiny, — if you’ll excuse the floweriness of the idea.”

“Why, Kitty! don’t you think he’s refined ? I’m sure, I think he’s a very refined person.”

“ He ’s a very elaborated person. But I don’t think it would make much difference to him what our opinion of him was. His own good opinion would be quite enough.”

“ Is he — is he — always agreeable ? ”

“ I thought we were discussing his mind, Fanny. I don’t know that I feel like enlarging upon his manners,” said Kitty, slyly.

“ But surely, Kitty,” said the matron, with an air of argument, “there’s some connection between his mind and his manners.”

“ Yes, I suppose so. I don’t think there’s much between his heart and his manners. They seem to have been put into him instead of having come out of him. He’s very well trained, and nine times out of ten he’s so exquisitely polite that it’s wonderful ; but the tenth time he may say something so rude that you can’t believe it.”

“Then you like him nine times out of ten.”

“ I did n’t say that. But for the tenth time, it’s certain, his training does n’t hold out, and he seems to have nothing natural to fall back upon. But you can believe that, if he knew he’d been disagreeable, he’d be sorry for it.”

“ Why, then, Kitty, how can you say that there’s no connection between his heart and manners ? This very thing proves that they come from his heart. Don’t be illogical, Kitty,” said Mrs. Ellison, and her nerves added, sotto voce, “ if you are so abominably provoking!”

“ O,” responded the young girl, with the kind of laugh that meant it was, after all, not such a laughing matter, “ I did n’t say he’d be sorry for you! Perhaps he would ; but he’d be certain to be sorry for himself. It’s with his politeness as it is with his reading ; he seems to consider it something that’s due to himself as a gentleman to treat people well ; and it is n’t at all as if he cared for them. He would n’t like to fail in such a point.”

“ But, Kitty, is n’t that to his credit ? ”

“ Maybe. I don’t say. If I knew more about the world, perhaps I should admire it. But now, you see,”—and here Kitty’s laugh grew more natural, and she gave a subtle caricature of Mr. Arbuton’s air and tone as she spoke, — “I can’t help feeling that it’s a little — vulgar.”

Mrs. Ellison could not quite make out how much Kitty really meant of what she had said. She gasped once or twice for argument; then she sat up, and beat the sofa-pillows vengefully in composing herself anew, and finally, “ Well, Kitty, I’m sure I don’t know what to make of it all,” she said with a sigh.

“ Why, we ’re not obliged to make anything of it, Fanny, there ’s that comfort,” replied Kitty; and thereupon there was a silence, while she brooded over the whole affair of her acquaintance with Mr. Arbuton, which this talk had failed to set in a more pleasant or hopeful light. It had begun like a romance ; she had pleased her fancy, if not her heart, with the poetry of it; but at last she felt exiled and strange in his presence. She had no right to a different result, even through any deep feeling in the matter ; but while she owned, with her half-sad, half-comical consciousness, that she had been tacitly claiming and expecting too much, she softly pitied herself, with a kind of impersonal compassion, as if it were some other girl whose pretty dream had been broken. Its ruin involved the loss of another ideal ; for she was aware that there had been gradually rising in her mind an image of Boston, different alike from the holy place of her childhood, the sacred city of the antislavery heroes and martyrs, and from the jesting, easy, sympathetic Boston of Mr. and Mrs. March. This new Boston with which Mr. Arbuton inspired her was a Boston of mysterious prejudices and lofty reservations ; a Boston of high and difficult tastes, that found its social ideal in the Old World, and that shrank from contact with the reality of this ; a Boston as alien as Europe to her simple experiences, and that seemed to be proud only of the things that were unlike other American things ; a Boston that would rather perish by fire and sword than be suspected of vulgarity; a critical, fastidious, and reluctant Boston, dissatisfied with the rest of the hemisphere, and gelidly self-satisfied in so far as it was not in the least the Boston of her fond preconceptions. It was, doubtless, no more the real Boston we know and love, than either of the others; and it perplexed her more than it need, even if it had not been mere phantasm. It made her suspicious of Mr. Arbuton’s behavior towards her, and observant of little things that might very well have otherwise escaped her. The bantering humor, the light-hearted trust and self-reliance with which she had once met him deserted her, and only returned fitfully when some accident called her out of herself, and made her forget the differences that she now too plainly saw in their ways of thinking and feeling. It was a greater and greater effort to place herself in sympathy with him ; she relaxed into a languid self-contempt, as if she had been playing a part, when she succeeded. “ Sometimes, Fanny,” she said, now, after a long pause, speaking in behalf of that other girl she had been thinking of, " it seems to me as if Mr. Arbuton were all gloves and slim umbrella, — the mere husk of well-dressed culture and good manners. His looks do promise everything ; but O dear me ! I should be sorry for any one that was in love with him. Just imagine some frank, happy girl meeting with such a man, and taking a fancy to him, and trying to make something out of him ! I suppose she never would believe but that he must somehow be what she thought him, and she would go down to her grave thinking that she had failed to understand him. What a curious story it would make ! ”

“ Then, why don’t you write it, Kitty ? ” asked Mrs. Ellison. “ No one could do it better.”

Kitty flushed quickly ; then she smiled : “ O, I don’t think I could do it at all. It would n’t be a very easy story to work out. Perhaps he might never do anything positively disagreeable enough to make anybody condemn him. The only way you could show his character would be to have her do and say hateful things to him, when she could n’t help it, and then repent of it, while he was impassively perfect through everything. And perhaps, after all, he might be regarded by some stupid people as the injured one. Well, Mr. Arbuton has been very polite to us, I’m sure, Fanny,” she said after another pause, as she rose from her chair, “and maybe I’m unjust to him. I beg his pardon of you, and I wish,” she added with a dull disappointment quite her own, and a pang of surprise at words that seemed to utter themselves, “ that he would go away.”

“Why, Kitty, I’m shocked,” said Mrs. Ellison, rising from her cushions.

“ Yes ; so am I, Fanny.”

“ Are you really tired of him, then ? ”

Kitty did not answer, but turned away her face a little, where she stood beside the chair in which she had been sitting.

Mrs. Ellison put out her hand towards her. “ Kitty, come here,” she said with imperious tenderness.

“ No, I won’t, Fanny,” answered the young girl, in a trembling voice. She raised the glove that she had been nervously swinging back and forth, and bit hard upon the button of it. “ I don’t know whether I’m tired of him, — though he is n’t a person to rest one a great deal, — but I’m tired of it. I’m perplexed and troubled the whole time, and I don’t see any end to it. Yes, I wish he would go away! Yes, he is tiresome. What is he staying here for? He thinks himself so much better than all of us, that I wonder he troubles himself with our company. It’s quite time for him to go. No, Fanny, no,” cried Kitty with a little broken laugh, still rejecting the outstretched hand, “ I ’ll be flat in private, if you please.” And dashing her hand across her eyes, she flitted out of the room. At the door she turned and said, “You needn’t think it’s what you think it is, Fanny.”

“ No indeed, dear ; you ’re just overwrought.”

“ For I really wish he’d go.”

But it was on this very day that Mr. Arbuton found it harder than ever to renew his resolution of quitting Quebec, and cutting short at once his acquaintance with these people. He had been pledging himself to this in some form every day, and every morrow had melted his resolution away. Whatever was his opinion of Colonel and Mrs. Ellison, it is certain that, if he considered Kitty merely in relation to the present, he could not have said how, by being different, she could have been better than she was. He perceived a charm, that would be recognized anywhere, in her manner, though it was not of his world ; her fresh pleasure in all she saw, though he did not know how to respond to it, was very winning ; he respected what he thought the good sense running through her transports ; he wondered at the culture she had somewhere, somehow got ; and he was so good as to find that her literary enthusiasms had nothing offensive, but were as pretty and naïve as a girl’s love of flowers. Moreover, he approved of some personal attributes of hers: a low, gentle voice, tender long-lashed eyes; a trick of drooping shoulders, and of idle hands fallen into the lap, one in the other’s palm ; a serene repose of face; a light and eager laugh. There was nothing so novel in those traits, and in different combination he had seen them a thousand times ; yet in her they strangely wrought upon his fancy. She had that soft, kittenish way with her which invites a caressing patronage, but, as be learned, she had also the kittenish equipment for resenting over-condescension ; and she never took him half so much as when she showed the high spirit that was in her, and defied him most.

For here and now, it was all well enough ; but he had a future to which he owed much, and a conscience that would not leave him at rest. The fascination of meeting a fair young girl so familiarly under the same roof, the sorcery of the constant sight of her, were becoming too much ; it would not do on any account; for his own sake he must put an end to it. But from hour to hour he lingered upon his unenforced resolve. The passing days, that brought him doubts in which he shuddered at the great difference between himself and her and her people, brought him also moments of blissful forgetfulness in which his misgivings were lost in the sweetness of her laugh, or the young grace of her motions. Passing, the days rebuked his delay in vain ; a week and two weeks slipped from under his feet, and still he had waited for fate to part him and his folly. But now at last he would go ; and in the evening, after his cigar on Durham Terrace, he knocked at Mrs. Ellison’s door to say that on the day after to-morrow he should push on to the White Mountains.

He found the Ellisons talking over an expedition for the next morning, in which he was also to take part. Mrs. Ellison had already borne her full share in the preparation ; for, being always at hand there in her room, and having nothing to do, she had been almost a willing victim to the colonel’s passion for information at second-hand, and had probably come to know more than any other American woman of Arnold’s expedition against Quebec in 1775. She knew why the attack was planned, and with what prodigious hazard and heroical toil and endurance it was carried out ; how the dauntless little army of riflemen cut their way through the untrodden forests of Maine and Canada, and beleaguered the gray old fortress on her rock till the red autumn faded into winter, and, on the last bitter night of the year, flung themselves against her defences, and fell back, leaving half their number captive, Montgomery dead, and Arnold wounded, but haplessly destined to survive.

“ Yes,” said the colonel, “ considering the age in which they lived, and their total lack of modern improvements, mental, moral, and physical, we must acknowledge that they did pretty well. It was n’t on a very large scale ; but I don’t see how they could have been braver, if every man had been multiplied by ten thousand. In fact, as it’s going to be all the same thing a hundred years from now, I don’t know but I’d as soon be one of the men that tried to take Quebec as one of the men that did take Atlanta. Of course, for the present, and on account of my afflicted family, Mr. Arbuton, I’m willing to be what and where I am ; but just see what those fellows did.” And the colonel drew from his glowing memory of Mrs. Ellison’s facts a brave historical picture of Arnold’s expedition. “ And now we ’re going to-morrow morning to look up the scene of the attack on the 31st of December. Kitty, sing something.”

At another time Kitty might have hesitated ; but that evening she was so at rest about Mr. Arbuton, so sure she cared nothing for his liking or disliking anything she did, that she sat down at the piano, and sang a number of songs, which I suppose were as unworthy the cultivated ear as any he had heard. But though they were given with an untrained voice and a touch as little skilled as might be, they pleased, or else the singer pleased. The simplehearted courage of the performance would alone have made it charming ; and Mr. Arbuton had no reason to ask himself how he should like it in Boston, if he were married, and should hear it from his wife there. Yet when a young man looks at a young girl or listens to her, a thousand vagaries possess his mind, — formless imaginations, lawless fancies. The question that presented itself remotely, like pain in a dream, dissolved in the ripple of the singer’s voice, and left his revery the more luxuriously untroubled for having been.

He remembered, after saying goodnight, that he had forgotten something: it was to tell them he was going away.



QUEBEC lay shining in the tender oblique light of the northern sun when they passed next morning through the Upper Town market-place and took their way towards Hope Gate, where they were to be met by the colonel a little later. It is easy for the alert tourist to lose his course in Quebec, and they, who were neither hurried nor heedful, went easily astray. But the street into which they had wandered, if it did not lead straight to Hope Gate, had many merits, and was very characteristic of the city. Most of the houses on either hand were low structures of one story, built heavily of stone or stuccoed brick, with two dormer-windows, full of house-plants, in each roof ; the doors were each painted of a livelier color than the rest of the house, and each glistened with a polished brass knob, a large brass knocker, or an intricate bell-pull of the same resplendent metal, and a plate bearing the owner’s name and his professional title, which if not avocat was sure to be notaire, so well is Quebec supplied with those ministers of the law. At the side of each house was a portecochère, and in this a smaller door. The thresholds and doorsteps were covered with the neatest and brightest oil-cloth ; the wooden sidewalk was very clean, like the steep, roughly paved street itself; and at the foot of the hill down which it sloped was a breadth of the city wall, pierced for musketry, and, past the corner of one of the houses, the half-length of cannon showing. It had the charm of those ancient streets, dear to Old-World travel, in which the past and the present, decay and repair, peace and war, have made friends in an effect that not only wins the eye, but, however illogically, touches the heart; and over the top of the wall it had a stretch of such landscape as I know not what Old-World street can command : the St. Lawrence, blue and wide; a bit of the white village of Beauport on its bank ; then a vast breadth of pale-green, upward-sloping meadows ; then the purple heights ; and the hazy heaven over them. Half-way down this happy street sat the artist whom they had seen before in the court of the Hôtel Dieu ; he was sketching something, and evoking the curious life of the neighborhood. Two school-boys in the uniform of the Seminary paused to look at him as they loitered down the pavement; a group of children encircled him ; a little girl with her hair in blue ribbons talked at a window about him to some one within ; a young lady opened her casement and gazed furtively at him ; a door was set quietly ajar, and an old grandam peeped out, shading her eyes with her hand ; a woman in deep mourning gave his sketch a glance as she passed; a calash with a fat Quebecker in it ran into a cart driven by a broadhatted peasant-woman, so eager were all to know what he was drawing; a man lingered even at the head of the street, as if it were any use to stop there.

As Kitty and Mr. Arbuton passed him, the artist glanced at her with the smile of a man who believes he knows how the case stands, and she followed his eye in its withdrawal towards the bit he was sketching : an old roof, and on top of this a balcony, shut in with green blinds; yet higher, a weatherworn, wood-colored gallery, pent-roofed and balustered, with a geranium showing through the balusters ; a dormerwindow with hook and tackle, beside an Oriental-shaped pavilion with a shining tin dome, — a picturesque confusion of forms which had been, apparently, added from time to time without design, and yet were full of harmony. The unreasonable succession of roofs had lifted the top far above the level of the surrounding houses, into the heart of the morning light, and some white doves circled about the pavilion, or nestled cooing upon the window-sill, where a young girl sat and sewed.

“Why, it’s Hilda in her tower,” said Kitty, “of course! And this is just the kind of street for such a girl to look down into. It does n’t seem like a street in real life, does it ? The people all look as if they had stepped out of stories, and might step back any moment; and these queer little houses : they 're the very places for things to happen in ! ”

Mr. Arbuton smiled forbearingly, as she thought, at this burst, but she did not care, and she turned, at the bottom of the street, and lingered a few moments for another look at the whole charming picture ; and then he praised it, and said that the artist was making a very good sketch. “ I wonder Quebec is n’t infested by artists the whole summer long,” he added. “ They go about hungrily picking up bits of the picturesque, along our shores and country roads, when they might exchange their famine for a feast by coming here.”

“ I suppose there’s a pleasure in finding out the small graces and beauties of the poverty-stricken subjects, that they would n’t have in better ones, isn't there?” asked Kitty. “At any rate, if I were to write a story, I should want to take the slightest sort of plot, and lay the scene in the dullest kind of place, and then bring out all their possibilities. I ’ll tell you a book after my own heart : 'Details,'—just the history of a week in the life of some young people who happen together in an old New-England country-house ; nothing extraordinary, little, every-day things told so exquisitely, and all fading naturally away without any particular result, only the full meaning of everything brought out.”

“ And don’t you think it’s rather a sad ending for all to fade away without any particular result ? ” asked the young man, stricken he hardly knew how or where. “ Besides, I always thought that the author of that book found too much meaning in everything. He did for men, I’m sure ; but I believe women are different, and see much more than we do in a little space.”

“ ‘ Why has not roan a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly,’

nor a woman,” mocked Kitty. “Have you read his other books ? ”

“ Yes.”

“ Are n’t they delightful ? ”

“ They ’re very well ; and I always wondered he could write them. He does n’t look it.”

“ O, have you ever seen him ?”

“ He lives in Boston, you know.”

“ yes, yes ; but — ” Kitty could not go on and say that she had not supposed authors consorted with creatures of common clay ; and Mr. Arbuton, who was the constant guest of people who would have thought most authors sufficiently honored in being received among them to meet such men as he, was very far from guessing what was in her mind.

He waited a moment for her, and then said, “ He’s a very ordinary sort of man,— not what one would exactly call a gentleman, you know, in his belongings,— and yet his books have nothing of the shop, nothing professionally literary, about them. It seems as if almost any of us might have written them.”

Kitty glanced quickly at him to see if he were jesting ; but Mr. Arbuton was not easily given to irony, and he was now very much in earnest about drawing on his light overcoat, which he had hitherto carried on his arm with that scrupulous consideration for it which was not dandyism, but part of his self-respect : apparently, as an overcoat, he cared nothing for it ; as the overcoat of a man of his condition he cared everything ; and now, though the sun was so bright on the open spaces, in these narrow streets the garment was comfortable.

At another time, Kitty would have enjoyed the care with which he smoothed it about his person, but this profanation of her dearest ideals made the moment serious. Her pulse quickened, and she said, “ I’m afraid I can’t enter into your feelings. I was n’t taught to respect the idea of a gentleman very much. I’ve often heard my uncle say that, at the best, it was a poor excuse for not being just honest and just brave and just kind, and a false pretence of being something more. I believe, if I were a man, I shouldn’t want to be a gentleman. At any rate, I’d rather be the author of those books, which any gentleman might have written, than all the gentlemen who did n’t, put together.”

In the career of her indignation she had unconsciously hurried her companion forward so swiftly that they had reached Hope Gate as she spoke, and interrupted the revery in which Colonel Ellison, loafing up against the masonry, was contemplating the sentry in his box.

“You’d better not overheat yourself so early in the day, Kitty,” said her cousin, serenely, with a glance at her flushed face ; “ this expedition is not going to be any joke.”

Now that Prescott Gate, by which so many thousands of Americans have entered Quebec since Arnold’s excursionists failed to do so, is demolished, there is nothing left so picturesque and characteristic as Hope Gate, and I doubt if anywhere in Europe there is a more mediæval-looking bit of military architecture. The heavy stone gateway is black with age, and the gate, which has probably never been closed in our century, is of massive frame set thick with mighty bolts and spikes. The wall here sweeps along the brow of the crag on which the city is built, and a steep street drops down, by stone-parapeted curves and angles, from the Upper to the Lower Town, where, in 1775, nothing but a narrow lane bordered the St. Lawrence. A considerable breadth of land has since been won from the river, and several streets and many piers now stretch between this alley and the water; but the old Sault au Matelot still crouches and creeps along under the shelter of the city wall and the overhanging rock, which is thickly bearded with weeds and grass, and trickles with abundant moisture. It must be an ice-pit in winter, and I should think it the last spot on the continent for the summer to find ; but when the summer has at last found it, the old Sault au Matelot puts on a vagabond air of Southern leisure and abandon, not to be matched anywhere out of Italy. Looking from that jutting rock near Hope Gate, behind which the defeated Americans took refuge from the fire of their enemies, the vista is almost unique for a certain scenic squalor and gypsy luxury of color : sag-roofed barns and stables, and weak-backed, sunken-chested work-shops of every sort lounge along in tumble-down succession, and lean up against the cliff in every imaginable posture of worthlessness and decrepitude ; light wooden galleries cross to them from the second stories of the houses which back upon the alley; and over these galleries flutters, from a labyrinth of clothes-lines, a gay variety of bright-colored garments of all ages, sexes, and conditions; while the footway underneath swarms with gossiping women, smoking men, idle poultry, cats, children, and great numbers of large, indolent Newfoundland dogs.

“ It was through this lane that Arnold’s party advanced almost to the foot of Mountain Street, where they were to be joined by Montgomery’s force in an attempt to surprise Prescott Gate,” said the colonel, with his unerring second-hand history.

“ ' You that will follow me to this attempt,’

'Wait till you see the whites of their eyes, and then fire low,’ and so forth. By the way, do you suppose anybody did that at Bunker Hill, Mr. Arbuton ? Come, you ’re a Boston man. My experience is that recruits chivalrously fire into the air without waiting to see the enemy at all, let alone the whites of their eyes. Why ! are n’t you coming ?" he asked, seeing no movement to follow in Kitty or Mr. Arbuton.

“It does n’t look very pleasant under foot, Dick,” suggested Kitty.

“ Well, upon my word ! Is this your uncle’s niece ? I shall never dare to report this panic at Eriecreek. It’s worse than the absence of MoundBuilders in the Valley of the Shenandoah.”

“ I can see the whole length of the alley, and there’s nothing in it but chickens and domestic animals.”

“ Very well, as Fanny says ; when Uncle Jack — he’s your uncle — asks you about every inch of the ground that Arnold’s men were demoralized over, I hope you ’ll know what to say.”

Kitty laughed and said she should try a little invention if her Uncle Jack came down to inches.

“ All right, Kitty ; you can go along St. Paul Street, there, and Mr. Arbuton and I will explore the Sault au Matelot, and come out upon you, covered with glory, at the other end.”

“I hope it’ll be glory,” said Kitty, with a glance at the lane, “ but I think it ’s more likely to be feathers and chopped straw. Good by, Mr. Arbuton.”

“ Not in the least,” answered the young man ; “ I ’m going with you,”

The colonel feigned indignant surprise, and marched briskly down the Sault au Matelot alone, while the others took their way through St. Paul Street in the same direction, amidst the bustle and business of the port, past the banks and great commercial houses, with the encounter of throngs of seafaring faces of many nations, and, at the corner of St. Peter Street, a glimpse of the national flag thrown out from the American Consulate, which intensified for untravelled Kitty her sense of remoteness from her native land. At length they turned into the street now called Sault au Matelot, into which opens the lane once bearing the name, and strolled idly along in the cool shadow, silence, and solitude of the street. She was strangely released from the constraint which he usually put upon her. A certain defiant ease filled her heart ; she felt and thought whatever she liked, for the first time in many days; while he went puzzling himself with the problem of a young lady who despised gentlemen, and yet remained charming to him.

A mighty marine smell of oakum and salt-fish was in the air, and “ O,” sighed Kitty, “doesn’t it make you long for distant seas ? Should n’t you like to be shipwrecked for half a day or so, Mr. Arbuton ? ”

“Yes, yes, certainly,” he replied absently, and wondered what she laughed at. The silence of the place was broken only by the noise of coopering which seemed to be going on in every other house ; the solitude relieved only by the Newfoundland dogs that stretched themselves upon the thresholds of the cooper-shops. The monotony of these shops and dogs took Kitty’s humor, and as they went slowly by she made a jest of them, as she used to do with things she saw.

“ But here’s a door without a dog ! ” she said, presently. “ This can't be a genuine cooper-shop, of course, without a dog. O, that accounts for it, perhaps!” she added, pausing before the threshold, and glancing up at a sign — “ Académie commerciale et littéraire ” — set under an upper window. “What a curious place for a seat of learning! What do you suppose is the connection between cooper-shops and an academical education, Mr. Arbuton ? ”

She stood looking up at the sign that moved her mirth, and swinging her shut parasol idly to and fro, while a light of laughter played over her face.

Suddenly a shadow seemed to dart betwixt her and the open doorway, Mr. Arbuton was hurled violently against her, and, as she struggled to keep her footing under the shock, she saw him bent over a furious dog, that hung from the breast of his overcoat, while he clutched its throat with both his hands.

He met the terror of her face with a quick glance. “ I beg your pardon, don’t call out, please,” he said. But from within the shop came loud cries and maledictions, “ O nom de Dieu ! c’est le boule-dogue du capitaine anglais ! ” with appalling screams for help ; and a wild, uncouth little figure of a man, bareheaded, horror-eyed, came flying out of the open door. He wore a cooper’s apron, and he bore in one hand a red-hot iron, which, with continuous clamor, he dashed against the muzzle of the hideous brute. Without a sound the dog loosed his grip, and, dropping to the ground, fled into the obscurity of the shop as silently as he had launched himself out of it, while Kitty yet stood spell-bound, and before the crowd that the appeal of Mr. Arbuton’s rescuer had summoned could see what had happened.

Mr. Arbuton lifted himself, and looked angrily round upon the gaping spectators, who began, one by one, to take in their heads from their windows and to slink back to their thresholds as if they had been guilty of something much worse than a desire to succor a human being in peril.

“ Good heavens ! ” said Mr. Arbuton, “what an abominable scene!” His face was deadly pale, as he turned from these insolent intruders to his deliverer, whom he saluted, with a “ Merci bien ! ” spoken in a cold, steady voice. Then he drew off his overcoat, which had been torn by the dog’s teeth and irreparably dishonored in the encounter. He looked at it shuddering, with a countenance of intense disgust, and made a motion as if to hurl it into the street. But his eye again fell upon the cooper’s squalid little figure, as he stood twisting his hands into his apron, and with voluble eagerness protesting that it was not his dog, but that of the English ship-captain, who had left it with him, and whom he had many a time besought to have the beast killed knowing it to be dangerous. Mr. Arbuton interrupted him in French : “ You 've done me the greatest service. I cannot repay you, but you must take this,” he said, as he thrust a bank-note into the little man’s grimy hand.

“O, but it is too much ! But it is like a monsieur so brave, so —”

“Hush! It was nothing,” interrupted Mr. Arbuton again. Then he threw his overcoat upon the man’s shoulder. “If you will do me the pleasure to receive this also ? Perhaps you can make use of it.”

“ Monsieur heaps me with benefits ; monsieur — ” began the bewildered cooper; but Mr. Arbuton turned abruptly away from him toward Kitty, who trembled at having shared the guilt of the other spectators, and seizing her hand, he placed it on his arm, where he held it close as he strode away, leaving his deliverer planted in the middle of the sidewalk and staring after him. She scarcely dared ask him if he were hurt, as she found herself doing now with a faltering voice.

“ No, I believe not,” he said with a glance at the frock-coat, which was buttoned across his chest and was quite intact.

It had all happened so suddenly, and in so brief time, that she might well have failed to understand it, even if she had seen it all. It was barely intelligible to Mr. Arbuton himself, who, as Kitty had loitered mocking and laughing before the door of the shop, chanced to see the dog crouched within, and had only time to leap forward and receive the cruel brute on his breast as it flung itself at her.

He had not thought of the danger to himself in what he had done. He knew that he was unhurt, but he did not care for that ; he cared only that she was safe ; and as he pressed her hand tight against his heart, there passed through it a thrill of inexpressible tenderness, a quick, passionate sense of possession, a rapture as of having won her and made her his own forever, by saving her from that horrible risk. The maze in which he had but now dwelt concerning her seemed an obsolete frivolity of an alien past ; all the cold doubts and hindering scruples which he had felt from the first were gone ; gone all his care for his world. His world? In that divine moment, there was no world but in the tender eyes at which he looked down with a glance which she knew not how to interpret.

She thought that his pride was deeply wounded at the ignominy of his experience, — for she was sure he would care more for that than for the danger, — and that if she spoke of it she might add to the angry pain he felt. As they hurried along she waited for him to speak, but he did not; though always, as he looked down at her with that strange look, he seemed about to speak.

Presently she stopped, and, withdrawing her hand from his arm she cried, “ Why, we ’ve forgotten my cousin ! ”

“ O — yes ! ” said Mr. Arbuton with a vacant smile.

Looking back they saw the colonel standing on the pavement near the end of the old Sault au Matelot, with his hands in his pockets, and steadfastly staring at them. He did not relax the severity of his gaze when they returned to join him, and appeared to find little consolation in Kitty’s “O Dick, I forgot all about you,” given with an hysterical laugh.

“ Well, this may be very flattering, Kitty, but it is n’t altogether comprehensible,” said he, with a keen glance at both their faces. “I don’t know what you ’ll say to Uncle Jack. It’s not forgetting me alone ; it’s forgetting the whole American expedition against Quebec.”

The colonel waited for some reply; but Kitty dared not trust herself to an explanation, and Mr. Arbuton was not the man to seem to boast of his share of the adventure by telling what had happened even if he had cared at that moment to do so. They were both silent, till Kitty burst again into inexplicable laughter. Her very ignorance of what he had dared for her only confirmed his new sense of possession and endeared her to him the more. If he could, he would not have marred the pleasure he felt by making her grateful yet, sweet as that might be in its time. Now it was sweet above all things to keep his knowledge, to have had her unwitting compassion, to hear her pour out her unwitting relief in this wild, gay laugh, while he superiorly permitted it. No recognition of his service could have had the pleasure he received as a lover and as a man from her error.

“ I don’t understand this thing,” said the colonel, through whose dense, masculine intelligence some suspicions of love-making were beginning to pierce. But he dismissed them as absurd, and added, “ However, I ’m willing to forgive, and you’ve done the forgetting ; and all that I ask now is the pleasure of your company on the spot where Montgomery fell. Fanny ’ll never believe I’ve found it unless you go with me,” he appealed, finally.

“ O, we ’ll go, by all means,” said Mr. Arbuton, unconsciously speaking, as by authority, for both.

They came into busier streets of the Port again, and then passed through the square of the Lower Town Market, with the market-house in the midst, the shops and warehouses on either side, the long row of tented booths with every kind of peasant-wares to sell, and the wide stairway dropping to the river which brought the abundance of the neighboring country to the mart. The whole place was alive with country-folk in carts and citizens on foot. In one place a gayly painted wagon was drawn up in the midst of a group of people to whom a quackish-faced Yankee was hawking, in his own personal French, an American patent-medicine, and making his audience giggle. Because Kitty was amused at this, Mr. Arbuton found it the drollest thing imaginable, but saw something yet droller when she made the colonel look at a peasant, standing in one corner beside a basket of fowls, which a woman, coming up to buy, examined as if the provision were some natural curiosity, while a crowd at once gathered round.

“ It requires a considerable population to make a bargain, up here,” remarked the colonel. “ I suppose they turn out the garrison when they sell a beef.” For both buyer and seller seemed to take advice of the bystanders, who discussed and inspected the different fowls as if nothing so novel as poultry had yet fallen in their way.

At last the peasant himself took up the fowls and carefully scrutinized them.

“ Those chickens, it seems, never happened to catch his eye before,” interpreted Kitty ; and Mr. Arbuton, who was usually very restive during such banter, smiled as if it were the most admirable fooling, or the most precious wisdom, in the world. He made them wait to see the bargain out, and could, apparently, have lingered there forever.

But the colonel had a conscience about Montgomery, and he hurried them away, on past the Queen’s Wharf, and down the Cove Road to that point where the scarped and rugged breast of the cliff bears the sign, “ Here fell Montgomery,” though he really fell, not half-way up the height, but at the foot of it, where stood the battery that forbade his juncture with Arnold at Prescott Gate.

A certain wildness yet possesses the spot : the front of the crag, topped by the high citadel-wall, is so grim, and the few tough evergreens that cling to its clefts are torn and twisted by the winter blasts, and the houses are decrepit with age, showing here and there the scars of the frequent fires that sweep the Lower Town.

It was quite useless : neither the memories of the place nor their setting were sufficient to engage the wayward thoughts of these curiously assorted pilgrims ; and the colonel, after some attempts to bring the matter home to himself and the others, was obliged to abandon Mr. Arbuton to his tender reveries of Kitty, and Kitty to her puzzling over the change in Mr. Arbuton. His complaisance made her uncomfortable and shy of him, it was so strange ; it gave her a little shiver, as if he were behaving undignifiedly.

“Well, Kitty,” said the colonel, “ I reckon Uncle Jack would have made more out of this than we’ve done. He’d have had their geology out of these rocks, any way.”



KITTY went as usual to Mrs. Ellison’s room after her walk, but she lapsed into a deep abstraction as she sat down beside the sofa.

“ What are you smiling at ? ” asked Mrs. Ellison, after briefly supporting her absent-mindedness.

“ Was I smiling ?” asked Kitty, beginning to laugh. “ I did n’t know it.”

“ What has happened so very funny ? ”

“ Why, I don’t know whether it’s so very funny or not. I believe it isn’t funny at all.”

“Then what makes you laugh ? ”

“ I don’t know. Was I —”

“ Now don't ask me if you were laughing, Kitty. It’s a little too much. You can talk or not, as you choose ; but I don’t like to be turned into ridicule.”

“ O Fanny, how can you ? I was thinking about something very different. But I don’t see how I can tell you, without putting Mr. Arbuton in a ludicrous light, and it is n’t quite fair.”

“ You ’re very careful of him, all of a sudden,” said Mrs. Ellison. “You did n’t seem disposed to spare him yesterday so much. I don’t understand this conversion.”

Kitty responded with a fit of outrageous laughter. “ Now I see I must tell you,” she said, and rapidly recounted Mr. Arbuton’s adventure.

“ Why, I never knew anything so cool and brave, Fanny, and I admired him more than ever I did ; but then I could n’t help seeing the other side of it, you know.”

“ What other side ? I don't know.”

“Well, you’d have had to laugh yourself, if you’d seen the lordly way he dismissed the poor people who had come running out of their houses to help him, and his stateliness in rewarding that little cooper, and his heroic parting from his cherished overcoat, — which of course he can’t replace in Quebec,— and his absent-minded politeness in taking my hand under his arm, and marching off with me so magnificently.”

“ Kitty, I do believe the witch is in you to-day.”

“ But the worst thing, Fanny,” — and she bowed herself under a tempest of long-pent mirth, as the grotesque idea grew upon her, — “ the worst thing was, that the iron, you know, was the cooper’s branding-iron, and I had a vision of the dog carrying about on his nose, as long as he lived, the monogram that marks the cooper’s casks as holding a certain number of gallons — ”

“ Kitty, don’t be — sacrilegious ! ” cried Mrs. Ellison.

“ No, I’m not,” she retorted, gasping and panting. “ I never respected Mr. Arbuton so much, and you say yourself I haven’t shown myself so careful of him before. But I never was so glad to see Dick in my life, and to have some excuse for laughing. I did n’t dare to speak to Mr. Arbuton about it, for he could n’t, if he had tried, have let me laugh it out and be done with it. I trudged demurely along by his side, and neither of us mentioned the matter to Dick,” she concluded breathlessly. Then, “ I don’t know why I should tell you now ; it seems wicked and cruel,” she said penitently, almost pensively.

Mrs. Ellison had not been amused. She said, “ Well, Kitty, in some girls I should say it was quite heartless to do as you’ve done.”

“ It’s heartless in me, Fanny ; and you need n’t say such a thing. I 'm sure I did n’t utter a syllable to wound him, and just before that he ’d been very disagreeable, and I forgave him because I thought he was mortified. And you need n’t say that I ’ve no feeling”; and thereupon she rose, and, putting her hands into her cousin’s, “ Fanny,” she cried, vehemently, “ I have been heartless. I ’m afraid I have n’t shown any sympathy or consideration. I ’m afraid I must have seemed dreadfully callous and hard. What can I do ? ”

“ Don’t go crazy, at any rate, Kitty. He does n’t know that you’ve been laughing about him. You need n’t do anything.”

“ O yes, I need. He does n’t know that I’ve been laughing about him to you ; but, don’t you see, I laughed when we met Dick ; and what can he think of that?”

“ He just thinks you were nervous, I suppose.”

“ O, do you suppose he does, Fanny? O, I wish I could believe that ! O, I’m so horribly ashamed of myself! And here yesterday I was criticising him for being unfeeling, and now I’ve been a thousand times ruder than he has ever been, or ever could be ! O dear, dear, dear ! ”

“ Kitty ! hush ! ” exclaimed Mrs. Ellison ; “ you run on like a wild thing, and you ’re driving me distracted, by not being like yourself.”

“ O, it’s very well for you to be so calm ; but if you did n’t know what to do, you would n’t.”

“ Yes, I would ; I don’t, and I am.”

“ But what shall I do ? ” and Kitty plucked away the hands which Fanny had been holding and wrung them. “ I ’ll tell you what I can do,” she suddenly added, while a gleam of relief dawned upon her face : “ I can bear all his disagreeable ways after this, as long as he stays, and not say anything back. Yes, I ’ll put up with everything. I ’ll be as meek ! He may patronize me and snub me and put me in the wrong as much as he pleases. He may trample on everything I hold dear. And then he won’t be approaching my behavior. O Fanny ! ”

Upon this, Mrs. Ellison said that she was going to give her a good scolding for her nonsense, and pulled her down and kissed her, and said that she had not done anything, and was, nevertheless, consoled at her resolve to expiate her offence by respecting thenceforward all Mr. Arbuton’s foibles and prejudices.

It is not certain how far Kitty would have succeeded in her good purposes : these things, so easily conceived, are not of such facile execution ; and, fortunately for her, Mr. Arbuton’s foibles and prejudices seemed to have fallen into a strange abeyance. The change that had come upon him that day remained ; He was still Mr. Arbuton, but with a difference. He could not undo his whole inherited and educated being, and perhaps no chance could deeply affect it without destroying the man. He continued hopelessly superior to Colonel and Mrs. Ellison ; but it is not easy to love a woman and not seek, at least before marriage, to please those dear to her. Mr. Arbuton had contested his passion at every advance ; he had firmly set his face against the fancy that, at the beginning, invested this girl with a charm ; he had only done the things afterwards that mere civilization required ; he had suffered torments of doubt concerning her fitness for himself and his place in society ; he was not sure yet that her unknown relations were not horribly vulgar people ; even yet, he was almost wholly ignorant of the circumstances and conditions of her life. But, nevertheless, he loved her, — hopelessly, irremediably loved her; he saw her forever in the enrapturing light of his daring for her sake, of a self-devotion that had seemed to make her his own ; and he behaved toward her now with a lover’s self-forgetfulness, — or something like it : say a perfect tolerance, a tender patience, in which it would have been hard to detect the lurking shadow of condescension.

He was fairly domesticated with the family. Mrs. Ellison’s hurt, in spite of her many imprudences, was decidedly better, and sometimes she made a ceremony of being helped down from her room to dinner ; but she always had tea beside her sofa, and he with the others drank it there. Few hours of the day passed in which they did not meet in that easy relation which establishes itself among people sojourning in summer idleness under the same roof. In the morning he saw the young girl fresh and glad as any flower of the garden beneath her window, while the sweet abstraction of her maiden dreams yet hovered in her eyes. At night he sat with her beside the lamp whose light, illuming a little world within, shut out the great world outside, and seemed to be the soft effulgence of her presence, as she sewed, or knit or read, — a heavenly spirit of home. Sometimes he heard her talking with her cousin, or lightly laughing, after he had said good night; once, when he woke, she seemed to be looking out of her window across the moonlight in the Ursulines' Garden while she sang a fragment of song. To meet her on the stairs or in the narrow entries ; or to encounter her at the doors, and make way for her to pass with a jest and blush and flutter ; to sit down at table with her three times a day, — was a potent witchery. There was a rapture in her shawl flung over the back of her chair ; her gloves, lying light as fallen leaves on the table, and keeping the shape of her hands, were full of winning character ; and all the more unaccountably they touched his heart because they had a certain careless, sweet shabbiness about the finger-tips.

He found himself hanging upon her desultory talk with Fanny about the set of things and the agreement of colors. There was always more or less of this talk going on, whatever the main topic was, for continual question arose in the minds of one or other lady concerning those adaptations of Mrs. Ellison’s finery to the exigencies of Kitty’s daily life. They pleased their innocent hearts with the secrecy of the affair, which, in the concealments it required, the sudden difficulties it presented, and the guiltless equivocations it inspired, had the excitement of intrigue. Nothing could have been more to the mind of Mrs. Ellison than to deck Kitty for this perpetual masquerade ; and, since the things were very pretty, and Kitty was a girl in every motion of her being, I do not see how anything could have delighted her more than to wear them. Their talk effervesced with the delicious consciousness that he could not dream of what was going on, and bubbled over with mysterious jests and laughter, which sometimes he feared to be at his expense, and so joined in, and made them laugh the more at his misconception. He went and came among them at will ; he had but to tap at Mrs. Ellison’s door, and some voice of unaffected cordiality, — the invalid’s, or the colonel’s, or Kitty’s, — welcomed him in ; he had but to ask, and she was frankly ready for any of those strolls about Quebec in which most of their waking hours were dreamed away.

The gray Lady of the North cast her spell about them, — the freshness of her mornings, the still heat of her middays, the slant, pensive radiance of her afternoons, and the pale splendor of her auroral nights. Never was city so faithfully explored ; never did city so abound in objects of interest; for Kitty’s love of the place was boundless, and his love of her was inevitable friendship with this adoptive patriotism.

“ I did n’t suppose you Western people cared for these things,” he once said ; “ I thought your minds were set on things new and square.”

“ But how could you think so ? ” replied Kitty, tolerantly. “It’s because we have so many new and square things that we like the old, crooked ones. I do believe I should enjoy Europe even better than you. There’s a forsaken farmhouse near Eriecreek, dropping to pieces amongst its wildgrown sweetbriers and quince-bushes, that I used to think a wonder of antiquity because it was built in 1815. Can’t you imagine how I must feel in a city like this, that was founded nearly three centuries ago, and has suffered so many sieges and captures, and looks like pictures of those beautiful old towns I can never see ? ”

“ O, perhaps you will see them some day! ” he said, touched by her fervor.

“ I don’t ask it at present: Quebec’s enough. I'm in love with the place. I wish I never had to leave it. There is n’t a crook, or a turn, or a tin-roof, or a dormer-window, or a gray stone in it that is n’t precious.”

Mr. Arbuton laughed. “ Well, you shall be sovereign lady of Quebec for me. Shall we have the English garrison turned out ? ”

“ No ; not unless you can bring back Montcalm’s men to take their places.”

All this might be as they sauntered out of one of the city gates, and strayed through the Lower Town till they should chance upon some poor, bareinteriored church, with a few humble worshippers adoring their Saint, with his lamps alight before his picture ; or as they passed some high conventwall, and caught the strange, metallic clang of the nuns’ voices singing their hymns within. Sometimes they whiled away the hours on the Esplanade, breathing its pensive sentiment of neglect and incipient decay, and pacing up and down over the turf athwart the slim shadows of the poplars ; or, with comfortable indifference to the local observances, sat in talk on the carriage of one of the burly, uncaredfor guns, while the spider wove his web across the mortar’s mouth, and the grass nodded above the tumbled pyramids of shot, and the children raced up and down, and the nursery-maids were wooed of the dapper sergeants, and the red-coated sentry loitered lazily to and fro before his box. On the days of the music, they listened to the band in the Governor’s Garden, and watched the fine world of the old capital in flirtation with the blond-whiskered officers ; and on pleasant nights they mingled with the citizen throng that filled the Durham Terrace, while the river shaped itself in the lights of its shipping, and the Lower Town, with its lamps, lay, like a nether firmament, two hundred feet below them, and Point Levis glittered and sparkled on the thither shore, and in the northern sky the aurora throbbed in swift pulsations of violet and crimson. They liked to climb the Break-Neck Steps at Prescott Gate, dropping from the Upper to the Lower Town, which reminded Mr. Arbuton of Naples and Trieste, and took Kitty with the unassociated picturesqueness of their odd shops and taverns, and their lofty windows green with house-plants.

They would stop and look up at the geraniums and fuchsias, and fall a thinking of far different things, and the friendly, unbusy people would come to their doors and look up with them. They recognized the handsome, blond young man, and the pretty, gray-eyed girl; for people in Quebec have time to note strangers who linger there, and Kitty and Mr. Arbuton had come to be well-known figures, different from the fleeting tourists on their rounds ; and, indeed, as sojourners they themselves perceived their poetic distinction from mere birds of passage.

Indoors they resorted much to the little entry-window looking out on the Ursulines’ Garden. Two chairs stood confronted there, and it was hard for either of the young people to pass them without sinking a moment into one of them, and this appeared always to charm another presence into the opposite chair. There they often lingered in the soft forenoons, talking in desultory phrase of things far and near, or watching, in long silences, the nuns pacing up and down in the garden below, and waiting for the pensive, slender nun, and the stout, jolly nun whom Kitty had adopted, and whom she had gayly interpreted to him as an allegory of Life in their quaint inseparableness ; and they played that the influence of one or other nun was in the ascendant, according as their own talk was gay or sad. In their relation, people are not so different from children ; they like the same thing over and over again ; they like it the better the less it is in itself.

At times Kitty would come with a book in her hand (one finger shut in to keep the place), —some latest novel, or a pirated edition of Longfellow, recreantly purchased at a Quebec bookstore ; and then Mr. Arbuton must ask to see it; and he read romance or poetry to her by the hour. He showed to as much advantage as most men do in the serious follies of wooing; and an influence which he could not defy, or would not, shaped him to all the sweet, absurd demands of the affair. From time to time, recollecting himself, and trying to look consequences in the face, he gently turned the talk upon Eriecreek, and endeavored to possess himself of some intelligible image of the place, and of Kitty’s home and friends. Even then, the present was so fair and full of content, that his thoughts, when they reverted to the future, no longer met the obstacles that had made him recoil from it before. Whatever her past had been, he could find some way to weaken the ties that bound her to it ; a year or two of Europe would leave no trace of Eriecreek ; without effort of his, her life would adapt itself to his own, and cease to be part of the lives of those people there ; again and again his amiable imaginations — they were scarcely intents — accomplished themselves in many a swift, fugitive revery, while the days went by, and the shadow of the ivy in the window at which they sat fell, in moonlight and sunlight, upon Kitty’s cheeks, and the fuchsia kissed her hair with its purple and crimson blossom.

W. D. Howells.