A Story of Assisted Fate

IN a general way I am not a superstitious man, but I have a few ideas, or notions, in regard to fatality and kindred subjects of which I have never been able entirely to dispossess my mind; nor can I say that I have ever tried very much to do so, for I hold that a certain amount of irrationalism in the nature of a man is a thing to be desired. By its aid he clambers over the wall which limits the action of his intellect, and if he be but sure that he can get back again no harm may come of it, while he is the better for many pleasant excursions.

My principal superstitious notion, and indeed the only one of importance, is the belief that whatever I earnestly desire and plan for will happen. This idea does not relate to things for which people fight hard, or work long, but to those events for which we sit down and wait. It is truly a pleasant belief, and one worthy to be fostered if there can be found any ground for it. I do not exercise my little superstition very often, but when I do I find things happen as I wish ; and in cases where this has not yet occurred there is plenty of time to wait.

I am not a very old person, being now in my twenty-eighth year, but my two sisters, who live with me, as well as most of my acquaintances, look upon me, I think, as an older man. This is not due to my experience in the world, for I have not gone out a great deal among my fellow-men, but rather to my habits of reading and reflection, which have so matured my intellectual nature that the rest of me, so to speak, has insensibly stepped a little faster to keep pace with it. Grace Anna, indeed, is two years older than I, yet I know she looks up to me as a senior quite as much as does Bertha, who is but twenty-four. These sisters had often laughingly assured me that the one thing I needed was a wife, and, although I never spoke much on the subject, in the course of time I began to think a good deal about, it, and the matter so interested my mind that at last I did a very singular thing. I keep a diary, in which I briefly note daily events, especially those which may, in a degree, be considered as epochs. My book has a page for every day, with the date printed at the top thereof; not a very desirable form, perhaps, for those who would write much on one day and very little the next, but it suits me well enough, for I seldom enter into details. Not many months ago, as I sat alone, one evening, in my library, turning over the leaves of this diary, I looked ahead at the pages intended for the days of the year that were yet to come, and the thought entered tny mind that it was a slavish thing to be able to note only what had happened, and not to dare to write one word upon the blank pages of the next month, or the next, or even of to-morrow. As I turned backward and forward these pages devoted to a record of the future the desire came to me to write something upon one of them. It was a foolish fancy, perhaps, but it pleased me. I would like a diary, not only of what had been, but of what was to be, I longed to challenge fate, and I did it. I selected a page, not too far ahead and in a good time of the year, — it was September 14th, — and on it I wrote,—

“ This day came into my life
She who is to be my wife.”

When I had made this strange entry I regarded it with satisfaction, I had fully come to the conclusion that it was due to my position as the owner of a goodly estate that I should marry. I had felt that at some time I must do something in this matter. And now a thing was done, and a time was fixed. It is true that I knew no woman who was at all likely, upon the day I had selected, or upon any other day, to exercise a matrimonial influence upon my life. But that made no difference to me. I had taken my fate into my own hands, and I would now see what would happen.

It was then early in July, and in a little more than two months the day which I had made a very momentous one to me would arrive. I cannot say that I had a positive belief that what I had written would occur on the 14th of September, but I had a very strange notion that, as there was no reason why it should not be so, it would be so. At any rate, who could say it would not be so ? This sort of thing was not a belief, but to all intents and purposes it was just as good.

It was somewhat amusing even to myself, and it would probably have been very amusing to any one else acquainted with the circumstances, to observe the influence that this foundationless and utterly irrational expectation had upon me. To the great delight of my sisters, I began to attend to matters in which formerly I had taken little interest. I set two men at work upon the grounds about the house, giving my personal supervision to the removal of the patches of grass in the driveway, which led under the oaks to the door. Here and there I had a panel of fence put in better order, and a dead apple - tree, which for some time had stood on the brow of a hill in view of the house, was cut down and taken away.

“ If any of our friends think of visiting us,” said Bertha, “ they ought to come now, while everything is looking so trim and nice.

“ Would you like that ? ” asked Grace Anna, looking at me.

“Yes,” I replied. “That is, they might begin to come now,”

At this both my sisters laughed.

“ Begin to come ! ” cried Bertha.

“ How hospitable you are growing ! ”

The summer went on, and I kept good faith with my little superstition. If either of us should desert the other, it should not be I who would do it. It pleased me to look forward to the event which I had called up out of the future, and to wait for it — if perchance it should come.

One morning my sister Bertha entered my library, with a letter in her hand and a very pleasant expression on her face. “ What do you think ? ” she said.

“ We are going to have a visit! — just as the paint is dry on the back porch, so that we can have tea there in the afternoon.”

“ A visit! ” I exclaimed, regarding her with much interest.

“ Yes,” continued Bertha. “ Kitty Watridge is coming to stay with us. I have written and written to her, and now she is coming.”

“Who is she?” I asked.

Bertha laughed. “You have n’t forgotten the Watridges, have you?”

No, I had not forgotten them ; at least, the only one of them I ever knew. Old Mr. Watridge had been a friend of my late father, a cheerful and rather ruddy man, although much given to books. He had been my friend, too, in the days when he used to come to us ; and I remember well that it was he who started me on a journey along the third shelf from the top, on the east wall of the library, through The World Displayed, in many volumes, by Smart, Goldsmith, and Johnson ; and thence to some New Observations on Italy, in French, by two Swedish gentlemen, in 1758; and so on through many other works of the kind, where I found the countries shown forth on their quaint pages so different from those of the same name described in modern books of travel that it was to me a virtual enlargement of the world. It had been a long time since I had seen the old gentleman, and I felt sorry for it.

“ Is Mr. Watridge coming? ” I asked.

“ Of course not,” said Bertha. " That would be your affair. And besides, he never leaves home now. It is only Kitty, his youngest daughter, my friend.”

I had an indistinct recollection that Mr. Watridge had some children, and that they were daughters, but that was all I remembered about them. “ She is grown ? ” I asked.

“ I should think so,” answered Bertha, with a laugh. " She is at least twenty.”

If my sister could have known the intense interest which suddenly sprung up within me she would have been astounded. A grown-up, marriageable young lady was coming to my house, in September ! My next question was asked hurriedly : “ When will she be here ? ”

“ She is coming next Wednesday, the 16th,”answered Bertha, referring to her letter.

“ The 16th ! ” I said to myself. “ That is two days after my date.”

“ What kind of a lady is she ? ” I asked Bertha.

“ She is lovely, — just as lovely as she can be.”

I now began to feel a little disappointed. If she were lovely, as my sister said, and twenty, with good Watridge blood, why did she not come a little sooner ? It was truly an odd thing to do, but I could not forbear expressing what I thought. “ I wish,” I said, somewhat abstractedly, “ that she were coming on Monday instead of Wednesday.”

Bertha laughed heartily. “ I was really afraid,” she said, “ that you might think there were enough girls already in the house. But here you are wanting Kitty to come before she is ready. Grace Anna ! ” she cried to my elder sister, who was passing the open door, “ he is n’t put out a bit, and he is in such a hurry to see Kitty that he thinks she should come on Monday.”

It was impossible to chide my sisters for laughing at me, and I could not help smiling myself. “ It is not that I am in a hurry to see her,” I observed, “ for I do not know the young lady at all ; but I consider Monday a more suitable day than Wednesday for her arrival.”

“ It is odd,” replied Bertha, “ that you should prefer one day to another.”

“ Is there any reason why it does not suit you to have her come on Wednesday ? ” asked Grace Anna. “ Her visit might be deferred a day or two.”

Of course I could give no reason, and I did not wish the visit deferred.

“ It ’s just because he’s so dreadfully systematic ! ” cried Bertha. “ He thinks everything ought to begin at the beginning of the week, and that even a visit should make a fair start on Monday, and not break in unmethodically.”

My elder sister was always very considerate of my welfare and my wishes, and had it been practicable I believe that she would have endeavored in this instance to make our hospitality conform to what appeared to be my love of system and order. But she explained to me that, apart from the awkwardness of asking the young lady to change the day which she had herself fixed, without being able to give any good reason therefor, it would be extremely inconvenient for them to have their visitor before Wednesday, as an earlier arrival would materially interfere with certain household arrangements.

I said no more, but I was disappointed ; and this feeling grew upon me, for the reason that during the rest of the day and the evening my sisters talked a great deal about their young friend, and I found that, unless they were indeed most prejudiced judges, — which in the case of Grace Anna, at least, I could never believe, — this young person who was coming to us must be possessed of most admirable personal qualities. She was pretty; she had excellent moral sentiments, a well-cultured intellect, and a lovable disposition. These, with the good blood, — which, in my opinion, was a most important requisite, — made up a woman in every way fitted to enter my life in a matrimonial capacity. If, without any personal bias, I had been selecting a wife for a friend, I could not have expected to do better than this. That such a young person should come within the range of my cognizance on the wrong day would be, to say the least, a most annoying occurrence. Why did I not select the 16th, or she the 14th? A fate that was two days slow might as well be no fate at all. My meeting with the girl would have no meaning. I must admit that the more I thought about this girl the more I wished it should have a meaning.

During the night, or perhaps very early in the morning, a most felicitous idea came into my mind. I would assist my fate. My idea was this: On Monday I would drive to Mr. Watridge’s house. It was a pleasant day’s journey. I would spend Tuesday with him, and, returning on Wednesday, I could bring Miss Kitty with me. Thus all the necessary conditions would be fulfilled. She would come into my life on the 14th, and I would have opportunities of knowing her which probably would not occur to me at home. Everything would happen as it should ; only, instead of the lady coming to me, I should go to her.

As I expected, my project, when I announced it at the breakfast table, was the occasion of much mirth, especially on the part of Bertha. “ I never saw anything like it!” she cried. “You want to see Kitty even more than I do. I should never have thought of such a thing as going for her two days in advance.”

“ As it would have been impossible for you to do so,” said I, “I can easily conceive that you would not have allowed the idea to enter your mind.”

Grace Anna, however, looked upon my plan with much favor, and entered into its details with interest, dwelling particularly on the pleasure Mr. Watridge would derive from my visit.

I looked forward with great pleasure to the little journey I was about to make. The distance from Eastover, my residence, to Mr. Watridge’s house was some twenty-five miles, — a very suitable day’s drive in fine weather. The road led through a pleasant country, with several opportunities for pretty views ; and about half-way was a neat tavern, standing behind an immense cherrytree, where a stop could be made for rest and for a midday meal. I had a comfortable, easy-cushioned buggy, well provided with protective appurtenances in case of rain or too much sunshine ; and my sisters and myself were of the opinion that, under ordinary circumstances, no one would hesitate between this vehicle and the crowded stage-coach, which was the only means of communication between our part of the country and that in which the Watridge estate lay.

I made an early start on Monday morning, with my good horse, Dom Pedro; named by my sister Bertha, but whether for the Emperor of Brazil, or for a social game of cards which we generally played when we had two or three visitors, and therefore there were too many of us for whist, I do not know. I arrived at my destination towards the close of the afternoon, and old Mr. Watridge was delighted to see me. We spent a pleasant hour in his library, waiting for the return of his two daughters, who were out for a walk. It must be admitted that it was with considerable emotional perturbation that I beheld the entrance into that room of Miss Kitty Watridge. She came in alone ; her sister, who was much older, being detained by some household duties, connected, probably, with my unexpected arrival. This, with the action of Mr. Watridge in presently excusing himself for a time, gave me an opportunity, more immediate than I had expected, for an uninterrupted study of this young lady, who had become to me so important a person.

I will not describe Kitty, her appearance, nor her conversation, but will merely remark that before we were joined by her father and sister I would have been quite willing, so far as I was concerned, to show her the entry in my diary.

It may be that a man heavily clad with the armor of reserve and restraint sinks more quickly and deeper than one not so encumbered, when he finds himself suddenly in a current of that sentiment which now possessed me. Be that as it may, my determination was arrived at before I slept that night: Kitty Watridge had entered into my life on the 14th of September, and I was willing to accept her as my wife.

As the son of an old comrade on the part of the father, and as the brother of two dear friends on the part of the daughters, I was treated with hearty cordiality by this family, and the next day was a most pleasing and even delightful one to me, until the evening came. Then a cloud, and a very heavy one, arose upon my emotional horizon. I had stated how I purposed to make the little journey of Miss Kitty to our house more comfortable and expeditious than it would otherwise be, and Mr. Watridge had expressed himself very much pleased with the plan; while Kitty had declared that it would be charming, especially when compared with travel by stagecoach, of which the principal features, in her idea of it, appeared to be mothers, little children, and lunch baskets. But, after dinner, Miss Maria, the elder daughter, remarked very quietly, but very positively, that she did not think it would do — that is the phrase she used — for me to drive her sister to Eastover. She gave no reasons, and I asked none, but it was quite evident that her decision was one not to be altered.

“It would be far better,” she said, “ not to change our original plan, and for Kitty, as well as her trunk, to go by the stage. Mrs. Karcroft is going the whole of the way, and Kitty will be well taken care of.”

Miss Maria was the head of the house; she had acted for many years as the maternal director of her sister ; and I saw very soon that what the other two members of the family might think upon the subject would matter very little. The father, indeed, made at first some very vigorous dissent, urging that it would be a shame to make me take that long drive home alone, when I had expected company ; and although Kitty said nothing, I am sure she looked quite disappointed. But neither words nor looks availed anything. Miss Maria was placid, but very firm, and under her deft management of the conversation the subject was soon dismissed as settled.

“ I am very sorry,” observed the old gentleman to me, when the ladies had bidden us good-night, “ that Kitty cannot take advantage of your invitation, which was a very kind one, and to which I see not the slightest objection. My daughter Maria has very peculiar ideas sometimes, but as she acts as a sort of mother here we don’t like to interfere with her.”

“ I would not have you do so for the world,” answered I.

“ You are very good, very good!” exclaimed Mr. Watridge; “and I must say I think it’s a confounded shame that you and Kitty cannot take that pleasant drive together. Suppose you go with her in the stage, and let me send a man to Eastover with your horse and vehicle.”

“ I thank you very kindly, sir,” I replied, “ but it will he better for me to return the way I came ; and your daughter will have a companion, I understand.”

“ Nobody but old Mrs. Karcroft, and she counts for nothing as company. You had better think of it.”

I would not consent, however, to make any change in my arrangements; and, shortly after, I retired.

I went to bed that night a very angry man. When I prepared a plan or scheme with which no reasonable fault could be found, I was not accustomed to have it thwarted, or indeed even objected to. I was displeased with Mr. Watridge because he allowed himself to be so easily influenced, and I was even dissatisfied with Kitty’s want of spirit, though of course she could not have been expected to exhibit an eagerness to accompany me. But with that horrible old maid, Miss Maria, I was truly indignant. There frequently arises in the mind an image which forcibly connects itself with the good or bad qualities of a person under our contemplation, and thus Miss Maria appeared to me in the character of a moral pepper-box. "Virtue is like sugar or cream, — good in itself, and of advantage to that with which it is suitably mingled; but Miss Maria’s propriety was the hottest and most violent sort of pepper, extremely disagreeable in itself, and never needed except in the case of weak moral digestion. Her objections were an insult to me. I went to sleep thinking of a little pepper cruet which I would like to have made of silver for my table, to take the place of the owl or other conventional pattern, which should be exactly like Miss Maria, — hard and unimpressionable without, hollow within, and the top of its head perforated with little holes. At breakfast I endeavored to be coldly polite, but it must have been easy for the family to perceive that I was very much offended. I requested that my horse and buggy should be made ready as soon as possible. While I was waiting for it on the porch, where Mr. Watridge had just left me, Miss Kitty came out to me. This was the first time I had been alone with her since the preceding afternoon, when we had had a most charming walk through the orchard and over the hills to a high point, where we had stayed until we saw the sun go down.

It seems a real pity,” she observed very prettily, and in a tone which touched me, “ that you should be driving off now by yourself, while in about an hour I shall start from the same place.”

“ Miss Kitty,” said I, “ would you like to go with me?”

She hesitated for a moment, looked down, and then looked up, and said, “ So far as I am concerned, I think — I mean I know — that I should like very much to go with you. But you see ” — and then she hesitated again.

“ Say no more, I pray you ! ” I exclaimed. I would not place her in the unpleasant position of defending, or even explaining, the unwarrantable interference of a relative. “ If you really wish to accompany me,” I continued, warmly shaking her hand, for my buggy was now approaching, “ I am entirely satisfied, and nothing more need be said. It is, in a measure, the same as if you were going with me. Good-by.”

A moment before I was depressed and morose. Now I was exuberantly joyful. The change was sudden, but there was reason for it. Kitty wished to go with me, and had come to tell me so !

Mr. Watridge and his elder daughter now appeared in the doorway, and as I took leave of the latter I am sure she noticed a change in my manner. I said no more to her than was absolutely necessary, but the sudden cheerfulness which had taken possession of me could not be repressed even in her presence.

The old gentleman accompanied me to the carriage-block. “ I don’t want to bore you about it,” he said, “ but I really am sorry you are going away alone.”

I felt quite sure, from several things Mr. Watridge had said and done during my visit, that he would be well pleased to see his younger daughter and myself thrown very much into the company of each other, and to have us remain so, indeed, for the rest of our lives. And there was no reason why he should not desire it. In every way the conditions of such a union would be most favorable.

“ Thank you very much,” I returned; “ but the pleasure of having your daughter at my house will make me forget this little disappointment.”

He looked at me with glistening eyes. Had I boldly asked him, “ Will you be my father-in-law ? ” no more favorable answer could have come from his lips than I now saw upon his countenance.

“ Good fortune be with you! ” were his last words as I drove away.

I do not suppose anything of the kind could be more delightful than my drive that morning. Miss Kitty had said that she would like to be my companion, and I determined to have her so in imagination, if not in fact. The pleasures of fancy are sometimes more satisfactory than those of reality, for we have them entirely under our control. I chose now to imagine that Miss Kitty was seated by my side, and I sat well to the right, that I might give her plenty of room. In imagination I conversed with her, and she answered me as I would have her. Our remarks were carefully graduated to the duration of our acquaintance and the seemly progress of our intimacy. I wished to discover the intellectual status of the fair young creature who had come into my life on the 14th of September. I spoke to her of books, and found that her reading had been varied and judicious. She had read Farrar’s Life of Christ, but did not altogether like it ; and while she had much enjoyed Froude’s Cæsar, she could have wished to believe the author as just as he endeavored to make his hero appear. With modern romance she had dealt but lightly, rather preferring works of history and travel, even when pervaded with the flavor of the eighteenth century. But we did not always speak of abstract subjects; we were both susceptible to the influences of nature, and my companion enjoyed as much as I did the bright sunshine tempered by a cooling breeze, the clear sky with fair white clouds floating along the horizon, and the occasional views of the blue and distant mountains, their tops suffused with warm autumnal mists. After a time I asked her if I might call her Kitty, and glancing downward, and then up, with the same look she had given me on the porch, she said I might. This was very pleasant, and was not, in my opinion, an undue familiarity, which feature I was very careful to eliminate from our companionship. One act, however, of what might be termed superfriendly kindness, I intended to propose, and the contemplation of its probable acceptance afforded me much pleasure. After our quiet luncheon in the shaded little dining-room of the Cherry-Tree Inn, and when she had rested as long as she chose, we would begin our afternoon journey, and the road, before very long, would lead us through a great pine wood. Here, rolling over the hard, smooth way, and breathing the gentle odor of the pines, she would naturally feel a little somnolent, and I intended to say to her that if she liked she might rest her head upon my shoulder, and doze. If I should hear the sound of approaching wheels I would gently arouse her ; but as an interruption of this kind was not likely to occur, I thought with much satisfaction of the pleasure I should have in the afternoon, when this fancy would be appropriate. To look upon the little head gently resting on that shoulder, which, when our acquaintance had more fully developed, I would offer her as a permanent possession, would be to me a preconnubial satisfaction of a very high order.

When about a mile from the CherryTree Inn, and with my mind filled with these agreeable fancies, an accident happened to me. One of the irons which connected the shafts to the front axle broke, and the conditions of my progress became abruptly changed. The wheel at that end of the axle to which a shaft was yet attached went suddenly forward, and the other flew back and grated against the side of the buggy, while both wheels, instead of rolling in the general course of the vehicle, were dragged in a sidewise direction. The disconnected shaft fell upon the legs of Dom Pedro, who, startled by the unusual sensation, forsook his steady trot, and broke into a run. Thus, with the front wheels scraping the road, the horse attached but by a single shaft, I was hurried along at an alarming pace. Pull as I might, I could not check the progress of Dom Pedro; and if this state of affairs had continued for more than the few moments which it really lasted, the front wheels would have been shattered, and I do not know what sad results might have ensued. But the other shaft broke loose, the reins were rudely torn from my hands, and the horse, now free from attachment to the vehicle, went clattering along the road, the shafts bobbing at his heels ; while the buggy, following the guidance of the twisted frout axle, ran into a shallow ditch at the side of the road, and abruptly stopped.

Unhurt, I sprang out, and my first thought was one of joy that the Kitty who had been by my side was an imaginary one. Had the real Kitty been there, what might not have happened to her ! A dozen possible accidents crowded themselves on my mind, and I have no doubt my countenance expressed my feelings.

There was nothing to be done but to take my valise and the whip from the buggy, and walk on to the inn, where I found the landlord in the act of saddling a horse, to come and see what had happened to me. Dom Pedro had arrived with a portion of the shafts attached to him, the rest having been kicked away. The accident occasioned considerable stir at the inn; but as I never care to discuss my personal affairs any further than is necessary, it was soon arranged that after I had lunched I would borrow a saddle from the landlord, and ride Dom Pedro home, while the broken buggy would be brought to the inn, where I would send for it the next day. This plan did not please me, for I was not fond of equestrianism, and Dom Pedro was rather a hard trotter; but there was nothing better to do. Had I not taken this road, which was much more agreeable although rather longer than the high road, I might have been picked up by the stage which was conveying Miss Kitty to my house.

While I vras yet at my meal there arrived at the inn a young man, who shortly afterward entered the room, and informed me that, having heard of my accident, he came to offer me a seat in the buggy in which he was traveling. He was going my way, and would be glad of a companion. This invitation, given as it was by a well-appearing young man of pleasing manners, was, after a little consideration, accepted by me. I would much prefer to ride a dozen miles in a buggy with a stranger than on horseback alone.

The drive of the afternoon was very different from what I had expected it to be, but it was not devoid of some pleasant features. My companion was sociable and not too communicative; and although he annoyed me very much by giving me the entirely uncalled-for information that if I had had short straps from the ends of the shafts to the axle, which no well-ordered buggy should be without, the accident would not have occurred. I passed this by, and our conversation became more general, and to me more acceptable. The young man was going to Harnden, a village not far from my house, where he appeared to have some business, and he assured me that he would not object in the least to go a little out of his way and set me down at my door.

We reached Eastover quite late in the afternoon, and I perceived, from the group on the porch, that Miss Kitty had arrived. All three of the ladies came down to meet me, evidently very much surprised to see me in a strange vehicle. When I had alighted, and was hastily explaining to my sisters the cause of this change of conveyance, I was surprised to see Miss Kitty shaking hands with the young man, who was standing by his horse’s head. My elder sister, Grace Anna, who had also noticed this meeting, now approached the pair, and was introduced to the gentleman. In a few moments she returned to me, who had been regarding the interview with silent amazement.

“It is Harvey Glade,” she said,— “ Kitty’s cousin. We should invite him to stay here to-night.”

I cannot conceive of anything which more quickly than these words would have snuffed out the light which had illumined the vision of my house with Kitty in it; but it was impossible for me to forget that I was a gentleman and the master of Eastover, and, instantly causing my perception of these facts to take precedence of my gathering emotions, I stepped up to Miss Kitty, and, asking to be introduced to her cousin, I begged him to make my house his home during his stay in the neighborhood.

This invitation was accepted, as I supposed it would be when I made it; yet I must own that I did not expect Mr. Glade to remain at my house for a week. Of course his presence prevented the execution of any of my plans regarding the promotion of my intimacy with Kitty ; but although the interruption caused me much vexation, I maintained the equanimity due to my position, and hoped each day that the young man would take his leave. Towards the end of his visit I became aware, through the medium of my sisters, to whom I had left in a great degree the entertainment of our guests, that young Glade was actually engaged to be married to Kitty. She had told them so herself. This statement, which chilled to the verge of frigidity my every sensibility, was amplified as follows : The young people had been attached to each other for some time, but the visits of Glade having been discouraged by Miss Kitty’s family they had not seen each other lately, and there had been no positive declaration of amatory sentiment on the part of either; this protracted sojourn in my house had given the young man all the opportunity he could desire, and the matter was settled so definitely that there was no reason to suppose that the better judgment of her elders would cause the young woman to change her mind.

Here was a fine ending to my endeavors to assist my fate. Instead of so doing, I had assisted the fate of Mr. Harvey Glade, in whose welfare I had no interest whatever. He had not known that Miss Kitty was coming to my house ; he had not even been aware, until he met her at Eastover, that I was acquainted with her family. Had it not been for my endeavors to promote my own fortune in the direction of the lady, he would have had no opportunity to make her his own ; and they probably would not have seen each other again, unless he had happened to call upon her as the mistress of Eastover. Instead of aiding Miss Kitty to enter my life on the 14th of September, I had ushered her into his life on the 16th of that month.

For a week after the departure of our guests — the young man went first — I found myself in a state of mental depression from which the kindly efforts of my sisters could not arouse me. Not only was I deeply chagrined at what had occurred, but it wounded my selfrespect to think that my fate, which had been satisfactorily pursuing the course I had marked out for it, should have been thus suddenly and disastrously turned aside. I felt that I must confess myself conquered. It was an unusual and a difficult thing for me to do this, but there was no help for it. I took out my diary, and turned to the page whereon I had challenged fate. That entry must be erased. I must humble myself, and acknowledge it untrue.

At the moment that I dipped the pen in the inkstand there was a knock at the door, and Grace Anna entered.

“ I have just had a letter,” she said, “ from dear Jane Wlltby, who married your old schoolfellow, Dr. Tom. I thought you would like to hear the news it contains. They have a little girl, and she is to be named for me.”

“ How old is it ? ” I asked, with indifferent interest.

“ She was born on the 14th of September,” said Grace Anna.

I sat erect, and looked at my sister, — looked at her without seeing her. Thoughts, like clouds upon the horizon brightened by the rays of dawn, piled themselves up in my mind. Dr. Tom, the companion of my youth, ever my cherished friend ! Jane, woman above women ! Grace Anna !

I laid down the pen, and, leaving the momentous and prognostic entry just as I had written it, I closed my diary, and placed it in my desk.

He who cannot adapt himself to the vagaries of a desired fate, who cannot place himself upon the road by which he expects it to come, and who cannot wait for it with cheerful confidence is not worthy to be assistant arbiter of his destiny.

Frank R. Stockton.