THE RETURN OF MONSIEUR JEAN HUGON.
To the north the glebe was bounded by a thick wood, a rank and dense " second growth ” springing from earth where had once stood, decorously apart, the monster trees of the primeval forest; a wild maze of young trees, saplings and undergrowth, overrun from the tops of the slender, bending pines to the bushes of dogwood and sassafras, and the rotting, ancient stumps and fallen logs, by the uncontrollable, all-spreading vine. It was such a fantastic thicket as one might look to find in fairyland, thorny and impenetrable : here as tall as a ten years’ pine, there sunken away to the height of the wild honeysuckles; everywhere backed by blue sky, heavy with odors, filled with the flash of wings and the songs of birds. To the east the thicket fell away to low and marshy grounds, where tall cypresses grew, and myriads of myrtle bushes. Later in the year women and children would venture in upon the unstable earth for the sake of the myrtle berries and their yield of fragrant wax, and once and again an outlying slave had been tracked by men and dogs to the dark recesses of the place ; but for the most part it was given over to its immemorial silence. To the south and the west the tobacco fields of Fair View closed in upon the glebe, taking the fertile river bank, and pressing down to the crooked, slow-moving, deeply shadowed creek, upon whose further bank stood the house of the Rev. Gideon Darden.
A more retired spot, a completer sequestration from the world of mart and highway, it would have been hard to find. In the quiet of the early morning, when the shadows of the trees lay across the dewy grass, and the shadows of the clouds dappled the limpid water, it was an angle of the earth as cloistral and withdrawn as heart of scholar or of anchorite could wish. On one side of the house lay a tiny orchard, and the windows of the living room looked out upon a mist of pink and white apple blooms. The fragrance of the blossoms had been in the room, but could not prevail against the odor of tobacco and rum lately introduced by the master of the house and minister of the parish. Audrey, sitting beside a table which had been drawn in front of the window, turned her face aside, and was away, sense and soul, out of the meanly furnished room into the midst of the great bouquets of bloom, with the blue between and above. Darden, walking up and down, with his pipe in his mouth, and the tobacco smoke curling like an aureole around his bullet head, glanced toward the window and the girl’s averted head and idle hands.
“ When you have written that which I have told you to write, say so, Audrey,” he commanded. " Don’t sit there staring at nothing! ”
Audrey came back to the present with a start, took up a pen, and drew the standish nearer. " ' Answer of Gideon Darden, Minister of Fair View Parish, in Virginia, to the several Queries contained in my Lord Bishop of London’s Circular Letter to the Clergy in Virginia,’ ” she read, and poised her pen in air.
“ Read out the questions,” ordered Darden, " and write my answer to each in the space beneath. No blots, mind you, and spell not after the promptings of your woman’s nature.”
Going to a side table, he mixed for himself, in an old battered silver cup, a generous draught of bombo ; then, with the drink in his hand, walked heavily across the uncarpeted floor to his armchair, which creaked under his weight as he sank into its leathern lap. He put down the rum and water with so unsteady a hand that the liquor spilled, and when he refilled his pipe half the contents of his tobacco box showered down upon his frayed and ancient and unclean coat and breeches. From the pocket of the latter he now drew forth a silver coin, which he balanced for a moment upon his fat forefinger, and finally sent spinning across the table to Audrey.
“ ’T is the dregs of thy guinea, child, that Paris and Hugon and I drank at the crossroads last night. ‘ Burn me,’ says I to them, ‘ if that long-legged lass of mine shan’t have a drop in the cup ! ’ And says Hugon ” —
What Hugon said did not appear, or was confided to the depths of the tankard which the minister raised to his lips. Audrey looked at the splendid shilling gleaming upon the table beside her, but made no motion toward taking it into closer possession. A little red had come into the clear brown of her cheeks. She was a young girl, with her dreams and fancies, and the golden guinea would have made a dream or two come true.
“ ' Query the first,’ ” she read slowly. “ ' How long since you went to the plantations as missionary ? ’ ”
Darden, leaning back in his chair, with his eyes uplifted through the smoke clouds to the ceiling, took his pipe from his mouth, for the better answering of his diocesan. " ' My Lord, thirteen years come St. Swithin’s day,’ ” he dictated. “ ' Signed, Gideon Darden.’ Audrey, do not forget thy capitals. Thirteen years ! Lord, Lord, the years, how they fly ! Hast it down, Audrey ? ”
Audrey, writing in a slow, fair, clerkly hand, made her period, and turned to the Bishop’s second question : “ ‘ Had you any other church before you came to that which you now possess ? ’ ”
“ ' No, my Lord,’ ” said the minister to the Bishop ; then to the ceiling : " I came raw from the devil to this parish. Audrey, hast ever heard children say that Satan comes and walks behind me when I go through the forest ? ”
“Yes,” said Audrey, “but their eyes are not good. You go hand in hand.”
Darden paused in the lifting of his tankard. “ Thy wits are brightening, Audrey ; but keep such observations to thyself. It is only the schoolmaster with whom I walk. Go on to the next question.”
The Bishop desired to know how long the minister addressed had been inducted into his living. The minister addressed, leaning forward, laid it off to his Lordship how that the vestries in Virginia did not incline to have ministers inducted, and, being very powerful, kept the poor servants of the Church upon uneasy seats ; but that he, Gideon Darden, had the love of his flock, rich and poor, gentle and simple, and that in the first year of his ministry the gentlemen of his vestry had been pleased to present his name to the Governor for induction. Which explanation made, the minister drank more rum, and looked out of the window at the orchard and at his neighbor’s tobacco.
“ You are only a woman, and can hold no office, Audrey,” he said, “ but I will impart to you words of wisdom whose price is above rubies. Always agree with your vestry. Go, hat in hand, to each of its members in turn, craving advice as to the management of your own affairs. Thunder from the pulpit against Popery, which does not exist in this colony, and the Pretender, who is at present in Italy. Wrap a dozen black sheep of inferior breed in white sheets and set them arow at the church door, but make it stuff of the conscience to see no blemish in the wealthier and more honorable portion of your flock. So you will thrive, and come to be inducted into your living, whether in Virginia or some other quarter of the globe. What’s the worthy Bishop’s next demand ? Hasten, for Hugon is coming this morning, and there’s settlement to be made of a small bet, and a hand at cards.”
By the circular letter and the lips of Audrey the Bishop proceeded to propound a series of questions, which the minister answered with portentous glibness. In the midst of an estimate of the value of a living in a sweet-scented parish a face looked in at the window, and a dark and sinewy hand laid before Audrey a bunch of scarlet columbine.
“ The rock was high,” said a voice, “ and the pool beneath was deep and dark. Here are the flowers that waved from the rock and threw colored shadows upon the pool.”
The girl shrank as from a sudden and mortal danger. Her lips trembled, her eyes half closed, and with a hurried and passionate gesture she rose from her chair, thrust from her the scarlet blooms, and with one lithe movement of her body put between her and the window the heavy writing table. The minister laid by his sum in arithmetic.
“ Ha, Hugon, dog of a trader ! ” he cried. “ Come in, man. Hast brought the skins ? There’s fire water upon the table, and Audrey will be kind. Stay to dinner, and tell us what lading you brought down river, and of your kindred in the forest and your kindred in Monacan-Town.”
The man at the window shrugged his shoulders, lifted his brows, and spread his hands. So a captain of Mousquetaires might have done ; but the face was dark-skinned, the cheek bones were high, the black eyes large, fierce, and restless. A great bushy peruke, of an ancient fashion, and a coarse, much - laced cravat gave setting and lent a touch of grotesqueness and of terror to a countenance wherein the blood of the red man warred with that of the white.
“ I will not come in now,” said the voice again. “ I am going in my boat to the big creek to take twelve doeskins to an old man named Taberer. I will come back to dinner. May I not, ma’m’selle ? ”
The corners of the lips went up, and the thicket of false hair swept the window sill, so low did the white man bow; but the Indian eyes were watchful. Audrey made no answer ; she stood with her face turned away and her eyes upon the door, measuring her chances. If Darden would let her pass, she might reach the stairway and her own room before the trader could enter the house. There were bolts to its heavy door, and Hugon might do as he had done before, and talk his heart out upon the wrong side of the wood. Thanks be ! lying upon her bed and pressing the pillow over her ears, she did not have to hear.
At the trader’s announcement that his present path led past the house, she ceased her stealthy progress toward her own demesne, and waited, with her back to the window, and her eyes upon one long ray of sunshine that struck high against the wall.
“ I will come again,” said the voice without, and the apparition was gone from the window. Once more blue sky and rosy bloom spanned the opening, and the sunshine lay in a square upon the floor. The girl drew a long breath, and turning to the table began to arrange the papers upon it with trembling hands.
“ ‘ Sixteen thousand pounds of sweetscented, at ten shillings the hundredweight ; for marriage by banns, five shillings ; for the preaching of a funeral sermon, forty shillings ; for christening ' " — began Darden for the Bishop’s information. Audrey took her pen and wrote; but before the list of the minister’s perquisites had come to an end the door flew open, and a woman with the face of a vixen came hurriedly into the room. With her entered the breeze from the river, driving before it the smoke wreaths, and blowing the papers from the table to the floor.
Darden stamped his foot. “ Woman, I have business, I tell ye, — business with the Bishop of London ! I ’ve kept his Lordship at the door this se’nnight, and if I give him not audience Blair will presently be down upon me with tooth and nail and his ancient threat of a visitation. Begone and keep the house! Audrey, where are you, child ? ”
“Audrey, leave the room! ” commanded the woman. “ I have something to say that’s not for your ears. Let her go, Darden. There’s news, I tell you.”
The minister glanced at his wife ; then knocked the ashes from his pipe and nodded dismissal to Audrey. His late secretary slipped from her seat and left the room, not without alacrity.
“Well?” demanded Darden, when the sound of the quick young feet had died away. “ Open your budget, Deborah. There’s naught in it, I ’ll swear, but some fal-lal about your flowered gown or an old woman’s black cat and corner broomstick.”
Mistress Deborah Darden pressed her thin lips together, and eyed her lord and master with scant measure of conjugal fondness. “ It’s about some one nearer home than your bishops and commissaries,” she said. “ Hide passed by this morning, going to the river field. I was in the garden, and he stopped to speak to me. Mr. Haward is home from England. He came to the great house last night, and he ordered his horse for ten o’clock this morning, and asked the nearest way through the fields to the parsonage.”
Darden whistled, and put down his drink untasted.
“ Enter the most powerful gentleman of my vestry ! ” he exclaimed. “ He ’ll be that in a month’s time. A member of the Council, too, no doubt, and with the Governor’s ear. He’s a scholar and fine gentleman. Deborah, clear away this trash. Lay out my books, fetch a bottle of Canary, and give me my Sunday coat. Put flowers on the table, and a dish of bonchrétiens, and get on your tabby gown. Make your curtsy at the door ; then leave him to me.”
“ And Audrey ? ” said his wife.
Darden, about to rise, sank back again and sat still, a hand upon either arm of his chair. “ Eh ! ” he said ; then, in a meditative tone, “That is so, — there is Audrey.”
“ If he has eyes, he ’ll see that for himself,” retorted Mistress Deborah tartly. “ ' More to the purpose,’ he ’ll say, ' where is the money that I gave you for her ? ’ ”
“ Why, it’s gone,” answered Darden. “ Gone in maintenance, — gone in meat and drink and raiment. He did n’t want it buried. Pshaw, Deborah, he has quite forgot his fine-lady plan ! He forgot it years ago, I ’ll swear.”
“ I ’ll send her now on an errand to the Widow Constance’s,” said the mistress of the house. “ Then before he comes again I ’ll get her a gown ” —
The minister brought his hand down upon the table. “ You ’ll do no such thing ! ” he thundered. " The girl’s got to be here when he comes. As for her dress, can’t she borrow from you ? The Lord knows that though only the wife of a poor parson, you might throw for gewgaws with a bona roba ! Go trick her out, and bring her here. I ’ll attend to the wine and the books.”
When the door opened again, and Audrey, alarmed and wondering, slipped with the wind into the room, and stood in the sunshine before the minister, that worthy first frowned, then laughed, and finally swore.
“ ’Swounds, Deborah, your hand is out! If I had n’t taken you from service, I’d swear that you were never inside a fine lady’s chamber. What’s the matter with the girl’s skirt ? ”
“ She’s too tall! ” cried the sometime waiting maid angrily. “ As for that great stain upon the silk, the wine made it when you threw your tankard at me, last Sunday but one.”
“ That manteau pins her arms to her sides,” interrupted the minister calmly, “ and the lace is dirty. You’ve hidden all her hair under that mazarine, and too many patches become not a brown skin. Turn around, child ! ”
While Audrey slowly revolved, the guardian of her fortunes, leaning back in his chair, bent his bushy brows and gazed, not at the circling figure in its tawdry apparel, but into the distance. When she stood still and looked at him with a half - angry, half - frightened face, he brought his bleared eyes to bear upon her, studied her for a minute, then motioned to his wife.
“ She must take off this paltry finery, Deborah,” he announced. “ I ’ll have none of it. Go, child, and don your Cinderella gown.”
“ What does it all mean ? ” cried Audrey, with heaving bosom. “ Why did she put these things upon me, and why will she tell me nothing ? If Hugon has hand in it ” —
The minister made a gesture of contempt. “ Hugon ! Hugon, half Monacan and half Frenchman, is bartering skins with a Quaker. Begone, child, and when you are transformed return to us.”
When the door had closed he turned upon his wife. “ The girl has been cared for,” he said. “ She has been fed, — if not with cates and dainties, then with bread and meat; she has been clothed, — if not in silk and lace, then in good blue linen and penistone. She is young and of the springtime, hath more learning than had many a princess of old times, is innocent and good to look at. Thou and the rest of thy sex are fools, Deborah, but wise men died not with Solomon. It matters not about her dress.”
Rising, he went to a shelf of battered, dog-eared books, and taking down an armful proceeded to strew the volumes upon the table. The red blooms of the columbine being in the way, he took up the bunch and tossed it out of the window. With the light thud of the mass upon the ground eyes of husband and wife met.
“ Hugon would marry the girl,” said the latter, twisting the hem of her apron with restless fingers.
Without change of countenance, Darden leaned forward, seized her by the shoulder and shook her violently. “ You are too given to idle and meaningless words, Deborah,” he declared, releasing her. “ By the Lord, one of these days I ’ll break you of the habit for good and all! Hugon, and scarlet flowers, and who will marry Audrey, that is yet but a child and useful about the house, — what has all this to do with the matter in hand, which is simply to make ourselves and our house presentable in the eyes of my chief parishioner ? A man would think that thirteen years in Virginia would teach any fool the necessity of standing well with a powerful gentleman such as this. I ’m no coward. Damn sanctimonious parsons and my Lord Bishop’s Scotch hireling! If they yelp much longer at my heels, I ’ll scandalize them in good earnest! It’s thin ice, though, — it’s thin ice ; but I like this house and glebe, and I ’m going to live and die in them, — and die drunk, if I choose, Mr. Commissary to the contrary ! It’s of import, Deborah, that my parishioners, being easy folk, willing to live and let live, should like me still, and that a majority of my vestry should not be able to get on without me. With this in mind, get out the wine, dust the best chair, and be ready with thy curtsy. It will be time enough to cry Audrey’s banns when she is asked in marriage.”
Audrey, in her brown dress, with the color yet in her cheeks, entering at the moment, Mistress Deborah attempted no response to her husband’s adjuration.
Darden turned to the girl. “I’ve done with the writing for the nonce, child,” he said, “ and need you no longer. I ’ll smoke a pipe and think of my sermon. You ’re tired ; out with you into the sunshine ! Go to the wood or down by the creek, but not beyond call, d’ ye mind.”
Audrey looked from one to the other, but said nothing. There were many things in the world of other people which she did not understand ; one thing more or less made no great difference. But she did understand the sunlit roof, the twilight halls, the patterned floor, of the forest. Blossoms drifting down, fleeing shadows, voices of wind and water, and all murmurous elfin life spoke to her. They spoke the language of her land ; when she stepped out of the door into the air and faced the portals of her world, they called to her to come. Lithe and slight and light of foot, she answered to their piping. The orchard through which she ran was fair with its rosy trees, like gayly dressed, curtsying dames ; the slow, clear creek that held the double of the sky enticed, but she passed it by. Straight as an arrow she pierced to the heart of the wood that lay to the north. Thorn and bramble, branch of bloom and entangling vine, stayed her not; long since she had found or had made for herself a path to the centre of the labyrinth. Here was a beech tree, older by many a year than the young wood, — a solitary tree spared by the axe what time its mates had fallen. Tall and silver-gray the column of the trunk rose to meet wide branches and the green lacework of tender leaves. The earth beneath was clean swept, and carpeted with the leaves of last year; a wide, dry, pale brown enchanted ring, against whose borders pressed the riot of the forest. Vine and bush, flower and fern, could not enter ; but Audrey came and laid herself down upon a cool and shady bed.
By human measurement the house that she had left was hard by; even from under the beech tree Mistress Deborah’s thin call could draw her back to the walls which sheltered her, which she had been taught to call her home. But it was not her soul’s home, and now the veil of the kindly woods withdrew it league on league, shut it out, made it as if it had never been. From the charmed ring beneath the beech tree she took possession of her world; for her the wind murmured, the birds sang, insects hummed or shrilled, the green saplings nodded their heads. Flowers, and the bedded moss, and the little stream that leaped from a precipice of three feet into the calm of a hand-deep pool spoke to her. She was happy. Gone was the house and its inmates; gone Paris the schoolmaster, who had taught her to write, and whose hand touching hers in guidance made her sick and cold ; gone Hugon the trader, whom she feared and hated. Here were no toil, no annoy, no frightened flutterings of the heart; she had passed the frontier, and was safe in her own land.
She pressed her cheek against the dead leaves, and, with the smell of the earth in her nostrils, looked sideways with half-closed eyes and made a radiant mist of the forest round about. A drowsy warmth was in the air ; the birds sang far away ; through a rift in the foliage a sunbeam came and rested beside her like a gilded snake.
For a time, wrapped in the warmth and the green and gold mist, she lay as quiet as the sunbeam ; of the earth earthy, in pact with the mould beneath the leaves, with the slowly crescent trunks, brown or silver-gray, with moss and lichened rock, and with all life that basked or crept or flew. At last, however, the mind aroused, and she opened her eyes, saw, and thought of what she saw. It was pleasant in the forest. She watched the flash of a bird, as blue as the sky, from limb to limb ; she listened to the elfin waterfall; she drew herself with hand and arm across the leaves to the edge of the pale brown ring, plucked a honeysuckle bough and brought it back to the silver column of the beech ; and lastly, glancing up from the rosy sprig within her hand, she saw a man coming toward her, down the path that she had thought hidden, holding his arm before him for shield against brier and branch, and looking curiously about him as for a thing which he had come out to seek.
UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE.
In the moment in which she sprang to her feet she saw that it was not Hugon, and her heart grew calm again. In her torn gown, with her brown hair loosed from its fastenings, and falling over her shoulders in heavy waves whose crests caught the sunlight, she stood against the tree beneath which she had lain, gazed with wide-open eyes at the intruder, and guessed from his fine coat and the sparkling toy looping his hat that he was a gentleman. She knew gentlemen when she saw them : on a time one had cursed her for scurrying like a partridge across the road before his horse, making the beast come nigh to unseating him ; another, coming upon her and the Widow Constance’s Barbara gathering fagots in the November woods, had tossed to each a sixpence ; a third, on vestry business with the minister, had touched her beneath the chin, and sworn that an she were not so brown she were fair; a fourth, lying hidden upon the bank of the creek, had caught her boat head as she pushed it into the reeds, and had tried to kiss her. They had certain ways, had gentlemen, but she knew no great harm of them. There was one, now — but he would be like a prince. When at eventide the sky was piled with pale towering clouds, and she looked, as she often looked, down the river, toward the bay and the sea beyond, she always saw this prince that she had woven — warp of memory, woof of dreams—stand erect in the pearly light. There was a gentleman indeed!
As to the possessor of the title now slowly and steadily making his way toward her she was in a mere state of wonder. It was not possible that he had lost his way ; but if so, she was sorry that, in losing it, he had found the slender zigzag of her path. A trustful child, — save where Hugon was concerned, — she was not in the least afraid, and being of a friendly mind looked at the approaching figure with shy kindliness, and thought that he must have come from a distant part of the country. She thought that had she ever seen him before she would have remembered it.
Upon the outskirts of the ring, clear of the close embrace of flowering bush and spreading vine, Haward paused, and looked with smiling eyes at this girl of the woods, — this forest creature that, springing from the earth, had set its back against the tree.
“ Tarry awhile,” he said. “ Slip not yet within the bark. Had I known, I should have brought oblation of milk and honey.”
“ This is the thicket between Fair View and the glebe lands,” said Audrey, who knew not what bark of tree and milk and honey had to do with the case. “ Over yonder, sir, is the road to the great house. This path ends here ; you must go back to the edge of the wood, then turn to the south ” —
“ I have not lost my way,” answered Haward, still smiling. “ It is pleasant here in the shade, after the warmth of the open. May I not sit down upon the leaves and talk to you for a while ? I came out to find you, you know.”
As he spoke, and without waiting for the permission which he asked, he crossed the rustling leaves, and threw himself down upon the earth between two branching roots. Her skirt brushed his knee ; with a movement quick and shy she put more distance between them, then stood and looked at him with wide, grave eyes. “ Why do you say that you came here to find me ? ” she asked. “ I do not know you.”
Haward laughed, nursing his knee and looking about him. “ Let that pass for a moment. You have the prettiest woodland parlor, child! Tell me, do they treat you well over there ? ” with a jerk of his thumb toward the glebe house. “ Madam the shrew and his reverence the bully, are they kind to you ? Though they let you go like a beggar maid,” — he glanced kindly enough at her bare feet and torn gown, — “ yet they starve you not, nor beat you, nor deny you aught in reason ? ”
Audrey drew herself up. She had a proper pride, and she chose to forget for this occasion a bruise upon her arm and the thrusting upon her of Hugon’s company. “ I do not know who you are, sir, that ask me such questions,” she said sedately. “ I have food and shelter and — and — kindness. And I go barefoot only of week days ” —
It was a brave beginning, but of a sudden she found it hard to go on. She felt his eyes upon her and knew that he was unconvinced, and into her own eyes came the large tears. They did not fall, but through them she saw the forest swim in green and gold. “ I have no father or mother,” she said, “ and no brother or sister. In all the world there is no one that is kin to me.”
Her voice, that was low and full and apt to fall into minor cadences, died away, and she stood with her face raised and slightly turned from the gentleman who lay at her feet, stretched out upon the sere beech leaves. He did not seem inclined to speech, and for a time the little brook and the birds and the wind in the trees sang undisturbed.
“ These woods are very beautiful,” said Haward at last, with his gaze upon her, “ but if the land were less level it were more to my taste. Now, if this plain were a little valley couched among the hills, if to the westward rose dark blue mountains like a rampart, if the runlet yonder were broad and clear, if this beech were a sugar tree ” —
He broke off, content to see her eyes dilate, her bosom rise and fall, her hand go trembling for support to the column of the beech.
“ Oh, the mountains! ” she cried. “ When the mist lifted, when the cloud rested, when the sky was red behind them ! Oh, the clear stream, and the sugar tree, and the cabin! Who are you ? How did you know about these things ? Were you — were you there ? ”
She turned upon him, with her soul in her eyes. As for him, lying at length upon the ground, he locked his hands beneath his head and began to sing, though scarce above his breath. He sang the. song of Amiens : —
Who loves to lie with me.”
When he had come to the end of the stanza he half rose, and turned toward the mute and breathless figure leaning against the beech tree. For her the years had rolled back : one moment she stood upon the doorstep of the cabin, and the air was filled with the trampling of horses, with quick laughter, whistling, singing, and the call of a trumpet; the next she ran, in night-time and in terror, between rows of rustling corn, felt again the clasp of her pursuer, heard at her ear the comfort of his voice. A film came between her eyes and the man at whom she stared, and her heart grew cold.
“ Audrey,” said Haward, “ come here, child.”
The blood returned to her heart, her vision cleared, and her arm fell from its clasp upon the tree. The bark opened not; the hamadryad had lost the spell. When at his repeated command she crossed to him, she went as the trusting, dumbly loving, dumbly grateful child whose life he had saved, and whose comforter, protector, and guardian he had been. When he took her hands in his she was glad to feel them there again, and she had no blushes ready when he kissed her upon the forehead. It was sweet to her who hungered for affection, who long ago had set his image up, loving him purely as a sovereign spirit or as a dear and great elder brother, to hear him call her again “ little maid ; ” tell her that she had not changed save in height; ask her if she remembered this or that adventure, what time they had strayed in the woods together. Remember ! When at last, beneath his admirable management, the wonder and the shyness melted away, and she found her tongue, memories came in a torrent. The hilltop, the deep woods and the giant trees, the house he had built for her out of stones and moss, the grapes they had gathered, the fish they had caught, the thunderstorm when he had snatched her out of the path of a stricken and fallen pine, an alarm of Indians, an alarm of wolves, finally the first faint sounds of the returning expedition, the distant trumpet note, the nearer approach, the bursting again into the valley of the Governor and his party, the journey from that loved spot to Williamsburgh, — all sights and sounds, thoughts and emotions, of that time, fast held through lonely years, came at her call, and passed again in procession before them. Haward, first amazed, then touched, reached at length the conclusion that the years of her residence beneath the minister’s roof could not have been happy; that she must always have put from her with shuddering and horror the memory of the night which orphaned her; but that she had passionately nursed, cherished, and loved all that she had of sweet and dear, and that this all was the memory of her childhood in the valley, and of that brief season when he had been her savior, protector, friend, and playmate. He learned also — for she was too simple and too glad either to withhold the information or to know that she had given it — that in her girlish and innocent imaginings she had made of him a fairy knight, clothing him in a panoply of power, mercy, and tenderness, and setting him on high, so high that his very heel was above the heads of the mortals within her ken.
Keen enough in his perceptions, he was able to recognize that here was a pure and imaginative spirit, strongly yearning after ideal strength, beauty, and goodness. Given such a spirit, it was not unnatural that, turning from sordid or unhappy surroundings as a flower turns from shadow to the full face of the sun, she should have taken a memory of valiant deeds, kind words, and a protecting arm, and have created out of these a man after her own heart, endowing him with all heroic attributes; at one and the same time sending him out into the world, a knight errant without fear and without reproach, and keeping him by her side — the side of a child — in her own private wonderland. He saw that she had done this, and he was ashamed. He did not tell her that that eleven-yearsdistant fortnight was to him but a halfremembered incident of a crowded life, and that to all intents and purposes she herself had been forgotten. For one thing, it would have hurt her ; for another, he saw no reason why he should tell her. Upon occasion he could be as ruthless as a stone ; if he were so now he knew it not, but in deceiving her deceived himself. Man of a world that was corrupt enough, he was of course quietly assured that he could bend this woodland creature— half child, half dryad—to the form of his bidding. To do so was in his power, but not his pleasure. He meant to leave her as she was ; to accept the adoration of the child, but to attempt no awakening of the woman. The girl was of the mountains, and their higher, colder, purer air ; though he had brought her body thence, he would not have her spirit leave the climbing earth, the dreamlike summits, for the hot and dusty plain. The plain, God knew, had dwellers enough.
She was a thing of wild and sylvan grace, and there was fulfillment in a dark beauty all her own of the promise she had given as a child. About her was a pathos, too, — the pathos of the flower taken from its proper soil, and drooping in earth which nourished it not. Haward, looking at her, watching the sensitive, mobile lips, reading in the dark eyes, beneath the felicity of the present, a hint and prophecy of woe, felt for her a pity so real and great that for the moment his heart ached as for some sorrow of his own. She was only a young girl, poor and helpless, born of poor and helpless parents dead long ago. There was in her veins no gentle blood ; she had none of the world’s goods ; her gown was torn, her feet went bare. She had youth, but not its heritage of gladness ; beauty, but none to see it; a nature that reached toward light and height, and for its home the house which he had lately left. He was a man older by many years than the girl beside him, knowing good and evil; by instinct preferring the former, but at times stooping, open-eyed, to that degree of the latter which a lax and gay world held to be not incompatible with a convention somewhat misnamed “ the honor of a gentleman.” Now, beneath the beech tree in the forest which touched upon one side of the glebe, upon the other his own lands, he chose at this time the good ; said to himself, and believed the thing he said, that in word and in deed he would prove himself her friend.
Putting out his hand he drew her down upon the leaves; and she sat beside him, still and happy, ready to answer him when he asked her this or that, readier yet to sit in blissful, dreamy silence. She was as pure as the flower which she held in her hand, and most innocent in her imaginings. This was a very perfect knight, a great gentleman, good and pitiful, that had saved her from the Indians when she was a little girl, and had been kind to her, — ah, so kind! In that dreadful night when she had lost father and mother and brother and sister, when in the darkness her childish heart was a stone for terror, he had come, like God, from the mountains, and straightway she was safe. Now into her woods, from over the sea, he had come again, and at once the load upon her heart, the dull longing and misery, the fear of Hugon, were lifted. The chaplet which she laid at his feet was not loosely woven of gaycolored flowers, but was compact of austerer blooms of gratitude, reverence, and that love which is only a longing to serve. The glamour was at hand, the enchanted light which breaks not from the east or the west or the north or the south was upon its way; but she knew it not, and she was happy in her ignorance.
“ I am tired of the city,” he said. “ Now I shall stay in Virginia. A longing for the river and the marshes and the house where I was born came upon me ” —
“ I know,” she answered. “ When I shut my eyes I see the cabin in the valley, and when I dream it is of things which happen in a mountainous country.”
“ I am alone in the great house,” he continued, “ and the floors echo somewhat loudly. The garden, too ; beside myself there is no one to smell the roses or to walk in the moonlight. I had forgotten the isolation of these great plantations. Each is a province and a despotism. If the despot has neither kith nor kin, has not yet made friends, and cares not to draw company from the quarters, he is lonely. They say that there are ladies in Virginia whose charms wellnigh outweigh their dowries of sweetscented and Orenoko. I will wed such an one, and have laughter in my garden, and other footsteps than my own in my house.”
“ There are beautiful ladies in these parts,” said Audrey. “ There is the one that gave me the guinea for my running yesterday. She was so very fair.
I wished with all my heart that I were like her.”
“ She is my friend,” said Haward slowly, “ and her mind is as fair as her face. I will tell her your story.”
The gilded streak upon the earth beneath the beech had crept away, but over the ferns and weeds and flowering bushes between the slight trees without the ring the sunshine gloated. The blue of the sky was wonderful, and in the silence Haward and Audrey heard the wind whisper in the treetops. A dove moaned, and a hare ran past.
“ It was I who brought you from the mountains and placed you here,” said Haward at last. “ I thought it for the best, and that when I sailed away I left you to a safe and happy girlhood. It seems that I was mistaken. But now that I am at home again, child, I wish you to look upon me, who am so much your elder, as your guardian and protector still. If there is anything which you lack, if you are misused, are in need of help, why, think that thy troubles are Indians after thee again, little maid, and turn to me once more for help.”
Having spoken honestly and well and very unwisely, he looked at his watch and said that it was late. When he rose to his feet Audrey did not move, and when he looked down upon her he saw that her eyes, that had been wet, were overflowing. He put out his hand, and she took it and touched it with her lips; then, because he said that he had not meant to set her crying, she smiled, and with her own hand dashed away the tears.
“ When I ride this way I shall always stop at the minister’s house,” said Haward, " when, if there is aught which you need or wish, you must tell me of it. Think of me as your friend, child.”
He laid his hand lightly and caressingly upon her head. The ruffles at his wrist, soft, fine, and perfumed, brushed her forehead and her eyes. “ The path through your labyrinth to its beechen heart was hard to find,” he continued, “ but I can easily retrace it. No, trouble not yourself, child. Stay for a time where you are. I wish to speak to the minister alone.”
His hand was lifted. Audrey felt rather than saw him go. Only a few feet, and the dogwood stars, the purple mist of the Judas tree, the white fragrance of a wild cherry, came like a painted arras between them. For a time she could hear the movement of the branches as he put them aside ; but presently this too ceased, and the place was left to her and to all the life that called it home.
It was the same wood, surely, into which she had run two hours before, and yet — and yet — When her tears were spent, and she stood up, leaning, with her loosened hair and her gown that was the color of oak bark, against the beech tree, she looked about her and wondered. The wonder did not last, for she found an explanation.
“ It has been blessed,” said Audrey, with all reverence and simplicity, “ and that is why the light is so different.”
MACLEAN TO THE RESCUE.
Saunderson, the overseer, having laboriously written and signed a pass, laid down the quill, wiped his inky forefinger upon his sleeve, and gave the paper to the storekeeper, who sat idly by.
“ Ye ’ll remember that the store chiefly lacks in broadcloth of Witney, frieze and camlet, and in women’s shoes, both silk and callimanco. And dinna forget to trade with Alick Ker for three small swords, a chafing dish, and a dozen mourning and hand-and-heart rings. See that you have the skins’ worth. Alick’s an awfu’ man to get the upper hand of.”
“ I ’m thinking a MacLean should have small difficulty with a Ker,” said the storekeeper dryly. “ What I’m wanting to know is why I am saddled with the company of Monsieur Jean Hugon.” He jerked his thumb toward the figure of the trader standing within the doorway. “ I do not like the gentleman, and I ’d rather trudge it to Williamsburgh alone.”
“ Ye ken not the value of the skins, nor how to show them off,” answered the other. “ Wherefore, for the consideration of a measure of rum, he ’s engaged to help you in the trading. As for his being half Indian, Gude guide us ! It’s been told me that no so many centuries ago the Highlandmen painted their bodies and went into battle without taking advantage even of feathers and silk grass. One half of him is of the French nobeelity; he told me as much himself. And the best of ye — sic as the Campbells — are no better than that.”
He looked at MacLean with a caustic smile. The latter shrugged his shoulders. “ So long as you tie him neck and heels with a Campbell I am content,” he answered. “ Are you going ? I ’ll just bar the windows and lock the door, and then I ’ll be off with yonder copper cadet of a French house. Goodday to you. I ’ll be back to-night.”
“Ye ’d better,” said the overseer, with another widening of his thin lips. “ For myself, I bear ye no ill will ; for my grandmither — rest her soul! — came frae the north, and I aye thought a Stewart better became the throne than a foreign-speaking body frae Hanover. But if the store is not open the morn I 'll raise hue and cry, and that without wasting time. I’ve been told ye ’re great huntsmen in the Highlands; if ye choose to turn red deer yourself, I 'll give ye a chase, and track ye down, man, and track ye down.”
MacLean half turned from the window. “ I have hunted the red deer,” he said, “ in the land where I was born, and which I shall see no more, and I have been myself hunted in the land where I shall die. I have run until I have fallen, and I have felt the teeth of the dogs. Were God to send a miracle — which he will not do — and I were to go back to the glen and the crag and the deep birch woods, I suppose that I would hunt again, would drive the stag to bay, holloing to my hounds, and thinking the sound of the horns sweet music in my ears. It is the way of the earth. Hunter and hunted, we make the world and the pity of it.”
Setting to work again, he pushed to the heavy shutters. “ You ’ll find them open in the morning,” he said, “ and find me selling, — selling clothing that I may not wear, wine that I may not drink, powder and shot that I may not spend, swords that I may not use; and giving, — giving pride, manhood, honor, heart’s blood ” —
He broke off, shot to the bar across the shutters, and betook himself in silence to the other window, where presently he burst into a fit of laughter. The sound was harsh even to savagery. “ Go your ways, Saunderson,” he said. “ I’ve tried the bars of the cage ; they ’re too strong. Stop on your morning round, and I ’ll give account of my trading.”
The overseer gone, the windows barred, and the heavy door shut and locked behind him, MacLean paused upon the doorstep to look down upon his appointed companion. The trader, half sitting, half reclining upon a log, was striking at something with the point of his hunting knife, lightly, delicately, and often. The something was a lizard, about which, as it lay in the sunshine upon the log, he had wrought a pen of leafy twigs. The creature, darting for liberty this way and that, was met at every turn by the steel, and at every turn suffered a new wound. MacLean looked ; then bent over and with a heavy stick struck the thing out of its pain.
“There’s a time to work and a time to play, Hugon,” he said coolly. “ Playtime ’s over now. The sun is high, and Isaac and the oxen must have the skins well-nigh to Williamsburgh. Up with you! ”
Hugon rose to his feet, slid his knife into its sheath, and announced in good enough English that he was ready. He had youth, the slender, hardy, perfectly moulded figure of the Indian, a coloring and a countenance that were not of the white and not of the brown. When he went a-trading up the river, past the thickly settled country, past the falls, past the French town which his Huguenot father had helped to build, into the deep woods and to the Indian village whence had strayed his mother, he wore the clothing that became the woods, — beaded moccasins,fringed leggings, hunting shirt of deerskin, cap of fur, — looked his part and played it well. When he came back to an English country, to wharves and stores, to halls and porches of great houses and parlors of lesser ones, to the streets and ordinaries of Williamsburgh, he pulled on jack boots, shrugged himself into a coat with silver buttons, stuck lace of a so-so quality at neck and wrists, wore a cocked hat and a Blenheim wig, and became a figure alike grotesque and terrible. Two thirds of the time his business caused him to be in the forests that were far away ; but when he returned to civilization, to stare it in the face and brag within himself, “ I am lot and part of what I see ! ” he dwelt at the crossroads tavern, drank and gamed with Paris the schoolmaster and Darden the minister, and dreamed (at times) of Darden’s Audrey.
The miles to Williamsburgh were long and sunny, with the dust thick beneath the feet. Warm and heavy, the scented spring possessed the land. It was a day for drowsing in the shade ; for them who must needs walk in the sunshine, languor of thought overtook them, and sparsity of speech. They walked rapidly, step with step, their two lean and sinewy bodies casting the same length of shadow; but they kept their eyes upon the long glare of white dust, and told not their dreams. At a point in the road where the storekeeper saw only confused marks and a powdering of dust upon the roadside bushes, the half-breed announced that there had been that morning a scuffle in a gang of negroes ; that a small man had been thrown heavily to the earth, and a large man had made off across a low ditch into the woods ; that the overseer had parted the combatants, and that some one’s back had bled. No sooner was this piece of clairvoyance aired than he was vexed that he had shown a hallmark of the savage, and hastily explained that life in the woods, such as a trader must live, would teach any man — an Englishman, now, as well as a Frenchman — how to read what was written on the earth. Farther on, when they came to a miniature glen between the semblance of two hills, down which, in mockery of a torrent, brabbled a slim brown stream, MacLean stood still, gazed for a minute, then, whistling, caught up with his companion, and spoke at length upon the subject of the skins awaiting them at Williamsburgh.
The road had other travelers than themselves. At intervals a cloud of dust would meet or overtake them, and out of the windows of coach or chariot or lighter chaise faces would glance at them. In the thick dust wheels and horses’ hoofs made no noise, the black coachmen sat still upon the boxes, the faces were languid with the springtime. A moment and all were gone. Oftener there passed a horseman. If he were riding the planter’s pace, he went by like a whirlwind, troubling only to curse them out of his path ; if he had more leisure, he threw them a good-morning, or perhaps drew rein to ask Hugon this or that. The trader was well known, and was an authority upon all matters pertaining to hunting or trapping. The foot passengers were few, for in Virginia no man walked that could ride, and on a morn of early May they that walked were like to be busy in the fields. An ancient seaman, however, lame and vagabond, lurched beside them for a while, then lagged behind ; a witch, old and bowed and bleared of eye, crossed their path ; and a Sapony hunter, with three wolves’ heads slung across his shoulder, slipped by them on his way to claim the reward decreed by the Assembly. At a turn of the road they came upon a small ordinary, with horses fastened before it, and with laughter, oaths, and the rattling of dice issuing from the open windows. The trader had money ; the storekeeper had none. The latter, though he was thirsty, would have passed on ; but Hugon twitched him by the sleeve, and producing from the depths of his great flapped pocket a handful of crusadoes, écues, and pieces of eight, indicated with a flourish that he was prepared to share with his less fortunate companion.
They drank standing, kissed the girl who served them, and took to the road again. There were no more thick woods, the road running in a blaze of sunshine, past clumps of cedars and wayside tangles of blackberry, sumac, and elder. Presently, beyond a group of elms, came into sight the goodly college of William and Mary, and, dazzling white against the blue, the spire of Bruton church.
Within a wide pasture pertaining to the college, close to the roadside and under the boughs of a vast poplar, half a score of students were at play. Their lithe young bodies were dark of hue and were not overburdened with clothing ; their countenances remained unmoved, without laughter or grimacing; and no excitement breathed in the voices with which they called one to another. In deep gravity they tossed a ball, or pitched a quoit, or engaged in wrestling. A white man, with a singularly pure and gentle face, sat upon the grass at the foot of the tree, and watched the studious efforts of his pupils with an approving smile.
“ Wildcats to purr upon the hearth, and Indians to go to school! ” quoth MacLean. “ Were you taught here, Hugon, and did you play so sadly ? ”
The trader, his head held very high, drew out a large and bedizened snuffbox, and took snuff with ostentation. “ My father was of a great tribe — I would say a great house — in the country called France,” he explained, with dignity. “ Oh, he was of a very great name indeed ! His blood was — what do you call it ? — blue. I am the son of my father : I am a Frenchman. Bien ! My father dies, having always kept me with him at Monacan-Town; and when they have laid him full length in the ground, Monsieur le Marquis calls me to him. ‘ Jean,’ says he, and his voice is like the ice in the stream, ‘Jean, you have ten years, and your father — may le bon Dieu pardon his sins ! —has left his wishes regarding you and money for your maintenance. To-morrow Messieurs de Sailly and de Breuil go down the river to talk of affairs with the English Governor. You will go with them, and they will leave you at the Indian school which the English have built near to the great college in their town of Williamsburgh. There you will stay, learning all that Englishmen can teach you, until you have eighteen years. Come back to me then, and with the money left by your father you shall be fitted out as a trader. Go ! ’ . . . Yes, I went to school here ; but I learned fast, and did not forget the things I learned, and I played with the English boys — there being no scholars from France — on the other side of the pasture.”
He waved his hand toward an irruption of laughing, shouting figures from the north wing of the college. The white man under the tree had been quietly observant of the two wayfarers, and he now rose to his feet, and came over to the rail fence against which they leaned.
“ Ha, Jean Hugon! ” he said pleasantly, touching with his thin white hand the brown one of the trader. “ I thought it had been my old scholar! Canst say the belief and the Commandments yet, Jean ? Yonder great fellow with the ball is Meshawa, — Meshawa that was a little, little fellow when you went away. All your other playmates are gone, — though you did not play much, Jean, but gloomed and gloomed because you must stay this side of the meadow with your own color. Will you not cross the fence and sit awhile with your old master ? ”
As he spoke he regarded with a humorous smile the dusty glories of his sometime pupil, and when he had come to an end he turned and made as if to beckon to the Indian with the ball. But Hugon drew his hand away, straightened himself, and set his face like a flint toward the town. “ I am sorry, I have no time to-day,” he said stiffly. “ My friend and I have business in town with men of my own color. My color is white. I do not want to see Meshawa or the others. I have forgotten them.”
He turned away, but a thought striking him his face brightened, and plunging his hand into his pocket he again brought forth his glittering store. “ Nowadays I have money,” he said grandly. “ It used to be that Indian braves brought Meshawa and the others presents, because they were the sons of their great men. I was the son of a great man, too; but he was not Indian, and he was lying in his grave, and no one brought me gifts. Now I wish to give presents. Here are ten coins, master. Give one to each Indian boy, the largest to Meshawa.”
The Indian teacher, Charles Griffin by name, looked with a whimsical face at the silver pieces laid arow upon the top rail. “Very well, Jean,” he said. “ It is good to give of thy substance. Meshawa and the others will have a feast. Yes, I will remember to tell them to whom they owe it. Good-day to you both.”
The meadow, the solemnly playing Indians, and their gentle teacher were left behind, and the two men, passing the long college all astare with windows, the Indian school, and an expanse of grass starred with buttercups, came into Duke of Gloucester Street. Broad, unpaved, deep in dust, shaded upon its ragged edges by mulberries and poplars, it ran without shadow of turning from the gates of William and Mary to the wide sweep before the Capitol. Houses bordered it, flush with the street or set back in fragrant gardens ; other and narrower ways opened from it; halfway down its length wide greens, where the buttercups were thick in the grass, stretched north and south. Beyond these greens were more houses, more mulberries and poplars, and finally, closing the vista, the brick fçade of the Capitol.
The two from Fair View plantation kept their forest gait; for the trader was in a hurry to fulfill his part of the bargain, which was merely to exhibit and value the skins. There was an ordinary in Nicholson Street that was to his liking. Sailors gamed there, and other traders, and half a dozen younger sons of broken gentlemen. It was as cleanly dining in its chief room as in the woods, and the aqua vitæ, if bad, was cheap. In good humor with himself, and by nature lavish with his earnings, he offered to make the storekeeper his guest for the day. The latter curtly declined the invitation. He had bread and meat in his wallet, and wanted no drink but water. He would dine beneath the trees on the market green, would finish his business in town, and be halfway back to the plantation while the trader — being his own man, with no fear of hue and cry if he were missed — was still at hazard.
This question settled, the two kept each other company for several hours longer, at the end of which time they issued from the store at which the greater part of their business had been transacted, and went their several ways, — Hugon to the ordinary in Nicholson Street, and MacLean to his dinner beneath the sycamores on the green. When the frugal meal had been eaten, the latter recrossed the sward to the street, and took up again the round of his commissions.
It was after three by the great clock in the cupola of the Capitol when he stood before the door of Alexander Ker, the silversmith, and found entrance made difficult by the serried shoulders of half a dozen young men standing within the store, laughing, and making bantering speeches to some one hidden from the Highlander’s vision. Presently an appealing voice, followed by a low cry, proclaimed that the some one was a woman.
MacLean had a lean and wiry strength which had stood him in good stead upon more than one occasion in his checkered career. He now drove an arm like a bar of iron between two broadcloth coats, sent the wearers thereof to right and left, and found himself one of an inner ring and facing Mistress Truelove Taberer, who stood at bay against the silversmith’s long table. One arm was around the boy who had rowed her to the Fair View store a week agone ; with the other she was defending her face from the attack of a beribboned gallant desirous of a kiss. The boy, a slender, delicate lad of fourteen, struggled to free himself from his sister’s restraining arm, his face white with passion and his breath coming in gasps. “ Let me go, Truelove ! ” he commanded. “If I am a Friend, I am a man as well ! Thou fellow with the shoulder knots, thee shall pay dearly for thy insolence ! ”
Truelove tightened her hold. “ Ephraim, Ephraim! If a man compel thee to go with him a mile, thee is to go with him twain ; if he take thy cloak, thee is to give him thy coat also ; if he — Ah ! ” She buried her profaned cheek in her arm and began to cry, but very softly.
Her tormentors, flushed with wine and sworn to obtain each one a kiss, laughed more loudly, and one young rake, with wig and ruffles awry, lurched forward to take the place of the coxcomb who had scored. Ephraim wrenched himself free, and making for this gentleman might have given or received bodily injury, had not a heavy hand falling upon his shoulder stopped him in mid-career.
“ Stand aside, boy,” said MacLean. “ This quarrel’s mine by virtue of my making it so. Mistress Truelove, you shall have no further annoyance. Now, you Lowland cowards that cannot see a flower bloom but you wish to trample it in the mire, come taste the ground yourself, and be taught that the flower is out of reach! ”
As he spoke he stepped before the Quakeress, weaponless, but with his eyes like steel. The half dozen spendthrifts and ne’er-do-weels whom he faced paused but long enough to see that this newly arrived champion had only his bare hands, and was, by token of his dress, undoubtedly their inferior, before setting upon him with drunken laughter and the loudly avowed purpose of administering a drubbing. The one that came first he sent rolling to the floor. “ Another for Hector! ” he said coolly.
The silversmith, ensconced in safety behind the table, wrung his hands. “ Sirs, sirs ! Take your quarrel into the street! I ’ll no have fighting in my store. What did ye rin in here for, ye Quaker baggage ? Losh ! did ye ever see the like of that! Here, boy, ye can get through the window. Rin for the constable ! Rin, I tell ye, or there ’ll be murder done! ”
A gentleman who had entered the store unobserved drew his rapier, and with it struck up a heavy cane which was in the act of descending for the second time upon the head of the unlucky Scot. “ What is all this ? ” he asked quietly. “ Five men against one, — that is hardly fair play. Ah, I see there were six ; I had overlooked the gentleman on the floor, who, I hope, is only stunned. Five to one, — the odds are heavy. Perhaps I can make them less so.” With a smile upon his lips, he stepped backward a foot or two until he stood with the weaker side.
Now, had it been the constable who so suddenly appeared upon the scene, the probabilities are that the fight, both sides having warmed to it, would, despite the terrors of the law, have been carried to a finish. But it was not the constable ; it was a gentleman recently returned from England, and become in the eyes of the youth of Williamsburgh the glass of fashion and the mould of form. The youngster with the shoulder knots had copied color and width of ribbon from a suit which this gentleman had worn at the Palace ; the rake with the wig awry, who passed for a wit, had done him the honor to learn by heart portions of his play, and to repeat (without quotation marks) a number of his epigrams ; while the pretty fellow whose cane he had struck up practiced night and morning before a mirror his bow and manner of presenting his snuffbox. A fourth ruffler desired office, and cared not to offend a prospective Councilor. There was rumor, too, of a grand entertainment to be given at Fair View ; it was good to stand well with the law, but it was imperative to do so with Mr. Marmaduke Haward. Their hands fell; they drew back a pace, and the wit made himself spokesman. Roses were rare so early in the year ; for him and his companions, they had but wished to compliment those that bloomed in the cheeks of the pretty Quakeress. This servant fellow, breathing fire like a dragon, had taken it upon himself to defend the roses, — which likely enough were grown for him, — and so had been about to bring upon himself merited chastisement. However, since it was Mr. Marmaduke Haward who pleaded for him — A full stop, a low bow, and a flourish. “ Will Mr. Haward honor me ? ’T is right Macouba, and the box — if the author of The Puppet Show would deign to accept it ” —
“ Rather to change with you, sir,” said the other urbanely, and drew out his own chased and medallioned box.
The gentleman upon the floor had now gotten unsteadily to his feet. Mr. Haward took snuff with each of the six ; asked after the father of one, the brother of another ; delicately intimated his pleasure in finding the noble order of Mohocks, that had lately died in London, resurrected in Virginia; and fairly bowed the flattered youths out of the store. He stood for a moment upon the threshold watching them go triumphantly, if unsteadily, up the street; then turned to the interior of the store to find MacLean seated upon a stool, with his head against the table, submitting with a smile of pure content to the ministrations of the dovelike mover of the late turmoil, who with trembling fingers was striving to bind her kerchief about a great cut in his forehead.
( To be continued.)