THE light-house stands full seven miles from land. On every side the waters of Lake Borgne he glistening in the sunlight; smooth, except for the surface ripple, in ordinary weather, but not incapable of foam-crested waves when the fall tides roll in from the Gulf, driven far up the curving sides by fierce September gales; for, in reality, it has no genuine title to the name of lake, being nothing more than a sheltered bay opening directly into the Gulf itself, and susceptible to all those influences which, upon the larger body of water, write their record year after year in the wreck of vessels and the total destruction of such small towns as are built in exposed situations along the low and unprotected coast farther south.
Secured, however, from these grave disasters, both by the configuration of the land and by the intervention of a number of small islands scattered near, the lake by its tranquil aspect seems always to have wooed, with moderate success, those lovers of ease and retirement to whom it has been accessible; for the watering-places along its shores are as old as the cities which supply them with visitors, and that season is yet to come which shall behold any one of them wholly deserted, either for the delights of foreign travel or the attractions of more fashionable resorts.
Until a few years ago the unpretending cottages fronting the lake were the property of two classes, differing widely in speech and habits, yet, presumably, of identical origin: the native Louisianian, descendant of the early French settler, who called himself a “Creole; ” and the Acadian, more universally known, through a corruption of his name, as the “ Cajen.” The Creole occupied his cottage on the lake shore only during the warm summer months; the Cajen dwelt in his throughout the year. The Creole claimed to speak the French of his progenitors, the language of la belleFrance; the severity of his discrimination between his own dialect and the French of the Cajen amounted almost to a sense of insult. To this day he admits no kinship with the descendant of Basil the blacksmith, knows no name for him but that of “ the lazy Cajen.” Wherever the latter is met with, be it in the quiet seclusion of Prairie du Lait or the Attakapas region, on the borders of the bayous or the shores of the lakes, he bears the same character, is recognized by the same attribute, stigmatized by the same epithet. Truth compels me to testify — though I mention him but casually — alike to its descriptive fitness and to its moral fidelity. Happily for his reputation outside the narrowed limits of his present home, both history and poetry have chronicled his defense in the record of that rude transplanting which placed him here, to vegetate where he happened to drop down, but never again to attach himself to any spot by stronger ties than those of mere proprietorship.
The Creole and the Cajen still possess most of the land, but the old days of monopoly are over. With that first wave of American immigration which swept over Louisiana after its purchase, both possessors were quick to perceive how to render this proprietorship eminently profitable. A second cottage sprang up, for rent, close beside the original dwelling; and I fear that the Creole, as well as the Cajen, relaxed his hold upon other industries to tighten his grasp upon this new and easy source of income. Presently the cottages were multiplied; little villages grew up at the steamboat landings; small tradesmen were content to establish themselves there permanently, for the sake of summer profits, and these were neither Creole nor Cajen; so that now there is scarcely a nation of the globe not represented at some point along that coast, scarcely a dialect spoken among civilized people whose accents would not fit some lip in that community. More recently, it has been found profitable to open hotels at various points; and when these are filled with guests, and the rented cottages have thrown open their hospitable doors and are crowded with those who come for pleasure or for rest, there is no lack of noisy excitement, no want of genuine gayety.
But the life which is not native to the spot departs as soon as the bathing season is over, and then the old torpor returns and rests upon all who remain. The hotels are closed; a silence, broken only by the sound of lapsing waves, falls upon the beach, so lately gay with the laughter of children and the shouts of the bathers. The tide grows fuller, for a while, under autumnal influences, after which high-water mark recedes each day, leaving long reaches of sandbar and shoal water, so that boats cease to land at their accustomed wharves, and passing schooners keep farther off from shore.
No such extremes of variety are brought by the changing seasons to the light-house seven miles away. Shall we wonder that the years glide on uncounted?
Viewed from the light-house windows in search of a limit to the smooth expanse, the swift circuit is almost completed before the eye rests on a line of dazzling white, lying to westward,— whiter than any cloud, whiter than any sail,—which marks the sandy beach full seven miles away. Above the beach, forever changing from dark to light, from bluish-black to hazy gray, stretches the heavy gloom of a belt of woodland. There is no more to be seen, though one should look forever, without the spy-glass; but that assists the picture.
A village is indicated by a cluster of dwellings and the slender church spire, partly seen between the short-stemmed, thick - foliaged oaks ; while scattered along the shore, at wider intervals, the pretty rural residences of wealthy merchants reveal themselves, with flower gardens, and fanciful summer-houses, and painted pleasure boats fluttering about the landing-places. If it be the season when these are tenanted, there will be swift-moving vehicles and ladies, mounted on fleet-footed horses, with flowing riding-habits and long, floating veils, glancing among the trees every afternoon; but if it be winter, neither carriages nor riders, but only the beach and the woodland, the vacant cottages and, in the distance, the village.
At times, the slanting rain comes down between, for days and days together ; and then there is no world outside the light-house walls; no sound, except the noise of water striking on the iron - framed cupola overhead and against the piles under foot, on which the building rests.
The light-house was intended for a dwelling, and is tolerably comfortable and convenient; but life is monotonous within its walls, when a man has to live there year in and year out. David Scarborough found it so, else he never would have married.
Light-house keeper for fourteen years, he has passed half that time without a companion. Once a week he lowered a skiff which hung suspended above the water, at the pier-head, and crossed to the village, for provisions ; but his interest in the gossip of the place greatly flagged on account of the absence of continuity. It was like trying to enjoy a serial of merit when one has access only to the odd numbers of a neighbor’s magazine. Now and then he hailed a passing oyster boat, and held a parley with its owner, or questioned the crew of a lumber-laden schooner about what was going on in the great world, as she slowly glided under his seat on the pier, close enough for him to reach out his hand for the week-old newspapers which came from the far-off city.
These papers were David’s wine of life, fresher to him, in their crumpled antiquity, than is the latest issue to most people, just from the newsboy’s hands; nor is it in the power of that new delight to impart any deeper sense of satisfaction than that which David derived from the contents of his twine-tied roll. There was some little effort required to master the printed page; but that only afforded time for him to bring his imagination to bear, well and squarely, upon each paragraph in turn. The full account of a murder was meagre compared with what his fancy made of it. The great conflagration with loss of life, the skillfully effected bank robbery with no clew to the perpetrators, the execution of some notorious criminal whose dying confession, less elegant than Cranmer’s recantation, was not, perhaps, less moving, — all passed in review, with the vividness of actual vision, and were pondered for hours together as David sat at work making cast-nets for the fishermen in the village.
These sheets were never exhausted, any more than are the volumes in a library of law, or medicine, or theology. They were kept for reference, folded smooth in their original creases, and piled together, under an iron weight, in one corner of David’s bed-room. Whenever he replaced that weight, he recalled the fact that he could not swim, without remembering the probable futility of that exertion should one of these frail records chance to be whisked out of the window, beyond his reach.
There was food for meditative selfgratulation, even while the horrors were being developed, upon his own immunity from such dangers as beset, people less securely located than in a light-house, with water on every side, and seven miles from land.
Not that his life was wholly free from some flavoring element of conscious peril, either. There was something treacherous, David conceived, about that smooth surface, forever glittering in the sunlight; now receding, now advancing; crawling upward, stealthily, on the green and slimy piles beneath his home, until the ugly crust of barnacles, extending half their height, was quite concealed. It was always threatening mischief which it dared not quite achieve, he fancied. “If the wind should ever take a notion to help it in downright vicious earnest,”he used sometimes to mutter to himself, “ small ’ud be my chance, with nothin’ but it atween me and my neighbors.”
He half suspected that it owed him a grudge for lighting up the beacon overhead every evening “ so regular,” and “ cheating it out o’ some of its tricks.”
“ Here ’s the channel, cap’n,” he used to exclaim, as the broad glare fell upon the water, addressing, in soliloquy, any commander whom destiny might at that moment be directing towards his dwelling. “ Here ’s the deep water, close to the right. If you should chance to go down here, you may as well telegraph your friends to look for your body on the other side o’ the world; fur it’s my belief there ’s no bottom to this part. That ’s why they built the light-us here. ‘ To mark the channel,’says they. That’s why I’m kep’ here to light it. That’s the side fur porpusses and shirks, though they don’t allus keep to it. Many ’s the time I seen them porpusses, atween this and shore, a-puffin’ and blowin’; and when you see a porpus, the shirk ain’t fur away. As fur swimmin’, I would n’t trust myself in that ’ere water, — no, not fur money ! ”
But, despite his literary inclination, it was not to be denied that life at the light-house was monotonous. It became more so than ever, after some years of seclusion. Still, it was not without a patient scrutiny of all possible contingencies that he finally decided to introduce a permanent resident within these walls, in the person of a wife. He remembered that his quarters were very narrow; in case they could n’t agree there would be no escaping from each other’s presence. He was conscious that it would go against him to be crossed! He had it all his own way now. Everything stayed where he put it; he could n’t be sure that it would be so if there was a woman about. The perfect stillness, no sound but the faint stroke of wavelets against the piles, became a prized possession not lightly to be resigned when he recalled the clatter of the village fish-wives, — “enough to drive a man to jump overboard, though he could n’t swim, and to make him forfeit the chance of being buried on dry land respectable-like,” if he had to be “ shut up in a light-us with it, and no distance to put atween but only the length o’ the pier.”
There was no question that the lighthouse was as cosy and comfortable as could be: two rooms below, fitted up with every convenience; overhead, the beacon; beneath, the broad, flat pier running out to the channel; as much room, in the opinion of its occupant, “ as any man ought to wish for; but women were apt to be onreasonable. Ten to one, a wife would clamor for double the space she could occupy.”
By such meditations was David Scarborough deterred from carrying out his decision, even after it was fully formed; and another year or so wore on while he cautiously sought his Griselda. He found her in the midst of the noisy fish-wives. She had grown up among those whose garrulity had imposed upon her the silence of a perpetual listener, and whose constant quarrels had disposed her to be as little disputatious as David could desire. Round-faced and large-armed, placid and rosy, she disturbed nothing in his domicile, but made it twice as bright and cheery as before.
A smile and a nod were as agreeable an answer as a man could wish in response to propositions which required no demonstration; and Mrs. Scarborough threw into these a fullness of assent which words very rarely convey.
Meantime, her husband had never heard of Griselda: hence he called his wife what her parents had always called her, “Meena.” Perhaps it was just as well for her that he was, as a consequence, also ignorant of the tests to which that patient lady is said to have been subjected, so prolonged was the period of his skepticism concerning his escape from the evils he had previously dreaded.
Yet, he need not have doubted the success of his search. It is not rare for a man to obtain a desired object, in all the plenitude of perfect completeness, and to miss nothing but the satisfaction which was to have accompanied its possession. There is a want of fitness between perfect gifts and imperfect natures which removes improbability from the chance of such attainment.
David Scarborough could not “abide crossin’,” and there was no crossing to be borne. The result was that while Meena went through every step of the refining process of self-abnegation, and came out no less pure than shining from the final ordeal, her husband remained as at the beginning, with all his better nature locked up in the yet unroasted ore.
He had his way in all things, even in the naming of their little girl. “Call her Kathern,” he said. “ Kathern ’s a good Christian name, and it ’s easy to speak. Call her Kathern.”
So one fair spring morning the skiff was lowered, and Mr. and Mrs. Scarborough, dressed in their best clothes, descended the light-house steps with the infant and took their places in it, in order to make the journey which was to confirm this decision by giving the little girl a right to her name.
It was too early in the season for the summer residences down the beach to have received their inmates, and so it was not awkward to enter the church a little before the hour for morning service, and to wait within it for the clergyman. Indeed, they found themselves quite alone, even when the moment came for them to walk up the centre aisle to the font.
Neither had ever been so near the east window but once before, and that was when they came there, that other time, to be married. There was less embarrassment on this occasion. They had time to examine it narrowly, and they were struck with its splendor. There was a prominent group on one of its divisions. corresponding to the group at the font; it did not escape their notice. The rite seemed to receive an added solemnity from the fact that the priest had put on his white gown just for them. They were correct in thinking that their lives would hold no other day like the one “when Kathern was christened.” When the priest took her from them, and stood holding her in his own arms, they seemed to have given her up to God to do with as he pleased; and the fullness of a great content accompanied the thought. It took but a little while to give her the name of Katherine, to sign her with the sign of the cross, to breathe a prayer and a benediction; and then they carried her back to the boat, and home to the light-house again.
Six years were gone, yet Kathern had made no other trip to the land. It had happened so, that was all. Repeated promises were yet to be fulfilled. Six years old, and to have looked out all her life only on what I have described! “ Why, I can take you any time,” her father would say. But any time is always no time. Her mother had not revisited the village since that memorable Sunday; it was never quite convenient, and nothing had occurred of sufficient importance to call her there despite obstacles; still less would she have thought it of moment enough to ask David to leave his netting and to take the trouble of lowering the boat and carrying her over, merely for her own pleasure.
But little Kathern saw her father push off from the pier each week with wistful eyes and an ever-increasing desire to accompany him. “Not this time,” he would say, as he descended into the boat, “but some day soon.” Then Kathern would get her mother to adjust the glass, and she tired not of watching till he reached the shore; the less inclined to grow weary, because all the while she asked such questions as drew forth the oft-repeated description of what she had never seen, except in fancy.
“ It’s none so grand there,” Meena would sometimes say, “except in the church where the picture-window is, and may be in the gentlemen’s houses, where you’d have no call to go.”
“ May be not to you, mother, you have seen it so often; but I would like to walk, just once, on that shining white beach; the pier is so black and ugly after seeing that,” the child would reply.
“It’s none so nice when you’re on it; sand over your shoe-tops. You’d soon tire o’ walking in it; the pier is better to walk on.”
“ But I 'm tired o’ the pier, mother.”
“ Nay, then, that’s naughty, Kathern, to tire o’ your home.”
“ I’m none tired that way, mother; but I’m tired o’ this because I’m waiting to see that. When I ’ve been once, just once, only to see what it’s like, I ’ll be rare glad to get back here, to look on’t again from the pier.”
“ Well, some day father will take us both over; we ’ll let it be a Sunday, and then we ’ll see more than the beach. We ’ll go to church, and you ’ll never forget it, Kathern: the singin’, and the prayin’, and the priest comin’ and goin’, in and out o’ the painted light that falls from the picture-window; you ’d think his gown ’ud be stained with it, till you see him move away. There’s no pictures in books like to that, Kathern, that can change all that comes anear them. Then it’s so still and solemn-like, too; there ’s a bit o’ heaven’s holiness on everything inside. You feel it on yourself the minit you pass the door. And you ’ll not be likely to forget what I ha’ told you so often: how once the priest took you out o’ your father’s arms and held you in his own, and spoke the beautiful words over you that I ha’ told you the sense o’ many a time, and ha’ thought on, myself, ever since.”
“ Would be know me now, mother, do you think ? Would he be like to speak to me? ”
“ No doubt, after service, if we stayed a bit by the church, and saw him comin’ out. He writ your name down that day in his book; so he cannot ha’ forgot.”
“ I wish I could ha’ known it then, and seen and understood. Seems as I shall never go again.”
“Oh, yes, you will. Father ’ll take you some o’ these days. But don’t you be impatient and tire o’ your home. Father has lived here twice as long as we, and weeks is like days to him; seems he don’t think how time ’s passin'. But he ’ll take you there some day.”
So Kathern waited, and played at her few solitary amusements, and learned to net, to sew, and to read a little. Only a little,however. It did not “come easy” to David to teach her. “ She was apt enough at her letters,” he said, “ but it took guessin’ as well as spellin’ to git the sense out o’ newspapers, — about as much o’ one as t’other; and she was n’t up to that, yet.” He could “make it out ” well enough himself, but there was a superfluity of letters even in familiar words which was quite perplexing to him as a teacher. They were not greatly in his way when he read, for he “ did n’t notice them much,” but they were constantly obtruding themselves when he tried to make Kathern understand.
“When you ’re sharper at guessin’, you ’ll read it well enough. Till then you 'd better let it be,” was usually the closing remark at each lesson. Then Kathern would “ give over ” for that time, and listen while her father read.
As years rolled on, David Scarborough became less and less able to bear “ crossin',” from want of practice. He had not lived seven years with Kathern’s mother without discovering that she had her preferences like other people, though she kept them in the background. Sometimes he thought, as he sat in the old place at the end of the pier, at work upon his nets, that he would rather she had pressed them occasionally than that he should have to reproach himself with never having done anything to gratify them. In the beginning of their married life it had been necessary to establish his position as head of the house; but he had never meant that she should give up always. Yet this had grown to be the habit between them, and he did not escape some pangs when he reflected upon it. More than once she had been obliged to alter such arrangements as she had ventured to make without consulting him, and undo a morning’s work because he was not pleased with it. “ No? And you don’t like it so? Well, we’ll change it in the morning,” she would say quietly; and, though he sometimes bade her let it stay, yet he was ever restless until the alteration was made.
So the battle he had once dreaded came to be fought within himself; for something always strove, on her side, against his desire to have his own way, and the conflict raged at the end of the pier, where he used once to think he would have to go to escape it. With every battle he felt himself less and less able to bear crossing; for that something that never failed to rise up for her was always beaten fiercely back. “ No, no; the place ’ud be too small for two to rule. ’T would n’t be so on land, but I can’t abide to give up here. Besides, I have got a good wife; what’s the use o’ spoilin’ her? ” And so it came about that he sometimes denied her her will consciously, when there was little occasion for their differing at all.
Again, the days would come back when he lived there alone: the seven years of solitude, when there was less comfort about the light-house than now, when it held nothing for him to look forward to on his return from the village; when he had not cared, very much, where he lived, nor how. And now, — why, it was another place; that was about the way to put it. And what made it another place? Nothing was altered of what he had been used to before; only, something had been added. But Meena had brought little beside herself when she came over in the boat that first morning; yet, from that day there was more of home in the house than there ever had been before; more in his life and vastly more in his little world than he had ever dreamed of. Yes, it was those two, Meena and Kathern, who had made the light-house another place,
And what had it been to them? What had he made it to Meena? He remembered her life in the village, full of the excitement of seeing strangers come and go, the wide variety of every summer day in the neighborhood of a fashionable watering-place. He remembered other suitors besides himself, and he wondered if Meena remembered, too. “If she would ask me what she wants, I’d never refuse her,” he would say to himself. “ Ay, but she’ll never ask, if she thinks you don’t like it,” the opponent from within would reply.
One day Meena was ill. She struggled to rise from bed, but had to sit down, between times, all through her work.
It was but a passing sickness, but it upset all the victories of the past, and beat David’s will down entirely.
That night he said, “I’m afraid, Meena, I’ve been a poor sort o’ husband to you. I ’ve thought always o’ my own pleasure, and never o’ your’n. And yet, I’ve known I had a good wife. I ’ve known that an angel would n’t ha’ suited me as you ’ve suited me; but you 've never had nothing your own way since I married you.”
“ I ’ve not wanted my own way, David. What for should I be wantin’ that? I ’ve had everything else, and you ’ve given it me. I would n’t hear any one else say you had n’t been a good husband.”
“I don’t care if you ’ve not wanted your own way. I mean that you shall have it now. So you must ask me tonight for somethin’. I’m goin’ to the village to-morrow, and I ’ll bring you anything you ask for.”
“Do you mean, David, that you ’ve a mind that I shall ask you something out o’ the common, just to pleasure myself?”
“ I ’ve just that mind,” answered David.
“ Then I will ask; but, remember, I have not been thinking of it and wishin’ for ’t; but I ask because you bid me, and because ’t will please Kathern; and ’t is no great thing, after all, but only that you will take us to the village some Sunday, to go once to church. Kathern has never been, you know, and she ’s fairly wild to go.”
“Why, that ’s nothing to ask. You can go any time.”
“ Nay, but tell us the day, and make us a promise; that will make it something.”
“ Well, say Sunday comin’. And to-morrow I’ll bring you something to wear.”
“ Then let it be a bonnet for me and a hat for Kathern; for folks might laugh, even in the holy place, if I wore the one I used to wear before I came here.”
So David brought “ a smart hat ” for Kathern, with gay ribbons and a flower on it, and her face grew radiant with delight; for Meena, also, a neat bonnet, that she felt she would be proud to wear. Then followed other preparations; and Kathern exclaimed, as she passed the window, in a state bordering on ecstasy, “ O shining shore, I shall see you close, at last! O beautiful ladies, and shady trees, and little white houses, and holy church, I shall know what you look like, now! ”
So the days passed. They seemed long until Saturday; but then there came in from the Gulf a white - sailed schooner, and they all gathered at the pier-head to watch her approach. She was sure to come to the light-house, for it stood there to mark the channel. Delights were crowding that week.
It was just four o’clock when she reached the pier. The sailors seeing a little girl standing close to her mother, watching the vessel with eager interest, threw some sweet oranges to her as they passed, besides the customary roll of papers to David. There were more than would last her a week. It was a rare treat to have so many. The lamp was lighted early that evening, and David told them snatches of news, as he made it out from his papers. Decidedly, that week was full of golden moments.
The papers proved unusually interesting. One of them was rich in pictures, and Meena and Kathern spread it out, opened to its fullest extent, upon the table, and bent above it with absorbing interest, while David read. The package was large, too. There was about a month’s work, at David’s rate of reading, in those closely-printed sheets. He sat at it late that night, and he got at it early next morning. He read till breakfast, and then only stopped for the meal. He showed no signs of getting ready for church; and when Meena went to remind him of his promise, he seemed to have quite forgotten that it had any particular reference to that especial day.
“ Church? ” he said in a dreamy sort of way. “ Ye want me to take ye to church, and I promised ye, I know; but the church won’t run away. It ’s there every Sunday. We can go next, just as well as this. I have just got into the midst o’ this paper, now. There’s great things in it. I could n’t listen to the preacher; I ’d be thinkin’ of it all the while. You ’ll scarcely mind, and Kathern can wait. You can show your new bunnits as well next Sunday as this. ’T ain’t often I git such a rare pack o’ papers.”
So Meena told Kathern to “ bide a bit longer; ” they were not going just yet, but that “’twould n’t be long, now that father had it on his mind.”
Had David been a military man he would have known that his victory was lost for want of following it up; that all the battles of his seven years’ war were to be fought over again. It was folly to hint at peace while that sturdy sense of justice remained a part of his nature, backed by an honest though somewhat feeble purpose to keep a clean conscience, wronging no one; for he had chosen his own pleasure once again, as he had chosen it from the beginning, as he always would choose it in the future, so long as he might like, unless, indeed, some sharp experience should cure him.
But, happily for David and happily for us, it is not in the providence of God that any good man should be given over to the sin against which he strives, however feeble be the stand he makes. Help came from heaven, though not quite yet; a day arrived, — let me record it here, — when the foe was completely routed, never to reappear; when David received so mighty a degree of the strength requisite to bear crossing that he became able even to cross himself, and was glad so to do, in order “ to pleasure Meena.” But not quite yet.
Successive Sundays came, without attaching to themselves any special expectation. Meena and Kathern waited for David to speak, and they waited long.
The summer passed, while Kathern sat at the end of the pier and netted at her father’s side. She watched the shadows of the clouds which swept across the water; she listened to his talk about the lake and the old grudge he used to think it bore him; of his nets and the little store from their proceeds he was laying by for her; but most, of the lonely days when he had no little daughter and no wife, but lived in the light-house alone.
While they talked and netted, they could see the painted pleasure-boats fluttering around the landing-places of the white shore in the distance, the heavy belt of woodland forever changing from dark to light, from blue-black to hazy gray; but only at night in her dreams did the little girl behold the gorgeous picture-window and the priest who held her in his arms and wet her forehead with the mystical water.
Then followed days of rain, when there was no sound but that of water beating on the cupola overhead, and water beating against the piles below, and no world outside of the light-house walls; close upon this came the cool September mornings.
It was on one of these — a day when her father said he knew the lake meant mischief, and the wind seemed to want to help it; a day when the tide poured in fuller than ever from the Gulf, and the angry gusts dashed its spray high above the pier-head ; a day when the ripple was exchanged for foam-crested waves, and the lake was white as far as the eye could reach—that little Kathern, coming to join her father where he stood with folded arms, facing the furious wind and watching a schooner come beating up the lake, lost her footing on the wet and slippery pier, and fell overboard into the treacherous water. Her father, who could not swim, saw her sink into the wave, and then he saw no more.
In the instant of her fall, it was a small thing to remember, he thought of her one ungratified wish. There flashed across his mind the swift, recollection of the week when Meena was ill, — “the happy week,” she had called it, — and of the succeeding Sunday that was to have been the beginning of better things.
His wife knew what he meant when staggering into her presence he sobbed, in broken accents, “ O Meena, Meena, she’s gone! and I never took her to the village! ”
“ Yes, once. You took her once. Oh, David, thank the dear God that you took her there that once. We went willin’ to give her to him then; can’t we be willin’ now? ”
The schooner that was beating up toward the light-house at the instant when Kathern fell lowered a boat at once, when the men saw what had happened. The sailors rowed round and round the spot, and were loth to give up the search; but the body did not rise even once, that they could see.
But three days after, far off from home, on the white beach seven miles away, the ladies and children who rode in the shade of the oaks near the shore checked their horses and dismounted to gather round the body of a little girl, which had just been cast up by the waves. They knew at once that it had drifted there from the light-house; for the people at the village had heard of the accident, and were watching for the body. The ladies she had seen so often in fancy were close to her now. Their long riding-habits swept across the sand on which she lay; their streaming veils floated back and forth above her, as they bent down to look in her face. She had touched the shining shore at last. By dainty fingers her shroud was made, and her curls were clipped off for her mother.
When next her parents saw little Kathern it was in the church, where they had given her to God, while she was yet an unconscious infant. Unconscious now, she was given to him again, her parents looking their last upon her as she lay in the light of the picture-window, with its marvelous glory everywhere about her, the cross this time on her breast, instead of on her forehead, where her hands were peacefully folded.