The Holiday Evening


AN old house, having a long lower room filled with old things. The colors of the room are faded colors, soft, dim, harmonious ; such yellows, browns, reds, and greens as one sees in autumn leaves, and in the rugs and hangings of ancient dwellings. Furniture, bric-a-brac, and pictures are the evident collection of a traveler in foreign lands.

Geraldine Pearl, a woman of about fifty, is shaking a dusting-cloth out of a door from which a path leads through a garden to a figure of Flora. The door is of glass, so that when closed it serves as a window. On the wall, in this part of the room, is a crucifix of carved wood, an extensive display of Tyrolean photographs and water - colors, and a peasant’s hat of dark green felt ornamented with a tuft of feathers.

Geraldine Pearl, having vigorously shaken her duster, turns back to her work, making, as she proceeds, disapproving comments : “ Old warming-pan : no, I thank you, I prefer a hot-water bag. Old harp,” — runs her fingers over the strings: “ sounds as if it might be first cousin to the one ‘that once through Tara’s halls the soul of music shed.’ Now, why should people care for things because they are old ? — making exception, of course, in favor of such rubbish as has some connection with one’s ancestors. Nice, pretty, old-fashioned manners are about the only old things I care for, — you don’t see them any too often nowadays ; and as for that modern method of shaking hands — well, all I can say is, it is worse than no manners at all.”

She opens a “ bride’s chest,” and unfolds different articles of feminine attire, — bodices, aprons, quaint gowns and gay petticoats, — selects a lace kerchief and a white muslin dress sprigged with violets, spreads these over a chair and puts the rest carefully back.

“ Some one was asking, the other day, if this house were going to be an institution, and have by-laws and a board of managers. I said I was n’t prepared to state what it was going to be in the future, but at present it was to be entirely given over to a form of private hospitality ; in other words, a number of friends had been invited to visit and to stay as long as they were contented. I should have been ashamed to explain the actual facts of the case, and how Miss Lavinia, being carried away with a sort of mania for collecting old things, could n’t rest easy until she had got together a set of antiques in the shape of six old ladies, to enliven her museum, as it were.”

Geraldine closes the lid of the chest, and from a table near by takes up an hour-glass. “ Now what does that remind one of, if it is n’t of the sands of life ebbing out, and nobody able to stop them ? Makes one think of gravestones and funeral wreaths, and ‘ there is a reaper whose name is Death.’ Cheerful assortment Miss Lavinia has got to amuse the aged on a rainy afternoon, when they ’ll be rummaging round the house. It seems they are going to be allowed to make tea in their rooms. Of course they’ll set fire to something,—that’s to be expected. I suppose there is a heavy insurance ; and after all, everything considered, a fire would n’t be such a very bad thing.”

A jar of Venetian glass next attracts her attention. She holds it so that the light shines through it. “ I really don’t see how that was brought so far without breaking. I should think it would have been in a thousand and one pieces before it was out of sight of Venice. But you never can tell. Sometimes it is the most delicate things that last the longest: and that makes me wonder how it is going to be with the old ladies. I can’t say I particularly enjoy the prospect of watching by six death-beds ; of seeing six candles flicker lower and lower, and just as you think they have flickered out, all of a sudden surprise you by flaring up again. Speaking of death-beds, if I had n’t been so short-sighted as to promise Miss Lavinia’s mother on hers that I’d always stand by the family, come what would, I might manage to extricate myself from this ridiculous situation. It is n’t right, when one is about to set off for a better world, to complicate the troubles of the survivors. It would be a good deal more Christian-like and considerate to leave things trustingly in the hands of the Lord, — although of course it takes an awful sight of faith not to attempt to assist Him. As far as trusting in the Lord is concerned, being on the subject, I suppose I may as well make a personal application, and endeavor to believe that if there is any sort of a worth-while side to Miss Lavinia’s plan, the Almighty will be the very first to find it out, and act accordingly. I really don’t think, either, that Miss Lavinia’s mother would have taken such an advantage of me, if she had had the slightest suspicion of the way things were coming out. Who could have foreseen that from collecting buttons, and butterflies, and postage-stamps, and old coins, and china, and pewter, and secondhand books and furniture, one would be eventually led to collecting aged persons ? ”

With the lace kerchief and violetsprigged gown over her arm she crosses the room, stops before an old piano and opens it, stops again before the portrait of a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl dressed in the fashion of some thirty years previous, and says, speaking to the pictured face, “ Now, you need n’t put on such a reproachful expression. I don’t want your old things burned, and I don’t mind your collecting old ladies, — no, not in the least. I rather like it, and I’m going to do the best I can by them, and so is Mary Roselle, and so is Mr. Fred.”


On a rustic seat under the Flora in the garden a girl of about two - andtwenty is arranging flowers in diminutive nosegays. She too is talking to herself, and the little rippling murmur sounds like the refrain of a song. 舠Purple and yellow pansies for Mrs. Pearson, and white ones for Mrs. Page; and forgetme-nots, of course, for Mrs. Preller, to remind her of the Fatherland ; and clove pinks for Miss Hamilton, who is so fond of a bit of gay color; and a rose for Dear, and another for Darling; and for every precious one of them a sprig of thyme and of lavender and of lemon verbena.”

“ Thinking aloud, Miss Mary Roselle ? ” asks the voice of some one coming up the path.

The girl rises quickly and makes a deep curtsy.

The owner of the voice says admiringly, “ What is it, — what have you been doing to yourself ? Is it a new gown ? ”

“ No, a very old one. Geraldine brought it for me to wear in what she calls the opening scene. She says she puts the entire performance under the head of private theatricals, and we need n’t expect to hear a pleasant word from her till the curtain falls at the end of the final act.”

The man laughs, and asks if the paper he sees protruding from the girl’s belt is an old love-letter found in the pocket.

“It is a love-letter,” Mary Roselle answers, “ but a modern one : it is Miss Lavinia’s first letter to me regarding my new position. I brought it to read to you.” She ties the old ladies’ flowers with some narrow white ribbon, places them on the bench, each bunch by itself, unfolds the letter and reads : —

DEAR MARY ROSELLE, — I knew and loved your mother when we were girls, and have loved her ever since. They tell me you are exactly like her : therefore I know and love you.

And now to another important subject. I am about to open the old house at home under the name of The Holiday Evening. Some day when my own evening shall come, which will be before very long (I suppose you have never thought, dear Mary Roselle, in how short a time one can reach the age of seventy), I intend to return and live in it myself. In the meantime six old ladies have consented to do this for me. Would you be willing to become their professional visitor and partial companion ? I should like you to see that they are surrounded with pleasant little attentions. I should like you to let them hear the old harp and the spinet. I should like you to invite a few well-behaved little children on a Saturday afternoon to play in the garden, for the sake of the sound of their voices. There will be a sum set apart for use, at your discretion, in providing cap - ribbons, peppermints, posies in the winter, birthday remembrances,— in short, whatever your judgment suggests. The other details of the establishment are already in the hands of my valued Geraldine Pearl and my nephew Frederick Dillingham. As a reference for my sanity, I beg you to consult your dear mother’s memories. She will doubtless tell you that I have always been called somewhat eccentric, — a reputation which, intelligently considered, may mean several things. Let it mean in the present instance a sincere earnestness of purpose. Be favorable to my proposition, and thus make happy six otherwise daughterless old women and

Your mother’s friend and yours,


The man, looking up as Mary Roselle stops reading, notices that her eyes are sweetly moist, and has a sensation of having come unexpectedly upon a brook hidden under violet leaves.

“ It’s so kind,” the girl says, “ so very, very kind. Think of Miss Lavinia’s expressing it in that way, instead of writing that she had learned of our reverses and wanted to give me a pleasant opportunity of earning a regular income ! And when I hesitated about accepting the generous remuneration offered for so little service, I was assured that I need have no scruples on that score, since I would be expected to spend a considerable amount for the benefit of the cause; that I was to keep myself abundantly supplied with pretty hats and gowns, because it would do the old ladies so much good to see me in them. Of course I understand that this is only Miss Lavinia’s lovely way of showing her friendship for mamma, and I accept most gratefully; but imagine being paid for such charming duties as playing on the harp and the spinet! ”

“ And buying peppermints ! ” interrupts the man. “ It’s perfectly absurd, is n’t it ? By the way, I believe I have aunt Lavinia’s first letter to me on this subject somewhere at hand.”

He produces the letter, gives the six nosegays in a bunch to Mary Roselle, and the two walk up and down the pathway, the man reading.


DEAR FRED, — Fate, Providence, my guardian angel, — call it what you will, — has lately brought me into constant and intimate relationship with a number of industrious fellow countrywomen, all of whom appear to be engaged, when at home, in some professional pursuit, such as conducting cooking-classes, giving lectures, keeping bees, raising mushrooms ; in short, honestly striving to do their duty and earn their own living, or that of some one dependent upon them.

This has been to me a rebuking revelation. It is so long since I have lived at home for any continued period that I have fallen quite behind the times. I thought the young girls were still growing up to wait for their wooing and winning, whereas it seems they are growing up with a view to obtaining proficiency in some practical pursuit, so that the virgins of to-day have oil in their lamps. Under the influence of my new impressions, I have been going through a process of self-examination, have been asking myself if there were not some special and individual work I could undertake for the good of the few or the many; until, having arrived at the humiliating discovery that I know how to do nothing, unless it be to select, classify, and preserve objects of art and antiquity, I said aloud, half jestingly, “Why not go a step further, — why not collect and preserve ancient human beings ? ”

Whereupon the friend before whom this remark was uttered surprised me by taking my hand and telling me, with tears in her eyes, of this old woman and that old woman who would he so happy in those long-unused rooms of mine, and more particularly of a certain two, familiarly called Dear and Darling, who had read, studied, and economized together in devoted companionship through many years, thus preparing their minds and saving their money for a long European journey, which should come when they felt able to retire from their profession as teachers.

One day Darling was taken ill. Winters and summers passed before she recovered; even then she was not quite well, and she would never be again. Meanwhile, the expenses of the sickness had so encroached upon what the two friends had set aside as their “European fund ” that, little by little, all thought of the journey was of necessity abandoned. They bore the disappointment bravely. What did it matter, after all, they said ; they had had the delightful hours of anticipated pleasure: they had still remaining a slender income, enough for the modest wants of their quiet life. But it happened that they were to be deprived of this, also. A bank failed, and their resources were swept away as by the wind. When I heard this story, I thought that to offer an opportunity of living among my foreign collections would be a cruel aggravation, and that I ought, at any sacrifice, to have these two old friends comfortably transported across the Atlantic, and then by easy stages to whatever spots they most desired to visit. But my friend assures me they are too feeble to travel, and too sweet and sensible to be aggravated. So I have concluded to make them as happy as I can at home, and four others with them.

Thus a word spoken in jest has become an affair of serious import, — although, between ourselves, Fred, I am heartily ashamed of its limitations, because, in looking for the four others, I have heard of at least forty, and no doubt should have heard of four hundred, had I been conducting the search in person.

Geraldine has written to say that if it is in my heart to assist the aged, I ought either to establish an old ladies’ home on approved plans, or give whatever I intend to spend in this direction for the enlargement of one already established, and that there is nothing so woefully needed as old ladies’ homes; that she herself could fill a dozen without going as many miles ; moreover, that my scheme in its present form is not philanthropic, but merely the gratification of an idle whim. She also alludes to my future guests as the six “ Figurines,” exactly as if they were to be made of terra cotta, and would arrive packed in straw. But I know Geraldine.

I hear that Tom Meadows has come home and opened a studio. I wish you would prevail upon him to drop in upon the members of my household now and then of an evening, in a neighborly way, for a game of cards or a little music and talk. Tell him I will remember that one good turn deserves another.

This is all at present, written to prepare you for what is coming, and to ask you to love my Figurines as you love your


Mr. Fred and Mary Roselle are now at the end of the path by the glass door. They open this and go into the long room. Under the portrait of Miss Lavinia as a girl is a stand holding a teaservice of white and gold. As Mary Roselle places her nosegays on the stand, the street bell is heard to ring. Directly Geraldine enters, announcing “ Mrs. Pearson,” and is followed by a thin little old lady wearing a black dress and black bonnet and shawl. The shawl has a palm-leaf border.

Mary Roselle greets her with pretty cordiality, and leads her to a chair. Mr. Fred offers his hand, saying, “ I am glad to see you, Mrs. Pearson.” The door of a Black Forest clock opens, and a little bird, showing its head, calls 舠Cuckoo.”

Mrs. Pearson, who appears greatly bewildered, exclaims, “ Am I no longer an aged and indigent female ? ”

“No, certainly not,” returns Mary Roselle reassuringly.

“ No, indeed. Don’t think of such a thing,” says Mr. Fred.

“You 'll feel better when you’ve had some tea,” observes Geraldine.

She takes the old lady’s bonnet and shawl, and then busies herself about the tea-table.

“ This is not like life,” resumes the old lady. “ It is only in impossible books that the rich search you out and do for you at the right moment. I’m a great reader. I’ve read quantities of just such books. I never believed in them. I don’t believe in them now. Either I am asleep, or this is a most remarkable exception to what generally happens.”

She pulls out her handkerchief and begins to weep, interrupting her tears to relate how, for months and months, she has been presented before doorways, some of which bore the inscription “ Home for Aged and Indigent Females,” and others “Home for Aged and Indigent American Females,” without obtaining admittance, either because there was no vacancy at the time, or because she was not the right kind of applicant, and that she is mortified beyond measure on account of her present behavior ; but who could help being overcome at finding one’s self suddenly in the midst of such a beautiful room and such a friendly reception, with no questions asked as to the length of time one had lived in the town or whether one were a church member, and no subjection to scrutiny, and nobody trying to discover if one had tendencies to blindness or were of a quarrelsome disposition, and nothing mandatory, nothing provoking retort ? No, it was not like life, nor like anything ever before heard of.

“Sometimes,” says Mr. Fred, “life is quite as improbable as the most improbable story.”

“ Life let us cherish,” hums Mary Roselle, and she goes to the piano and sings the pleasant old song,

“ Life let us cherish,
While yet the taper glows,
And the fresh flow’ret,
Pluck ere it close.”

During the singing Mrs. Pearson recovers her composure, and is able to drink the cup of tea which Geraldine has prepared for her.


It is the afternoon of a twofold festival, — that of Miss Lavinia’s birthday and of the formal opening of the house. In the Tyrolean corner stands a flowerdecked table, ready for the little feast which is to be a part of the programme. At one end of the room a white curtain has been stretched like a screen, and near it Tom Meadows is engaged in making selections from a box of lanternslides. Two old ladies, dressed exactly alike in gray with white kerchiefs folded at the throat, are wandering about, arm in arm, and uttering delighted ejaculations as they consider the various objects.

One of them says to the other, “ Did you hear, Darling, how Geraldine said we might dust this room, if it would be any satisfaction to us ? ” And Darling replies, laughing gently, as over a pleasant joke, “ We never expected, did we, Dear, that it would one day be permitted us to dust Europe ? ”

Two more old ladies occupy the settle by the fireplace, — one youthfully and elegantly dressed, the other agedly and simply. Both have beautiful snow-white hair. The young old lady is Miss Hamilton, the old old lady is Mrs. Page, and to her Miss Hamilton is saying that she never could see why people desired to observe birthdays, and that as far as the date of her own birthday is concerned, she has absolutely forgotten it.

“ I am sure I have forgotten mine,” returns Mrs. Page, “ but I never pretend to remember anything now. I wonder if I am ninety ? I know I have been high in the eighties for a good while.”

“ You might be high in the nineties and not be old,” observes Miss Hamilton, “ and you might be nine and yet be the oldest person living; it’s all a matter of temperament. You never hear people called old because they happen to live in old houses, neither ought they to be called old because they happen to live in old bodies. Still, I confess I have a preference for bodies that are at least comparatively young, they are so much more convenient to get about in.” Then she relates how, when she had pneumonia the winter before, the family who took care of her, thinking she was going to die, sent for a minister, — not her own minister, but some one she had never seen ; and how, when this man bent over her and asked, “ Is there anything you particularly desire, Miss Hamilton ? ” she had replied, in as distinct a whisper as her weakened condition would permit, that she desired youth and health and wealth and beauty. “ And after that,” says Miss Hamilton, “ there was no more introducing of strangers into my presence without first ascertaining whether it were going to be agreeable to my feelings.”

“ Where’s that little boy who was standing at my elbow ? ” asks Mrs. Page suddenly.

“I have n’t seen any little boy,” returns Miss Hamilton, looking about. “I don’t think there has been one in the room.”

“ I must have been dreaming,” says Mrs. Page. “ I hope you will excuse me. Falling asleep seems to be the only accomplishment I ’ve got left. I can’t read, and I can’t use my hands, and I’m sure I have n’t any manners, but I can always fall asleep.”

Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Preller are chatting by the glass door in the Tyrolean corner. Mrs. Preller is a round, sunny-faced old lady, with knots of heliotrope ribbon on her dainty white cap. Her companion wears a shawl of creamcolored merino having a border of shaded roses.

Mrs. Pearson has been explaining to her companion that she makes it a matter of principle, when possible, to wear a shawl, not because she is cold, but because it is the easiest way of keeping the moths out of it; that she possesses a shawl for every month in the year, besides a dozen or so odd ones; that every acquaintance who dies is sure to leave her a shawl, and she often wishes something different might be left, but it appears to be another case of to him that has much, much shall be given.

“ That is a handsome one you are wearing to-day,” says Mrs. Preller, feeling the texture of the article in question ; “ it must have cost a good deal when it was new ; it’s very becoming to you.”

They walk about the table and admire the flowers ; Mrs. Preller wishing they could have eaten in the garden, and regretting that there is no table in front of the bench by the Flora. “ It would be so gemüthlich for afternoon coffee.” She opens the glass door and steps into the garden, Mrs. Pearson following.

As they go out, Geraldine, Mary Roselle, and Mr. Fred enter the room from the opposite side. Mary Roselle is saying to Mr. Fred, “ What should you think of having a little rustic stand placed before the Flora, so that Mrs. Preller can invite her German friends to drink coffee on Sunday afternoons ? I am confident that is what she is longing for this very moment. Germans are so fond of Sundaying together and drinking coffee in gardens.”

Mr. Fred replies that the suggestion meets with his entire approval. He speaks somewhat absently, being preoccupied with thoughts called up by a cluster of Cherokee roses which Mary Roselle wears. As a usual thing he does not enjoy seeing a woman’s dress adorned with flowers, and is apt to be filled with a desire to remove them and put them into water ; he has often experienced a feeling of positive annoyance at the sight of roses with yard-long stems, or violets massed in a solid and enormous bunch, as a supplement to some fashionable gown, such arrangements appearing to him un-rose-like and un-violet-like. When Mary Roselle wears flowers it seems to be different, and he is conscious of perceiving a charming fitness of things.


Geraldine arranges some chairs in a group opposite Miss Lavinia’s picture, and gradually the company are seated. Mr. Fred stands under the picture, Geraldine with the maids of the house somewhat in the background.

Mr. Fred begins by saying that he has been thinking how happy his aunt must be on account of this gift of six new friends who have met to keep her birthday ; that a birthday is such a pleasant thing; and that a long series of them might be considered as resembling the petals of a rose, and the development they afforded like the growth of the rose of character ; so that by letting sun or shade, weal or woe, serve its purpose of adding richness and depth to the coloring, this rose of character would every year grow rounder and fairer, until it should become a fit flower for the garden of paradise. “ Therefore,” says Mr. Fred, “let us rejoice in the number of our birthdays.” A pleasant way to speak of growing old. Even Miss Hamilton nods approvingly.

Mr. Fred continues by telling his listeners that until he learned something of the experiences of his aunt Lavinia’s guests he had never realized the appropriateness of comparing life to a voyage across an untried and tempestuous sea : how one does, indeed, set forth gayly and confidently ; but, as time goes on, one passes into regions of storm and peril, and there are long days and longer nights of drifting, one knows not whither, of struggling against despondency and despair, against allowing one’s courage to ebb and one’s faith to fade. Occasionally it may be that the sea is unruffled from port to port; and yet, to miss the opportunity of facing and defying danger — of making, as his aunt Lavinia’s guests have done, a brave passage ; of bringing, as they have brought, a wealth of kindliness and gentleness unharmed across life’s sea — would be, taking the voyage for all it is worth, infinitely more of a loss than a gain.

The old ladies are all smiles and tears. They consider the words quite remarkable, coming from so young a man. (Mr. Fred is thirty-eight.)

He draws a little nearer to his listeners now, and tells them he remembers having heard his aunt say of things especially beautiful and peace-giving that they reminded her of the one hundredth psalm, and that he thinks she would like this used at the opening of her house. He repeats the psalm from memory, adding at the close, “ And may He who is gracious, whose mercy is everlasting, keep this house and its owner, keep us all, who go in and out over its threshold, from this time forth forever. Amen.”

Then Tom Meadows jumps up, and announces briskly that, since tea is to be served in the Tyrol, it is necessary to bestir themselves in order to reach that country; and may he ask the birthday party to arise, so that the chairs can be turned facing the opposite direction.

The change being accomplished and the room darkened, a succession of enchanting views, the fruit of Tom Meadows’s camera during a Tyrolean mountain tramp, are thrown upon the screen. There are glimpses of the old imperial road of the Cæsars, leading from Germany through the Tyrol into Italy ; there are snow-topped heights and fertile valleys ; there are wayside shrines, and flowers, and picturesque houses and villages: and thus loveliness melts into loveliness, until the quaint little town of Botzen appears, with its statue of Walter of the Vogelweide in the market-place, and next the doorway of an inn, and next a smiling peasant maid in the dress of the country.

Then the pictures vanish, all but the last, which seems to have stepped down into the room; for when the light is admitted, it shines upon Mary Roselle, wearing a dark stuff skirt, a white chemisette, a black bodice with silver ornaments, a sky-blue apron, and a canarycolored kerchief caught at the neck with a deep red rose, and waiting to receive the little company, as, in the mood of the happiest of travelers who ever passed over the Brenner on a glad June day, Miss Lavinia’s guests seat themselves around the birthday table.


This Tyrolean trip is followed by others of a similar character, gay little improvised journeys, occurring on an appointed evening of every week, and participated in by the six old ladies, Mary Roselle, Geraldine, Mr. Fred, Tom Meadows, and later by Father Paul, the venerable clergyman of the neighboring church, St. Ann’s, in whom Miss Hamilton has discovered an acquaintance dating back to the time of her young - ladyhood. The discovery proves a most useful one, Miss Hamilton being in peculiar need of what Mrs. Preller calls ein jugend Freund.

To explain this need, it must first be stated that, some months previous, Mary Roselle, in sending her weekly report to Miss Lavinia, had inclosed a water-color of herself wearing the sprigged muslin gown and playing on the old harp. Thereupon, Miss Lavinia, delighted with the sketch, and desiring to be helpful to Tom Meadows, whose work it is, conceives the idea of having the portraits of the six old ladies painted, to hang in a row on the walls of “ Little Europe,” as Dear and Darling have christened the long room. She communicates this wish, and Tom Meadows begins the portraits, finding, with one exception, willing sitters. The exception is Miss Hamilton, who says it is a very responsible thing to leave a large oil painting of one’s self in the world ; it is n’t like a miniature that can be tucked out of sight or thrown down a well. In her opinion, only the young and beautiful ought to be painted, and certainly no woman over forty, although she does not wish to be thought sweeping in this assertion, and she considers the five portraits already finished by Mr. Tom excellent as likenesses and agreeable as works of art; only she would prefer not to add her own to the number, unless it could be painted at a more favorable age than the one she has attained. She also mentions the fact of having in her possession an old daguerreotype, taken when she was eighteen. Would Mr. Tom think it worth while to make a portrait from that ?

Yes, Mr. Tom thinks it would be decidedly worth while, especially as this appears to be the only manner in which Miss Hamilton’s portrait can be secured.

The daguerreotype is produced, and he sets to work on an enlarged copy, for the intelligent criticism of which it is very desirable that some one should be found who knew Miss Hamilton in her youth. Hence the renewal of friendship with Father Paul is most opportune ; and thanks to his suggestions, various alterations are made, — something is changed about the mouth, a flower is added to the dress, and a necklace, — until a charming old-time belle smiles from out the canvas, “ and yet looking very much as our Miss Hamilton looks to-day,” say the five old ladies standing in an approving row before it. When the portraits are completed, a “ private view ” is held in Little Europe ; and not long after this, fame begins to knock at Tom Meadows’s door. He spends a profitable year, and at the end of it goes abroad for further study, and to thank Miss Lavinia for the opportunity she has given him. He does not tell her of the great sorrow that has befallen him, — his “first great sorrow,” he calls it to himself : he has asked Mary Roselle’s hand in marriage, and not received it.

Meanwhile, Geraldine Pearl, following the bent of her own ideas, has written to Miss Lavinia that half a dozen of anything is a skimpy number, and has asked why she does not branch out in a Christian spirit, and enlarge her accommodations by the addition of a few rooms to her house, “ it being a cheap time for building, —although building, even at a cheap time, is always costly.”

Miss Lavinia writes back favorably, and the family are awaiting the final word which shall mean twelve instead of six old ladies at The Holiday Evening.

Things are progressing thus, when Mary Roselle has a singular dream. She seems to be watching in the room where Dear and Darling sleep. From this she can look, as through a glass partition, across the room called Little Europe, and beyond into the garden. Mr. Fred is standing by the Flora. She remembers having promised to meet him there. She cannot keep her appointment, because she must watch by Dear and Darling ; only it does not appear to be exactly they, but something they have left and which bears their semblance. The two old friends themselves she perceives moving about in the long room, dusting every object lovingly and carefully. When their work is completed, they pause for a moment, say, “ Good-by, Little Europe,” and disappear.


Mary Roselle awakes. It is seven in the morning. She dresses hurriedly, and goes to The Holiday Evening. Upstairs, in the little sitting-room shared by Dear and Darling, Mr. Fred is reading a letter. As the girl comes into the room, he holds out his hand and says, “ How did you know, dear ? ”

The sun is shining across the floor; the canary-bird is singing in his cage, but not disturbing any one. In the inner room Dear and Darling sleep peacefully, as they have hoped all their lives some day to sleep. The letter is one which they have written together. Mr. Fred reads it to Mary Roselle, and after a little the two go down to the garden, sit on the bench by the Flora, and talk of life and death, of joy and sorrow, of the end that may hold so wonderful a beginning, of that strange, sweet thing that knows no end, — “ there is no end to love.”

The letter contains a request that during the first day following their departure the old harp shall stand in the outer room, and Mary Roselle shall play upon it now and then. Of course, so Dear and Darling say, they do not quite expect to be able to hear her; still it is possible, and in any case the music will be pleasant for the others. They also say that they have never felt reconciled to funerals as generally conducted ; that they have always thought there must be some better way of managing, but that people would perhaps never find it, because each funeral must of necessity be a totally new experience to those most interested. For themselves, they desire that a brief service be held on the Sunday after the earthly garment of their souls has been put away, provided this service can be so arranged as to leave a glad and happy impression. They should like it to take place in Little Europe, and to consist partly of the singing of their three favorite hymns, and of the reading of the burial service of the Prayer Book with certain modifications, such as the omission of all details touching the dissolution of the body, and all references to the wrath of God. Furthermore, they wish to be remembered and spoken of as two would-be travelers, who, with hearts full of thankfulness for the beautiful things accorded during their time of waiting, have finally set forth in perfect trust and joy.

Early in the day Mrs. Pearson enters the inner room, bringing two white crape shawls, which she has always kept very choice, and lays one on the foot of each bed. After that, the well-behaved little children who play on Saturdays in the garden come, and say to one another how sweet Dear and Darling look with the pretty white shawls about them ; and when they are told that the two friends will awaken in a beautiful country, they believe all that is said, prattle pleasant things about the awakening, and go away on tiptoe.

Then the family gather in the room without, Mary Roselle plays softly on the old harp, and Father Paul repeats a prayer or two, and reads aloud passages found marked in a Bible which Dear and Darling have used ; among them is this: “ He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.”

On the following Sunday, the household and a number of invited guests meet in Little Europe. The well-behaved children are present, also ; likewise the choir-boys from St. Ann’s, and Father Paul in his robe of office. Under the portraits of Dear and Darling is a jar filled with white immortelles and vines of evergreen, fresh that day from the woods. Father Paul renders the service in the manner desired. The boys from St. Ann’s sing the three favorite hymns. The first two are those of welcome : —

“ ‘ Come to Me,’ saith One, and coming,
Be at rest.’ ”

“ Faith’s journeys end in welcome to the weary,
And heaven, the heart’s true home, will come at last.
Angels of Jesus,
Angels of light,
Singing to welcome
The pilgrims of the night.”

The third is the triumph song of Bernard of Cluny : —

“ O sweet and blessèd country,
The home of God’s elect! ”

Then Mrs. Pearson, who has been wearing a black cashmere shawl with a black ribbon border, slips it off, and appears festively arrayed in one of delicate green silk, showing vague flowers, and Mary Roselle, the well-behaved little children grouped about her, stands with Mr. Fred before Father Paul.

“ Dearly beloved,” Father Paul begins, “ we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony.”

And no one is in the least surprised.

Harriet Lewis Bradley.