In War Time

XV.

FOR Wendell and his sister the winter brought little visible change. The great plan for an essay on American diseases somehow faded away, and was as yet without a successor. Dr. Lagrange had, however, been ordered from the hospital, and a new and alert volunteer surgeon, with his head full of improvements, was making it uncomfortable for Wendell; so that his hours had to be rearranged, and he felt that it would be much more pleasant to be free from the shackles of even as little army discipline as his relations to a hospital involved.

Ann, of course, altogether disapproved of a resignation by her brother. The money loss of eighty dollars a month seemed to her a very serious matter ; but to Wendell his personal convenience was far more important, and overruled for the time all other considerations, He was cautious not to allow his sister to suspect that, beside the difficulty she found in meeting their daily expenses, — for Ann allowed no bills to accumulate unpaid, — he was annoyed by the results of his own folly in buying new lenses and expensive books, and now and then some rare engraving.

Had young Morton understood the true state of things, he would have been quick to aid his friends ; but he knew that he paid them liberally for the home and the care that they gave him, and as Wendell never considered or talked about what things cost, and Ann was too proudly self-sustaining to allow of a stranger seeing her growing necessities, Edward lived on without suspicion, and was the more likely to be free from it because he had always been so lifted above money cares that the possibility of them was the last thing he would have been likely to think about.

It was well into January when Ann said to her brother, “ I am sorry to trouble you, brother Ezra, — I know how you dislike it, — but I must have more money. I save what I can, but Mr. Edward needs all sorts of luxuries. I did think that when Hester was so nicely provided for, we should go along, more comfortably.”

“ I don’t see where the money all goes, Ann,” he returned helplessly. “ I am sure I spend very little.”

“ Are you certain of that, Ezra ? There was that microscope, and ” —

“ Oh, Ann, am I never to hear the last of that microscope ! ”

“ And those new lenses, — were n’t they very dear ? ”

“ No. I can always sell them for what they cost. A good lens is just like gold.”

“ But that cyclopædia.”

“ A man really must have the tools of his profession, Ann ; and I gave up all idea of the carriage.”

Copyright, 1884, by HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Co.

Ann groaned. “ I do wish I could help you more. I sometimes think I am of loss use to you than I was ” —

Being a woman, and therefore automatically sacrificial, she could not estimate the immense proportion of energy she thrust, somehow, into his daily life, nor recall, in her self-negation, how often she remembered his engagements, or urged him to leave his microscope to face the winds of a cold night to make some professional visit which he would next day have found an easy excuse for having left unpaid. The wonder was that he did not seem to recognize the force that helped to give to his intelligence, which was competent enough, what practical utility was possible for it. Of course there are many failures in such relationships, and despite her watchful interest Wendell’s professional life was far from reaching an ideal standard of efficient duty.

“ You are of great use to me always,” he said ; “ and as to the money, I have many good bills, and I can jog the memory of one or two patients. Now there is Jones.”

He made things so easy with his comfortable outlook that Ann was satisfied for the time, or appeared to be.

“You won’t forget?” she entreated.

“ No.”

“ Ezra, is your practice growing? ”

“I — I guess so. I am told I have been unusually successful, for a newcomer. People do leave one, you know ; but that is what every man has to expect. They say a doctor’s whole practice changes every ten years.”

“ That seems strange to me,” remarked Ann. “ If ever I needed to have a doctor, I should n’t want to change him.”

“ Well, people do,” returned Ezra.

In fact, he had been fortunate. At the time we speak of, certain country neighborhoods were suffering for want of physicians, a good many men who were just on the borders of success in practice having been tempted into army service; so that those who, like Wendell, stayed at home sometimes profited by the opportunities thus left open. The Mortons were pleased with his services, and Mrs. Westerley, although of late she had become guarded in mentioning him, had often enough spoken freely of his skill ; so that he had picked up a fair number of well-to-do patients, who felt that the new doctor was to bo taken more or less on trial. As time went on he lost a larger proportion of such patients than he should have done. He was in every way an agreeable and amusing visitor, but when he had to sustain the courage of the sick and satisfy watchful friends through grave illness he failed. For some reason, he did not carry confidence to others; perhaps because he was unable to hide his mental unstableness, which showed in too frequent changes of opinion. Moreover, his love of ease made impossible for him the never-ending daily abandonment of this moment of quiet, or that little bit of tranquil home life, which every wise physician counts upon once for all as a part of the discomforts which he must accept if he means to win success. Some men overestimate what they give, and think little of what they get in return. Wendell liked to believe that his professional life was made up of sacrifices ; so that when a patient left him, and sent for another more decisive attendant, he felt a certain foolish resentment, into which the notion of ingratitude entered, and which made him regard with bitterness his more lucky successor. Let us add that Alice Westerley, whose interest in him was fatally growing, was, as to all these matters, an unfortunate friend. She was quite too widely sympathetic to be a good moral tonic, and knew really too little of his less interesting qualities to acquire the sad conviction that he was designed by nature to illustrate, soon or late, the certainty of failure where, although the machine be competent, its driving power is inadequate.

But a man must be very blind indeed not to recognize sometimes that he is drifting from the course he meant to take, and Wendell was, as I have said, by no means defective in intellect. There come to most of us, in fact, times of unpleasant illumination, when we are forced to see things as they would appear to an uninterested or abler observer; but some men are always so near their moral mirror that their breath obscures the image they ought to see. The talk with Ann made her brother unhappy for a time, and brought upon him one of the dark moods which she so much dreaded ; nor indeed was he otherwise without good cause for unhappiness. From time to time he had borrowed small sums from Edward Morton, whose generosity made it so easy that somehow the weight of this gathering debt seemed to Wendell to be of little importance. But there was another matter which was of graver moment. Wendell had, after some doubt as to what was best, taken Wilmington’s advice, and invested in his own name, as trustee, the ten thousand dollars deposited in his hands by Henry Gray. The investment being in government bonds at a low rate, their rise towards the year 1865 made the doctor feel that there was a comfortable margin of profit, which with the passage of time must enlarge. At first, he set this aside, as belonging to Hester ; but by and by, as his own difficulties increased, he began to think that he was entitled, as Gray had, no doubt, meant him to be, to some share in her good fortune. There was reason in this, but Wendell did not take the first positive practical step without moral discomfort, nor until urged to it by unrelenting circumstances. His own and his sister’s inheritance amounted to but six thousand dollars, and was invested in a well-secured mortgage which Mr. Wilmington had recommended, and in fact found for him. The rise in Hester’s securities fatally tempted him to seek for some more brilliant return from his own and Ann’s little property, and after much hesitation he bought stock in a Western road which had been rapidly rising in price. The January dividend, however, had not been paid, and the stock had fallen. Then, at last, when Ann asked him for the usual semi-annual interest on their mortgage, which habitually he resigned to her entire for her household uses, he found himself in trouble. If, says a monkish adage, you let a thin devil slip through the keyhole, a fat devil will unlock the door.

I should do an interesting but weak nature a wrong to presume that it cost him nothing to reason himself into borrowing enough of Hester’s capital to enable him to give to Ann the money she had habitually received. The rebel cousin had meant to give his relation a certain sum, but owing to Wendell’s wise investment it now much exceeded that amount. The excess seemed almost as much his as Hester’s. It was characteristic of him that he put in his little tin box of private papers an acknowledgment of the amount thus transferred, but soon he found it convenient to add to it a second receipt; and these papers were, in some fashion, a comfort to the troubled man, who by habit dwelt within an ever-widening horizon of hopeful possibilities, as inexhaustible as the growing zone of successive mornings. Like all who tread this evil path, he honestly meant to replace what he took, and nothing could have surpassed the force of his conviction that he would do so ; indeed, to have been told that he would not would have been felt by him as the deepest insult.

Meanwhile, he went about his work with a certain renewal of vigor, and found time to see Alice Westerley often. She had begun to be present in his day dreams as one of the brighter planets that were slowly rising above that horizon of which we have spoken. To do him full justice, he never thought of her in relation to money. This would have been unlike his gentle and poetic temperament. He of course knew that she had means, but how great he did not know, and he timidly approached her in a growing tenderness of relation which his sister did not suspect, and which he himself was very slowly coming to apprehend might result in something still more tender.

Early in March Miss Pearson’s school broke up, on account of fever in the neighborhood, and Hester was sent away in haste, while the doctor was called on to settle a number of bills for her clothing and tuition.

Nevertheless, he was sincerely glad to see her, for at each return home she was a novel and charming surprise to the little circle.

“ A butterfly, indeed ! ” exclaimed Edward Morton. “ Could any one have imagined Hester would develop into such a noble-looking woman ! ”

Ann, who had followed with her eyes the retreating figure, with its straight carriage and walk of liberal strength, said quietly: —

“ Indeed, the girl has grown.” Ann had a sense of odd uneasiness at the sight of this suddenly completed transformation. What should she do with her ? Then the girl reappeared, happy at the escape from school.

“ Won’t some one walk with me to Mrs. Westerley’s? ” she asked. “ Come, uncle, you have nothing to do.”

Wendell had something to do, but it was not in him to say no.

“ Come,” he said.

“ And don’t forget Mrs. Grace,” remarked Ann.

“ No, of course not.”

“ And now, uncle,” cried Hester, clinging to his arm, “ how is everybody ? And why does n’t my cousin write? And how is Mr. Arthur ? And you, — last and best, — how are you ? ”

“ If you go on, I shall want an index to your inquiries,” laughed Wendell. “ Cousin Gray is probably engaged in the laudable occupation of blockade running,” he added.

“ And why not laudable? ” queried Hester, who had found, during the last school term, another Carolinian, stranded like herself among what the better instructed young woman called with emphasis “ those Yankees.” “ I am sure you will understand why I must have my own feelings about the South. But I think you always did understand.”

“ Yes, yes, dear, well enough,” he said; “ but don’t talk more than you can help about the war. It makes trouble, in these days.”

“ No,” she replied, looking up at him, and lightly pressing his arm, “ that would be disloyal to you. I am a featherhead, Miss Pearson says, and Mrs. Westerley lectures me ; but there are some things I can never forget,—never ! What a stupid child I must have been, when Miss Ann took me home! — and it seems such a home now ! But as I grow older, I think about my father’s death, and Miss Ann’s kindness and yours come back to me, and I now know what an unusual and noble thing you did. Ah, I know it well now ! ”

“ I think I have heard a little of this before from a certain young woman,” said Wendell, who liked but yet was always embarrassed by praise.

“Yes, I know ; but a certain young woman is certain she can never say all that she feels about it.”

“ Let it be, then,” he said, tenderly, “ as of a service from ” — and he paused a moment; he was about to say “ an uncle,” but, looking aside at her face turned towards him in its stir of feeling, why did the nominal relationship he assumed seem all of a sudden absurd ? Then he amended his phrase, “ Like a brother’s service ; to be remembered, not paid for with thanks.”

“ I wish I could say things as prettily as you do ! Mr. Arthur says it is because you have a poet’s temperament.”

“ Arty is a stupid hoy,” returned the doctor, not displeased.

“ But then,” cried the girl, laughing merrily, and pretending for a moment to survey him critically, “ you are too old for a brother. I should like one about Mr. Edward’s age. I should n’t like old brothers.”

Wendell felt that at thirty-two it was rather hard to be doomed to senility by those pretty lips.

“ Well,” he said, after they had chatted somewhat longer about the Mortons, and had stopped to look at and to unroll the varnished covers of some horsechestnut buds, “ here is Mrs. Westerley’s, and I shall appeal from slandering youth to the charity of a woman as to the awful question of my antiquity.”

“ I don’t think Mrs. Westerley will agree with me ; at least, she never does,” returned Hester, demurely. She had heard a little about the two friends, perhaps, and had not left unused her own uncomfortably keen powers of observation. Decidedly, Miss Gray was growing in many ways !

“ I will join you,” he remarked, “ after I have seen Mrs. Grace.”

“ Oh, is that dreadful lady alive yet?” exclaimed Hester.

“ Did you suppose that I had killed her by this time ? ” he returned.

“ If I were her doctor,” said Hester, merrily, “ it would be, ‘ Short her shrift, and soon her lift ! ’ ”

“ What a depth of wickedness,” he said, “ and so young, too! ” and, laughing, he left her at Mrs. Westerley’s gate.

Mrs. Grace’s drawing-room, as she liked to call her parlor, was filled with a sad inheritance of sepulchral grimness in the way of mahogany furniture of the fashion of some fifty years hack. Her daughters and herself had striven in vain to induce Mr. Grace to replace it with something of more modern form ; but black haircloth and brass nails do not wear out, and, as he said, “ What is the use, Martha, of new furniture, when this is perfectly good ? ” Efforts had been made to hide it with tidies of divers workmanship, but the mournful sheen of the haircloth, polished by much sitting, remained, and no art could conceal the sombre scrolls of sofa and chair back, which Alice Westerley said looked as if they had been put up in primeval curl-papers before the flood. The paint was a little dingy, and on the wall-paper, which was recent and much gilded, were hung two prints: one of the death-bed of Daniel Webster ; the other of Henry Clay, in evening costume, addressing a morbidly attentive Senate. “ Daniel Webster was a friend of our family,” explained Mrs. Grace to a too critical young person, “ and then my husband is such a tariff man, you know.”

Wendell looked around with a sensitive shudder, and, gasping in the blast of dry heat from a furnace began to wonder why the opening from which it came should have been called a register.

“ I give it up,” he muttered to himself, as Mrs. Grace entered the room.

Sarah was not well, and it must be malaria. Did not Dr. Wendell think it was malaria? He did not, but he knew by this time that it was unwise to dispute Mrs. Grace’s opinions, and also useless. He therefore advised her impassive and sallow daughter to eat less and walk more, and prescribed some one of the mild remedies which neither help nor hurt; and then Sarah was dismissed, and Mrs. Grace, now that she had him alone, began to take a little real comfort out of his visit in the shape of a flow of disconnected talk, made up of inquiries as to other people’s maladies and her own complaints. Wendell had a reasonable habit of reticence about patients, but it was not very easy to escape this practiced inquisitor without vexing her.

“ So Hester has come home.”

“ How on earth did she know that?” marveled the doctor.

“ And I do hope you’ll keep her back. I did think myself she was rather forward, when I last saw her. You know, of course, I speak as a friend.”

“ I believe,” returned Wendell, “ that my sister is quite equal to the care of the girl, and to us she seems much improved ; and then her good friend, Mrs. Westerley ” —

“ Oh, Mrs. Westerley ? ” said his hostess, with rising inflection, interrupting him. “ Now do you quite think she is — well, just the kind of person ” —

“ She is the best woman I know,” replied Wendell, annoyed. “ You know, I am sure, that she is a friend to whom we owe a great deal of kindness.”

“ Oh, I thought you were her doctor ! ”

This was rather confusing to Wendell, and he had to conceal a smile.

“ But,” he said, “ she is never ill.”

“ Indeed? I thought I noticed that you went there a good deal.”

“ Yes, I see her now and then. She is a very good friend of ours, as I said, and my sister and she have so much in common,” a statement which would have amazed equally either of the women in in question.

“ Sisters are pretty convenient, you know,” broke in Mrs. Grace, feeling that she had said a brilliant thing and wise. “ I do think I ought to tell you, as a friend,” she added, “ that when she was younger Mrs. Westerley was thought to be a bit of a flirt, you know, doctor ; and then she made such a sad match.”

“ I have never seen anything in her to make me think for a moment she deserves such a character,” he replied, endeavoring to answer coollv-

“ Well, you can’t change my opinions,” said Mrs. Grace ; “ and may be it ’s a question of time. You will find ouL some day. What I know I know, and if my own family had n’t suffered I might think I was not called on to speak ; but I guess my poor cousin Fox could tell a different story.”

“ What? Colonel Fox? Impossible ! ”

“ Well, you may think so.”

“ I am sure you will not want to take away from me the liberty to think no ill of Mrs. Westerley,” he said. “ But I am late,” he added, glancing at his watch as he rose. “ I must go.”

“ And of course,” returned Mrs. Grace, “ what I have mentioned was just because I have a friendly interest in my doctor. You know I need hardly ask you not to repeat it. Sarah says people do so misunderstand things.”

Wendell moved toward the door little dreaming that Sarah, who had thus come in at the close, should have had a place at the beginning as the text of this little sermon. It had occurred to Mrs. Grace that if things came to the worst a rising doctor might be better for Sarah than no one; and Colonel Fox did not appear to look upon Sarah with even a second-cousinly regard, as she had once feebly hoped he might do.

When Wendell found himself in Mrs. Westerley’s drawing-room, he felt as if he had come from under a pall into sunlight. Alice and Hester were chatting merrily, and the elder woman was advising Hester to take French and drawing lessons. “ You know, dear, you have quite money enough.”

“ Mr. Edward has promised to read German with me. I think I shall like that. Do you know, Miss Pearson does not mean to open her school until fall!”

“ Well, I hope by that time Mr. Gray will be heard from,” said Mrs. Westerley. “ He certainly will have something to say as to your future,”

“And,” asked Wendell, “have you ever thought it possible he might want to take Hester away ? I — we would n’t like that, Hester.”

“I should n’t, — not at all! But,” springing to her feet, “ I promised Miss Ann to be at home before this time ! May I come and dine to-morrow ? ”

“ Any day, every day, my dear.”

“Will you walk home with me?” said the girl turning to Wendell.

“No; I have some patients to see.” He had reflected that he would like to linger in Mrs. Westerley’s pleasant room, and efface a little the remembrance of his last visit, Then Hester went away.

“ You have been to see Mrs. Grace ? ” queried Alice. “ Was she as charming as usual ? ”

The doctor colored slightly. He had but small control over his face, a grave defect in a physician.

“ Oh, I see ! ” she continued. “ I am a favored subject.”

“ She would not dare to speak ill of you to me,” returned Wendell, who hardly knew what to say.

“ Dare ! ” repeated Alice. “ She would dare to say anything to anybody of anybody. I sometimes marvel at the courage of such people.”

“ I think a woman would have to be both very bad to abuse you and very brave to abuse you to your friends,” he said. — “ you who are so good and just to every one.”

“Do you really think that? What an imaginative man ! ”

“I may not be as good as — as all your friends ought to be, but I don’t think I am too stupid to understand Mrs. Grace.”

“ I don’t know,” she returned gayly. “ ‘ I have my opinions,’ as Mrs. Grace would say. But how goes your work ? I mean the new subject you mentioned.”

“ Oh, very well,” he answered. “ But I find my hospital getting to be somewhat in the way, and I do suppose I should be better able to attend to what is of permanent value if I gave it up.”

“ Then why not give it up?”

“ Partly,” he answered, with some hesitation, “ because the money is convenient.”

“ Oh, but that can’t matter with you now,” said Alice, who had never felt what it meant to want money ; “and I should think you would do far better, even in the way of money, if your time were more your own.”

“ I hardly know,” he replied. “ I sometimes wish that I could give myself up to research altogether.”

“ It does seem hard that you cannot, with your capacities.”

“ How good you are to me, and how well you appear to be able to enter into a man’s life and ambitions! So few people have that power. I can never thank you enough. But good-by. I must go.”

“You are going? And why do you go ? ”

“ Do you want me to stay ?”

“ Of course I want you to stay. I am always glad to see my friends,” she added, rather promptly, perhaps a little scared at what she had said. “ But don’t let me keep you if you are busy.”

“ I ought to go. Indeed, I must go,” looking at the clock. “ Thank you once more,” and he glanced at her face with eyes which were of a pleasant hazel, and now strangely wistful. “ You have the divine gift of healing.” Then he suddenly and passionately kissed the hand he had taken. She drew it away. The natural recoil was enough to alarm a man so sensitive. “ I have offended you ! ” he said.

“ No — no — not deeply, but go away. Don’t stay, — pray don’t.”

“Oh,” he exclaimed, “ there are no women like you, — none ; ” and so left her standing thoughtful by the woodfire. She turned thence to the window, and keeping back a little glanced after him, with tender softness in her gaze.

“ I don’t know whether I want to love him or not,” she murmured, “ but I am afraid I do. Oh, I am afraid I do ! And what is it makes me afraid ? I wish I knew.”

Alice Westerley had begun her early social life in New York by marrying a man who would not have excited an emotion in her three years later. He gave her all that money could buy ; and money was as abundant with him as a successful gambler on Wall Street may make it. He died, and Alice learned that another woman and her children had made for a coarse-minded man his real home through the three years of her own married life, and long before. At the end of a year, when the executors turned over to Alice her large share of his estate, she did at once what she had meant to do from the moment she knew of her husband’s domestic treachery. She sent for the woman who had been his mistress, and who had been left uncared for, and said, “ I have asked you to come here because I look upon you as Mr. Westerley’s wife, in God’s eyes, and I have made arrangements to turn over to you his property.” This she did, to the woman’s amazement and to the disgust of her own friends. Then she took the little fortune her mother had left her, and went abroad. Her father was alive, and, being a singular person, said she was right; that it was a nasty business, and she was well out of it. A year later he died, and the widow was again a rich woman. An accidental visit to Helen Morton resulted in her learning to like the quiet town, where soon after she bought a house. This was the woman who now sat down on a stool, and, looking into the fire, began to try to analyze her own feelings and true desires. Why was she afraid? He was very pleasant to her, with his large eyes, his gentle ways, his wide range of knowledge, and his tender dependence upon her. Was it that after all she did not entirely like this resting upon her opinions? Then she stirred up the failing fire, and took counsel with it. It was a delicate flattery now, but would it be always so grateful ? “ Perhaps I expect too much,” she said to herself ; and after a good deal of perplexed thinking, it came to her how delightful it would be to release this man from all trammels, and have him free to realize his intellectual dreams. She well knew that she had been in a measure unwise to allow him to anticipate her decision ; for now it was plain enough that she had at least given him the permission to believe that he might love her with some distinct hope of success. Then she laughed aloud, in a little scornfully defiant way, thinking how her English friends would cry, “ A medical man!” when they learned that she had married a country doctor. “ A medical man, my dear,” she repeated aloud. “ But I am not married yet,” she murmured, as she rose, — “ not yet! I would like to have a little time to myself! ” and with this she promptly went to her desk, and wrote to Hester that she had some errands in New York, and should be back within a few days. Of course Wendell would know of this; but she had secured for herself a respite, without which she felt that she was unwilling to face him anew. At one minute all seemed to her to be clear; at another her mind was obscured by a doubt. The process of mental filtration was unsuccessful, and more and more she came to recognize the fact that she was too agitated to consider with useful calmness a matter into which, she began to discover, she had gone too far for honorable retreat.

XVI.

On the day after this interview, Dr. Wendell had two unpleasant surprises. He learned that Mrs. Westerley had gone to New York, and was foolish enough to recall uneasily for an instant what Mrs. Grace had said of her. However, he went into the hospital, and came out early. Ann found him seated by himself, as if in thought. She knew him well.

“ What troubles you, Ezra,” she asked, “ and why are yon home so soon ? ”

“ I was tired,” he returned ; “ and, Ann, I am to be dropped out of service next week. They are cutting down the cumber of contract surgeons.”

Ann had been anticipating this, though now it had come it gave her a sharp pang ; but she said promptly, with sweet and helpful cheerfulness, “ Well, we ought not to be altogether sorry. It will give you more time to see patients, and you know you thought about resigning.”

“ Yes, but one thinks a good deal before taking so decided a step. It does seem to me, Ann, that we are very unfortunate.”

“ Do you think we have a right to say that, Ezra ? ”

“ I don’t know about the right,” he returned, impatiently. “ I have the blues, Ann. I feel like Saul in his tent. Best let me alone ! ”

“ Ah, but you can’t be let alone,” said Hester, from the parlor. “ Here is Mr. Morton ; and have you heard the news ? Mrs. Morton is coming home in April.”

“ Indeed ! ” exclaimed Wendell, now forced to rouse himself.

“ But are you sick ? ” said Hester, in quick alarm, as she entered with Edward. “ Is he sick, Miss Ann ? ”

“ No; he has only had some bad news, and may have to leave his hospital.”

To Hester this did not represent any grave calamity, but Edward looked serious. He had now begun to suspect that the Wendells were, for some reason, straitened as to money.

“It had to come, of course,” said Wendell. “ Soon or late it had to come. Don’t let us talk about it any more. It has its good side, like many evils.” But after they had gone, he still sat moodily thinking. He had already used, little by little, fifteen hundred dollars of Hester’s money, — borrowed it, he said to himself, — and the stock he had bought was still falling, and now he was about to lose his contract surgeoncy ! He was with reason afraid at times of the constancy with which ideas haunted him during his moods of despondency. It seemed to him as if there were some mechanism of torture in his mind, which presented troubles over and over in new and horrible relations; for he was imaginative, as we have seen, and imagination for such men as he is to-day a stern prophetess of evil, and to-morrow a flattering mistress. Do what he would, — and the thought immeasurably distressed this sensitive being,—he kept thinking about Mrs. Westerley’s money, and how surely it would rescue him, and how often it had come before him that now he need have no fear as to repayment of what he had borrowed from Hester’s means. There was a fiend’s cruelty in the conception that a noble, honest creature like Alice was ignorantly making it easy for him to do a shameful thing, and not suffer for it. If she should ever come to know of his guilt, what then ? Already a deepening affection was creating for him a clearer sense of his own moral degradation. He got up, went out into the street, and walked rapidly, as was his wont when depressed, and in an hour came back, more quiet in mind.

“ Come in, brother,” said Ann, as she looked out of the parlor window. “Here is a message to see Mr. Wilmington.”

“Indeed!” exclaimed Ezra. Mr. Wilmington had never before claimed his care, and so little a thing as this made him feel unreasonably comfortable. “ I will go at once.”

“Oh, do take your tea first. There is no hurry about it, they told me.”

“ And here is a letter from Arty,” said Edward. “ No, it is not. It must be from Fox. Yes, it is from Fox.”

“ Open it,” said Hester, shortly. “ How slow you are! ”

“ Why, what’s the matter, Hester ? ” returned Edward, slowly dividing the envelope, and playfully retreating.

“ I must know,” she said. “ What does he say ? Who is it from ? Why don’t you look ? ”

“ Ah,”replied Edward, “ let me sit down. Wait a moment, — I must read it first,” and he checked her with his raised hand, while he read a few lines. “ It is n’t very — bad, Hester. I was dreadfully afraid,” he cried, looking up.

“ Tell me at once,” she demanded imperatively.

“ Hester ! ” exclaimed Ann. “ Hester ! ”

“ Arty is wounded,” said Edward; “not badly, — not badly at all ; a flesh wound. Colonel Fox writes because Arty can’t use his arm. Oh, the dear old fellow has put in a slip for Hester ! Why, where is she ? ”

“ She went out of the room,” returned Ann ; “ I heard her go upstairs. Something has got to be done about these tempers of hers. Something has got to be done ! ”

Ann had never pursued, in her educational duties, the letting-alone system, and, having been shocked and surprised at Hester’s abruptness, thought well to knock at her chamber door shortly after herself hearing to the end Colonel Fox’s letter. If all this little display of short temper were about the war, Hester must be told to repress it, for every one’s sake; and if it were simply impatience, of which Hester had her fair share, it was Ann’s business, as her present guardian, to reprove it.

At first there was no answer to Ann’s knock.

“ Hester ! ” she called. “ Hester, open the door ! ”

Still there was no reply.

Then Ann shook the door-knob, a little angry, and a very little uneasy.

“ Open the door at once. Do you hear me? Hester, dear Hester! ”

The door opened suddenly, and Hester appeared on the threshold, drawn up to her full height, an angry light in her eyes.

“ What is the meaning of all this ? ” asked Ann, severely. " Are you sick? And why did you go away so rudely while Mr. Morton was reading ? ”

“I —I wanted to,” said Hester. “ I went ” —

“ Goodness ! ‘ Went! ’ I know you went! And you call that an answer; and pray, child, do you think you are behaving yourself properly now ? What does it all mean ? I must say I never saw you act in this way before.”

“ I don’t know,” murmured Hester. “ Cannot I just be let alone, Miss Ann ? I want to be alone.”

“ And why on earth do you want to be alone ? Is it because you were alarmed about Arthur ? That was natural enough ; but really, child, I don’t see why there should be all this fuss. Colonel Fox says there is no chance of his losing his arm. Upon my word, Hester, a little real trouble would do you no harm ! ”

“ No harm,” repeated Hester, faintly, — “ no harm ! ” and began retreating backward into her bedroom, with her palms raised and her arms extended towards Ann, and a face flushing rapidly.

“ Good gracious, what a fool I am ! ” cried Ann, seizing her in time to guide her full on to a lounge. “ Ezra ! ” she cried. “ Ezra, come here quick ! Hester is sick ! ”

Wendell was at her side in a moment.

“ It is only a nervous attack,” he said ; “ don’t be worried. Run and get some ice.”

While Ann was gone he hastily loosened the girl’s dress, and waited, watching her.

Meanwhile, poor Edward, who had climbed the stairs wearily, and in such haste as was unusual to him, reached the door of Hester’s room.

“ What is it, doctor? ” he asked, anxiously, and with a tremor in his voice. “ Is she ill ? ”

“ No,” answered Wendell, turning; “but give me that pitcher. I can’t leave her, or she will fall off the lounge.”

Edward came in, and did as he was desired. Then he saw for a moment the white sweep of the girl’s neck and shoulders, flushed with moving islets of blood that came and went, the signals of a nervous system shaken by a storm beyond its power to bear. He drew back with a sense of awe at the sight, ashamed, as it were, in trouble for her that she should be thus and so undisturbed.

“ Here is Miss Ann,” he said, hastily. “ For Heaven’s sake, don’t let Hester know I was here. I will be in my room, if you need me.”

Then he limped out, a little dizzy, as happened to him at times if moved by strong emotion, and supporting himself by a hand on the walls he reached his room, and fell into the nearest chair. The patient, tender-hearted man had received a new hurt. Of late he had been mending, and a hope had come to him; but now he was like one who, after shipwreck in a strange land, awaking, sees a color in the sky, and knows not yet if it be dusk or dawn.

The gay-hearted girl who had grown up by his side, who with him was never impatient, who had shared his books and his new pursuits, and had filled his crippled life with a new and wholesome sweetness, was to be his no more even in thought; for now it was all plain to the gaunt young fellow, made over-sensitive by pain, until he had attained a more than womanly appreciation of the feelings and griefs of others.

“ What a blind idiot I have been ! It is Arty she loves ! ” he cried, as he sat with his hands on his knees, looking with wide eyes far away, like Browning’s lion, into the drear desert of his doubly sterile life.

Then tears came to his help, and he laughed as with a quick hand he cleared them from his eyelids, — laughed to think that he had become physically so feeble as to recognize without a man’s shame the strange easement of tears. But of a sudden the future leaped upon him, and tore him with the claws of brutal realities that were to be ; and he saw before him lonely years of pain and slow, enfeebling sickness, and had a prophetic sense of the fading of his appetite for the new things with which of late he had learned to sweeten the meagre cup of life. He also saw Hester, tall and blushing, a bride, and then a matronly woman. It did seem to him that no possible pang had been spared him. For his country in her bloody struggle he had felt as those feel who say little. He had been condemned to possess in patience a soul meant for lordship where death was nearest, and now had come this rival anguish.

It is not wonderful that where their religion does not give men a woman-god in whose lap to cry, they manage in some way to create such a resource, or at least some approach to the sweet pitifulness of a god-like maternity. It was his mother the young man thought of now; wishing, in his fresh agony, that he could bury his head in her lap and be her little Ned again, and weep out unquestioned this great sorrow.

At last he rose unsteadily, and tried to walk about, and seeing his own face in the glass was shocked at its expression.

“ Oh, this won’t do ! ” he cried impatiently, and set himself to quiet with resolute self-rule the storm within him.

By and by Wendell knocked at his door.

“ Come in,” he answered. “ Is — is she all right ? ”

“ Why, of course,” returned Wendell, “ It was merely a nervous turn. But what is the matter with you, Edward ? ”

“ Nothing much. I am not very strong, and I suppose Hester’s little upset was too much for me. That and the letter, you know. I think I shall lie down.”

“ Well, I would,” assented Wendell. “ Hester will be well enough to-morrow. I suppose that she, too, was taken aback by the colonel’s letter; but girls are so easily made nervous, and I fancy Ann was rather sharp with her. It is really curious how little patience or sympathy the best of women, if they are strong, have with a woman’s nervousness ! I do certainly hope the child is not going to be a nervous young woman. I can’t imagine a worse fate for any one.”

“ I hope not,” replied Edward ; and the doctor left him.

Mrs. Westerley returned three days later, and found quite enough to employ all her energies. Wendell, who knew from her servants when she was expected to return, was foolish enough to meet her at the station. He was in that state of uneasiness and doubt which the passage of time is sure to bring to a man who feels that enough has been said to give him hope, but not enough to secure what has become more and more a yearning need in life. Also, there bad arisen in his singularly constituted nature another trouble. He began to feel a strange bitterness at the thought that if he married Alice, or perhaps in any case, he would lose out of his life the proportion of affectionate comradeship which Hester had brought into it. Her beauty of form, her alert intelligence, even her little mutinies, were very pleasant to him. Like Edward, but less distinctly, he had comprehended, or at least suspected, the meaning of Hester’s reception of the news of Arthur’s wound; and as he was right-minded enough about women, and by reason of his refinement of character a man of more than common purity of word and deed where they were concerned, he was troubled at his own state of mind. Was he jealous ? he asked himself. Had he been a more profound and experienced student of peculiar human natures, he might have known that his feeling in regard to Hester was merely one of those brief despotisms which an idea sometimes creates in persons of his mental constitution. The mystery of it was, however, far beyond his power to explain, and the fact itself simply shocked him.

His wish to meet Mrs. Westerley at the station was brought about, in part at least, by his almost painful disgust at his own state of mind, and his hasty resolve to end his doubt, and reach a point where indecision would be impossible.

The station was crowded, and the air full of excitement. Men, women, soldiers, and officials thronged the platforms, and the newsboys were crying, “ Great news from the front!” Sherman was driving Johnston before him, and Grant was enveloping Lee’s fated army.

Amidst the crowd Wendell found Mrs. Westerley. She colored as he came up to her. She was both pleased and vexed.

“ Why did you come?” she asked, speaking low. “ My maid is with me.”

Wendell was annoyed and embarrassed. He saw his mistake.

“ Make some excuse,” she added, gently, “ and leave me ; and don’t be displeased,” she continued, seeing his troubled face.

“ I beg pardon,” said Wendell, cut down to a lower level by this calming reception. “ I was looking for some one,” he stammered. “ Sorry to leave you. Good-by.”

“ Good-by,” she said, as Wendell turned and went away, showing but too clearly the discomfiture he so profoundly felt.

“ These men ! These men ! ” murmured the widow, smiling. Then she went home and wrote Hester a note, asking her to dine with her next day ; and would Dr. Wendell kindly see Mrs. Westerley about some Sanitary Commission business at one o’clock.

At eleven the next morning Alice was called downstairs to see Miss Clemson, who had come on business. They had been having, said Miss Clemson, no end of trouble, the last few days, about Mrs. Grace, and several ladies thought that Mrs. Westerley should become president.

“ But,” replied the widow, “ Mrs. Morton will be at home by the 20th ; and indeed I would much rather, on the whole, not come into contact with Mrs. Grace. She has been amusing her leisure with my affairs, I learn, and if I had to cross her I should probably say more than I want to say. I will gladly resign, if you think best.”

“ But that would be most undesirable. The woman is in a small minority, but she seems to be so made that really the competence of numbers appears not to affect her. I do not doubt that there are times when she believes one and one make nine ! ”

“ I have my opinions! ” exclaimed Alice, laughing.

“ I would go to the office to-day, Mrs. Westerley. She told us on Friday that she had taken home your account book, — I mean the treasurer’s accounts, which you have so kindly kept since Miss Graham’s illness.”

“ What! ” cried Alice ; “ she took it home ! ”

“ Yes. I hesitated to tell you about it, but I thought you should be told.”

“ And what else ? ” inquired Alice.

“ She informed us on Saturday that she and Sarah — imagine it, my dear ! she and Sarah — could not make it balance ! ”

“ And is this all ? ” asked Mrs. Westerley.

“ Yes.”

“ Then wait a moment,” said the widow, ringing the bell sharply. “ My ponies, John, and make haste. I will be down in a minute, Miss Clemson.”

On their way to the office, Mrs. Westerley called at Mrs. Grace’s, somewhat to the alarm of her friend, who began to be conscious that Mrs. Westerley’s quietness was simply the enforced calm which hides for a time some latent anger.

Mrs. Grace’s was never a well-managed house, and it was not until after several vigorous pulls at the bell that the door was opened by an untidy maid, who ushered the ladies into the mournful splendor of Mrs. Grace’s parlor.

Alice looked at Miss Clemson, with amusement in her eyes. Evidently there had been a hasty escape effected from the back room, since two empty rocking-chairs were still in active motion.

“ What a touch that would be on the stage ! ” said Alice.

“ And what an awful bit of circumstantial evidence ! ” returned Miss Clemson.

“ We have given Sarah an occasion for a little exercise.”

By this time the maid, much rearranged as to her dress, returned with a statement that Mrs. Grace was at the Sanitary ; and thither, accordingly, they drove, Miss Clemson remarking on the way, —

“ You will not let that woman disturb you, Mrs. Westerley?”

“Oh, no! I mean to disturb her. Is n’t it dreadful to think that we women have no weapon but our tongues?”

“ The men are no better off,” returned Miss Clemson. “ What more can they do, nowadays, than we ? The duel is dead.”

“ If I were a man, I could wish it were not. Theoretically I am in favor of it.”

“ Oh, no, dear,” protested Miss Clemson ; “it is so illogical.”

“ And so am I,” said Alice. “ I hate logical people; and that must be just the time when one wants the duel, when one feels illogical.”

“ Well, here we are,” said Miss Clemson, as they drew up in front of the local office of the famous Commission. The great news of the fight at Five Forks had just come in. Mrs. Westerley found Mrs. Grace discussing the matter with one or two other ladies.

“ We have lost twenty thousand men,” said she, “and soon we shall have no soldiers to fight with. There won’t be one left.”

“ Nonsense,” returned Miss Susan, to whom difference of years was of small moment. “ Lee will surrender in a month. Pa says so.”

“ I think,” answered Mrs. Grace, “ that we have just begun. No one knows where it will end.”

Mrs. Westerley touched her on the shoulder. “ Come into the back room,” she said, in a clear, sharp voice, while every one looked up, startled.

“ What do you want? ” inquired Mrs. Grace.

“ Just a little talk,” rejoined Alice. “ You, too, Miss Clemson.”

As they entered the empty room Alice closed the door.

Sudden calls on her emotions made this woman cool and effective, if her affections were not concerned. Without raising her voice, but with an accurate distinctness of speech, she said, —

“ Mrs. Grace, you took home my accounts last week without authority, and were so good as to say,—you will correct me, Miss Clemson, if I am wrong, — you were so obliging as to say that the accounts do not balance. May I ask, was that assertion meant to give the idea that I had been careless, or what ? ”

Mrs. Grace, like large masses, was not easily moved, and having been in similar troubles before knew that with most people it was possible to escape at no larger cost than words, which with her were abundant, and of no fixed or unchangeable value.

“ Oh, but I never supposed there could be such a fuss. I just thought I had a right; and Sarah, she’s so apt at arithmetic.”

“ You do not answer me,” said Alice. “ What did you mean ? ”

“ I did n’t mean anything, and I guess I’d better go.”

“ This will not do,” exclaimed Alice, placing herself between Mrs. Grace and the door. “You have done a mean and dishonorable act. You have slandered me grossly, and now you have not the courage to stand by your actions! If we were men, madam, I should use something more than words; and you would have deserved it, too.”

Mrs. Grace was angry, but she was also alarmed. Alice looked as if her sex might not always enable her to resist a desire so earnestly stated.

“ I won’t stay here to be insulted ! ” cried Mrs. Grace. “I — I ‘ll call the police ! ”

“Stuff! We are not men, luckily for you, but still you must hear what I have to say. You must either apologize to me before the women in the outer room, or retire from the Commission.”

“ And if I won’t do it ? ”

“ Do what, madam ? ”

“ Why, just either ! ”

“Then I must resign, and we shall see which of us the board will choose to lose.”

Mrs. Grace knew pretty well what would happen in this ease, it having been made clear to her the week before by several outspoken women.

“ And what do you want me to say ? ”

“ Anything,” replied Alice. “ Tell them yon are sorry. I don’t want you to clear my character for me ; but one word more. I had not meant to say to you anything of another matter touching which you have been pleased to gossip of late, but let me add only this : that it must stop, and that if I ever again hear that your tongue has been busy with my affairs, I shall be able to find a man somewhere who will talk to your husband.”

“ Oh, no doubt ! ” Mrs. Grace rejoined recovering herself a little.

Alice looked at her with a faint smile of scorn, and saving, “ I shall be as good as my word. Thank you, Miss Clemson,” swept out of the room and through the office to her ponies, leaving her foe to say what she pleased, and Miss Clemson to see that justice was done.

Mrs. Grace, inwardly thankful that this high judgment had been pronounced apart, managed, on Miss Clemson’s appeal, to make some kind of disjointed apologetic statement, and then went home, as dully angry as her nature allowed her to be. She really had not the power to feel that she had been guilty of a crime, and with her sense of having been put down and lectured unjustly came a sluggish desire for something which in the mind of a quicker being would have been called revenge. Mrs. Grace felt that it would be nice if she could stick pins into the widow, and physically hurt her a good deal.

The next day she had occasion to wail, by letter to Colonel Fox, over her temporary failure to receive certain moneys ; as by this time she had lost a little of her dread of Mrs. Westerley, it was not in her nature to omit all mention of her among the bits of news with which she enlivened her letters of business. Mrs. Grace was cautious, however, and only expressed her pity that Alice Westerley was going to marry a poor, unsuccessful doctor like Wendell; certainly, her friends must regret it. Not that she, Mrs. Grace, knew it herself, but she believed there was n’t much doubt of it. And did Colonel Fox know that Morton would n’t come home, there being an Italian lady in the ease, and that Helen Morton was expected to come alone, poor thing, and she was so unhappy?

This letter did not reach Fox for several days. In command of a brigade of Ord’s division, he was following Lee’s retreat, and was urging on his men with an energy that left them little repose. Arthur, with his arm in a sling, and now a captain, would listen to no prudent counsels, and Fox had it not in him to keep the young soldier out of the last scenes of the tragedy which was closing in blood and despair on the Appomattox.

Such of us as lived through those days, and had dear ones in that awful joust of arms, may yet recall the neverending anxiety with which we opened the morning paper, and the thrill with which, in the dead of night, the cry of the newsboy on the street made us sit up and listen. To the little circle of Arthur’s friends the closing days of the Confederacy were full of dread. At any moment a telegram from New York might warn them of Mrs. Morton’s arrival, and out of this savage death wrestle what news might meet her !

Hester was quiet and preoccupied, and helped Ann at her work with a fervid restlessness. Edward had gone to New York to meet his mother. He had written to his brother as soon as he had felt able to use a pen, and had said, “ I think, Arty, that if by any chance you are hurt again, or perhaps in case of any trouble, you or Fox had better write under cover to Wendell, or to Mrs. Westerley. The account of your hurt upset Hester so much that I feel it would not be wise to have to tell her again any bad news ; and then there is mother, too. But, please God, there will not be any more bad news! Hester is all right now.”

Alice Westerley had seen Dr. Wendell more than once since her return ; but she had been busy in opening the Morton house, and had managed with more or less success to keep her lover from exacting an absolute promise. She felt that she was exercising over him a control which was for her desirable, but which in her secret heart she wished he submitted to with less patience.

On the morning of April 9th came a letter from Arthur to Mrs. Westerley. He wrote: “ I do not trouble you often with letters, but Ned tells me that the colonel’s letter upset Hester, which is very annoying, because I had it read over to me to be sure it would n’t shock any one. I suffered little until the afternoon of the 5th, when we were pushed ou by Ord, along with a squadron of cavalry, to burn the bridges at Farmville on the Appomattox, it was, as we know now, a race for the river. General Read gathered a lot of dismounted cavalry about the bridge, and some of ours, my company and another, got on it, but had no time to burn it or to make any covers, because in a few minutes Lee’s advance was on us, and I knew what a hopeless and gallant thing poor Read had done. The rebels streamed down on the bridge and just swept us away like flies. Read was killed, and for a moment it was a wild, free fight, for we did not let them off easy; but they were too many for us, and the few not killed were pushed over into the river. Tell Ned it wasn’t any worse than a rush at football at St. Paul’s. I was down and up twice, and as my right arm was no good I had a bad time. Luckily I was not hit, but I was knocked over into the mud of the river just as they swept by at the end of the row and saw fellows shooting at me as if I were a mud turtle. I can tell you I wriggled out into the stream pretty quick, and in a moment got under the bridge, on a stump near the water; and you won’t believe it, but I laughed when the rebs tore over the bridge they had won. I got caught as I was trying to find my way somewhere ; but our people were hard after them, and the poor fellows were so near dead of fatigue that I got off, and on the morning of the 7th fell in with Humphrey’s advance. By George, I was glad ! I told the general all about how the rebs were used up, but somehow they gave him a sound dressing, I hear, just after I went to the rear. I was all sore bones and Appomattox mud, and well played out ; so are the Johnnies, but I shall be all right in a week, and they won’t, poor fellows! I am told by the surgeon that I must go home, and as the row is about over I am glad enough. So hurrah for clean sheets and a good dinner ! My regards to Hester. I have n’t the pluck to write another letter. Fox lost a bit of his left whisker, and of course got in the way of a minie, and has a trifling flesh wound. He ought to hang his uniform up in Twelfth Street Meeting House, as the Romans did their shields in the temple of Mars.”

Hester was on her guard this time, and heard the young man’s characteristic letter with equanimity. Then she said to Alice that she would like to read it to the doctor and Miss Ann, and Mrs. Westerley saw that letter no more.

Mrs. Morton drove out to her home on the memorable night of the 9th of April under skies ablaze with rockets, amidst the craze of joy, the clangor of bells, and the shriek of engines, with which a happy city sought to find some adequate expression of its sense of relief.

“ What a welcome!” she cried, as with a throbbing heart she ran up the steps of her own house, which was full of cheerful light. Then she saw on the piazza a strong, bronzed young officer, with one arm in a sling. She paused a moment.

“ Why, mother, it is Arty ! ” cried Edward.

“ Arty ! ” she exclaimed, with amazement. " Ah, this is too much ! ” and she had him in her arms in a moment.

“ Take care, mother,” he said, “ my arm”— And then she held him off, and looked at him with eager satisfaction, while the doorway filled up with Alice Westerley, the doctor, Hester, and Mr. Wilmington ; and there were warm greetings, which soothed Mrs. Morton’s troubled heart. Then very soon, as it grew late, some of her guests went away ; and the young men having slipped off to the library for a smoke and war talk, Mrs. Morton was left alone with Alice.

“ I am glad you have come hack,” said Mrs. Westerley, stirring the hickory fire, which a cool April night made desirable, — “ I am glad you have come back ; and it is none too soon. After all, where is one as comfortable as at home ? For every reason you must be glad to be here. I shall feel greatly relieved.”

“ Why, my dear, are you still annoyed about Arty ? ” said Mrs. Morton. “ I supposed his long absence and a year’s growth might have made them forget. It seemed to me a mere doll love affair.”

“ Absence has made it worse, I fancy,” replied Alice. “ I don’t know how far it has gone with him, but his being in the war and in constant peril has, I suppose, helped to keep him in Hester’s mind. She is seventeen, and of course has the romance of her age ; and if you look at Arty, — I suppose you did look at Arty,” she, added smiling, — “ there is excuse enough in his face for any girl’s folly.”

“Oh, of course,” replied Mrs. Morton. “ But I shall settle all that,” she went on, remembering with what ease her decisions had been wont to be carried out. “ I shall speak to Arty at once.”

“I think I would n’t,” returned Alice. She felt just now a peculiar tenderness for people in his position. “ You left him simply Arty, Helen. He is now Captain Arthur Morton, 3d Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, promoted for gallantry at Weldon Cross Roads.”

“ But he is still my son, and I never knew him to disobey me.”

“ Then, my dear, you may prepare yourself for an enlargement of your maternal experience ! You are thinking only of him. Look at the other argument against you ! ” ___

“ What other argument ?”

“ Miss Hester Gray,” said Alice.

“Yes, she seems immensely changed. Much improved, I may say. Quite a nice girl.”

“ Why, Helen Morton, the girl is a beauty ! ”

“ Well, yes, perhaps so. But Arty is too young; and simply, I will not have it, Alice. She has n’t, a cent in the world ; and though that might not matter if it were poor Ned, who is out of the question, Arty is absolutely dependent on Colonel Morton.”

“ But after all, Arthur may not care for her,” observed Alice, artfully, “ and you may be making a nice little trouble for yourself. Wait, my dear, — wait a little.”

“ But I never did like to wait. Why, then, Alice, did you say he was in love with her ? ”

“ But I never did say so.”

“ Well, if it’s only the girl, I can afford to bide my time.”

“ But remember, Helen, I did not say how far this had gone, or who was to blame, if any one is ; I only said that there was danger.”

“ Now, really, my dear, don’t you think that you are a little exasperating?” said Mrs. Morton.

“ No ; I don’t, want to be. I shall feel easy now that you are here ; that is all. And how is the colonel ? ”

Even Mrs. Morton’s well-trained features showed some trace of disturbance as she replied, —

“I have no doubt, Alice, that you have guessed more than I have cared to write you. John will stay in Europe until he is tired of it. He says that he has nothing to do here, and that it bores him. When men are bored women must continue to bear the consequences. Men are bored and women must weep. As long as he does not want to come home he will stay abroad. Unluckily, there is his wound, which gives him a constant excuse. If it were well and he fit for service, nothing on earth would keep him from going back into the army; but he is not fit, and the claim of his boys, or my wish to return, seems not to have the slightest value.”

“ You were very brave to make the voyage without him,” said Alice.

“ Was I ? That was a trifle. It had to come. When I told him that I must go home and see my boys, he said that was quite natural, and in fact was as sweet and helpful about all my arrangements as he could be. Really, be wondered I had not thought of it before.”

“ Where did you leave him, Helen ? ”

“At Dijon. He came that far with me. Do you know, Alice, he said such an odd thing to me when we parted. I had said, ‘You will come home soon, John ? ’ To this he answered, ‘ I dare say, soon enough. You won’t want me when you have those boys;’ and then he said he had been very irritable, and at times outrageous, which, dear Alice, we must admit to have been the case. Of course, I answered, ‘ Oh, no,’ and that I did n’t mind it, and all that sort of thing we women always have on hand to say; and then what did he add but this : that it was largely my fault, and that if I had exacted my own rights more sharply we would both of us have been happier.”

“ How brutal, Helen ! ”

“ No, John Morion is never that. It was true, — quite true. I see it now. My life has been a mistake.”

“ Well, I think I understand it; but just as you were leaving, to say such a thing ! And what did you reply ? ”

“ I told him that it was a very nice theory, and true, but that he never would have stood it, and that is also true, I have no idea that he will ever come home. He will discuss it, as he does everything unpleasant, but when the time comes he will find some excuse to remain.”

“ And you will go back to him. Helen ? ” returned her friend.

“ I don’t know. I suppose so. I do not see how I ever can unless I take Ned, and for him to be with his father is one long misery. But there are worse things in life, I suppose.”

“ I am very, very sorry. But it is late, and I must go to bed, and I have n’t asked you a tithe of the questions I had ready. Promise me that you will do nothing hasty about Arty.”

“ I will do nothing in haste. Here is your candlestick ; but I have brought you a charming one from Holland, so odd, with an angel for a holder and a devil for an extinguisher. I am told that it is very old Dutch silver. John found it in Leyden.”

“ What a quaintly unpleasant notion!” murmured Alice to herself, as she went up the staircase to bed. " I wonder if John Morton knew that she meant to give it to me. It would be rather like him.”

S. Weir Mitchell .