A Magasine Of Literature, Science, Art, and politics.
VOL. XLV. —JANUARY, 1880. —No. CCLXVII.
THE wonderment of the farm hands employed by Thomas, and especially of Caleb, on seeing the blackened ruins of the great bowlder the next day was very comical. Thomas had the amusement he foretold for himself in their comments and guesses, until they nearly made him laugh aloud. Caleb came up to him, looking very earnest, and said, “ Did n’t your father buy High Rock when he bought the farm ? ”
“ I suppose so,” said Thomas. “ I imagine that was not omitted by name in the deed.”
“Well,” replied Caleb, “if it had been left out I should n't have thought ’t was any great matter, bein’ nothin’ but a rock. I should n’t have expected the other owner would come and steal it nights. But the fact is,” and here he looked very mysterious, “ I can’t find that rock, — ’t ain’t there. There ain’t nothin’ there but a heap of ashes. Well enough kind of ashes, and good for manure, I reckon ; but where’s the rock ? ”
“ The ashes are worth more than the rock was, are they not ? ” said Thomas, with a little quizzical look, which Caleb noticed, but could not understand.
The question touched his knowledge as an economist and a good farmer. “ I guess likely ’t is. Ashes is always good for a grass crop, and there’s a pretty likely pile there. But where’s the rock ? ”
Thomas put him off with an inconsequent answer, and then said, “ We shall mow the nine acres to-morrow, I suppose.”
“ Yes, ’n I wish you was goin’ to drive the machine. Them horses always seem to get aggravated in that lot more ’n in any other. I dunno, but I guess it’s them pesky rocks. They are so thick I have to keep stoppin’ to turn out just as I git well a-goin’, and it plagues ’em awfully. That Jim just wants to tear round the lot and git it mowed in less than no time.”
“ We will see if we cannot make it easier for them this year,” said Thomas. “ Do you want to see a little fun this evening, Caleb ? ”
Caleb caught the tone in the voice of Thomas, and answered, with a twinkle and a beaming of his wrinkled face and solemn gray eyes much like a rock with a sudden burst of sunlight shooting over its surface, “ I reckon I ain’t so old yet but that I like fun. I used to be a master hand for it when I was a boy. When the geese come clankin’ round the old red school-house, and two on ’em got hold of corn grains strung on a string, so’t each had one, and then went to pullin’ and fightin', the master always knew I had strung ’em and laid ’em there ready.”
Copyright, 1879, by HOUGHTON, OSGOOD & Co.
“All right. I only hope he made you go and cut the corn apart,” said Thomas. “ But you come round to my house to-night, after supper,— there is daylight, you know, long after six o’clock, — and I will show you something that will make your old hair curl with delight.”
“ What there is left of it,” said Caleb, taking off his hat, and affectionately rubbing the few gray locks time had not snatched from his pate.
If Thomas were never to reap any benefit from his discovery, he at least had some pure pleasure that evening. Caleb appeared at the back door about half past six, and helped Thomas carry the mysterious bottle and a couple of spades down to the nine-acre lot, a quarter of a mile from the house. This lot was broken in every foot of its thick green sod by the elbows and outcrops of a great underlying ledge. The soil between the protrusions was rich, but by reason of them the work of cutting the grass was great. Thomas looked around the field, as they set down the bottle, with an almost fiendish glee, and said in a deep, energetic tone, “ Every one of these rocks to me looks like a great sore. I rather think that to-night we will heal them once for all. Dig, old man! Throw back the turf, and we will teach these saucy ledges to keep their noses and knees out of our lots.”
Caleb, rather startled by this unusual style of address, did as he was told ; and as he threw away the soil down to the surface of the ledge, Thomas poured in some of the contents of the bottle. The dampness of the rock increased the action of the compound, and such a gnashing and grating and smoke arose that Caleb started back, and looked aghast at his master. Thomas only said, “ How many feet deep shall I burn to get a good depth of soil, so that the crops shall grow handsomely ? ” This cool question restored Caleb’s composure.
“ I should say five, for certain, and six would not hurt anybody.”
“ Six it shall be, then. We control this thing now ; ” and he poured in yet more from the bottle, making such a roaring and such a smoke that they had to keep well to the windward.
“It appears like the bottomless pit,” said Caleb, looking half timidly over the edge, “ but I s’pose it ain’t.”
“ Not any more than Ætna or Vesuvius. It has this advantage; that every inch it burns down is so much gain for us. Stay here long enough with me tonight, and I will make this lot as smooth as a lawn ; not a rock shall be above the surface anywhere, and Jim and Cherry shall have a mowing that will do their hearts good.”
The value of the discovery began to dawn upon Caleb.
“He-ah!” said he, suddenly lifting his head and gazing at Thomas. “ I see it; you’ve done a great thing ! With this you can make the whole farm as smooth as a Western prairie.”
“That I can, and that I will before we are many years older. This soil is good, only it is cursed with rocks, like a leprosy. Get them out, and what can we not do ! ”
Caleb gave a wild pirouette of delight — regarding not a certain stiff-jointedness which had crept upon him with the years — so near the edge of the burning rock that Thomas caught hold of him and dragged him back.
“ Somebody always gets killed for every new discovery, but you need not be the one, Caleb.”
“ Hurrah ! ” shouted the old man in a creaky voice. “And you will sell it round to the other farmers, and we will have this part of the county, which is so near a market, like a garden. It always has kind o’ riled me that we could not raise more, along of these plaguy rocks,” and he skipped a loose stone which lay near him into the burning hole. “ There ! go down into the pit, and come up again good, black soil. It will be our turn now to show the Western farmer some tall crops. Hurrah! I say, this is better than Fourth of July.”
His joy was so hearty and of so good a kind that it opened the heart of Thomas. He shook Caleb by the hand, and performed a step or two in the minuet that Caleb was having to himself, saying, “ We may see easy days yet as the result of this ; and if I can perfect it by finding out one more thing, we will have such prosperous times that no fear of going to the poor-house in our old age shall hang over our heads.”
Their mutual enthusiasm thus kindled, the two men went about the lot, and Thomas fulfilled his promise of making it as smooth as a lawn. Each protruding rock met its fate at their hands that night. There was but one drawback ; on coming away, they turned for another look. The green sward was dotted with smoking black spots, and Thomas said, “ After all, Jim and Cherry will not have a joyful mowing to-morrow.”
“ Why not ? ” quoth Caleb.
“All those piles of ashes will make mischief with the knives of the machine. The grit would turn the edge of every blade. This year we must mow it by hand. That is the price we pay even for improvements.”
But Caleb retorted bravely, “It will be even then the best piece of work this summer, and the fun ’ll he all the better for looking forward to next summer. I hain’t ever done a better day’s work than I have this evenin’,” and he adhered to that declaration, talking about it all the way home, and his parting words to Thomas were a repetition of the bull be was unconscious of having perpetrated.
There was great excitement throughout the country-side for the next few months. Crowds of men came from every direction to see Thomas burn his rocks. Break-Neck Ledge ceased to be a blot on the fairest portion of the Osborn farm. The place that had known it ever since the geological crisis that formed it ages before, now knew it no more. Its towering faces of granite, moss-grown and waving with ferns and knotty birch-trees, were all gone. The chasm was smoothed over, and Mr. Osborn was preparing to sow it with wheat, to test the quality of the ashes made, Jack having suggested that a great deal of the goodness of the ashes must go off in the smoke. It was astonishing how easily Jack seemed to find a weak point, without even looking for it. On the evening of their experiment with the rock-burner he had made Thomas remember with bitterness that the invention was of no use if the rains did not fall, and had jocularly reminded him that to complete it his great discovery must be made. Now he offered this suggestion in the same easy, unconscious way, making Thomas feel uncomfortable without knowing why, and without ascribing the reason to Jack. Thomas did not wish to be turned from his other and greater object to add anything more to this accidental discovery. With the carelessness of one absorbed by another subject, he even did not seek pay for the rock-burning he did on farms adjoining his own.
Janet interested herself greatly in the rock-burning, and could not bear that the chance it offered of making a little money should be neglected. She and Jack came nearer a quarrel than ever before in their lives. As Thomas was so easy about it, she tried to make her cousin take some steps toward procuring a patent; but for once she found him unsympathetic and then rebellious.
“Oh, Janet, what is the use? You cannot make Thomas attend to it himself, and why should I do it ? ”
“ Why ? Because you are his true friend, and mine. He has his great farm and his laboratory on his hands, and is trying to do his duty by them both. I will pay your expenses to Washington, if you will only go and secure the services of a good patent lawyer.”
“ Tom would not let you do that if he knew it, and he would have to know it. I could not take any active steps without him. There would have to be a description of his work and the chemical arrangements that produce the combination, which nobody could give but himself, and papers which he would have to sign. I assure you, Janet, I can do nothing.”
She looked at him with mingled entreaty and surprise. She was not used to such treatment from him. He could scarcely bear it, and began to be pathetic,
“ Pray do not look injured,” said he. “ I have done my best with Thomas. The very evening we went out first to make a trial of the compound I foresaw its value, and told him he must get a patent on it. But he did not appear to see the necessity of it then.”
“Yet he has a practical side to his character,” for a subtle accent, in Jack’s words conveyed the idea that this was the conduct to be expected from a dreamer, — a man who had no knowledge of business.
Jack chose to bristle a little at this. “ I never said he had not.”
“ No, you did not; nevertheless you suggested the idea to me by your tone.”
At this keen reading of his feelings Jack curled up like a leaf in a blaze.
“Let’s not quarrel about him, Janet.”
“ No, we will not. The fact is his mind is so taken up with other and greater researches that he has no time to spend on this, which he says he found by a half accident, and so values little.”
Jack knew this perfectly well, but did not choose to admit it.
“ But I cannot make him do what he will not, and — Why do you not argue with him yourself? Your influence would have weight, if any one’s could,” broke in Jack.
“ I wish I were a man! ” she exclaimed, with sudden energy.
Jack laughed. “If you were, you know, you might not feel the intense interest in him that you do now.”
She colored up brightly, to his mingled wrath and admiration, and her answer increased the first sensation, it was so steady, like the clear, sweet eyes that met his dark glance.
“ I have talked with him, and that is the way I know that his mind is full of something else. He is simply so absorbed in other things that, he cannot feel the force of my arguments. I cannot influence him if I cannot make him see from my point of view. I might tease and tire him into it, but that I will not do.”
There was a chance here for conciliation, and Jack was not slow to improve it. He gave her one of his soft glances, full of yearning admiration, while his face relaxed into its fairest mood as he said, “ Some women would tease a man to death for a pair of new bonnet strings. You are of loftier mold, my sweet cousin.”
Flesh and blood could not withstand Jack when he looked and spoke like that. Janet’s face lost the troubled expression he hated to see on it when he was with her, and he did not leave her until they were on the old footing again, and her generous soul had forgotten that he had been either ungracious or severe. Nevertheless, he did not go to Washington, and Janet did.
Caleb was alternately scandalized and delighted with his master. On the day when they mowed the nine-acre lot, he swung his scythe with youthful vigor, keeping up with men whose fathers he had held in his lap; and every time the line stopped and the rifles rung against the blades, he had a joke and a laugh ready. The sight of the burning rocks filled him with the profoundest satisfaction, and he would go home from work round by the Osborn farm for the sake of gloating over the remains of BreakNeck Ledge and of watching the wheatsowing over the spot where it had been. But the neglect of Thomas to follow up his discovery and try to make money from it troubled him greatly. He had been at work mowing the aftermath early in September, and he and the other hired men were lying under a tree during the hour between twelve and one, when a pause from work is allowed. Each man had a tin pail near him, in whose cool depths piles of bread and butter and the “ pie of North America ” had lain during the morning hours. To these were added, in one or two instances, the luxury of cold coffee. Yankee ingenuity having invented a pail with a double bottom, a sort of cellar to be filled with the fluid, when the upper stratum of food was removed and the false bottom taken up, the coffee could he drunk from the pail edge to the satisfaction of the owner. The sight of Thomas going along the road to another part of the farm caused Caleb suddenly to give words to his feelings.
“ Where could a man find a better chance for makin’ money than he’s got now? Everybody is crazy about the new rock-burnin’. Nineteen men came twenty miles, each of ’em, to see it the last time he burned, and there has been seven knockin’ at his door this week to git him to come over and burn out their ledges. The thing is a-movin’, but he don't seem to care about it. I expected he would n’t care for nothin’ else. But he hain’t lost his interest in the farm nor the critters, a mite. He likes handlin’ the animals and trainin’ ’em as well as over. There’s that Zeke ; he’s as hefty a beast to manage as I ever laid eyes on. But Thomas has got the right kind o’ notion : as long as a critter’s green, and blunders from not knowin’ any better, he is as gentle as a girl. But if they are ugly and chock full of malice, then he shows ’em who is master. And it’s merciful in the long run. There ain’t no kind o’ sense in lettin’ a horse get the upper hand of you. That ere Zeke got an awful poundin’ last night; but he deserved every knock he got, and he’s the better for it this morning. Thomas went to put the saddle on him, and the critter bit him. Thomas whipped him until he was kind o’ peaceable, but the old cat wa’ n’t out of him, by no means. When he got on to him, Zeke tried to rub him off ag’inst everything that was in the yard, not exceptin’ the corner of the henroost. Thomas was too many for him, and he found it was more comfortin’ to his skin to git along in the road at a pretty good trot. But he was even full of wickedness, and pretty soon he fell down, and flung Thomas over his head. For once, Thomas was not quick enough, or else he was a little dizzy from the tumble, and let go of the bridle. Quicker’n lightnin’ the horse got up, — he was n’t hurt, bless you, not he, — and whirled round, and set out for home lickity-split; and there Thomas found him bitin’ and kickin’ the other horses that was tied up and could n’t help themselves, and a-squealin’ and thinkin’ it was fun. Thomas took a stick as big as his wrist, pretty nigh, and went into Mr. Zeke. I tell you, it was a regular tamin’ he got that time, and no mistake; he made him beg before he got through. But it done him a sight of good. He’s the placidest kind of a beast this mornin’, and he hain’t nipped me once when I give him his regular oats. There ain’t no knowin’ but he ’ll be a cherubim yet. But as I was sayin’, he ought to be interested in his rock-burnin’ too.” Caleb, having thus given himself rest of mind by speaking out what was in it, turned to his pail, with the calm confidence of the righteous, for a refreshing draught.
Two years passed away, and the traces of time are best shown by the characters themselves.
Jack Osborn alternately seemed the laziest and most indifferent of beings, and then the most active, energetic, and fiery. The lazy moments were the times when his fervent, moody nature gave him a little rest; then he was as careless as he seemed, — as if the ardent spirit had burned itself down and was covered with the white ashes of inaction. But it never burned out. His hatred for Thomas, his love for Janet, his determination to win her for himself, were there ready, and streamed and flashed up into life with greater vigor after one of these quiet periods than before. Then he was Janet’s most devoted slave; then he encircled her with little cares and attentions, tokens of regard each slight in itself, but each warm with the fire that burned in him, until it seemed as if he must melt the slight frosty line which always lay between them. Yet he never did. Then, too, he hung round Thomas, stayed with him in his laboratory, and watched his experiments, occasionally giving a really useful hint, but more often being the first to express a fear of failure which Thomas would have begun only dimly to feel.
Jack would say, with his long lashes veiling his great, soft eyes, “ Tom, you know more than I do theoretically, but practically you will find yourself wrong there,” and he would go on to show the difficulty. Thomas wondered sometimes if he were really only a dreamer, and Jack a practical person. Being so much with Thomas, Jack occasionally fell in with Caleb ; but the latter had no prejudices in his favor, and always regarded him with great coolness. Caleb could not have told his reasons for disliking Jack, — he was not philosopher enough for that; but if they could have been dragged to the surface and laid in a line, each would have linked into the other and made a logical chain.
Jack, with his capacity for entering into and understanding the feelings of other men, expressed it to Thomas one day: —
“Your man Friday,” said he, “ looks upon me as half fish, half flesh. He cannot understand that a man may have two or three contradictory turns and twists in his make-up. I can work faster than most men, and do in six hours what takes them ten. While I am at work, he sees that I do it well and with my whole soul, — so far he understands. But how, when I have done, I can go down to the pine grove and lie there utterly lazy the rest of the time he cannot comprehend. Then he hears the easy way in which I talk with the doctor or the parson, and beat them sometimes in an argument. Then perhaps I flirt with some fool of a girl without an atom of brains, and he cannot see why I should do that when I might use my time to so much better purpose. And so he considers me as a kind of nondescript, at ease in any element, but staying in none.”
Thomas looked up half admiringly from a paper of calculations over which he was bending, and said, “You hit it off about right, Jack. You are full of deep depths and high heights. I don’t understand you myself half the time. Caleb is so square and straightforward that he cannot see round your corners, and he does n’t like a thing he cannot see. Perhaps, too, he has the same feeling I have sometimes, — as if you were not making as much of yourself as you ought. You know he quite considers himself the father of all the young men around here.”
“ Not make enough of myself ! ” answered Jack, with sudden vehemence. “If I made any more of myself I should be too much for — the face of the earth. You had better not urge me to strengthen any of my characteristics.”
Thomas looked up in amazement at the tone and words; but without meeting his glance, Jack threw himself out of the room and went down to the pine grove, where he spent some very unimproving hours.
He saw better than Thomas did the success the latter would one day have, and he knew that the moment which crowned his search would forever take Janet from him, and hate for Thomas became stronger, only as yet it had no visible shape. It was there in his heart, and any strong temptation might give it solidity and shape, as water cooled below the freezing-point is all ready to solidify into ice from a sudden vibration.
Thomas looked hack over the years with mingled despondency and joy. “ They have been full of hard work,” thought he, “ with some success. Thanks to the dry weather, the Colorado beetle, the early and late frosts, my farm has given me a living, but no more. I have not paid the losses of the two previous years, and am only just keeping my head above water. I have had enough to eat, clothes enough to be warm, if not stylish, and Janet has been true to me through everything, and full of tender courage and hope. My one success has been the discovery of the rock-burner, — an achievement I was not working for, yet it is the only thing that has put any money in my pocket. I am still at work seeking to discover the ‘balancings of the clouds,’ and the treasures of the rain and the hail. I have not had half the success I crave, yet I have not been entirely unsuccessful. Janet would say that that is as it should be; if a man’s life were crowned with success at every turn, he would cease to struggle ; and that a kind providence metes out to him only just so much as shall be a bait to lead him on and on. It may be so, though I do not quite agree with her. Ambition is dyed into the grain of our human nature. Men would always work for something. My only thought is that success may be gained after such an agonizing struggle that the prize may not seem worth the wrestle. Still, I shall not care for my discovery unless I work hard enough to win it.”
Janet looked back with some sadness. On the morning of her twenty - sixth birthday she met herself in the glass, and talked to her reflection as if it had been another self. “I am twenty-six,” said she, looking steadily at the full blue eyes that met hers, and I have been engaged two years. I am quietly happy, and yet I feel an aggressive longing to do more with my life. I have books, flowers, my mother, and my lover ; all make me happy, but it is a kind of drifting. I am full of these active longings, but I live on passively. I rose once in my might, and surprised Thomas and Jack, and everybody else except Mrs. Green. She was enough of a man, or rather so much of a woman, that she could understand. I insisted that there should be a patent obtained for the rockburner, and went to Washington myself about it, after beseeching Thomas in vain, and harassing Jack within an inch of his patience — or his impatience. I did it myself, finally, and never have been sorry. Now when Thomas destroys rocks he is paid, and he has acknowledged that all the money he has had during the last year was got in that way. He has been able to buy many new things for his laboratory, and if, some day, he makes his great discovery I shall please myself with thinking that I helped him in a rational and sensible way. It is all well enough to wile him out of his depression when he is downhearted over some defeat in his laboratory, and I act on that ‘ always - meetyour - husband-with - a - smile ’ principle, which used to make me so angry in the old sentimental books of advice to wives. But I want to be actively useful. Well — perhaps I can do nothing better than take just as wide a view of my opportunities as I can. Besides meeting him with a smile, I keep him posted in political matters, until he says I ought to vote instead of him, as being the more intelligent person ; and he admits that if it were not for me he should be, like so many men, completely absorbed in his profession, his farm, his laboratory, and know nothing beyond. I must not let myself lose interest in the tilings which lie outside of my life, for his sake as much as my own. But we cannot be married yet, and I am growing very old! ”
This last statement about growing old was said with such pathos that it reacted immediately, and she smiled at herself, and then stopped and looked searchingly at her reflection, remembering she had heard it said that a woman begins to fade at twenty-five. But the keenest glance could detect no sign of the sere and yellow leaf on that fair face. For the inexperienced look of seventeen there was the deeper, sweeter, more varied expression which comes of a broader range of thought, a greater interest in life. The slight figure was rounded and filled out, but had lost none of its grace, and she turned away from the glass with the half-formed thought that if she had fallen off at all in her beauty, Jack Osborn’s manner would have told her even before she had seen it herself. But this thought had to be kept in the background, as being a possible injustice to an absent friend. She would not have admitted it if any one had told her, but nevertheless it was getting to be a fact that nearly all her thoughts of Jack had to be pushed into the background. She felt the faults and inconsistencies of his character more and more, yet she would not allow them voice or place, for fear she should be disloyal to the friend of Thomas and herself.
Mrs. Green also had her opinion about the work of the two years, during which Thomas had been engaged to Janet and at work in his laboratory. She had a great respect for her son, because he was a man, — the respect rising out of that feeling of self-inferiority which has been carefully educated into women, — and its effect was to make her lean on her son in a dependent way one moment, and in the next assert her independent character without any reference to him. In fact, it was having inherited her selfcentred, practical nature with his father’s thoughtfulness and turn for study that made him the sort of man he was. She approved of Janet’s plan of going to Washington about the patent for Thomas, but could not understand why he was not to be told. What would have seemed to most people the bold step — the journey and meeting the lawyer — was only what she would have done herself. She could not see that for Thomas to learn it when too late either for his approval or disapproval would save his pride, and that he would take it as a proof of Janet’s willingness to do something to bring about their marriage. She had a high sense of truth and honor, so that she kept a secret in the best way, — by not appearing to have one; but she had great difficulty with this, because she could not make herself see its necessity. Once she forgot herself so far as actually to open her mouth to speak of it, when the cat at that critical moment knocked something down in the pantry; and Mrs. Green, with quick housekeeper’s ears, heard, and rushed to investigate. It was in the act of picking up the pieces of a broken dish that she remembered, with something of a shock, how near she had come to breaking her promise.
“ Am I growing old and foolish and forgetful,” said ’she, ” that I must thank a cat for saving me from a falsehood !” and the cat escaped without even a sharp word.
Looking back over the two years, she would have said, “ Thomas has done less with his farm than I expected, and more with his chemicals than I dreamed possible. He says he has not found out what he most wants, but he has done something else that is quite as good. The weather! He can’t ever find out about it. The Lord made it, and there ’s no use in doing anything more than just taking it. He says the Lord made the rocks, and if it is not sinful to change the face of the earth by melting them, it is not to alter the weather. Change it from wet to dry, from cold to warm ? How, I should like to know ! He can reason as if he had been through college, because he is a thinker, like his father; but he may reason all day, and he never will find out about the weather. It is not made anywhere round here, so that he can get hold of it. He talks about the strength of cold winds being stored up and changed from motion to heat, and says light, heat, and motion are only different displays of the same force. Well, I have read about it in his books, but 4 you can’t make a silken purse out of a sow’s ear.’ And it stands to reason that you can’t take a wild, roaring northeast snow-storm in December and store up its strength and turn it into warmth, because cold is not warmth. So he need not talk to me. But if he will earn money with his rock-burner, and not let the farm run down, he ’ll be more likely to get on in the world than he will with all his weather gauges and cocked hats for catching the wind that he has on the top of the house. It is scandalous, now I think of it, — the number of rattle-traps and whirligigs he has rigged on the roof; and the rattling they make when the wind blows is enough to make one think the roof is coming in. But it is no use talking to him. I tell him sometimes that people will think a madman lives here, or I complain about the rattling; then he says he is sorry, and the wind blew last night at the rate of seventy miles an hour, but it will not do so tonight, and that is all the consolation I get. He does not get up such awful smells as he did a year ago in his laboratory, and he does not talk so much about ozone and hydrogen ; so that is one comfort. I said to Janet one day, Which is the worst, to rattle like a fanning-mill, or smell like a cheese factory? She smiled, and said she did not know. Then I told her she would have to choose if she were going to marry my son, for it had been one thing or the other ever so many years. She said, 4 Thomas does not rattle, nor smell like old cheese.’ No, said I, but the house does both, and it is almost as bad. I suppose she thinks she will marry him, and not the house. But she will find that the old proverb is right: 4 If you love a man you must love his dog.’ Wherever Thomas is, there will he a laboratory, too. The fact is, she feels as if he belonged to her now more than he does to me. I remember, when my brothers were married, it amused me to see how they were swallowed by their wives. The women could not realize that before they had even heard of their husbands they were my brothers, to rail at or play with, and with all their weak points known to me. So when I laughed at them, after they were married, for some foible, just as I always had and just as they had at me, the wives would bristle up, and the first I knew I would find they thought I was trespassing on private property. I did not mind it. It was because they loved the men so much, and I dare say I should have done likewise; but it always amused me. My daughter-in-law will do just as my sisters-in-law did. Perhaps it is because women have so few strong interests in life that they hold on so tightly to what they have.”
During these two years that Thomas worked hard in his laboratory, as has been said, he by no means forgot other things. His farm and his stock were as well kept up as ever. He lost none of his fondness for animals, and none of his skill in training them. Caleb had occasion to chuckle more than once at the clever way in which Thomas led a refractory steer or colt in the paths of wisdom, until he became a gentle, welltrained animal. Sometimes the process was comical, in one case almost tragical. He sat with Janet, one evening, on the broad piazza of her house, and watched the stars climb out of the sea and burn in the clear depths of sky above. While Thomas seemed to be suitably impressed with the beauty of the evening, he two or three times gave little laughs which had no apparent cause, and was full of an inward merriment. Janet fell upon him at last with vigor and demanded the cause, averring that she hated a man who went round hiding fun from her.
“ Certainly you shall hear,” said Thomas. “ You may be a farmer’s wife some day, and you ought to learn to see what little fun there is in that life. My twoyear-old steers, then, are the cause of the indecent mirth to which you object. This morning we wanted them to draw a boat loaded with sea-weed up the beach above high-water mark; so they were fastened on, and I gave the word. They pulled, but did not move it. I did not think it was too heavy, but as they were young and green I was willing to be easy with them. So we threw out part of the load. This we did twice, and then they failed to draw. There was so little left the third time that I was sure the young rascals were ‘ sogerin,’ as they call it. I knew I must be even with them in some way, so I had them fastened on again. This time I stationed a man armed with one of those wooden scoop shovels used in the fish net behind each steer, and told them that when I spoke to the steers it was to be the signal for them. So I spoke, and laid the whip about their shoulders pretty smartly, and the men at the same time gave unearthly yells and administered resounding spanks with the shovels. You can imagine the surprise of the unruly little scamps. They had not expected me to be so smart. With our spanking and shouting and laughing, they danced up the beach and half across the next lot before we could stop them. But it had the desired effect in toning up their morals, so that they did not soger any more. They were wildly desirous to draw everything all the rest of the day, and if we had hitched them on to the town hall they would have given it a good tug.”
An incident of the other kind occurred the next morning after he told the story of the steers to Janet.
He had bought a cow,—a nervous, high-strung creature, whose first owners had abused her instead of treating her with kindness and care. She had a calf, and seemed for a while to respond to the new style of treatment Thomas gave her, and lost much of the savage, nervous unrest she showed at first. The calf when two or three weeks old was taken away from her, as is the custom on grazing and dairy farms. The calf allowed itself to be led away quietly at first, but as it got outside the door commenced bleating. Its cries, although it was hurried out of hearing, drove the cow into a frenzy. She tore at her rope, a new one, until the strands actually gave way, and bursting the latch of her stable-door she came into the open yard, where there were two or three men and some cows. In five seconds, the men had to flee for their lives, and the cows were crowded into a corner of their stables, some of them bleeding from the contact of her sharp horns. Then she raged up and down like a mad thing, foaming and bellowing in low, dreadful tones. Thomas decided to leave her for a few hours, thinking she would quiet down if allowed to remain without interference. But the same state of things prevailed at noon, and the huddling cows had not been suffered to stir from their corner for food or drink. The mere sight of anything human brought on fits of frenzy, in which she drove at the high board fence surrounding the yard in a way that made it tremble. Thomas reluctantly yielded to the remonstrances of his men, and decided to shoot her. The gun was brought, and he was taking aim through a crevice in the fence, when Jack Osborn strolled up, and inquired what was going on.
“ She will never keep still long enough for you to aim. Let me manage her, Tom. Put your gun down, and see what I can do.”
He leaped the fence lightly, and stood at the end of the inclosure opposite to the animal, in a quiet position, and seemed perfectly defenseless. She saw him instantly, and came toward him, bellowing, with red, fiery eyes, her short, straight horns now tearing up the earth, now tossed in the air. As she lowered her head and increased her pace to make the final rush, for the first time they perceived a knife in his hand, He waited until he felt the wind of her rushing upon his face; then he sprang to one side, and, before she could turn, with another spring was on her back. There was a blue quiver of light upon the long, narrow blade of the knife, as it flashed for a second in the air, and then, with unerring aim, it was sheathed in the vital spot at the back of the neck where brain and spinal cord meet. The raging animal plunged forward, to fall on her knees and roll over in the agonies of death.
Thomas and the men were loud in their praise of Jack’s skill and activity, all of which he took very coolly, as he wiped his knife and returned it to a sheath-pocket over his hip.
“It is a Spanish knife that a fellow I knew in New York gave me. He said it had been used by a ‘ matador ’ in a bull-fight in just this way, and it occurred to me that I should like to try the experiment myself.”
“ No one but you could have done it,” said Thomas, — “ a fellow all whalebone and spring steel as you are ! You take a five-board fence and kill a mad cow as if you had always been accustomed to that sort of amusement. How did it feel, I should like to know, when she was so near you that you could look into her eyes and feel her breath ? ”
Jack’s eyes gave a flash and his teeth set together as he answered, “ I felt that I was not going to let her kill me, and that I should sweep her out of my path.”
“The poor thing!” said Thomas, turning to the prostrate beast and touching her smooth side, hardly yet still. “ She really went mad, I suppose, and was not responsible for what she did.”
“ Hear him talk about her as if she had been human ! ” cried Jack.
Thomas looked up half reproachfully. “ There is a great deal of human nature in them, — or of a nature that we share with them, whether it is beast or human. They grow fond of the person who bestows food and favor on them, or they will strike one of their own kind when he is down as quickly as men do ; and they are fond of their young in a good deal the same unreasonable, tremendous way that fathers and mothers are.”
Jack laughed a little. “ I never saw a dog or a baby that was n’t devoted to you, Tom, in five minutes after it had seen you. The dog would hang at your heels and the baby in your arms, and forsake their own masters and mothers with calmness.”
“ I am glad of it. I hope my own children some day will be fond of me.”
At this remark the faces of the two men exchanged expressions, as they had once before. Thomas’s took a sweet, hopeful look ; Jack’s smile died out, his brows knit, he gave Thomas a glance almost as keen as the flash on his knifeblade had been a few moments before, and walked away as Caleb came up with ropes to drag off the dead cow. Caleb noticed the look, and thought, “ What’s the matter with Mr. Cow-Sticker ? He looks as if he would like to stick somebody else. Wonder what’s the matter with him now.”
As long as Jack could see Thomas at work, and yet see that work drawing to no definite result, his hate lay in his heart, and did nothing but exaggerate his moods of mind. And the work of Thomas went on over a period of two years more, in which research found only failure, and renewed courage, renewed labor, met no apparent result. It was the beginning of the fourth summer, and yet he had labored in vain.
Jack came to Janet’s one afternoon, as she sat under the blossoming boughs of the cherry-trees, and lay at her feet pretending to put her work-basket in order while she sewed. He was in one of his worst moods, showing it by the gleam of his eyes, by the way his lips quivered. As he listened to her praise of her lover, his patience under the long trial of waiting, and her belief that he would one day succeed, Jack’s eyes fixed on her face with such a fierce look that she involuntarily stopped and gazed at him inquiringly.
“ Jack, what is the matter ? You look positively dangerous, — like a tiger in a trap. Your eyes look as I fancy the fire does down through the lava cracks in a volcano. Are you going to break out and hurt anybody ?”
It was an unexpected thing, this abrupt question. When there was a selfish, personal reason for controlling his conduct he could do it perfectly, and in a second she found him looking up at her with the usual soft, half-veiled look of his dark eyes. He said, laughingly, “ It must be biliousness, Janet. I am not equal to any work, and have not been for two days. I need to be fed for a season with calomel, and then I shall lose the volcano aspect. I suppose I am in rather of a mood. Never mind it; let me go on, unless I get actually disagreeable, and then you may roll me down the bank with your pretty foot, and leave me.”
“ No ; I will put a pillow under your head, and give you blue mass with a spoon, from a box my mother keeps on a shelf in her medicine closet.”
“You are truly kind,” he laughed back ; “cold ‘pizen’ and death at your hands would be a pleasure. Janet, do you suppose the love of life was as strong among the old savage nations as it is with later and more civilized people ? ”
“ What an abrupt change of subject! Wait a moment, until I put the idea into my head.” She pressed her forefinger on her forehead and shut her eyes. “ It is possible that the added luxuries and pleasures of civilized life may make us feel that we want to live as long as we can to enjoy them. The old Romans were fairly civilized, yet they did not hesitate to commit suicide. Life seemed to lose its charm for them easily, and they evidently had little fear of death.”
“ That is a fair argument; that would show that their love of pleasure or of what the future might have for them did not incline them to live any longer. But has not the love of life increased because we have been taught to respect it in each other ? We are brought up to think that each man has a right to his life, that it is a precious possession; and has not that increased the love for it?”
“ I have never arranged my thoughts, but — but I suppose the love of life to be one of the strong instincts originally planted in our natures, — not an outgrowth of any improvement in living.”
“ It may be so, — one of those blind instincts implanted in us by an unknown power; an instinct that makes the unhappiest wretch put out his hand to save himself, although reason says to him, Death cannot be worse than life. I had better die, now that I have a good chance.”
Before he had finished this remark Janet had adjusted herself to his mood, and full of sympathy, though she did not know the feeling that prompted him, would not allow herself to express the dislike she felt at this unnatural and morbid way of talking. Said she, “ It is the old question, whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” or die and end them. To me it seems nobler to bear than to end them, even if we had not the dread of something after death to make us hesitate about ending them prematurely.”
“ Then you think that for a man to help himself out of life is cowardly? Yet it must require a high kind of courage to do that, — to rush from known to unknown evils.”
“ Jack, you make my blood run cold, you talk in such a heathenish way. Do you want to commit suicide, or get somebody else to do it on your account ? ”
“ N-n-no.” He stammered for a moment. “ But I am rather struck with your suggestion of persuading somebody else to do it. I like the idea; it grows upon me. How nice it would be to persuade people to get out of your path in that way ! ”
She began to smile, willing to change his cynical tone.
“ You are a captivating fellow, Jack ; perhaps you could do it. But I did not dream that any one stood in your path. It must be a man. Don’t let it make you conceited, Jack, but I cannot imagine any woman hardening her heart against yon, and standing in your way.”
He could not raise his eyes to her face. Her words went through him like a delicious agony. They told him that he might have power with other women, but none with her. She could not read him so clearly, speak of the situation so calmly, if there were the slightest chance of his ever coming any nearer her than he already had as cousin and friend. He rose suddenly, saying, “ One of the features of biliousness is a strong disposition to be abrupt, — in subjects of conversation, and in greetings and farewells. I feel like departing, so I go now without any formal leave-taking, because I may with equal suddenness feel like returning.”
He went away, leaving .Janet somewhat confounded by his unusual behavior ; but her mind had not occasion to dwell on him long. Art hour after, as she still sat under the blossoming boughs, with the white petals blowing down on her head and her work, she saw the figure of Thomas coming along the road, and went to meet him. As they came near each other, her observant eye saw an unusual look in his face, ordinarily full of quiet power. There was a little pallor under the large gray eyes; a wrinkle, which was like a fold between his strongly-marked eyebrows, was deeper than ever ; the square, firm jaw, with a dimple in the chin, exhibited a greater expression of firmness than usual; yet his face was not that of one who brings bad news. He came close to her, and held out both hands, saying, “ Would you like to know how ‘ the light is parted which scatters the east wind upon the earth,’ and the ‘secret of the hoarfrost and the snow ’ ? ”
She knew instantly what he meant.
“ I have wrung from my facts at last,” said he, “ the secret they held in their hearts, and I came to tell you first of any one.”
“ Thomas, have you done it at last?”
Then he let the repressed triumph shine out in his face, until he looked like a being who had never known a sorrow or a care.
“ I must either cry or laugh,” said Janet, looking up at him, with several contending expressions quivering on her lips and beaming from her eyes.
“ Laugh, then, — laugh,” said he, taking her in his arms. “ Have you never heard that men dislike crying?”
She smothered the half-risen sob in an instant, and said archly, “ How shall we celebrate the occasion ? Go home and burn our umbrellas, with dancings emblematical of our joy at having no more bad weather?”
“ That is right, — be your natural, saucy self. You and I feel this thing so deeply there is simply no use in trying to express ourselves in any known language, and as we will not cry, we had better laugh. Now come back with me, and let me tell my mother; she must know it next,” and he drew her along the road with him.
“What, sir, without my hat, and with no gloves ? ”
“ Never mind the conventionalities ; it is a warm evening, and if you want a shawl when you come back, my mother will lend you one.”
She allowed herself to be swept along by his joyful will.
“ Perhaps it would really be more consistent not to heed the conventionalities, as you have been hugging me for half an hour (more or less) right out by the roadside. Do you suppose any one has seen us ? ”
“This is a country road and rather lonely. Let us believe that none but friendly eyes from your house could have seen us. But I confess that Niagara Falls might have flowed past us within the last twenty minutes, and I should not have known it.”
He hurried her along, and she, knowing the kindly promptings of his heart which made him feel that his mother’s claims were to be waived only for herself, willingly adopted his pace.
“ Your good mother,” said she, “ how she will feel rewarded for having let you smell up the house in the way you have, and for all her worryings about you when you were sitting up late, studying hard after working all day ; and for her little mortifications at the rattletraps and brass spoons on the top of the house!”
“ She was not really mortified at those,” said Thomas, with a man’s wonderment that anything done in the cause of science could he received otherwise than with the profoundest respect; “ she has too much sense for that.”
“ Not really deeply mortified; but she spoke about them to me once. Perhaps she was afraid I would be annoyed at seeing such odd things on the top of your house.”
“You, too? You did not mind it, Janet ? ”
“ Certainly not. You may put cocked hats on every inch of the ridge-pole, and hang brass kettles from all the windows, if you like. I will agree not to dust them, or even disturb them at housecleaning time.”
Mrs. Green received the news with a little dash of incredulity at first, which acted healthily upon Thomas, bringing him out, and making him explain his theories and the workings of his plans until she was presently brought to a state of belief and consequent delight. Then they settled down into that mood which comes when a long-desired object is at last attained, and before any of the numerous drawbacks upon the perfect enjoyment of it have transpired. They amused themselves planning the life they would have under the changed circumstances which the discovery of Thomas would bring about.
“ We shall live under serene skies,” said he, “ and after a few years, when we find that all we labor for will not be wrested from us, we too shall learn a serenity, a calmness, to which we are strangers now. There will be enough of the ills of life still left to keep up necessary discipline ; but much of the gnawing care which now so undermines our peace will be taken away.”
“ How strange it will be to live in an even-tempered climate! What will people do, when they are making calls, if they have not the weather to talk about?” said Janet.
“ Truly,” replied Thomas, “ I forgot that. How very inconsiderate of me!”
“ What is the custom in Egypt ? ” said Mrs. Green. “The weather there, I am told, is the same day after day. We shall have to find out what they do. But I have no doubt, Thomas, that some people will object, and pretend to growl at your even climate. How cold will it have to be ? ”
“ Not below forty during the winter months, and not above eighty in the summer ; and the other six months ranging between these two limits.”
“ What perfection ! ” cried Janet. “ Then there cannot be those fearfully sudden changes which are enough to try the constitution of a steam-engine.”
“ Oh, a steam-engine cannot stand it! ” said Thomas, quickly. “ It takes something as strong and fine as the human constitution. Nothing oxidizes quicker under the east wind, or breaks quicker in severe cold, than iron. But I presume, as mother says, there are people who will pretend to regret the loss of our awful winters. They will talk about bracing weather, and go into hygienic fits over the salutary effects on the human system of a thermometer below zero. The Esquimaux are put through a system of bracing that, according to that theory, ought to make very fine people ; but I don’t see as it has. Everybody in their sneaking, secret hearts prefers the bright October weather, and none any colder.”
“ Thomas, how it will surprise the plants! The perennials are so used to having their noses bitten off by Jack Frost that they will expect him at the usual time in the fall. Then he will not come, and they will think, ‘ Dear me, they must have made a mistake in the almanac!’ Then they will blossom a month longer, and look round again for the frost. Finally, they will get tired waiting, and conclude they might as well rest without any nipping. But I am afraid the annuals will blossom until they have the backache, and never give up until they are fairly worn out.”
“ The change may introduce new habits among plants,” said Thomas, thoughtfully, “and the continued mildness of the climate may bring us new semi-tropical growths such as we have never seen. It will be interesting to watch for these.”
“ How strange the whole thing will be,” said Mrs. Green, “and how it will affect our manner of living! I am afraid I shall have to wrestle all the year round with ants and flies and other pernicious insects.”
“Which will not be any worse,” said Thomas, “ than fighting to keep warm, and to prevent your food and your houseplants from freezing.”
“Yes!” cried Janet. “Think how the water-pipes in city houses will not freeze up and split! Last winter, when we were in town, there was a month of fearful, brandy-freezing weather. And what a time we had with the pipes ! My mother sat down one night in despair, and exclaimed, ‘ Well, really, on such nights one thinks with longing of that kind of plumbing which consists of a well and a wooden trough in the back yard ! ’”
“ As to its affecting us physically, it will begin to do that very soon. It must. We shall live out-doors eight months of the year instead of three, and shall not be shut into our houses during the other months, reversing the present style. You young ladies will begin to show a little healthy brown in your faces, and it will become fashionable to be tanned and rosy. More light and more fresh air will tell on our physiques to our advantage. Oh, this question of the weather runs deeper than careless people think ! ”
And so on, and so on, until it grew late, and Janet said her mother would be alarmed if she did not go home; and then the door opened, and Mrs. Wareham and Jack walked in, declaring that they feared Thomas and Janet might have eloped. Then the story had to be told to them, and all the suppositions and consequences gone over with again ; many new ones being added by Jack, who was so brilliant, notwithstanding the black rings under his eyes, that Janet became quite easy about him and the disturbing bilious element in his constitution.
If Thomas had been dilatory about making arrangements for the prompt recognition and use of his rock-burner, he made up for it now by the energy he displayed in bringing his new discovery into notice. No man of the world could have been more earnest in securing attention than he. Scientific men were invited from the neighboring university town, and Thomas entertained them at table hospitably, and in his laboratory scientifically.
It was a new side to the character of Thomas, this capacity to mingle easily and freely with men who had received the advantages of a regular education, although it was in truth a logical result of the forces at work in him, and it did not surprise Janet, who was a good judge of character. Thomas had by nature all gentle and manly instincts ; what he needed was a consciousness of success to bring out his fine points and make him a genial, charming companion, and he backed it by his New England hospitality. He had come from a good old line of Puritan ancestors, — men of self-contained and steadfast natures, and women whose refinement never degenerated into weakness, and whose strong love of culture made them powers in their households. Perhaps this is as good an ancestry as a race can have, and as generation succeeds generation the brain and sinew are gradually matured which ripen at last in a man who is a king among men, — not only the patient seeker, the earnest worker, but a charming gentleman. Jack was astonished, not only at the ease of manner Thomas showed, but when the conversation began to be technical and scientific, so as very soon to leave him far behind, to see Thomas going on in good order, and even leading the van.
Mrs. Green seconded Thomas nobly, and sustained a revolution in her domestic affairs which showed skill and executive ability of no ordinary kind. From a household managed only for Thomas and herself, with meals at regular hours, she became liable to predatory incursions from parties of hungry professors at any time of the day. Thomas would appear an hour after the usual dinner time with ten unexpected gentlemen, and repeat the same performance at supper with a fresh set, and whisper to his mother, “ Can’t you get something extra to-night, as most of these people have had no dinner ?” She delighted their eyes presently with a supper table laden with delicious hot rolls, thin slices of cold ham and salt beef, and colfee, followed by preserved fruit and hot gingerbread ; doing it with a serene air, as if it had always been her custom. She endured a servant in her spotless kitchen with a smile, although she knew the soup kettle would be set away unwashed, the tumbler towel used to wipe the platter, and that the hireling would in two days give the really pleasant, old-fashioned room the look which a hireling always does. All the she did without appearing to realize that she was henceforward to administer affairs on a new basis. In some families such a change could not have been accomplished without riotings and disturbances ; but where Mrs. Green was prime minister, all things were done decently and in order.
“ It seems as impossible to start, tonight,” muttered Thomas to himself, “ as if I were going on an unlucky errand,” and he got out of the wagon for the third time, and went back after the whip. “ How could Caleb have harnessed and left everything undone as he did, — no cushion, no whip, no checkrein ; and I have made a separate errand back to the carriage-house for each one ! I shall only just manage to catch the train, if I drive fast. Go on, Cherry,— zi-i-i-p.”
The little mare, well trained by her master, knew that this meant business, and stepped off at once in a square, quick trot, which devoured the road and left a cloud of dust behind. Thomas was on the way to meet a patent-office lawyer from Washington. This person had signified that he would arrive by a train which reached Northam at midnight.
Thomas was in the best of spirits, and as he drove by Janet’s house gave a call well known to her, — two or three sweet notes of a bugle call; he had used it before when he must drive by without stopping. She knew the errand on which he was bound, and answered by flashing a lamp up and down in the window. Her cheeks flushed with the knowledge of his proximity, and her eyes, bright with pleasant thoughts, as she held the lamp above her head, made a picture for the unseen but seeing lover in the darkness outside. An hour or two later she would hear the returning wheels of his wagon, and the little scene would be repeated. If a stranger were with him, a word would explain, and she was not ashamed to show interest and sympathy.
Jack Osborn entered a moment later, in so merry a mood that it seemed like mirth carried over to recklessness, and Janet looked at him once or twice, feeling that he was becoming more and more incomprehensible. For ten or fifteen minutes he kept her and Mrs. Wareham both laughing, and then ran out of the door as unceremoniously as he came in. One thing he did in going out which overstepped the bounds meted out to him by reticent Janet. As he passed her, and she raised her head to say goodnight, he bent forward and kissed her swiftly on the lips. His movements were lightning-like, as they often were ; she had no second in which to draw back. The passion that inspired him brought the blood to her cheeks, but there was no answering warmth from those sweet lips. He felt it, and as he turned from her his face settled into a white look of resolve, and he whispered to himself, “ Only a mile to the pine grove! ” She did not see the look or hear the whisper. She heard the door close and a quick step or two outside, as if he were bounding away at race-horse speed.
Travel on, stout little mare ; do your fleet best! If you thread the gorge and the sighing pines with flying steps, you shall save the life of a good friend, a kind master. Put your trim fetlocks each before the other in haste, and make no false step. Alas, alas! as they entered the steep banks of the pine grove, fearing to meet some one in the darkness of the narrow way, Thomas checked her quick feet, and she paced slowly along.
Suddenly, swiftly, as if shot through the thick darkness, something struck the floor of the wagon in the back. There was a confused sound or two, a groan ; the mare felt the reins slacken in her hands, and as if she knew something was wrong, as if she smelled blood in the air, she started at a wild pace, and thundered down the road unchecked. Faster and faster; the wagon swayed and rattled, bounded over the ruts and roughnesses, as the animal, growing momently wilder, flew on, her nostrils distended and foam flying from her bit. Few teams are abroad on a country road so late; she met no one to stop her, and if she had not been on an accustomed route the frightened beast might have held her course much longer. But she had been often driven to the station, and by a sort of instinct she went there now. The train rolled away from the end of the platform as the little mare tore up and stopped with her feet on the second step of the flight that led from the sidewalk to the platform. One or two belated travelers, natives of the village, the station-master, and the Washington lawyer were the only people there, and the only light a lantern swung by the stationmaster. All heard the excited rush and rattle of the wagon, and noticed the way the mare stopped herself.
“ It’s Thomas Green’s little mare,” announced one of the villagers, coming forward and looking curiously at the panting animal. I should think she had been frightened and run away.”
VOL. XLV. — NO. 267. 2
“Green?” said the Washingtonian. “ That is the name of the man who was to meet me here to-night.”
“ I guess he stopped to see Janet Wareham a minute, and the horse got away while he was in there,” suggested another.
“ Likely as not,” chorused the others, glad to have a reasonable explanation for a feeling of dread which had crept over them.
“ I live pretty near Janet Wareham’s,” said the first speaker, “ and if you are a mind, I ’ll just drive you along on the road. I think it’s more ’n likely we shall meet him somewhere this side o’ there.”
He patted Cherry’s neck and soothed her a moment; then gathering up the reins stepped into the wagon. His foot touched something soft. He could see nothing, but bo recoiled with an involuntary shiver, and said in a hoarse tone, “ Bring that lantern here ! ”