Friends: A Duet


“The friend asks no return but that his friend
will religiously accept and wear, and not disgrace, his apotheosis of him.”
“ Friendship is no respecter of sex.”


THEY met next time with instinctive gladness. Neither could explain what both experienced. He overtook her by chance on his own street in Salem. It was in the afternoon ; and she was not alone.

She had with her that old school friend of whom mention has been made. She had invited Myrtle Snowe to spend a week with her. The two ladies were about to return some calls. Mrs. Strong had made calls latterly, and had accepted one or two dinner invitations for Myrtle’s sake. She no longer wore that cruel crape veil. She looked young and cheerful. She took Myrtle’s arm like a girl.

She was stepping from the carriage when he first saw her, with her long skirts clinging back. She put her foot to the ground with a spring. He was too late to offer her a hand.

Miss Snowe was a bland blonde (a very charming one), and Reliance beside her looked deeper and richer in color than usual. As he came up, standing with raised hat, she lifted her brown eves. They had a timid light. But his brimmed with a radiance which seemed to overflow and encircle her, like an aureola. It was not the radiance of love, but finer, firmer, gentler. He was not dazzled, but he saw all that he could bear. The boyishness of his look, and the always slight reserve of his manner when among people, deepened this expression of freshly discovered and controlled happiness, as if he had a monopoly of all there was in Salem, that day.

It was nothing to stand and be presented to her friend. It was nothing to mention the pleasures of a drive and the personal peculiarities of the weather. It was little to express his gratification that she was able to make calls. It waa not much to see her go sweeping up the Rollinstall steps, tall, slender, gracious and distant, nodding down to him like a lily on a cliff.

And yet it seemed to him that he had been very near her. He passed his hand over his happy eyes as he walked down the street alone, to keep an appointment with a man who was wise in bamboo and India ginger.

He felt as if he must look too happy ; as if everybody would see it, and ask why. He met people whom he knew, and greeted them with rare good fellowship; they all were people he liked, or had not lately seen. He noticed bright colors on children, and the costumes of ladies. He observed that the sun had splendid character, and that the sky was of the solemnly happy September tint,— blue fire to its heart’s core ; not a dream of cloud to be found, high and far and deep as man could look.

It gave him the headache to look, He turned his eyes earthward ; he was content with the earth. He had a friend in it. Oh, she was his friend! — his friend. The God of earth and heaven bless her !

The decorous pavements of Salem bounded beneath his feet that day ; he trod on the blazing September air. He hurried to his appointment, and hurried away from it, stricken by the restlessness of his lightly-grounded content (poor fellow), as if itself had been made of air, and must stir and start at the unheard command of unseen powers, and so away with him.

The Bamboo and Ginger man looked after him with iron-gray, experienced eyebrows, keenly gathered; and to the junior Bamboo and Ginger (who had no eyebrows to speak of, and less experience, whether you spoke of it or not) said, —

“ There ’s a fellow has made a haul in stocks to-day. I ’ve heard he plays with Grand Smash and Electricity,— just called at 161 5/8. He has the look.”

The junior Ginger only answered, “ Ah ? ” Although inexperienced, he had long since learned to agree with people who had eyebrows. He held, however, reserved rights to those private opinions which, it is plain. Providence never intended should be held subject to any superficial personal qualifications ; one of these privileges was a stolid conviction that either rheumatism or a woman accounted for everything. He had never heard of Nordhall as a lady’s man. It was undoubtedly his “off day” on rheumatism. To-morrow he would be in red flannel by the fire. At least he could have a bamboo chair and ginger tea. Life was not without its marked compensations.

Myrtle Snowe, on the Rollinstall steps, gazed critically down the street after the gentleman’s retreating figure. She said, —

“ Walks too fast. A fine-looking fellow, though. Who is he, Reliance?”

“You surely remember Charley Nordhall, my husband’s friend. I thought you knew. He has been very kind since ” —

“ No,” replied Miss Snowe. " I did not. know.” She looked Reliance straight in the eyes as she spoke.

“And she never flinched,” thought Miss Myrtle, while they were sending up their cards.

There were flowers which it was imperative should go to Madam Strong’s the next day, for the quiet dinner she gave to Miss Snowe and her most intimate Rollinstall. They went; but they went in the form of a brutal florist’s blunder, — all red carnations ; and carnations, it is well known, even if of paler complexions, are thought to bespeak economical tendencies. What rightminded man would send the lilies of Paradise to a lady, if they could be had for five cents apiece ? Besides, the more he thought of them, the redder they seemed to grow; they must have looked unpardonably red. The least he could do was to go over and take the tea roses on which they had stolen the march.

He found the ladies just about to go out. The carriage stood at the door. Miss Snowe was promised to be at those musical Rollinstalls, where Rubinstein’s songs were sung. Mrs. Strong accompanied her as far as possible, on the way to the mission meeting at Cranby’s Cut. Madam Strong remained at home with Kaiser and her bronchitis and the tea roses. Nordhall accepted the ladies’ invitation to escort them without any definite perception of the situation on either side, perhaps ; idly, as such things go.

It was a long ride to the Rollinstalls’, and Miss Snowe was to be left first. The three chatted lightly.

Reliance had said : —

“ Why don’t you go with her ? We don’t sing Rubinstein at Cranby’s Cut.”

But Nordhall had pleaded his “ store clothes ” and a refused invitation. They were late, and wafts of music came out as he and Myrtle Snowe stood in the open door. Myrtle had on a long pearl - colorcd cloak that fell to her feet, with its silk cape drawn over her hair. Reliance, from the carriage, leaning out, watched her lovingly. Her imagination was quickened by this slight renewal of old ties, in the early, selfish absorptions of widowhood so long held loosely. She looked from Myrtle to Nordhall with a heightened perception of facts which she had almost forgotten. Youth, music, light hours, and natural hopes were in the world. She thought how little he sought them. She wondered if he needed them,— this homeless man. She remembered that his youth was passing.

Gusts of passionate songs poured out from the house. They were singing Der Azra just then, —

Welche sterben wenn sie lichen,”

Nordhall came back and got into the carriage. He was insanely happy to be sitting there beside her. He could not have said why he took pains that she should not feel this. He was very quiet at first. Then he abruptly asked her how old she was.

“Twenty-eight,” said Reliance, smiling. “ I was twenty-four when I last took ‘my evenings out’ in that way.”

“And you think this is a better way, — this one we are taking ? ”

“ You shall judge for yourself. There is a difference in the quality of music, I admit. That translation of Der Azra is atrocious. If I were poetic I would improve it. Can’t you? ”

“ Considering the absorbing nature of my literary occupations, so overrun as one is in State Street with the imaginative element, so studious a life as I am already forced to live! — Mrs. Strong! how thoughtless of you! ”

They laughed merrily at their own simple wit. He hummed the melody, leaning back in the dark carriage.

Welche sterben venn sie lieben.”

I will translate it ! ” cried Reliance, heroically. “ Now listen. You can hear it following us away down this silent road.”

Paler grew he, paler, paler.”

She leaned to the carriage window with parted lips.

“ Who die with love, and loving die.’’ Both listened to the dying sound ; it died.

Who if they dare to love must die ! ” sang Reliance, then, almost in audibly. “ It makes better poetry than song, I know, but never mind! That is my terrible song. How people can sing it, in light gloves, with fans, and eat oysters afterwards ! ” —

Nordhall could not bear that there should be even a terrible song in the world that night. He began to talk of other things,—little, light things : roses and the sunset; the breakers and the horses; the story he heard on the cars to-day; the last Salem engagement; then of her, and he was glad she made calls and went to dinner now and then. Could her drunkards spare her ? The less favored classes of society were to be congratulated on receiving whatever modicum of her philanthropic attention. Doubtless, if she went back to the Roll installs’ now, some of them might take the pledge — not to take the name of Rubinstein in vain. And so on, and so on.

“ Why, you are a tease ! ” said Reliance, suddenly looking up. She too felt happier than for a long time. Charley Nordhall was greatly changed. He no longer tormented himself and her. Good-by to moods and miseries and misunderstandings ! It was fortunate that they had those disagreeable scenes, now they were well over. It was all over. How quiet and natural and pleasant it was ! She yielded herself to that drive. She ran her long-gloved hand in the swaying satin rest, and lightly leaned her cheek against it, listening to him. He told a good many stories; he made her laugh ; she had a thoroughly good time ; she did not know when she had been so merry. He piqued her with that boyish audacity which never forgets itself, nor the reverences and distances withholding it, yet ventures to their edge, delicately enough. He teased her like a brother about all sorts of little things.

They were both laughing heartily when they came to the mission room in Cranby’s Cut.

The coachman had “ an evening,” and Jacobs was driving that night, lie turned the impassive face of a welltrained servant upon them as they got out of the carriage. She could not have told why, but Mrs. Strong stopped, hesitated, and gravely spoke to him. She asked if he had seen Janet on the way.

“ She’s playin’ on the pianner in there, already,” said Jacobs, pointing with his whip towards the uncurtained window of the mission room. Jacobs usually knew where Janet was. He looked in eagerly. Janet wore a blue tissue veil crossed over a black straw hat behind, and brought round, and tied under her chin. It was a very becoming veil. The solemn, if consumptive, music sounded under her devout, hard-working fingers. Janet was a good girl.

“ Put up the horses somehow, if there is a place, and come into the meeting,” said Mrs. Strong kindly.

“ There’s a sort of tavern opposite Cranby’s,” said Jacobs without unbecoming alacrity. “ I might drive round and see if they can be kept out of draughts there. It would be easier for the hosses.”

The lady and Nordhall passed on, and into the Mission. She dropped his arm leisurely in the brightly-lighted little entry. Mr. Griggs came out to welcome them, and one or two of the Other men waited for her.

She and Nordhall were late, and “ the meeting ” had begun. They went in and sat down among the rest.

Nordhall had never been in such a place before. He observed everything with keen interest. He was in a low, small room, a place that had served as counting-room for some mills; it had been bought by what are called “ the temperance people,” among whom, alien as she was to them by social surroundings, by ecclesiastical connections, by instinctive and acquired tastes, by everything but a highly-cultivated conscience and an independent type of religion, Reliance Strong had found herself at home, and made herself of value. An open fire blazed in the place. Softly shaded lamps stood on a desk over which a red cloth was thrown. The walls of the room were hung with pictures and Scripture mottoes ; both selected by a severe taste. He could not complain of them ; he thought, if he were a drunkard, and had wandered in, —say, from Cranby’s, — he should like the looks of the place. There was a smoking-room attached to the prayer-room, a readingroom, and a bowling-alley ; but at this hour no disturbance came from these directions. The prayer-room was two thirds full of men ; the rest of the audience were women, — their sisters, wives, and daughters; a few ladies of another sort, — from devout (if not exclusive) circles in Salem, — and Reliance.

Little Janet sat at the “ organ.” Jacobs came in and found a seat by the door. Mr. Griggs presided on the occasion at the red-covered table, or, in the phrase of the place, “ took charge that night.” He read a chapter from the Gospel of John, in a clear and modest voice. Then he “ gave out ” a hymn, which the audience “ united in singing.” It was evidently a popular thing with them. The men joined in with great heartiness, and Janet’s really sweet voice rang above theirs. Mrs. Strong sang, too. Nordhall had never heard the hymn or song before. It had a refrain which pleased him : —

“ Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.”

Then there was more of it about —

“Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”
“ Rescue the perishing — Rescue the perishing! ”

The face of Reliance, while this hymn was being sung, took on a strangely sweet and solemn light, He could see that she had forgotten him. That merry ride seemed a great way off. She had gone beyond reach of her grief, her loss, her loneliness, — even John, perhaps. He remembered something he had once read of Whitefield, that “ he forgot everything about the men before him, except their immortality and their misery.” So, he thought reverently, it was with her. He bowed his head with a sense of great distance from her when Mr. Griggs “led in prayer.” It was some time before he remembered that the man was not praying to her.

He listened but dreamily to the “ testimonies ” of the “ redeemed men,” which followed Mr. Griggs’s prayer. Nothing jarred upon his sense of reverence ; he floated in it, as on a newly-discovered golden tide, in which she seemed, a practiced swimmer, to lead him on. Under it all he felt somewhere that these men were honest, and that this place was holy, and that he was not worthy to be in it.

After the short and earnest service was over, he waited for her, standing awkwardly, a stranger among those plain people. He noticed how pale many of these men were with the rigors of late and arduous self control. He recognized one or two whom he had seen reeling about the streets of Salem for years, and passed them by like some one else’s nightmares. These men wore a singularly intent and abstracted, though quiet, look. He could think of nothing to liken it to but the look of transfiguration. He wondered if they caught it from her, by a sort of reflection. After some thought, he remembered WHO it was, in the old story, that was “ transfigured before them; ” he remembered that there is no disciple without a master, no reflection without light.

He was still thinking of these things, solemnly enough, when she turned slightly towards him, — she was across the room, — and her look led him like a hand. She only said that it was time to go, and would he speak to Mr. Griggs before they left ? And when he had done this, and when the men and women had stood in a little group to let them step by, and when Janet had locked the melodeon, and the hymnbooks were put away, and the kerosene lamps screwed down, and reality settled on the unreal place, they passed on together through the deferent scrutiny of the people, and Jacob,s drove them away.

They sat together in the carriage. Some of the men on the steps of the mission room were singing the choruses of the hymns in low voices.

“ Rescue the perishing, care for the dying! ”

Perhaps the disciples of Rubinstein would have stopped their finely-organized ears before that music. But in the disciple of a Greater than Rubinstein, a higher sensitiveness replaced this lower.

Reliance leaned, listening, and Nordhall leaned and looked.

“ They are such dear people ! ” She spoke first, in a grateful, girlish tone. She was still excited. She was not the least of a saint. She was a very human woman. She did a Christian deed like a woman, not like an angel.

“I suppose,” he murmured, finishing aloud his unspoken thought, —I suppose that is partly why Jesus Christ succeeded. I never thought of it before. If he had been an angel, what would a man like Griggs have cared ? ”

“ One of the men — a violent fellow, who draws knives when he is drunk — told me once,” she said, “ that Jesus Christ was too high-toned for him. He was perfectly reverent about it, too.”

“ Yes,” said Nordhall, without smiling, “ I can understand that. Well. So this is a specimen of what is meant in the newspapers by the temperance work ? I’ve never thought about it. I supposed it meant speeches and women with spectacles.”

“ Oh, no, this is no fair specimen ! ” cried Reliance. “ 1 ’m not in it.”

“ I don’t understand.”

“ I’m not part of it. Don’t take me for a specimen. I ’m only one woman trying to help a few people in her own way. I am timid, inexperienced, uncertain of my own views, and I ’m Mrs. Winthrop L. Strong’s daughter-in-law. I could n’t be it. Why, there are women all over the land, all over England and Scotland, the hem of whose overdresses I 'm not worthy to touch ! ” She tried to laugh. “ There are women banded together, twenty thousand strong in this State alone, and so all over the country, pledged to make the salvation of drunkards and the extermination of the drink-traffic the solemn object of their whole lives, — women who sacrifice, and hope, and bear, and do, and pray, and who don’t dare to be alive unless they can ' rescue the perishing.’ They are the consecrated. But I, — I did it, as you said, at the first because I was lonely. I am not worthy to be named beside these people who have given themselves to an ideal which has ” — she hesitated ; she did not often speak of herself in this way ; did not perhaps think about herself in such long sentences — “ which has given itself to me,” she finished softly, “ and has made me so glad, so content! Any woman can do it who will. Most, I think, who cared to do at all, would do more good than I.”

“ If this sort of work is what you think it, what these women you speak of think it,” said Nordhall musingly, “ what a future it has ! What a book could be written about it, —a great appeal, a prophecy! ”

“ I have thought of that,” she answered quickly. “ But the time is not ripe. Some one will do for these poor slaves what Harriet Stowe did for the black ones, I think, — I am sure. And literature will be the richer by another superb moral idea. But not yet, not yet. We are not ready. I doubt if any order of genius could take the twang of the temperance lecture out of such an effort, now. We have not reached the literary stage. But it will come. If I were literary, I could explain to you what I mean and why I think so. But I don’t know how. I seem to make it cloudier and cloudier. . . . Nevermind! It’s only you !

She laughed a trustful, happy laugh. She felt the value of this friend to the full just then.

“ If ever I've been disrespectful to your work in that place,” said Nordhall, “ I beg its pardon and yours, too. I don’t doubt I have, for I’ve never been that kind of a man, you know. Things come in one’s way, — subscriptions and causes and what not, of course, — and one tries to do one’s share, but people I don’t deal with. Now I respected what I saw in that counting-room, to-night, with all my soul. If there’s any way, ever, that I can help you in this sort of thing, I wish to do it. I wish you to count upon my sympathy.”

She thanked him, and said she should be glad to ; this was all. Yet it seemed as if she said a great deal. And they did not talk much more till they got back to the Rollinstalls. The air was frosty, and they could hear the men singing the hymns for a long distance. Reliance looked at the stars, while she listened. Nordhall looked at her.

Some words of Moore’s had got hold of him, and mingled oddly with the singing of the hymns back there upon the Mission steps.

“Ah! did we take for Heaven above
But half such pains as we
Take day and night for woman’s love,
What angels we should be! ”

Rubinstein was mute when they reached the house. Myrtle, in the doorway, at the top of the high steps, looked like a lovely, dim Bacchante in a fresco. She floated down and into the silent carriage. It seemed almost as if she had wandered into a church and were out of place. They all began to talk lightly, as if to break an unacknowledged spell. Myrtle (who had a pleasant soprano), hummed reckless and rapturous snatches of song.

Love’s own madness, Love’s own madness, in your voice ! ”

Nordhall would not come in, that night; it was late when they got home. As Reliance put her hand in his, to say good-night, he seemed to uphold her whole soul. She thought that this was friendship, — to laugh the lighter, to work the harder, to be gladder, to be graver. All her life intensified, as if old chords had been struck with a heavy pedal.

Myrtle Snowe came into her friend’s room that night and talked a while; of Rubinstein, of the Rollinstalls, of this and that. Reliance looked at her dreamily. She knew she was not half taking in the meaning of Myrtle’s words, yet she seemed unable to help it. She was conscious of being intensely preoccupied with thoughts which needed classification, though she was aware that Myrtle had got into a long, pale blue Watteau wrapper, and looked like a lovely tile. Suddenly sense struck her, and the blue tile throbbed with vivid life.

“ Of course, Reliance dear, it’s none of their business — but you must know ” —

“WHAT?” sharply.

“ You must expect to be talked about. You must know, of course, that you are reported to be about to marry again — Why, Reliance ! Why, Reliance Strong ! Don’t look like that! Why, what on earth ” —

How dare they ? ” . . .

She had got rid of Myrtle, at last. She had got rid of everybody, and lay sobbing, face down, choking in the pillows of her own bed. It had seemed to her at first too cruel to believe, and she had burst into a cry of lofty and beautiful anger, worthy of Penelope or Arria. Then her good sense (and Myrtle’s perfectly irresponsive face turned up to her, as out of place as a Marcus Ward Christmas card at a surgical operation) had quickly recalled her to herself. This was not a matter to be discussed with people who had Myrtle’s eves. Nay, it was not a matter to be discussed with any. The young widow recovered her sweet reserve, and, simply expressing her surprise and sorrow at what her friend told her, and adding that there would be always talk in the world as long as people were born with ears and tongues, had kissed her goodnight and locked her out of the room.

Now, suddenly, as she lay there on the bed, the faces of those people at the prayer-meeting came back to her. They stood in rows, and she and Nordhall passed through them. She recalled the deferent scrutiny, the vague sadness, the untranslatable something, in their dumb eyes.

They too, — they too? ...


“Neither is life long enough for friendship. That is a serious and majestic affair.”—MERSON.

Mrs. Strong’s first thought, the next morning, was that she would write a note to Charley Nordhall. She would ask him to come and see her immediately. She would tell him — what ? What could she tell him ? At least, there would be time enough to think that out before he got there. The note could be written, and Jacobs should take it, and so much be secured.

Her mother was less well than usual, and Myrtle was to go home at noon. She found herself occupied with these things, but preoccupied about the note. She stole a few minutes while Myrtle was returning a last call at Amy Rollinstall’s, and locked herself into her own room, and wrote rapidly, without hesitation or premeditation. She had that noble and fatal spontaneity by which high-minded (no less than weak-minded) women trust themselves on paper. But all the world might have read these simple lines : —

DEAR MR. NORDHALL,— I want to see you this evening a little while about a matter of importance. Very sincerely yours, RELIANCE STRONG.

After she had given the note to Jacobs, with instructions to put it into the hands of Mr. Nordhall’s housekeeper before the business train was in, she experienced a slight relief from a tension of feeling which had been tighter than she knew how to bear. He would come. It would not be many hours to wait now. Something would be done, something said, invented, to lessen her trouble.

Her prevailing emotion was one of great withdrawal, almost of repulsion, from the man whose existence in the world could cause her what she was now enduring. Yet underneath this, as the calm of the sea lies below its roar, as the hush of the wind hides behind its cry, she was not without a singular sense of trust and rest in him, as if he would or could restore to her the ease of her lost unconsciousness and content. It was as if with one hand she dismissed, and with the other clung to him.

She suffered reactions, in which his image took on different hues to her; like the object on which the eyelid has just closed, and which strikes the retina first with its immediate, then with its spectral illusion. She saw the real and the complementary colors.

She dwelt upon the conversation which would take place between them; she thought that if he came in just then, she should be able to tell him all that was in her heart. She was impatient for his arrival. She counted the hours till she should hear his familiar ring. No one touched the bell just as he did; she always knew.

Myrtle went away at noon. She kissed Reliance twice more than usual; but she felt more keenly than usual the distance between their natures and their experiences. She did not understand Reliance, did not know what to say to her ; did not know what the poor girl was thinking, with that look in her face, yet grieved a little more over their parting for this reason. Her blue eyes filled as she wrung Reliance’s cold hand. Myrtle supposed it was because she had never been a widow that Reliance was not confidential.

When she had gone, Reliance went up-stairs and sat with her mother, who grew no better. Madam Strong seemed feverish, her breath shortened, and she asked for Dr. Bishop. An order was sent through Janet to Jacobs, who, as soon as he returned from town, was to go for the doctor. It being long pastoffice hours, it would be late evening — nine or ten, perhaps — before Dr. Bishop could reach a patient the relativity of whose sufferings he could gauge by long experience, and with whose chronic inability to change her medical adviser he was sufficiently acquainted. We all have our pet convictions, of which life never defrauds us, but which rather every test contrives to enrich; Madam Strong’s was the assurance that the ministrations of any substitute for Dr. Bishop would have, in her own case, a result of which the least that one could say were that it would be fatal.

This afternoon she was really so ill that Reliance timidly suggested, “ We might call in the homœopathist, mother. I saw his carriage turning up the Rayburnes’ Avenue. He is a good-natured man; he would come for a temporary prescription, and the doctor would never mind.”

“ I can die,” gasped Madam Strong, pressing her withered hand to her heart not so much to express fidelity as pleurisy, — “I can die, but I cannot call an irregular practitioner ! ”

That afternoon Reliance long remembered. It began to rain, and the fog came up from the sea. The wind rose. She read Guy Mannering aloud, and devoted herself to the sufferer. She was not without anxiety, and by no means deficient in tenderness. Yet she was ashamed to find that her mind refused to be a prisoner in the sick-room of her husband’s mother. She tried to chain it to the stately bed, to the cannel fire, to the brass-bound bureau, the faded gold-colored damask of the window curtains, the figures on the old English Brussels carpet, the engraved Sistine Madonna over the mantel, the real little Tintoretto above the pier-glass, the blue gymnastic knitting-work in the bag with the black ivory poles, that lay in the partly consoled work-basket, which had “ gone into ” purple ribbons.

Rebels, rebels, as wild as the rain, as blind as the fog, as fierce as the winds, her thoughts defied her. It was three o’clock. It was half past. It was after four. By seven she might look for him. By eight they should have had their talk. For he would come. He would not mind a storm. What should she say ? She was frightened to perceive that she had not yet decided what to say ; she should be taken unawares, and so at a disadvantage. She was ashamed to find herself wondering what effect her mother’s illness would have upon this interview with Nordhall. Could she be spared long enough to say what must be said ? How unfortunate if she must go down and dismiss him in all this storm, and defer a conversation which seemed to her more and more imperative and difficult! She grew feverish and restless. The storm increased. The fog thickened, and going to the window she heard, or fancied that she heard, the whistle of steamers in distress off Baker’s Island Light. It darkened rapidly. Her mother tossed upon the dignified bed. It struck six o’clock.

Reliance left the window, and went and sat beside the bed, and held her mother’s hands. She could not think of anything else in the world that she was perfectly sure it was right to do. There was no mistake about this. She stooped, in the dark, and kissed the old lady’s forehead. Her sudden tears fell on it, and Madam Strong said : —

“ Why, my dear daughter ! Do not be so anxious about me ! I do not regard my indisposition as serious.” And then poor Reliance felt like a hypocrite of the first degree, and caught her in her arms, and kissed her again and again,— her good mother. John’s mother, all she had in the world! Her sense of kinship to John’s kin seized her like a strong hand. His were hers, and hers were his ; she herself was his ; and these were facts, and nothing could alter or disturb them. She grew calmer. She felt the eternal life of the marriage tie like a tangible presence in the dark room. She was elevated above her own mood; her worst weakness and her deadliest doubt looked far from her, like mists seen in valleys to a climber. She caressed her mother with unprecedented tenderness.

Yet when the door-bell pealed and throbbed through the house (a more nervous ring than usual) she trembled so that she had to slip off the bed and walk the floor to get her breath. It was seven o’clock. He had come, and she had not prepared one word of that important interview. She must say something, and what it were possible or wise — womanly — best —

“Ma’am, it’s the doctor. Shall he come up without I light the candles ? ”

Thus Janet, standing peaceful and fair in the door-way, with an old brass candlestick and low candle in her hand. “And Jacobs says, ma’am, he forgot to tell you that Mr. Nordhall ” —

“ Did he not deliver the note to Mr. Nordhall, as I bade him ? ”

“ But you know you sent him directly for the doctor, ma’am, before ever he was out of his wet things, or the hosses up; and he’s had no chance to tell you up to this present opportunity,” added Janet, with a touch of feeling, “ that the housekeeper bid him say Mr. Nordhall was called away on sudden business, and would not get back for several days. She would keep the note till he returned. Did you say I was to light the doctor up ? ”

Assuredly. Yes. She was to call Dr. Bishop at once, and light those candles which could not shine in Madam Strong’s eyes.

Dr. Bishop was a busy man. Madam Strong was not a dangerously sick patient. Even had she been, I think he would have found time to observe the daughter-in-law who ministered affectionately at the bedside, that night. He belonged to that class of physicians among whom George Eliot ranked her Lydgate, “ a man who thought less of a case as a case than as John or Elizabeth, especially Elizabeth.” Dr. Bishop summoned Mrs. John Strong belowstairs, when he left, and informed her abruptly that he wished her to take her mother to the mountains.

“ This is sudden ! ” said Reliance, changing color.

“ She must get away from the sea. I wish you to take her to Bethlehem, New Hampshire.”

“ When ? ”

“Next week Monday.”

“ Will she be able to travel ? ”

“ Perfectly.”

“ It is October.”

“ I wish you to spend the month of October there with her. Go to the Sinclair House, and then select a place to suit you. You will inquire into the location of the well, wherever you go. You can have open wood fires, and be made quite comfortable. You will please to make your plans at once. The sooner the better for you.”

“ You talk as if I were the patient! ” cried Reliance, almost angrily.

They were standing in the little library, by the high ebony desk. Reliance leaned upon the desk. Opposite them, across the drawing-room, the long mirror hung. It seemed to regard them. Their figures were reflected in it, — the physician’s in part, the lady’s in full. When Reliance said, “ You talk as if I were the patient! ” Dr. Bishop turned and looked over the empty room at the glass. Reliance, in her unornamented, close-fitting black dress, stood there like a sweet and sombre panel. Her cheeks were burning with a high light. She returned the physician’s gaze with feverish eyes ; she rebelled against it with all her being; yet some traitor in her seemed to spring and call to it for help or health, as if she had been ill.

“ A patient, — yes, you are ; but none of mine.” The image of the physician to the image of the lady said, or seemed to say, this in the mirror’s mist.

“ Go to Bethlehem with your mother. It is the best thing you can do.”

But when Reliance would have spoken, the glass was empty of him. She only saw herself standing in the gold-framed panel, quite alone.

A blight upon these highly-trained, observant faculties, which were the next thing to the clairvoyant, and far more dangerous to the peace of society, inasmuch as they were the more respectable ! The business of these people was to cure bodies, not to meddle with souls. The doctor had dared to look at her as if she were a perplexed or hysterical girl. She could have hated him.

Little Janet stood at the head of the stairs when she went up, regarding her with her dog-like eyes.

You seem so tired, Mrs. Strong, dear; let me sit with her a while.”

Reliance wrung the housemaid’s hand in silence; the sympathy came nearer to her than that of what we call “an equal,” just then ; she could have put her head on Janet’s shoulder and cried.

“ Kaiser is in your room, asleep on the rug,” said Janet, with her quick feminine perception. She knew that nobody comforted her mistress like Kaiser. “ I ’d go and see how nice he looks, if I was you. You ’ll kind of rest a mite. I’ll give the medicines and look to the flannels till you come.”

Mrs. Strong obeyed the girl in silence. She was not ashamed to have Kaiser see her cry. The only objection to Kaiser in the capacity of comforter was that he insisted on kissing away the tears. But all forms of created sympathy have their drawbacks. This is a fact intended, as the theologians may have suggested, to produce a dissatisfaction with the lower and craving for the higher types of consolation.

Dr. Bishop had that quality of command which elicits obedience, and the ladies went to the mountains on Monday. Madam Strong was distinctly convalescent, and feared the nature of the mattresses ; but, unquestionably, the doctor understood her constitution. If he prescribed a husk bed on a mountain peak in October for pleurisy, husks and mountains alone could in all human probability save her life. It no more occurred to Madam Strong that Dr. Bishop could be mistaken in an opinion than it occurred to her to question whether the world was made between Monday morning and Saturday night, and finished off in season for the Lord to read the collects at the Sunday morning service. True, there were people, even in Salem, who disagreed with the book of Genesis and employed the homœopathist. Madam Strong was not ignorant. She treated these facts as an educated person should, with well-bred gratitude that Dr. Bishop’s patients were better informed. She went to Bethlehem without a murmur.

Reliance, too, went not ungladly. She was tired with everything and everybody. Nordball would be detained some days longer; he had written about it; it might be even a week or two. There was an oil-well in Pennsylvania on fire, and he had trusteed as well as private interests there. He iiad written a pleasant little note, which began, “ My dear friend.”

One would have time to think in Bethlehem. And nobody knew about one ; nobody talked. She was not sure that she ever wanted to see Charley Nordhall again. She vibrated with gusts of feeling. She was no longer in a hurry to experience that necessary interview. At times she wished she had never seen him. She did not write to him.

Nordhall returned from Pennsylvania in the course of the week. His oilwell was out. He could have wished his feverish impatience to be at home were as calmly laid. He hurried to his house, intending to take a bath, a nap, a dinner, a smoke, perhaps, and after that a long, quick walk. He would be in that physical harmony which insures health of soul before he went to see her. He dreaded himself a little, after these separations ; he might speak impulsively ; he would rather guard himself and her with vigorous repose. He thought it all well over.

There was that admixture of impulse and prudence in Nordhall’s nature which has been well called “ the true reasonableness of manhood.”

A colder or a calmer man would have been, in fact, more liable, in such a position, to be ambushed by his own feeling. Nordhall knew that he had auburn hair and the eyes that match it, and that he might any day make an outrageous blunder. He was learning to analyze a temperament which is either a man’s first friend or deadliest foe. He pleased himself at times with his psychological successes.

He did not glance at his mail till he was dressed ; in fact, not till dinner was past, and he went into the library, hesitating over a cigar. Then he looked the letters over idly : two from the Bamboo and Ginger man ; one from the Boston cousin; a grocer’s bill, the gas, the water; an invitation from Amy Rollinstall; tickets to church charity theatricals; three more invitations; two more October bills. At the bottom of the pile he found her note. It was dated ten days ago. He did not smoke that evening. He read the note three times, put on his hat, and went immediately out. He walked rapidly, and so gained ten minutes, perhaps, on the information which Jacobs and Kaiser had in reserve for him: The ladies were in Bethlehem for the mistress’s health, and Janet was with ’em.

Which mistress’s health? Who was sick ? ”

“ The old ’un, sir. But Janet thinks Mrs. John is peakèd herself, sir. Janet is that fond of Mrs. John.”

There was time; ten minutes saved would carry him into Boston by the last evening train, and he could there take the morning express to Littleton. He thought better of this, however, in season to save himself; went home to bed and to sleep on it, like a sensible fellow. In the morning, he decided to go about his business. If it still struck him as wise, he would run up to Bethlehem on Friday. Why it is a less noteworthy attention to go out of one’s way for a woman the last than the first of the week, a wiser than the compiler of these records must explain. Certain it is that one may safely expend on Saturday or Sunday an amount of social emotion which on Monday dangerously defies a social convenance, impalpable as air and imperious as iron.

To go to her “ on a week-day ” was plainly undesirable, under the circumstances. Any man may spend his Sundays in the mountains.

On Friday Nordhall went to Conway ; thence to Littleton, where for no very definite reason he spent the night. On Saturday morning he ran over to Bethlehem and the Sinclair House.

He found their names upon the book; they had left for a private boardinghouse, which it was so easy to reach that his impatience reacted a little, and he sought delay and thought before he met her. He strolled out into the old parish burying ground, a pleasant place. The October countenance of the hills looked down at him through veils of passionately colored mist and foliage. The late birds twittered and hopped upon the grave-stones familiarly. Delicate frost was on the blackberry vines and sumach, the wild briar and elder, that burned beneath his feet, or leaned in cloaks of purple, carmine, and olive upon the gray shoulders of the old stonewall.

He drank in the keen air. The purity of the place and its peace reached him, in some sense. He was glad he came. It seemed to bring him a little nearer to that invisible world so near to which she walked ; wherein dwelt the life of those who have departed from the seen to the unseen form, from the measurable to the immeasurable influence upon character. He remembered that it was a world near which he, too, must stand, if he would stand to comrade or to comfort her. He remembered that John Strong was in it.

He took off his hat, and wandered, bareheaded to the October morning, among the old-fashioned and long-quiet dead. He was glad of these few moments to prepare him for the sight of this woman whose friendship had become the light of his life. He felt like one who stays to offer silent prayer before a religious service. His thought of her was a cathedral to him.

Something clung to his foot as he strolled among the graves, timidly, almost like a finger touch.

He stooped, and saw a little flash of color, silver gray. It was a woman’s veil.

At first he thought he would not touch it. He knew as well as if she had told him that it was hers. He had seen her wear such a one sometimes of late, to protect the eyes which had suffered from so much crape. It seemed to him that he could no more mistake it than he could mistake the texture of her hand. His color came slowly, in great waves. After that momentary hesitation he snatched the veil and hid it in his breast. . . . And now she was his festival. He was like one who had asked grace before a banquet. He left the dead behind him. (Oh, they sleep well beneath the bright hoar-frost! Little cries of birds upon the head-stones neither stir nor start them. Colors of the October morning, what care have they for ye P Countenances of the mountains, they return ye no regard!) He left, and leaped the grave-yard wall, and hurried to her.

The boarding-house door was open to the sharp air, and he wandered in. There was a hall or entry-way, with a hair-cloth sofa in it. He sat down here a moment. Long corridors running to closed rooms branched from this entry toward the two wings of the house. As he sat there, a door opened at the extreme end of one of the passages, and she came out. She had a little breakfast tray which she carried, with her slight wrist bent under it, in one hand. There was a window at the end of the corridor, uncurtained; her outline was distinct and fine against this light; her face he could not see.

Her attention was occupied with the tray. She gave that slow turn of her head.

He rose at once, and began to plead with her.

“ I 've only come to spend Sunday — at the hotel. Don’t be angry with me ! I just got home, this week.”

She did not say much. He took the little tray from her, for he saw the fringe of the orange-colored doyley tremble across the edge of the tea-cup, where it had been folded. She stood hesitating, and then sat down upon the hair-cloth sofa. Her color returned. He feared that he had startled her, and passionately blamed himself. He looked at her. His own lip trembled. Her loveliness had taken him by surprise.

“ What do you carry that heavy thing for? ” he began, dashing down the first idle current of thought that presented itself as an outlet to what he was feeling ; he must find fault with something.

“ The landlady is sick,” said Reliance demurely, without looking up. “The table-girl has just left to teach a — university I think they call it; it is somewhere in the direction of Littleton. She was a highly accomplished young woman. She would never have upset that cup of cocoa. It is trickling on your hat. She studied Greek after the boarders were abed. I respect the New Hampshire waitress, as a race, exceedingly. Now, Janet ” — “ Why did n't Janet carry the breakfast away ? ” asked Nordhall, laughing; he too had recovered himself a little. Their eyes met with a fearless gladness.

“Oh, I knew Janet wanted to finish a letter to Jacobs. She has never studied Greek,” added Mrs. Strong pensively. “ I feel so much more on a level with her, you can't think ! I really was n’t sorry when that university began its term. I think they called it a semester. When I asked her for the rolls I felt as if she were mentally commenting, * Ladies’ Greek, without the accents.’ My inferiority to Janet is less marked. How long did you say you were going to stay ? ”

“ Till Monday.”

“ That is a good while.”

“ Are you sorry ? ”

“ Not just this minute. You saved the tray from tumbling down. That punch bowl — chicken broth — belonged to the landlady’s great-great-grandfather. She adores it.”

“ How is your mother ? ”

“ Oh, so much better! We drive every day ; we have a lovely time. The forks are plated, but we brought the mattresses from home. She criticises the doughnuts, but one can put Albert biscuit in the trunks. If it were n’t for the stone china, she would be reconciled to the Franconia range, I think. And Dr. Bishop writes twice a week. We really have a lovely time.”

“ Can I see Madam Strong ? ”

“ She would n’t see the angel Michael till after dinner. Then she will be most happy. I must go and take this tray somewhere. I don’t know but Mrs. Brandy will expect me to help wash the dishes.”

“ Who, pray, is Mrs. Brandy ? ” " Why, the landlady ! Is n’t it a nice name ? ”

“ What do you do mornings, before Madam Strong drives ? ”

“ Oh, sometimes I sit on the piazza ; or I walk a good deal. There’s a charming old grave-yard here I walk in. Sometimes I go towards the Notch. Janet stays with her mornings, and she sleeps. Sometimes I read, or perhaps I write letters. Everybody writes letters in Bethlehem. You can’t think how many I’ve written ! I wrote six pages to Mr. Griggs last night. I have n’t spoken to a soul, since I’ve been here, outside the house, unless you count the postmaster, or the old man that drives pigs by at four in the morning and wakes mother up; and once I met a little girl in the grave-yard. And we are the only boarders! You can’t think how lovely it is! I have n’t had an invitation (oh, yes, there was what they call a ‘gathering’ at the church vestry, and they wanted me to come, but fortunately I had a toothache), and I haven’t made a call, and there is n’t a drunkard in Bethlehem ! ”

“ Put on your hat, then, and come to walk with me,” said Nordhall.

“ I will go and see,” answered Reliance, as if she had been a little girl.

She returned in a few minutes, with a white straw hat tied over her hair by a black veil. She held her thick white shawl over her arm. He took the shawl as if he had been used to doing so every day; and as if they had been used to walking together every day, they went out into the morning.

“ How I should like to walk to the Profile ! ” cried Reliance gayly, as they passed down the street.

“ How far is it ? ”

“ Oh, only nine miles.”

“ We might begin,” suggested he, smiling indulgently, as if she had been a child.

“ You can’t think how odd it seems to have anybody to walk with.”

“ Pleasant, I hope ? ”

“Why, yes, very pleasant.”

They chatted in this commonplace way till they had left the village, and struck into the solitary mountain road. (The necessity of being original has taken the comfort out of more friendships than the culture of dullness has ruined.)

Then, when they were quite alone, she stopped talking. They had walked fast; he saw that she was tired, and he asked her to sit and rest by the roadside. She did so at once. The sun was warm and direct, and she said she never took cold.

“ I did not get your note till Monday,” said Nordhall immediately.

“ No. Of course not.”

“ I wanted to come up on Tuesday.”

“ I am glad you thought better of it. This is bad enough.”

“ What can you possibly mean ? ” cried he, his astonishment clearly overmastering all other feeling.

“ I don t know how to tell you,” said Reliance indistinctly. Then he saw how she caught her breath, and that she suffered genuine embarrassment.

“ What was that note about, any way?” he demanded. His quivering emotion at seeing her distress lent a thrill like anger to his tone. “ What had happened ? ”

“ Something dreadful, — dreadful!

“ You did not seem to find it very dreadful when you saw me this morning.”

“ No. I almost forgot. I meant to forget when I came up here. And I don’t care as much about it as I did when I wrote that note.”

“ If you could only give me the slightest clue to what you mean,” — began the man, helplessly.

“ You might know what I mean ! ” cried the woman, rationally.

“ I ’m not an imaginative fellow,” said Nordhall, hitting some rose berries sulkily with his cane. “ All I know is that you distress me beyond measure. If anything dreadful has happened to you I ought to know it, whether it is any of my concern or not,” he added doggedly.

“ It does concern you,” said Reliance, with sudden courage. “ It concerns us both. It is something people said.”

“ Oh ! Is that all ? ”

All ? Why, they said — they said ” —

“ They said we were engaged to be married. Certainly. Why, I have heard that scores of times.”

“ You never told me ! You never ” —

“ Why should I trouble you ? Why, my dear friend, tell me, why should we either of us be troubled over a petty thing like that ? See this thistle beyond the rose-bush. I touch it with my cane, — no, I breathe on it from this distance. It is gone. Look ! The four winds of heaven hold all that gossamer. Shall I go and gather it for you, and pack it up again in a purple calyx ? Does it fall on you and me, sitting here ? We are on our way to the Profile. Nobody notices, thinks, cares, says. We can walk arm-in-arm, if you like, all the way, and not meet any living soul. Oh, turn your head and look through those rose berries at the sky ! Can you see the shadows on the Franconia? That same cloud casts a darkness on your hair. See, we are alone. Why should you fret, or mind ? ”

He turned his head upon his hand, and looked at her dreamily. But now he saw that she was deeply annoyed.

“ But I do mind, — I did mind very much indeed. I do not like to hear such things. They are an insult. They hurt me. I am John Strong’s wife. I do not intend to marry ” —

“ I have never ” — He checked himself.

“ No, you have never asked me,” she said, without a blush. “ Even if you wished it — and I know you do not wish it — you would not be so cruel.”

He did not answer this; and after a moment he suggested : —

Let us walk on.”

“ Let us walk back,” she said wearily. “I can’t get to the Profile. I am not as strong as I thought.”

“ Sometimes I’m afraid I hope you are not,” he murmured impetuously.

“ I did not understand you ? ”

“ I am sorry you are tired. Take my arm, — do. Why should you not ? Now let us talk of this. What are we to do about this ‘ dreadful thing’ ?”

Looking up, — for she took his arm, — she saw the mischief in his eyes.

“ You can laugh at me ! ” she cried.

“ At you ? Oh, no, no ! At it. Yes, I can. Reliance Strong, I think this terrible calamity you speak of is only fit to be laughed at. I think it was unworthy of you to pay that rumor the deference of one pang or tear.”

“ How did you know I cried over it ? ”

“ I don’t know much, it is true, but I know you” She was silent now; her agitation subsiding in gentle waves.

“ Then, what do you think we ought to do about it ? ” she asked, more quietly.

“ Do ? I should scorn to ' do ’ anything. You and I understand each other ” —

“And John,” she interrupted.

“ And John— Yes. We all understand each other. You need me. I need you. If a rational man and woman in a rational state of society cannot pursue a rational friendship without contemplating or perpetrating a marriage engagement, either by accident or design, then civilization is a failure.”

“ It seems to me I have somewhere read that civilization is a failure.”

“ Now what do you mean by that?” He stopped short, looked at her, but perceived the innocent malice of her interruption, and hastened eagerly on: “ And if ever a man and woman could be — could do this thing, I believe you and I are that woman and man.”

“ I have hoped so,” she admitted tremulously ; she too was in earnest now.

“I don’t hope so!” cried Nordhall, boyishly. “ I know so. See, Reliance, my comfort, my strength, — my strong Reliance! Look at me! Would you give me up for that ? ”

She lifted her face. She saw the October sky above his tall height, and the mountains, like witnesses at a solemn pledge, seemed to gather themselves together about them. She met his eyes. They overflowed with protecting tenderness ; grave, guarded, — grand, she thought.

“ Do you think,” he asked gently, “ that I would not be the first to see anything that could trouble you, —anything we must notice or regard that you could fitly pay attention to? Do you think I would not care for all these little things? Leave them,” he pleaded, “ to me. Just take the comfort of my friendship — if it is a little comfort — without fret or worry. I cannot bear to worry you. Will you not trust me ?”

“ I will trust you,” she murmured gravely, “ and I will not give you up for this.”

They had a pleasant Sabbath. Nordhall even went to church with her in the morning, and heard the theology of Bethlehem without demur ; he was too happy to care what he was asked to believe. Madam Strong, too, received him graciously ; she was glad to see somebody from home. He sat with the ladies in the great boarding-house parlor, aud Reliance played church anthems for her mother on the hoarse piano. He dined with them, too, and praised the doughnuts.

Then they sat on the piazza a little while, and became historical, and thirsted for information, and discussed positions not dissimilar in human experience to their own. They mentioned the acquaintances of celebrated women and men. Mrs. Strong remembered that Vittoria Colonna and Michael Angelo were friends. Nordhall spoke of Madame Récamier and Châteaubriand, of Madame Swetchine and the Count de Maistre, of Fénelon and Madame Guyon; and then Reliance recalled Robertson and Lady Byron ; and Cowper and Mrs. — Who was it ? She forgot the name! These people had friendship. They would have it. They knew how to have it. They had taught the world to respect it. They had done the race that divine service.

Mrs. Strong and Mr. Nordhall looked into each other’s eyes on the boardinghouse piazza in the Sunday noon of the Bethlehem October, and discussed their indebtedness to these great persons.

In the afternoon Reliance proposed visiting that old cemetery, but he objected ; his heart did not turn any more to graves. Instead, he asked her to drive to the Profile, and, after some hesitation, her mother urging it (Reliance had been so prisoned in the sickroom of late), she consented to go. Nordhall found a good horse; they started early, and were home an hour before tea. It was a quiet ride. They did not talk of matters which trouble or excite. They said nothing of friendship and civilization, or of service to the race. They shared thoughts, and what in New England we love to call “ views.” They did not discuss feelings. Reliance returned calmed and strengthened.

She felt that she could not be thankful enough for the friendliness of this firm and unselfish man. Nothing had occurred to mar the repose of their ride. When they had sat together below the Great Stone Face, neither had spoken. The sky spoke, and the hills, the eternal solitude, and the granite lips.

Her own little lot seemed small to her as she looked up. What was solitude ? What, a short life of trouble ? Who but a coward could refuse to endure whatever had an end ? She pierced her fate with these brave challenges. We are all of us apt, perhaps, to employ ourselves with this kind of sharp-shooting at those crises of our history when we are least solitary and most content.

As for Nordhall, he was mainly occupied with wondering what he ought to do about that veil. He could not quite look that old fellow on the mountain in the eye with a piece of stolen gauze in his left breast-pocket.

When he came to bid her good-by that evening, for he was to take a start too early to disturb Mrs. Brandy’s household, he battled with himself about this little thing. They were alone in the huge bare parlor, which the lady and the open fire redeemed from intolerable unhomeliness. She stood by the hearth. The barren room seemed hung with cloth of gold. He had not expected to find it so hard to leave her.

He had twice bidden her good-night before he came back, and without preface or apology said, —

“ I found your veil in the churchyard. I have kept it.”

You found it ? Yes ; I lost it Friday.”

She put out her hands, as if to reclaim it. But he shook his head.

“ I don’t know about that,” said Reliance gravely.

“ Then take it! ” He drew it from his breast and held it out to her.

“ What good can it do you ? I do not like — I am not used— I never do such things.” She hesitated and stammered.

“ Why don’t you take it ? ”

But she did not take it. She looked perplexed and pained.

“ I don’t want to be foodsli,” she said humbly.

“ Then let me keep the thing,” he answered, in a comfortable tone. “ I never had anything that belonged to you. I took a fancy to this. It seems to me you might trust me with it.”

She look at him searchingly ; he returned her gaze with clear and quiet eyes; she did not take the veil; they shook hands, and he went away.

He went away and out into the silent, awfully silent, village. He did not go back to his hotel till nearly midnight.

He walked and walked and walked, over the deserted and now chilly roads. There was no wind. It was supernaturally still. In the glows and glooms between the houses where the lights were going out, he could see the dull outlines of head-stones in that churchyard. He hurried past it.

“ I’m walking as if ghosts were at my heels ! ” he said aloud, at last, and stopped short. He made a sharp turn and went back to the hotel. He ordered something, he could not have told what, — something hot; he did not touch it. He continued to walk and to walk, up and down his forlorn little room. He walked till it was one o’clock.

There was but one book in the room, supposed to be the one of all others which hotel guests chiefly and habitually spend their traveling time in reading. He noticed this Bible lying on the empty table by the solitary, tall kerosene light. He went and sat down by it, and held it, unopened, in his hand a minute. He looked haggard and old. Once he turned over his shoulder a look not without fear.

Presently the whole tension of the man softened and yielded. He put the Bible down. He took out of his breast the silver veil, and laid it upon the Holy Book, stretched his hands upon them both, with a gesture infinitely protecting, tender, and pathetic, and pressed his cheek upon his hand, solemnly like one at prayer.

But this action brought his lips in contact with the warm bit of gauze. Suddenly he snatched it to them, and kissed it again and again and again. . . . All was over now.

A man of honor could be the victim, but not the culprit, of these terrible illusions.

Friendliness ? Pity ? Friendship ? Then pity was a passion and friendship an omnipotent love.

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.