Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership




Title: A Modern Cinderella
Author:  Louisa May Alcott



A Modern Cinderella
or The Little Old Shoe
And Other Stories





CONTENTS

A MODERN CINDERELLA: OR, THE LITTLE OLD SHOE
DEBBY'S DEBUT
BROTHERS
NELLY'S HOSPITAL




A MODERN CINDERELLA
OR,
THE LITTLE OLD SHOE

HOW IT WAS LOST
Among green New England hills stood an
ancient house, many-gabled, mossy-roofed, and
quaintly built, but picturesque and pleasant to the
eye; for a brook ran babbling through the orchard
that encompassed it about, a garden-plat stretched
upward to the whispering birches on the slope, and
patriarchal elms stood sentinel upon the lawn, as
they had stood almost a century ago, when the
Revoiution rolled that way and found them young.

One summer morning, when the air was full of
country sounds, of mowers in the meadow, black-
birds by the brook, and the low of kine upon the
hill-side, the old house wore its cheeriest aspect,
and a certain humble history began.

"Nan!"

"Yes, Di."

And a head, brown-locked, blue-eyed, soft-
featured, looked in at the open door in answer
to the call.

Just bring me the third volume of 'Wilhelm
Meister,' there's a dear.  It's hardly worth while
to rouse such a restless ghost as I, when I'm
once fairly laid."

As she spoke, Di PUlled up her black braids,
thumped the pillow of the couch where she was
lying, and with eager eyes went down the last
page of her book.

"Nan!"

"Yes, Laura," replied the girl, coming back
with the third volume for the literay cormorant,
who took it with a nod, still too content upon
the "Confessions of a Fair Saint" to remember
the failings of a certain plain sinner.

"Don't forget the Italian cream for dinner. I
depend upon it; for it's the only thing fit for me
this hot weather."

And Laura, the cool blonde, disposed the folds
of her white gown more gracefully about her, and
touched up the eyebrow of the Minerva she was
drawing.

"Little daughter!"

"Yes, father."

"Let me have plenty of clean collars in my
bag, for I must go at once; and some of you bring
me a glass of cider in about an hour;--I shall be
in the lower garden."

The old man went away into his imaginary
paradise, and Nan into that domestic purgatory
on a summer day, -- the kitchen.  There were
vines about the windows, sunshine on the floor,
and order everywhere; but it was haunted by a
cooking-stove, that family altar whence such varied
incense rises to appease the appetite of household
gods, before which such dire incantations are
pronounced to ease the wrath and woe of the priestess
of the fire, and about which often linger saddest
memories of wasted temper, time, and toil.

Nan was tired, having risen with the birds,--
hurried, having many cares those happy little
housewives never know,--and disappointed in a
hope that hourly " dwindled, peaked, and pined."
She was too young to make the anxious lines upon
her forehead seem at home there, too patient to
be burdened with the labor others should have
shared, too light of heart to be pent up  when
earth and sky were keeping a blithe holiday.  But
she was one of that meek sisterhood who, thinking
humbly of themselves, believe they are honored
by being spent in the service of less conscientious
souls, whose careless thanks seem quite
reward enough.

To and fro she went, silent and diligent, giving
the grace of willingness to every humble or distasteful
task the day had brought her; but some
malignant sprite seemed to have taken possession
of her kingdom, for rebellion broke out everywhere.
The kettles would boil over most obstreperously,--
the mutton refused to cook with the
meek alacrity to be expected from the nature of
a sheep,--the stove, with unnecessary warmth of
temper, would glow like a fiery furnace,--the
irons would scorch,--the linens would dry,--and
spirits would fail, though patience never.

Nan tugged on, growing hotter and wearier,
more hurried and more hopeless, till at last the
crisis came; for in one fell moment she tore her
gown, burnt her hand, and smutched the collar she
was preparing to finish in the most unexceptionable
style.  Then, if she had been a nervous
woman, she would have scolded; being a gentle
girl, she only "lifted up her voice and wept."

"Behold, she watereth her linen with salt tears,
and bewaileth herself because of much tribulation.
But, lo! Help cometh from afar: a strong man
bringeth lettuce wherewith to stay her, plucketh
berries to comfort her withal, and clasheth cymbals
that she may dance for joy."

The voice came from the porch, and, with her
hope fulfilled, Nan looked up to greet John Lord,
the house-friend, who stood there with a basket
on his arm; and as she saw his honest eyes, kind
lips, and helpful hands, the girl thought this plain
young man the comeliest, most welcome sight she
had beheld that day.

"How good of you, to come through all this
heat, and not to laugh at my despair!" she said,
looking up like a grateful child, as she led him in.

"I only obeyed orders, Nan; for a certain dear
old lady had a motherly presentiment that you had
got into a deomestic whirlpool, and sent me as a
sort of life-preserver. So I took the basket of
consolation, and came to fold my feet upon the carpet
of contentment in the tent of friendship."

As he spoke, John gave his own gift in his
mother's name, and bestowed himself in the wide
window-seat, where morning-glories nodded at him,
and the old butternut sent pleasant shadows
dancing to and fro.

His advent, like that of Orpheus in hades,
seemed to soothe all unpropitious powers with a
sudden spell. The Fire began to slacken. the
kettles began to lull, the meat began to
cook, the irons began to cool, the clothes began to
behave, the spirits began to rise, and the collar was
finished off with most triumphant success.  John
watched the change, and, though a lord of creation,
abased himself to take compassion on the
weaker vessel, and was seized with a great desire
to lighten the homely tasks that tried her strength
of body and soul.  He took a comprehensive
glance about the room; then, extracting a dish
from he closet, proceeded to imbrue his hands in
the strawberries' blood.

"Oh,  John, you needn't do that; I shall have
time when I've turned the meat, made the pudding
and done these things.  See, I'm getting on
finely now:--you're a judge of such matters;
isn't that nice?"

As she spole, Nan offered the polished absurdity
for inspection with innocent pride.

"Oh that I were a collar, to sit upon that
hand!" sighed John,--adding, argumentatively,

"As to the berry question, I might answer it with
a gem from Dr. Watts, relative to 'Satan' and
idle hands,' but will merely say, that, as a matter
of public safety, you'd better leave me alone; for
such is the destructiveness of my nature, that I shall
certainly eat something hurtful, break something
valuable, or sit upon something crushable, unless
you let me concentrate my energies by knocking
on these young fellows' hats, and preparing them
for their doom."

Looking at the matter in a charitable light,
Nan consented, and went cheerfully on with her
work, wondering how she could have thought
ironing an infliction, and been so ungrateful for
the blessings of her lot.

"Where's Sally?" asked John, looking vainly
for the functionary who usually pervaded
that region like a domestic police-woman, a terror
to cats, dogs, and men.

"She has gone to her cousin's funeral, and
won't be back till Monday.  There seems to be
a great fatality among her relations; for one dies,
or comes to grief in some way, about once a month.
But I don't blame poor Sally for wanting to get
away from this place now and then.  I think I
could find it in my heart to murder an imaginary
friend or two, if I had to stay here long."

And Nan laughed so blithely, it was a pleasure
to hear her.

"Where's Di?" asked John, seized with a
most unmasculine curiosity all at once.

"She is in Germany with 'Wilhelm Meister';
but, though 'lost to sight, to memory clear'; for
I was just thinking, as I did her things, how
clever she is to like all kinds of books that I don't
understand at all, and to write things that make
me cry with pride and delight.  Yes, she's a
talented dear, though she hardly knows a needle
from a crowbar, and will make herself one great
blot some of these days, when the 'divine afflatus'
descends upon her, I'm afraid."

And Nan rubbed away with sisterly zeal at
Di's forlorn hose and inky pocket-handkerchiefs.

"Where is Laura?" proceeded the inquisitor.

"Well, I might say that she was in Italy; for
she is copying some fine thing of Raphael's or
Michael Angelo's, or some great creatures or
other; and she looks so picturesque in her pretty
gown, sitting before her easel, that it's really a
sight to behold, and I've peeped two or three
times to see how she gets on."

And Nan bestirred herself to prepare the dish
Wherewith her picturesque sister desired to
prolong her artistic existence.

"Where is your father?" John asked again,
checking off each answewr with a nod and a little
frown.

"He is down in the garden, deep in some plan
about melons, the beginning of which seems to
consist in stamping the first proposition in Euclid
all over the bed, and then poking a few seeds
into the middle of each.  Why, bless the dear
man!  I forgot it was time for the cider.  Wouldn't
you like to take it to him, John? He'd love to
consult you; and the lane is so cool, it does one's
heart good to look at it."

John glanced from the steamy kitchen to the
shadowy path, and answered with a sudden assumption
of immense industry,--

"I couldn't possibly go, Nan,--I've so much
on my hands.  You'll have to do it yourself.  'Mr.
Robert of Lincoln' has something for your private
ear; and the lane is so cool, it will do one's heart
good to see you in it.  Give my regards to your
father, and, in the words of 'Little Mabel's'
mother, with slight variation,--

'Tell the dear old body
This day I cannot run,
For the pots are boiling over
And the mutton isn't done.'"

"I will; but please, John, go in to the girls and
be comfortable; for I don't like to leave you here,"
said Nan.

"You insinuate that I should pick at the pudding
or invade the cream, do you?  Ungrateful
girl, leave me!" And, with melodramatic sterness,
John extinguished her in his broad-brimmed
hat, and offered the glass like a poisoned goblet.

Nan took it, and went smiling away.  But the
lane might have been the Desert of Sahara, for
all she knew of it; and she would have passed
her father as unconcernedly as if he had been an
apple-tree, had he not called out,--

"Stand and deliver, little woman!"

She obeyed the venerable highwayman, and
followed him to and fro, listening to his plans and
directions with a mute attention that quite won
his heart.

"That hop-pole is really an ornament now,
Nan; this sage-bed needs weeding,--that's good
work for you girls; and, now I think of it, you'd
better water the lettuce in the cool of the
evening, after I'm gone."

To all of which remarks Nan gave her assent;
the hop-pole took the likeness of a tall
figure she had seen in the porch, the sage-bed,
curiously enough, suggested a strawberry ditto,
the lettuce vividly reminded her of certain vegetable
productions a basket had brought, and the
bobolink only sung in his cheeriest voice, "Go
home, go home! he is there!"

She found John--he having made a free-mason
of himself, by assuming her little apron--meditating
over the partially spread table, lost in amaze
at its desolate appearance; one half its proper paraphernalia
having been forgotten, and the other
half put on awry.  Nan laughed till the tears ran
over her cheeks, and John was gratified at the
efficacy of his treatment; for her face had brought
a whole harvest of sunshine from the garden, and
all her cares seemed to have been lost in the windings
of the lane.

"Nan, are you in hysterics?" cried Di, appearing,
book in hand. "John, you absurd man,
what are you doing?"

"I'm helpin' the maid of all work, please
marm." And John dropped a curtsy with his
limited apron.

Di looked ruffled, for the merry words were a
covert reproach; and with her usual energy of
manner and freedom of speech she tossed "Wilhelm"
out of the window, exclaiming, irefully.--

"That's always the way; I'm never where I
ought to be, and never think of anything till it's
too late; but it's all Goethe's fault.  What does
he write books full of smart 'Phillinas' and
interesting 'Meisters' for?  How can I be expected
to remember that Sally's away, and people must
eat, when I'm hearing the 'Harper' and little
'Mignon?' John, how dare you come here and
do my work, instead of shaking me and telling
me to do it myself?  Take that toasted child away,
and fan her like a Chinese mandarin, while I dish
up this dreadful dinner."

John and Nan fled like chaff before the wind,
while Di, full of remorseful zeal, charged at the
kettles, and wrenched off the potatoes' jackets,
as if she were revengefully pulling her own hair.
Laura had a vague intention of going to assist;
but, getting lost among the lights and shadows of
Minerva's helmet, forgot to appear till dinner had
been evoked from chaos and peace was restored.

At three o'clock, Di performed the coronation
ceremony with her father's best hat; Laura retied
his old-fashioned neckcloth, and arranged his white
locks with an eye to saintly effect; Nan appeared
with a beautifully written sermon, and suspicious
ink-stains on the fingers that slipped it into his
pocket; John attached himself to the bag; and the
patriarch was escorted to the door of his tent with
the triumphal procession which usually attended
his out-goings and in-comings.  Having kissed the
female portion of his tribe, he ascended the venerable
chariot, which received him with audible
lamentation, as its rheumatic joints swayed to and
fro.

"Good-bye, my dears! I shall be back early
on Monday morning; so take care of yourselves,
and be sure you all go and hear Mr. Emerboy
preach to-morrow.  My regards to your mother.
John.  Come, Solon!"

But Solon merely cocked one ear, and remained
a fixed fact; for long experience had induced the
philosophic beast to take for his motto the Yankee
maxim, "Be sure you're right, then go ahead!
He knew things were not right; therefore he did
not go ahead.

"Oh, by the way, girls, don't forget to pay
Tommy Mullein for bringing up the cow: he
expects it to-night.  And Di, don't sit up till
daylight, nor let Laura stay out in the dew.  Now, I
believe I'm off.  Come, Solon!"

But Solon only cocked the other ear, gently
agitated his mortified tail, as premonitory
symptoms of departure, and never stirred a hoof,
being well aware that it always took three "comes"
to make a "go."

"Bless me! I've forgotten my spectacles.
They are probablv shut up in that volume of
Herbert on my table.  Very awkward to find
myself without them ten miles away.  Thank you,
John.  Don't neglect to water the lettuce,
Nan, and don't overwork yourself, my little
'Martha.' Come--"

At this juncture Solon suddenly went off, like
"Mrs. Gamp," in a sort of walking swoon, apparently
deaf and blind to all mundane matters,
except the refreshments awaiting him ten miles
away; and the benign old pastor disappeared,
humming "Hebron" to the creaking accompaniment
of the bulgy chaise.

Laura retired to take her siesta; Nan made a
small carbonaro of herself by sharpening her
sister's crayons, and Di, as a sort of penance for
past sins, tried her patience over a piece of knitting,
in which she soon originated a somewhat remarkable
pattern, by dropping every third stitch, and seaming
ad libitum.  If John bad been a gentlemanly creature,
with refined tastes, he would have elevated his feet
and made a nuisance of himself by indulging in a "weed;"
but being only an uncultivated youth, with a rustic
regard for pure air and womankind in general, he kept
his head uppermost, and talked like a man, instead of
smoking like a chimney.

"It will probably be six months before I sit
here again, tangling your threads and maltreating
your needles, Nan.  How glad you must feel
to hear it!" he said, looking up from a thoughtful
examination of the hard-working little citizens
of the Industrial Community settled in Nan's
work-basket.

"No, I'm very sorry; for I like to see you
coming and going as you used to, years ago, and I
miss you very much when you are gone, John,"
answered truthful Nan, whittling away in a sadly
wasteful manner, as her thoughts flew back to the
happy times when a little lad rode a little lass in a
big wheelbarrow, and never spilt his load,--when
two brown heads bobbed daily side by side to
school, and the favorite play was "Babes in the
Wood," with Di for a somewhat peckish robin
to cover the small martyrs with any vegetable
substance that lay at hand. Nan sighed, as she
thought of these things, and John regarded the
battered thimble on his finger-tip with increased
benignity of aspect as he heard the sound.

"When are you going to make your fortune,
John, and get out of that disagreeable hardware
concern? " demanded Di, pausing after an
exciting "round," and looking almost as much
exhausted as if it had been a veritable pugilistic
encounter.

"I intend to make it by plunging still deeper
into 'that disagreeable hardware concern;' for,
next year, if the world keeps rolling, and
John Lord is alive, he will become a partner, and then
--and then--"

The color sprang up into the young man's
cheek, his eyes looked out with a sudden shine,
and his hand seemed involuntarily to close, as if
he saw and seized some invisible delight.

"What will happen then, John?" asked Nan,
with a wondering glance.

"I'll tell you in a year, Nan, wait till then."
and John's strong hand unclosed, as if the
desired good were not to be his yet.

Di looked at him, with a knitting-needle stuck
into her hair, saying, like a sarcastic unicorn,--

"I really thought you had a soul above pots
and kettles, but I see you haven't; and I beg
your pardon for the injustice I have done you."

Not a whit disturbed, John smiled, as if at some
mighty pleasant fancy of his own, as he replied,--

"Thank you, Di; and as a further proof of the
utter depravity of my nature, let me tell you that
I have the greatest possible respect for those articles
of ironmongery.  Some of the happiest hours of my
life have been spent in their society; some of my
pleasantest associations are connected with them;
some of my best lessons have come to me among
them; and when my fortune is made, I intend to
show my gratitude by taking three flat-irons
rampant for my coat of arms.

Nan laughed merrily, as she looked at the burns
on her hand; but Di elevated the most prominent
feature of her brown countenance, and sighed
despondingly,--

"Dear, dear, what a disappointing world this
is! I no sooner build a nice castle in Spain, and
settle a smart young knight therein, than down it
comes about my ears; and the ungrateful youth,
who might fight dragons, if he chose, insists on
quenching his energies in a saucepan, and making
a Saint Lawrence of himself by wasting his life
on a series of gridirons.  Ah, if I were only a man,
I would do something better than that, and prove
that heroes are not all dead yet. But, instead
of that, I'm only a woman, and must sit rasping
my temper with absurdities like this." And Di
wrestled with her knitting as if it were Fate, and
she were paying off the grudge she owed it.

John leaned toward her, saying, with a look
that made his plain face handsome,--

"Di, my father began the world as I begin
it, and left it the richer for the useful years he
spent here,--as I hope I may leave it some half-
century hence.  His memory makes that dingy
shop a pleasant place to me; for there he made an
honest name, led an honest life and bequeathed
to me his reverence for honest work.  That is a
sort of hardware, Di, that no rust can corrupt, and
which will always prove a better fortune than
any your knights can achieve with sword and
shield. I think I am not quite a clod, or quite
without some aspirations above money-getting; for
I sincerely desire that courage that makes daily
life heroic by self-denial and cheerfulness of heart;
I am eager to conquer my own rebellious nature,
and earn the confidence of innocent and upright
souls; I have a great ambition to become as good a
man and leave as good a memory behind me as
old John Lord."

Di winked violently, and seamed five times in
perfect silence; but quiet Nan had the gift of
knowing when to speak, and by a timely word
saved her sister from a thunder-shower and her
stocking from destruction.

"John, have you seen Philip since you wrote
about your last meeting with him?

The question was for John, but the soothing
tone was for Di, who gratefully accepted it, and
perked up again with speed.

"Yes; and I meant to have told you about it,"
answered John, piunging into the subject at once.

"I saw him a few days before I came home, and
found him more disconsolate than ever,--' just
ready to go to the Devil,' as he forcibly expressed
himself. I consoled the poor lad as well as I could,
telling him his wisest plan was to defer his proposed
expedition, and go on as steadily as he had
begun,--thereby proving the injustice of your
father's prediction concerning his want of perseverance,
and the sincerity of his affection.  I told him
the change in Laura's health and spirits was silently
working in his favor, and that a few more months
of persistent endeavor would conquer your father's
prejudice against him, and make him a stronger
man for the trial and the pain.  I read him bits
about Laura from your own and Di's letters, and
he went away at last as patient as Jacob ready to
serve another 'seven years' for his beloved
Rachel."

"God bless you for it, John!" cried a fervent
voice; and, looking up, they saw the cold, listless
Laura transformed into a tender girl, all aglow
with love and longing, as she dropped her mask,
and showed a living countenance eloquent with
the first passion and softened by the first grief of
her life.

John rose involuntarily in the presence of an
innocent nature whose sorrow needed no interpreter
to him.  The girl read sympathy in his
brotherly regard, and found comfort in the friendly
voice that asked, half playfully, half seriously,--

"Shall I tell him that he is not forgotten, even
for an Apollo? that Laura the artist has not
conquered Laura the woman? and predict that the
good daughter will yet prove the happy wife?"

With a gesture full of energy, Laura tore her
Minerva from top to bottom, while two great tears
rolled down the cheeks grown wan with hope
deferred.

"Tell him I believe all things, hope all things,
and that I never can forget."

Nan went to her and held her fast, leaving the
prints of two loving but grimy hands upon her
shoulders; Di looked on approvingly, for, though
stony-hearted regarding the cause, she fully
appreciated the effect; and John, turning to the
window, received the commendations of a robin
swaying on an elm-bough with sunshine on its
ruddy breast.

The clock struck five, and John declared that he
must go; for, being an old-fashioned soul, he
fancied that his mother had a better right to his
last hour than any younger woman in the land,--
always remembering that "she was a widow, and
he her only son."

Nan ran away to wash her hands, and came
back with the appearance of one who had washed
her face also: and so she had; but there was a
difference in the water.

"Play I'm your father, girls, and remember
that it will be six months before 'that John' will
trouble you again."

With which preface the young man kissed his
former playfellows as heartily as the boy had been
wont to do, when stern parents banished him to
distant schools, and three little maids bemoaned
his fate.  But times were changed now; for Di
grew alarmingly rigid during the ceremony; Laura
received the salute like a graceful queen; and Nan
returned it with heart and eyes and tender lips,
making such an improvement on the childish fashion
of the thing that John was moved to support
his paternal character by softly echoing her father's
words,--"Take care of yourself, my little
'Martha.'"

Then they all streamed after him along the
garden-path, with the endless messages and warnings
girls are so prone to give; and the young man,
with a great softness at his heart, went away, as
many another John has gone, feeling better for the
companionship of innocent maidenhood, and
stronger to wrestle with temptation, to wait and
hope and work.

"Let's throw a shoe after him for luck, as dear
old 'Mrs.  Gummage' did after 'David' and the
'willin' Barkis!' Quick, Nan! you always have
old shoes on; toss one, and shout, 'Good luck!'"
cried Di, with one of her eccentric inspirations.

Nan tore off her shoe, and threw it far along the
dusty road, with a sudden longing to become that
auspicious article of apparel, that the omen might
not fail.

Looking backward from the hill-top, John answered
the meek shout cheerily, and took in the
group with a lingering glance: Laura in the shadow
of the elms, Di perched on the fence, and Nan
leaning far over the gate with her hand above her
eyes and the sunshine touching her brown hair
with gold.  He waved his hat and turned away;
but the music seemed to die out of the blackbird's
song, and in all the summer landscape his eyes saw
nothing but the little figure at the gate.

"Bless and save us! here's a flock of people
coming; my hair is in a toss, and Nan's without
her shoe; run! fly, girls! or the Philistines will be
upon us!" cried Di, tumbling off her perch in
sudden alarm.

Three agitated young ladies, with flying draperies
and countenances of mingled mirth and dismay,
might have been seen precipitating themselves into
a respectable mansion with unbecoming haste; but
the squirrels were the only witnesses of this "vision
of sudden flight," and, being used to ground-and-lofty
tumbling, didn't mind it.

When the pedestrians passed, the door was
decorously closed, and no one visible but a young
man, who snatched something out of the road,
and marched away again, whistling with more
vigor of tone than accuracy of tune, "Only that,
and nothing more."


HOW IT WAS FOUND.

Summer ripened into autumn, and something
fairer than

"Sweet-peas and mignonette
In Annie's garden grew."

Her nature was the counterpart of the hill-side
grove, where as a child she had read her fairy
tales, and now as a woman turned the first pages
of a more wondrous legend still. Lifted above
the many-gabled roof, yet not cut off from the
echo of human speech, the little grove seemed a
green sanctuary, fringed about with violets, and
full of summer melody and bloom.  Gentle creatures
haunted it, and there was none to make
afraid; wood-pigeons cooed and crickets chirped
their shrill roundelays, anemones and lady-ferns
looked up from the moss that kissed the wanderer's
feet. Warm airs were all afloat, full of vernal
odors for the grateful sense, silvery birches
shimmered like spirits of the wood, larches gave their
green tassels to the wind, and pines made airy
music sweet and solemn, as they stood looking
heavenward through veils of summer sunshine or
shrouds of wintry snow.

Nan never felt alone now in this charmed wood;
for when she came into its precincts, once so full of
solitude, all things seemed to wear one shape,
familiar eyes looked at her from the violets in the
grass, familiar words sounded in the whisper of
the leaves, grew conscious that an unseen
influence filled the air with new delights, and
touched earth and sky with a beauty never seen
before.  Slowly these Mayflowers budded in her
maiden heart, rosily they bloomed and silently they
waited till some lover of such lowly herbs should
catch their fresh aroma, should brush away the
fallen leaves, and lift them to the sun.

Though the eldest of the three, she had long
been overtopped by the more aspiring maids.  But
though she meekly yielded the reins of government,
whenever they chose to drive, they were soon restored
to her again; for Di fell into literature, and
Laura into love.  Thus engrossed, these two forgot
many duties which even bluestockings and inamoratos
are expected to perform, and slowly all the
homely humdrum cares that housewives know
became Nan's daily life, and she accepted it without
a thought of discontent.  Noiseless and cheerful
as the sunshine, she went to and fro, doing the
tasks that mothers do, but without a mother's sweet
reward, holding fast the numberless slight threads
that bind a household tenderly together, and
making each day a beautiful success.

Di, being tired of running, riding, climbing, and
boating, decided at last to let her body rest and
put her equally active mind through what classical
collegians term "a course of sprouts."  Having
undertaken to read and know everything, she devoted
herself to the task with great energy, going
from Sue to Swedenborg with perfect impartiality,
and having different authors as children have sundry
distempers, being fractious while they lasted,
but all the better for them when once over.  Carlyle
appeared like scarlet-fever, and raged violently
for a time; for, being anything but a "passive
bucket," Di became prophetic with Mahomet,
belligerent with Cromwell, and made the French
Revolution a veritable Reign of Terror to her
family.  Goethe and Schiller alternated like fever
and ague; Mephistopheles became her hero, Joan
of Arc her model, and she turned her black eyes
red over Egmont and Wallenstein. A mild attack of
Emerson followed, during which she was lost in a
fog, and her sisters rejoiced inwardly when she
emerged informing them that

"The Sphinx was drowsy,
Her wings were furled."

Poor Di was floundering slowly to her proper
place; but she splashed up a good deal of foam by
getting out of her depth, and rather exhausted
herself by trying to drink the ocean dry.

Laura, after the "midsummer night's dream "
that often comes to girls of seventeen, woke up to
find that youth and love were no match for age and
common sense.  Philip had been flying about the
world like a thistle-down for five-and-twenty years,
generous-hearted. frank, and kind, but with never
an idea of the serious side of life in his handsome
head.  Great, therefore, were the wrath and dismay
of the enamored thistle-down, when the father
of his love mildly objected to seeing her begin the
world in a balloon with a very tender but very
inexperienced aeronaut for a guide.

"Laura is too young to 'play house' yet, and
you are too unstable to assume the part of lord
and master, Philip.  Go and prove that you have
prudence, patience, energy, and enterprise, and I
will give you my girl,--but not before. I must
seem cruel, that I may be truly kind; believe this,
and let a little pain lead you to great happiness,
or show you where you would have made a bitter
blunder."

The lovers listened, owned the truth of the old
man's words, bewailed their fate, and yielded,--
Laura for love of her father, Philip for love of her.
He went away to build a firm foundation for his
castle in the air, and Laura retired into an invisible
convent, where she cast off the world, and regarded
her sympathizing sisters throug a grate of superior
knowledge and unsharable grief. Like a devout nun, she
worshipped "St. Philip," and firmly believed in his
miraculous powers. She fancied that her woes set her
apart from common cares, and slowly fell into a dreamy
state, professing no interest in any mundane matter, but
the art that first attacted Philip. Crayons, bread-crusts,
and gray paper became glorified in Laura's eyes; and
her one pleasure was to sit pale and still before
her easel, day after day, filling her portfolios with
the faces he had once admired. Her sisters observed
that every Bacchus, Piping Faun, or Dying
Gladiator bore some likeness to a comely countenance
that heathen god or hero never owned;
and seeing this, they privately rejoiced that she
had found such solace for her grief.

Mrs. Lord's keen eye had read a certain newly
written page in her son's heart,--his first chapter
of that romance, begun in paradise, whose interest
never flags, whose beauty never fades, whose end
can never come till Love lies dead. With
womanly skill she divined the secret, with motherly
discretion she counselled patience, and her son
accepted her advice, feeling that, like many a
healthful herb, its worth lay in its bitterness.

"Love like a man, John, not like a boy, and
learn to know yourself before you take a woman's
happiness into your keeping.  You and Nan have
known each other all your lives; yet, till this last
visit, you never thought you loved her more than
any other childish friend.  It is too soon to say the
words so often spoken hastily,--so hard to be recalled.
Go back to your work, dear, for another year; think
of Nan in the light of this new hope:
compare her with comelier, gayer girls; and by
absence prove the truth of your belief.   Then,
if distance only makes her dearer, if time only
strengthens your affection, and no doubt of your
own worthiness disturbs you, come back and offer
her what any woman should be glad to take,--
my boy's true heart."

John smiled at the motherly pride of her words,
but answered with a wistful look.

"It seems very long to wait, mother.  If I could
just ask her for a word of hope, I could be very
patient then."

"Ah, my dear, better bear one year of impatience
now than a lifetime of regret hereafter. Nan
is happy; why disturb her by a word which will
bring the tender cares and troubles that come soon
enough to such conscientious creatures as herself?
If she loves you, time will prove it; therefore, let
the new affection spring and ripen as your early
friendship has done, and it will be all the stronger
for a summer's growth.  Philip was rash, and has
to bear his trial now, and Laura shares it with him.
Be more generous, John; make your trial, bear
your doubts alone, and give Nan the happiness
without the pain.  Promise me this, dear,--promise
me to hope and wait."

The young man's eye kindled, and in his heart
there rose a better chivalry, a truer valor, than any
Di's knights had ever known.

"I'll try, mother," was all he said; but she was
satisfied, for John seldom tried in vain.

"Oh, girls, how splendid you are!  It does
my heart good to see my handsome sisters in their
best array," cried Nan, one mild October night,
as she put the last touches to certain airy raiment
fashioned by her own skilful hands, and then fell
back to survey the grand effect.

"Di and Laura were preparing to assist at an
event of the season," and Nan, with her own
locks fallen on her shoulders, for want of sundry
combs promoted to her sisters' heads and her dress
in unwonted disorder, for lack of the many pins
extracted in exciting crises of the toilet, hovered
like an affectionate bee about two very full-blown
flowers.

"Laura looks like a cool Undine, with the ivy-
wreaths in her shining hair; and Di has illuminated
herself to such an extent with those scarlet leaves.
that I don't know what great creature she resembles
most," said Nan, beaming with sisterly admiration.

"Like Juno, Zenobia, and Cleopatra simmered
into one, with a touch of Xantippe by way of
spice. But, to my eye, the finest woman of the
three is the dishevelled young person embracing
the bed-post: for she stays at home herself, and
gives her time and taste to making homely people
fine,--which is a waste of good material, and an
imposition on the public."

As Di spoke, both the fashion-plates looked
affectionately at the gray-gowned figure; but, being
works of art, they were obliged to nip their feelings
in the bud, and reserve their caresses till they
returned to common life.

"Put on your bonnet, and we'll leave you at
Mrs. Lord's on our way.  It will do you good,
Nan; and perhaps there may be news from John,"
added Di, as she bore down upon the door like a
man-of-war under full sail.

"Or from Philip," sighed Laura, with a wistful
look.

Whereupon Nan persuaded herself that her
strong inclination to sit down was owing to want
of exercise, and the heaviness of her eyelids a freak
of imagination; so, speedily smoothing her ruffled
plumage, she ran down to tell her father of the new
arrangement.

"Go, my dear, by alll means. I shall be writing;
and you will be lonely if you stay.  But I
must see my girls; for I caught glimpses of certain
surprising phantoms flitting by the door."

Nan led the way, and the two pyramids revolved
before him with the rapidity of lay-figures,
much to the good man's edification: for with his
fatherly pleasure there was mingled much mild
wonderment at the amplitude of array.

"Yes, I see my geese are really swans, though
there is such a cloud between us that I feel a long
way off, and hardly know them.  But this little
daughter is always available, always my 'cricket
on the hearth.'

As he spoke, her father drew Nan closer, kissed
her tranquil face, and smiled content.

"Well, if ever I see picters, I see 'em now, and
I declare to goodness it's as interestin' as
playactin', every bit.  Miss Di with all them boughs
in her head, looks like the Queen of Sheby, when
she went a-visitin' What's-his-name; and if Miss
Laura ain't as sweet as a lally-barster figger, I
should like to know what is."

In her enthusiasm, Sally gambolled about the
girls, flourishing her milk-pan like a modern
Miriam about to sound her timbrel for excess of
joy.

Laughing merrily, the two Mont Blancs bestowed
themselves in the family ark, Nan hopped
up beside Patrick, and Solon, roused from his
lawful slumbers, morosely trundled them away.
But, looking backward with a last "Good-
night!" Nan saw her father still standing at the
door with smiling countenance, and the moonlight
falling like a benediction on his silver hair.

"Betsey shall go up the hill with you, my dear,
and here's a basket of eggs for your father.  Give
him my love, and be sure you let me know the
next time he is poorly," Mrs. Lord said, when her
guest rose to depart, after an hour of pleasant chat.

But Nan never got the gift; for, to her great
dismay, her hostess dropped the basket with a
crash, and flew across the room to meet a tall
shape pausing in the shadow of the door.  There
was no need to ask who the new-comer was; for,
even in his mother's arms, John looked over her
shoulder with an eager nod to Nan, who stood
among the ruins with never a sign of weariness in
her face, nor the memory of a care at her heart.--
for they all went out when John came in.

"Now tell us how and why and when you came.
Take off your coat, my dear!  And here are the
old slippers.  Why didn't you let us know
you were coming so soon?  How have you been?
and what makes you so late to-night?  Betsey,
you needn't put on your bonnet.  And--oh, my
dear boy, have you been to supper yet?

Mrs. Lord was a quiet soul, and her flood of
questions was purred softly in her son's ear; for,
being a woman, she must talk, and, being a mother,
must pet the one delight of her life, and make a
little festival when the lord of the manor came
home. A whole drove of fatted calves were
metaphorically killed, and a banquet appeared
with speed.

John was not one of those romantic heroes who
can go through three volumes of hair-breadth
escapes without the faintest hint of that blessed
institution, dinner; therefore, like "Lady Letherbridge,"
he partook, copiously of everything."
while the two women beamed over each mouthful
with an interest that enhanced its flavor, and urged
upon him cold meat and cheese, pickles and pie, as
if dyspepsia and nightmare were among the lost
arts.

Then he opened his budget of news and fed
them.

"I was coming next month, according to custom;
but Philip fell upon and so tempted me, that
I was driven to sacrifice myself to the cause of
friendship, and up we came to-night.  He would
not let me come here till we had seen your father,
Nan; for the poor lad was pining for Laura, and
hoped his good behavior for the past year would
satisfy his judge and secure his recall.  We had a
fine talk with your father; and, upon my life, Philip
seemed to have received the gift of tongues, for he
made a most eloquent plea, which I've stored away
for future use, I assure you.  The dear old gentleman
was very kind, told Phil he was satisfied with
the success of his probation, that he should see
Laura when he liked, and, if all went well, should
receive his reward in the spring. It must be a
delightful sensation to know you have made a
fellow-creature as happy as those words made Phil
to-night."

John paused, and looked musingly at the matronly
tea-pot, as if he saw a wondrous future in
its shine.

Nan twinkled off the drops that rose at the
thought of Laura's joy, and said, with grateful
warmth,--

"You say nothing of your own share in the
making of that happiness, John; but we know it,
for Philip has told Laura in his letters all that you
have been to him, and I am sure there was other
eloquence beside his own before father granted all
you say he has.  Oh, John, I thank you very much
for this!

Mrs. Lord beamed a whole midsummer of delight
upon her son, as she saw the pleasure these
words gave him, though he answered simply,--

"I only tried to be a brother to him, Nan; for
he has been most kind to me.  Yes, I said my little
say to-night, and gave my testimony in behalf of
the prisoner at the bar; a most merciful judge
pronounced his sentence, and he rushed straight
to Mrs. Leigh's to tell Laura the blissful news.
Just imagine the scene when he appears, and how
Di will open her wicked eyes and enjoy the spectacle
of the dishevelled lover, the bride-elect's tears,
the stir, and the romance of the thing.  She'll
cry over it to-night, and caricature it to-morrow.

And John led the laugh at the picture he had
conjured up, to turn the thoughts of Di's dangerous
sister from himself.

At ten Nan retired into the depths of her old
bonnet with a far different face from the one she
brought out of it, and John, resuming his hat,
mounted guard.

"Don't stay late, remember, John!" And in
Mrs. Lord's voice there was a warning tone that
her son interpreted aright.

"I'll not forget, mother."

And he kept his word; for though Philip's happiness
floated temptingly before him, and the little
figure at his side had never seemed so dear, he
ignored the bland winds, the tender night, and set
a seal upon his lips, thinking manfully within himself.
"I see many signs of promise in her happy
face; but I will wait and hope a little longer for
her sake."

"Where is father, Sally?" asked Nan, as that
functionary appeared, blinking owlishly, but utterly
repudiating the idea of sleep.

"He went down the garding, miss, when the
gentlemen cleared, bein' a little flustered by the
goin's on.  Shall I fetch him in?" asked Sally, as
irreverently as if her master were a bag of meal.

"No, we will go ourselves." And slowly the
two paced down the leaf-strewn walk.

Fields of yellow grain were waving on the
hill-side, and sere corn blades rustled in the wind,
from the orchard came the scent of ripening fruit,
and all the garden-plots lay ready to yield up their
humble offerings to their master's hand.  But in
the silence of the night a greater Reaper had
passed by, gathering in the harvest of a righteous
life, and leaving only tender memories for the
gleaners who had come so late.

The old man sat in the shadow of the tree his
own hands planted; its fruit boughs shone ruddily,
and its leaves still whispered the low lullaby
that hushed him to his rest.

"How fast he sleeps! Poor father! I should
have come before and made it pleasant for
him."

As she spoke, Nan lifted up the head bent down
upon his breast, and kissed his pallid cheek.

"Oh, John, this is not sleep."

"Yes, dear, the happiest he will ever
know."

For a moment the shadows flickered over three
white faces and the silence deepened solemnly.
Then John reverently bore the pale shape in, and
Nan dropped down beside it, saying, with a rain
of grateful tears,--

"He kissed me when I went, and said a last
good-night!'"

For an hour steps went to and fro about her,
many voices whispered near her, and skilful hands
touched the beloved clay she held so fast; but one
by one the busy feet passed out, one by one the
voices died away, and human skill proved vain.

Then Mrs. Lord drew the orphan to the shelter of
her arms, soothing her with the mute solace of that
motherly embrace.

"Nan, Nan! here's Philip! come and see!"
The happy call re-echoed through the house,
and Nan sprang up as if her time for grief were
past.

"I must tell them. Oh, my poor girls, how
will they bear it?--they have known so little
sorrow!"

But there was no need for her to speak; other
lips had spared her the hard task.  For, as she
stirred to meet them, a sharp cry rent the air, steps
rang upon the stairs, and two wild-eyed creatures
came into the hush of that familiar room, for the
first time meeting with no welcome from their
father's voice.

With one impulse, Di and Laura fled to Nan.
and the sisters clung together in a silent embrace,
more eloquent than words. John took his
mother by the hand, and led her from the room,
closing the door upon the sacredness of grief.

"Yes, we are poorer than we thought; but
when everything is settled, we shall get on very
well.  We can let a part of this great house, and
live quietly together until spring; then Laura will
be married, and Di can go on their travels with
them, as Philip wishes her to do.  We shall be
cared for; so never fear for us, John."

Nan said this, as her friend parted from her a
week later, after the saddest holiday he had ever
known.

"And what becomes of you, Nan?" he asked,
watching the patient eyes that smiled when
others would have wept.

"I shall stay in the dear old house; for no other
place would seem like home to me.  I shall find
some little child to love and care for, and be quite
happy till the girls come back and want me."

John nodded wisely, as he listened, and went
away prophesying within himself,--

"She shall find something more than a child to
love; and, God willing, shall be very happy till
the girls come home and--cannot have her."

Nan's plan was carried into effect.  Slowly the
divided waters closed again, and the three fell
back into their old life.  But the touch of sorrow
drew them closer; and, though invisible, a beloved
presence still moved among them, a familiar voice
still spoke to them in the silence of their softened
hearts.  Thus the soil was made ready, and in the
depth of winter the good seed was sown, was
watered with many tears, and soon sprang up
green with a promise of a harvest for their after
years.

Di and Laura consoled themselves with their
favorite employments, unconscious that Nan was
growing paler, thinner, and more silent, as the
weeks went by, till one day she dropped quietly
before them, and it suddenly became manifest that
she was utterly worn out with many cares and the
secret suffering of a tender heart bereft of the
paternal love which had been its strength and stay.

"I'm only tired, dear girls.  Don't be troubled!,
for I shall be up to-morrow," she said cheerily, as
she looked into the anxious faces bending over
her.

But the weariness was of many months' growth,
and it was weeks before that "to-morrow " came.

Laura installed herself as nurse, and her devotion
was repaid four-fold; for, sitting at her sister's
bedside, she learned a finer art than that she had
left.  Her eye grew clear to see the beauty of a
self-denying life, and in the depths of Nan's meek
nature she found the strong, sweet virtues that
made her what she was.

Then remembering that these womanly attributes were
a bride's best dowry, Laura gave herself to their
attainment, that she might become to another household
the blessing Nan had been to her own; and turning
from the worship of the goddess Beauty, she gave
her hand to that humbler and more human teacher,
Duty,--learning her lessons with a willing heart,
for Philip's sake.

Di corked her inkstand, locked her bookcase,
and went at housework as if it were a five-barred
gate; of course she missed the leap, but scrambled
bravely through, and appeared much sobered by
the exercise.  Sally had departed to sit under a
vine and fig-tree of her own, so Di had undisputed
sway; but if dish-pans and dusters had tongues,
direful would have been the history of that crusade
against frost and fire, indolence and inexperience.
But they were dumb, and Di scorned to complain,
though her struggles were pathetic to behold, and
her sisters went through a series of messes equal to
a course of "Prince Benreddin's" peppery tarts.
Reality turned Romance out of doors; for, unlike
her favorite heroines in satin and tears, or helmet
and shield, Di met her fate in a big checked apron
and dust-cap, wonderful to see; yet she wielded
her broom as stoutly as "Moll Pitcher" shouldered
her gun, and marched to her daily martyrdom in the
kitchen with as heroic a heart as the "Maid of Orleans"
took to her stake.

Mind won the victory over matter in the end,
and Di was better all her days for the tribulations
and the triumphs of that time; for she drowned her
idle fancies in her wash-tub, made burnt-offerings
of selfishness and pride, and learned the worth of
self-denial, as she sang with happy voice among
the pots and kettles of her conquered realm.

Nan thought of John, and in the stillness of her
sleepless nights prayed Heaven to keep him safe,
and make her worthy to receive and strong enough
to bear the blessedness or pain of love.

Snow fell without, and keen winds howled
among the leafless elms, but "herbs of grace"
were blooming beautifully in the sunshine of
sincere endeavor, and this dreariest season proved the
most fruitful of the year; for love taught Laura,
labor chastened Di, and patience fitted Nan for the
blessing of her life.

Nature, that stillest, yet most diligent of housewives,
began at last that "spring cleaning" which
she makes so pleasant that none find the heart to
grumble as they do when other matrons set their
premises a-dust.  Her hand-maids, wind and rain
and sun, swept, washed, and garnished busily,
green carpets were unrolled, apple-boughs were
hung with draperies of bloom, and dandelions, pet
nurslings of the year, came out to play upon the
sward.

From the South returned that opera troupe
whose manager is never in despair, whose tenor
never sulks, whose prima donna never fails, and
in the orchard bona fide matinees were held, to
which buttercups and clovers crowded in their
prettiest spring hats, and verdant young blades
twinkled their dewy lorgnettes, as they bowed and
made way for the floral belles.

May was bidding June good-morrow, and the
roses were just dreaming that it was almost time to
wake, when John came again into the quiet room
which now seemed the Eden that contained his
Eve. Of course there was a jubilee; but something
seemed to have befallen the whole group, for
never had they appeared in such odd frames of
mind.  John was restless, and wore an excited
look, most unlike his usual serenity of aspect.

Nan the cheerful had fallen into a well of
silence and was not to be extracted by any
Hydraulic power, though she smiled like the June sky
over her head.  Di's peculiarities were out in full
force, and she looked as if she would go off like a
torpedo at a touch; but through all her moods
there was a half-triumphant, half-remorseful
expression in the glance she fixed on John.  And
Laura, once so silent, now sang like a blackbird,
as she flitted to and fro; but her fitful song was
always, "Philip, my king."

John felt that there had come a change upon
the three, and silently divined whose unconscious
influence had wrought the miracle.  The embargo
was off his tongue, and he was in a fever to ask
that question which brings a flutter to the stoutest
heart; but though the "man" had come, the
"hour" had not.  So, by way of steadying his
nerves, he paced the room, pausing often to take
notes of his companions, and each pause seemed to
increase his wonder and content.

He looked at Nan.  She was in her usual place,
the rigid little chair she loved, because it once
was large enough to hold a curly-headed
playmate and herself.  The old work-basket was at
her side, and the battered thimble busily at work;
but her lips wore a smile they had never worn be-
fore, the color of the unblown roses touched her
cheek, and her downcast eyes were full of light.

He looked at Di.  The inevitable book was on
her knee, but its leaves were uncut; the strong-
minded knob of hair still asserted its supremacy
aloft upon her head, and the triangular jacket still
adorned her shoulders in defiance of all fashions,
past, present, or to come; but the expression of her
brown countenance had grown softer, her tongue
had found a curb, and in her hand lay a card with
"Potts, Kettel & Co." inscribed thereon, which
she regarded with never a scornful word for the
Co."

He looked at Laura.  She was before her easel
as of old; but the pale nun had given place to a
blooming girl, who sang at her work, which was
no prim Pallas, but a Clytie turning her human
face to meet the sun.

"John, what are you thinking of?"

He stirred as if Di's voice had disturbed his
fancy at some pleasant pastime, but answered with
his usual sincerity,--

"I was thinking of a certain dear old fairy tale
called 'Cinderella.'"

"Oh!" said Di; and her "Oh" was a most
impressive monosyllable.  "I see the meaning of
your smile now; and though the application of the
story is not very complimentary to all parties
concerned, it is very just and very true."

She paused a moment, then went on with softened
voice and earnest mien:--

"You think I am a blind and selfish creature.
So I am, but not so blind and selfish as I have
been; for many tears have cleared my eyes, and
much sincere regret has made me humbler than I
was. I have found a better book than any father's
library can give me, and I have read it with
a love and admiration that grew stronger as I
turned the leaves. Henceforth I take it for my
guide and gospel, and, looking back upon the
selfish and neglectful past, can only say, Heaven
bless your dear heart, Nan!"

Laura echoed Di's last words; for, with eyes
as full of tenderness, she looked down upon the
sister she had lately learned to know, saying,
warmly,--

"Yes, 'Heaven bless your dear heart, Nan!'
I never can forget all you have been to me; and
when I am far away with Philip, there will always
be one countenance more beautiful to me
than any pictured face I may discover, there will
be one place more dear to me than Rome.  The
face will be yours, Nan, always so patient, always
so serene; and the dearer place will be this home of
ours, which you have made so pleasant to me all
these years by kindnesses as numberless and
noiseless as the drops of dew."

"Dear girls, what have I ever done, that you
should love me so?" cried Nan, with happy
wonderment, as the tall heads, black and golden,
bent to meet the lowly brown one, and her sisters'
mute lips answered her.

Then Laura looked up, saying, playfully,--

"Here are the good and wicked sisters;-where
shall we find the Prince? "

"There!" cried Di, pointing to John; and
then her secret went off like a rocket; for, with her
old impetuosity, she said,--

"I have found you out, John, and am ashamed
to look you in the face, remembering the past.
Girls, you know when father died, John sent us
money, which he said Mr. Owen had long owed
us and had paid at last?  It was a kind lie, John,
and a generous thing to do; for we needed it, but
never would have taken it as a gift.  I know you
meant that we should never find this out; but
yesterday I met Mr. Owen returning from the
West, and when I thanked him for a piece of justice
we had not expected of him, he gruffly told me
he had never paid the debt, never meant to pay it,
for it was outlawed, and we could not claim a
farthing.  John, I have laughed at you, thought
you stupid, treated you unkindly; but I know you
now, and never shall forget the lesson you have
taught me.  I am proud as Lucifer, but I ask you
to forgive me, and I seal my real repentance so--
and so."

With tragic countenance, Di rushed across the
room, threw both arms about the astonished young
man's neck and dropped an energetic kiss upon his
cheek.  There was a momentary silence; for Di
finally illustrated her strong-minded theories by
crying like the weakest of her sex.  Laura, with "the
ruling passion strong in death," still tried to draw,
but broke her pet crayon, and endowed her Clytie
with a supplementary orb, owing to the dimness of
her own.  And Nan sat with drooping eyes, that
shone upon her work, thinking with tender pride,--
They know him now, and love him for his generous heart."

Di spoke first, rallying to her colors, though a
little daunted by her loss of self-control.

"Don't laugh, John,--I couldn't help it; and
don't think I'm not sincere, for I am,--I am; and
I will prove it by growing good enough to be your
friend.  That debt must all be paid, and I shall
do it; for I'll turn my books and pen to some
account, and write stories full of clear old souls like
you and Nan; and some one, I know, will like and
buy them, though they are not 'works of Shakespeare.'
I've thought of this before, have felt I
had the power in me; now I have the motive, and
now I'll do it."

If Di had Proposed to translate the Koran, or
build a new Saint Paul's, there would have been
many chances of success; for, once moved, her
will, like a battering-ram, would knock down the
obstacles her wits could not surmount.  John
believed in her most heartily, and showed it, as he
answered, looking into her resolute face,--

"I know you will, and yet make us very proud
of our 'Chaos,' Di.  Let the money lie, and when
you have a fortune, I'll claim it with enormous
interest; but, believe me, I feel already doubly
repaid by the esteem so generously confessed, so
cordially bestowed, and can only say, as we used
to years ago,--'Now let's forgive and so forget."

But proud Di would not let him add to her obligation,
even by returning her impetuous salute;
she slipped away, and, shaking off the last drops,
answered with a curious mixture of old freedom
and new respect,--

"No more sentiment, please, John.  We know
each other now; and when I find a friend, I never
let him go.  We have smoked the pipe of peace;
so let us go back to our wigwams and bury the
feud.  Where were we when I lost my head? and
what were we talking about?"

"Cinderella and the Prince."

As she spoke, John's eye kindled, and, turning,
he looked down at Nan, who sat diligently ornamenting
with microscopic stitches a great patch
going on, the wrong side out.

"Yes,--so we were; and now taking pussy for
the godmother, the characters of the story are well
personated,--all but the slipper," said Di, laughing,
as she thought of the many times they had
played it together years ago.

A sudden movement stirred John's frame, a
sudden purpose shone in his countenance, and a
sudden change befell his voice, as he said,
producing from some hiding-place a little
wornout shoe,--

"I can supply the slipper;--who will try it
first?"

Di's black eyes opened wide, as they fell on
the familiar object; then her romance-loving nature
saw the whole plot of that drama which needs but
two to act it. A great delight flushed up
into her face, as she promptly took her cue, saying--

" No need for us to try it, Laura; for it wouldn't
fit us, if our feet were as small as Chinese dolls;
our parts are played out; therefore 'Exeunt
wicked sisters to the music of the wedding-bells.'"

And pouncing upon the dismayed artist, she swept
her out and closed the door with a triumphant
bang.

John went to Nan, and, dropping on his knee as
reverently as the herald of the fairy tale, he asked,
still smiling, but with lips grown tremulous,--

"Will Cinderella try the little shoe, and--if
it fits--go with the Prince?"

But Nan only covered up her face, weeping
happy tears, while all the weary work strayed
down upon the floor, as if it knew her holiday had
come.

John drew the hidden face still closer, and while
she listened to his eager words, Nan heard the
beating of the strong man's heart, and knew it
spoke the truth.

"Nan, I promised mother to be silent till I was
sure I loved you wholly,--sure that the knowledge
would give no pain when I should tell it, as I am
trying to tell it now.  This little shoe has been mv
comforter through this long year, and I have kept
it as other lovers keep their fairer favors. It has
been a talisman more eloquent to me than flower
or ring; for, when I saw how worn it was, I always
thought of the willing feet that came and went for
others' comfort all day long; when I saw the little
bow you tied, I always thought of the hands so
diligent in serving any one who knew a want or
felt a pain; and when I recalled the gentle creature
who had worn it last, I always saw her patient,
tender, and devout,--and tried to grow more
worthy of her, that I might one day dare to ask
if she would walk beside me all my life and be my
'angel in the house.' Will you, dear?  Believe
me, you shall never know a weariness or grief I
have the power to shield you from."

Then Nan, as simple in her love as in her life,
laid her arms about his neck, her happy face against
his own, and answered softly,--

"Oh, John, I never can be sad or tired any
more!"


DEBBY'S DEBUT.

On a cheery June day Mrs. Penelope Carroll
and her niece Debby Wilder, were whizzing along
on their way to a certain gay watering-place, both
in the best of humors with each other and all the
world beside.  Aunt Pen was concocting sundry
mild romances, and laying harmless plots for the
pursuance of her favorite pastime, match-making;
for she had invited her pretty relative to join her
summer jaunt, ostensibly that the girl might see a
little of fashionable life, but the good lady secretly
proposed to herself to take her to the beach and
get her a rich husband, very much as she would
have proposed to take her to Broadway and get her
a new bonnet: for both articles she considered
necessary, but somewhat difficult for a poor girl
to obtain.

Debby was slowly getting her poise, after the
excitement of a first visit to New York; for ten
days of bustle had introduced the young philosopher
to a new existence, and the working-day
world seemed to have vanished when she made her
last pat of butter in the dairy at home.  For an
hour she sat thinking over the good-fortune which
had befallen her, and the comforts of this life which
she had suddenly acquired. Debby was a true
girl, with all a girl's love of ease and pleasure;
it must not be set down against her that she
surveyed her pretty travelling-suit with much
complacency, rejoicing inwardly that she could use
her hands without exposing fractured gloves, that
her bonnet was of the newest mode, needing no
veil to hide a faded ribbon or a last year's shape,
that her dress swept the ground with fashionable
untidiness, and her boots were guiltless of a patch,
--that she was the possessor of a mine of wealth
in two of the eight trunks belonging to her aunt,
that she was travelling like any lady of the land
with man- and maid-servant at her command, and
that she was leaving work and care behind her for
a month or two of novelty and rest.

When these agreeable facts were fully realized,
and Aunt Pen had fallen asleep behind her veil,
Debby took out a book, and indulged in her favorite
luxury, soon forgetting past, present, and future
in the inimitable history of Martin Chuzzlewit.
The sun blazed, the cars rattled, children
cried, ladies nodded, gentlemen longed for the
solace of prohibited cigars, and newspapers were
converted into sun-shades, nightcaps, and fans;
but Debby read on, unconscious of all about her,
even of the pair of eves that watched her from the
Opposite corner of the car.  A Gentleman with a
frank, strong-featured face sat therin, and amused
himself by scanning with thoughtful gaze the
countenances of his fellow-travellers.  Stout Aunt Pen,
dignified even in her sleep, was a "model of deportment"
to the rising generation; but the student
of human nature found a more attractive subject in
her companion, the girl with an apple-blossom face
and merry brown eyes, who sat smiling into her
book, never heeding that her bonnet was awry,
and the wind taking unwarrantable liberties with
her ribbons and her hair.

Innocent Debby turned her pages, unaware that
her fate sat opposite in the likeness of a serious,
black-bearded gentleman, who watched the smiles
rippling from her lips to her eyes with an interest
that deepened as the minutes passed.  If his paper
had been full of anything but "Bronchial
Troches" and "Spalding's Prepared Glue," he
would have found more profitable employment;
but it wasn't, and with the usual readiness of idle
souls he fell into evil ways, and permitted curiosity,
that feminine sin, to enter in and take possession
of his manly mind. A great desire seized him to
discover what book his pretty neighbor;
but a cover hid the name, and he was too
distant to catch it on the fluttering leaves. Presently
a stout Emerald-Islander, with her wardrobe
oozing out of sundry paper parcels, vacated the
seat behind the two ladies; and it was soon quietly
occupied by the individual for whom Satan was
finding such indecorous employment.  Peeping
round the little gray bonnet, past a brown braid
and a fresh cheek, the young man's eye fell upon
the words the girl was reading, and forgot to look
away again.  Books were the desire of his life;
but an honorable purpose and an indomitable will
kept him steady at his ledgers till he could feel
that he had earned the right to read.  Like wine to
many another was an open page to his; he read a
line, and, longing for more, took a hasty sip from
his neighbor's cup, forgetting that it was a
stranger's also.

Down the page went the two pairs of eyes,
and the merriment from Debby's seemed to light
up the sombre ones behind her with a sudden shine
that softened the whole face and made it very
winning.  No wonder they twinkled, for Elijah
Pogram spoke, and "Mrs. Hominy, the mother
of the modern Gracchi, in the classical blue cap
and the red cotton pocket-handkerchief, came
down the room in a procession of one." A low
laugh startled Debby, though it was smothered
like the babes in the Tower; and, turning, she
beheld the trespasser scarlet with confusion, and
sobered with a tardy sense of his transgression.
Debby was not a starched young lady of the
"prune and prism" school, but a frank, free-
hearted little body, quick to read the sincerity of
others, and to take looks and words at their real
value.  Dickens was her idol; and for his sake she
could have forgiven a greater offence than this.

The stranger's contrite countenance and respecttul
apology won her good-will at once; and with
a finer courtesy than any Aunt Pen would have
taught, she smilingly bowed her pardon, and,
taking another book from her basket, opened it,
saying, pleasantly,--

"Here is the first volume if you like it, Sir.  I
can recommend it as an invaluable consolation for
the discomforts of a summer day's journey, and it
is heartily at your service."

As much surprised as gratified, the gentleman
accepted the book, and retired behind it with the
sudden discovery that wrongdoing has its compensation
in the pleasurable sensation of being forgiven.
Stolen delights are well known to be specially
saccharine: and much as this pardoned sinner loved
books, it seemed to him that the interest
of the story flagged, and that the enjoyment of
reading was much enhanced by the proximity of a
gray bonnet and a girlish profile. But Dickens
soon proved more powerful than Debby, and she was
forgotten, till, pausing to turn a leaf, the young
man met her shy glance, as she asked, with the
pleased expression of a child who has shared an
apple with a playmate,--

"Is it good?"

"Oh, very!"--and the man looked as honestly
grateful for the book as the boy would have done
for the apple.

Only five words in the conversation, but Aunt
Pen woke, as if the watchful spirit of propriety had
roused her to pluck her charge from the precipice
on which she stood.

"Dora, I'm astonished at you! Speaking to
strangers in that free manner is a most unladylike
thing.  How came you to forget what I have told
you over and over again about a proper reserve?"
The energetic whisper reached the gentleman's
ear, and he expected to be annihilated with a look
when his offence was revealed; but he was spared
that ordeal, for the young voice answered,
softly,--

"Don't faint, Aunt Pen: I only did as I'd be
done by; for I had two books, and the poor man
looked so hungry for something to read that I
couldn't resist sharing my 'goodies.' He will see
that I'm a countrified little thing in spite of my
fine feathers, and won't be shocked at my want of
rigidity and frigidity; so don't look dismal, and I'll
be prim and proper all the rest of the way,--if I
don't forget it."

"I wonder who he is; may belong to some of our
first families, and in that case it might be worth
while to exert ourselves, you know. Did you
learn his name, Dora? " whispered the elder lady.

Debby shook her head, and murmured, "Hush!"--but
Aunt Pen had heard of matches being made in cars as
well as in heaven; and as an experienced general,
it became her to reconnoitre, when one of the enemy
approached her camp. Slightly altering her position,
she darted an all-comprehensive glance at the invader,
who seemed entirely absorbed, for not an eyelash stirred
during the scrutiny. It lasted but an instant, yet in
that instant he was weighed and found wanting; for
that experienced eye detected that his cravat was
two inches wider than fashion ordained, that his
coat was not of the latest style, that his gloves
were mended, and his handkerchief neither cambric
nor silk.  That was enough, and sentence was
passed forthwith,--"Some respectable clerk,
good-looking, but poor, and not at all the thing
for Dora"; and Aunt Pen turned to adjust a
voluminous green veil over her niece's bonnet,
"To shield it from the dust, dear," which process
also shielded the face within from the eye of man.

A curious smile, half mirthful, half melancholy,
passed over their neighbor's lips; but his peace of
mind seemed undisturbed, and he remained buried
in his book Till they reached -----, at dusk.  As he
returned it, he offered his services in procuring a
carriage or attending to luggage; but Mrs. Carroll,
with much dignity of aspect, informed him that her
servants would attend to those matters, and, bowing
gravely, he vanished into the night.

As they rolled away to the hotel, Debby was
wild to run down to the beach whence came the
solemn music of the sea, making the twilight
beautiful.  But Aunt Pen was too tired to do
anything but sup in her own apartment and go
early to bed; and Debby might as soon have
proposed to walk up the great Pyramid as to make
her first appearance without that sage matron to
mount guard over her; so she resigned herself to
pie and patience, and fell asleep, wishing it were
to-morrow.

At five, a. m., a nightcapped head appeared
at one of the myriad windows of the ----- Hotel,
and remained there as if fascinated by the miracle
of sunrise over the sea.  Under her simplicity of
character and girlish merriment Debby possessed a
devout spirit and a nature full of the real poetry of
life, two gifts that gave her dawning womanhood
its sweetest charm, and made her what she was.
As she looked out that summer dawn upon the
royal marriage of the ocean and the sun, all petty
hopes and longings faded out of sight, and her
young face grew luminous with thoughts too deep
for words.  Her day was happier for that silent
hour, her life richer for the aspirations that uplifted
her like beautiful strong angels, and left a blessing
when they went.  The smile of the June sky
touched her lips, the morning red seemed to linger
on her cheek, and in her eye arose a light kindled
by the shimmer of that broad sea of gold; for
Nature rewarded her young votary well, and gave
her beauty, when she offered love.  How long she
leaned there Debby did not know; steps from below
roused her from her reverie, and led her back
into the world again.  Smiling at herself, She stole
to bed, and lay wrapped in waking dreams as
changeful as the shadows. ancing on her charnber-
wall.

The advent of her aunt's maid, Victorine, some
two hours later, was the signal to be "up and
doing"; and she meekly resigned herself into the
hands of that functionary, who appeared to regard
her in the light of an animated pin-cushion, as she
performed the toilet-ceremonies with an absorbed
aspect, which impressed her subject with a sense
of the solemnity of the occasion.

"Now, Mademoiselle, regard yourself, and
pronounce that you are ravishing" Victorine said
at length, folding her hands with a sigh of
satisfaction, as she fell back in an attitude of
serene triumph.

Debby robeyed, and inspected herself with great
interest and some astonishment; for there was a
sweeping amplitude of array about the young
lady whom she beheld in the much-befrilled gown
and embroidered skirts, which somewhat alarmed
her as to the navigation of a vessel "with such a
spread of sail," while a curious sensation of being
somebody else pervaded her from the crown of
her head, with its shining coils of hair, to the soles
of the French slippers, whose energies seemed to
have been devoted to the production of marvellous
rosettes.

"Yes, I look very nice, thank you; and yet I
feel like a doll, helpless and fine, and fancy I was
more of a woman in my fresh gingham, with a knot
of clovers in my hair, than I am now.  Aunt Pen
was very kind to get me all these pretty things;
but I'm afraid my mother would look horrified to
see me in such a high state of flounce externally
and so little room to breath internally."

"Your mamma would not flatter me, Mademoiselle;
but come now to Madame; she is waiting to behold
you, and I have yet her toilet to make "; and,
with a pitying shrug, Victorine followed Debby
to her aunt's room.

"Charming! really elegant!" cried that lady,
emerging from her towel with a rubicund visage.

"Drop that braid half an inch lower, and pull the
worked end of her handkerchief out of the right-hand
pocket, Vic.  There! Now, Dora, don't run about and
get rumpled, but sit quietly down and practice repose
till I am ready."

Debby obeyed, and sat mute, with the air of
a child in its Sunday-best on a week-day, pleased
with the novelty, but somewhat oppressed with the
responsibility of such unaccustomed splendor, and
uttefly unable to connect any ideas of repose with
tight shoes and skirts in a rampant state of starch.


"Well, you see, I bet on Lady Gay against
Cockadoodle, and if you'll believe me -- Hullo!
there's Mrs. Carroll, and deuse take me if she
hasn't got a girl with her!  Look, Seguin!"--
and Joe Leavenworth, a "man of the world,"
aged twenty, paused in his account of an exciting
race to make the announcement.

Mr. Seguin, his friend and Mentor, as much his,
senior in worldly wickedness as in years, tore himself
from his breakfast long enough to survey the
new-comers, and then returned to it, saying,
briefly,--

"The old lady is worth cultivating,--gives
good suppers, and thanks you for eating them.
The girl is well got up, but has no style, and
blushes like a milkmaid.  Better fight shy of her,
Joe."

"Do you think so?  Well, now I rather fancy
that kind of thing.  She's new, you,see, and I get
on with that sort of girl the best, for the old ones
are so deused knowing that a fellow has no chance
of a -- By the Lord Harry, she's eating bread
and milk!"

Young Leavenworth whisked his glass into his
eye, and Mr. Seguin put down his roll to behold
the phenomenon.  Poor Debby! her first step had
been a wrong one.

All great minds have their weak points.  Aunt
Pen's was her breakfast, and the peace of her
entire day depended upon the success of that meal.
Therefore, being down rather late, the worthy
lady concentrated her energies upon the achievement
of a copious repast, and, trusting to former
lessons, left Debby to her own resources for a few
fatal moments. After the flutter occasioned by
being scooped into her seat by a severe-nosed
waiter, Debby had only courage enough left to
refuse tea and coffee and accept milk.  That being
done, she took the first familiar viand that appeared,
and congratulated herself upon being able
to get her usual breakfast. With returning composure,
she looked about her and began to  enjoy
the buzz of voices, the clatter of knives and forks,
and the long lines of faces all intent upon the business
of the hour; but her peace was of short duration.
Pausing for a fresh relay of toast, Aunt
Pen glanced toward her niece with the comfortable
conviction that her appearance was highly creditable;
and her dismay can be imagined, when she
beheld that young lady placidly devouring a great
cup of brown-bread and milk before the eyes of the
assembled multitude.  The poor lady choked
in her coffee, and between her gasps whispered
irefully behind her napkin,--

"For Heaven's sake, Dora, put away that
mess! The Ellenboroughs are directly opposite,
watching everything you do.  Eat that omelet, or
anything respectable, unless you want me to die of
mortification."

Debby dropped her spoon, and, hastily helping
herself from the dish her aunt pushed toward her,
consumed the leathery compound with as much
grace as she could assume, though unable to
repress a laugh at Aunt Pen's disturbed countenance.
There was a slight lull in the clatter, and the blithe
sound caused several heads to turn toward the
quarter whence it came, for it was as unexpected
and pleasant a sound as a bobolink's song in a cage
of shrill-voiced canaries.

"She's a jolly little thing and powerful pretty,
so deuse take me if I don't make up to the old lady
and find out who the girl is.  I've been introduced
to Mrs. Carroll at our house: but I suppose she
won't remember me till I remind her."

The "deuse" declining to accept of his repeated
offers (probably because there was still too
much honor and honesty in the boy,) young
Leavenworth sought out Mrs. Carroll on the
Piazza, as she and Debby were strolling there an
hour later.

"Joe Leavenworth, my dear, from one of our
first families,--very wealthy,--fine match,--pray,
be civil,--smooth your hair, hold back your shoulders,
and put down your parasol," murmured
Aunt Pen, as the gentleman approached with as
much pleasure in his countenance as it was consistent
with manly dignity to express upon meeting
two of the inferior race.

"My niece, Miss Dora Wilder.  This is her
first season at the beach, and we must endeavor to
make it pleasant for her, or she will be getting
homesick and running away to mamma," said Aunt Pen,
in her society-tone, after she had returned his
greeting, and perpetrated a polite fiction,
by declaring that she remembered him perfectly,
for he was the image of his father.

Mr. Leavenworth brought the heels of his varnished
boots together with a click, and executed the latest
bow imported, then stuck his glass in his eye and stared
till it fell out, (the glass, not the eye,) upon which
he fell into step with them, remarking,--

"I shall be most happy to show the lions: they
are deused tame ones, so you needn't be alarmed.
Miss Wilder."

Debby was good-natured enough to laugh; and,
elated with that success, he proceeded to pour
forth his stores of wit and learning in true collegian
style, quite unconscious that the "jolly little thing"
was looking him through and through with the
smiling eyes that were producing such pleasurable
sensations under the mosaic studs.  They strolled
toward the beach, and, meeting an old acquaintance,
Aunt Pen fell behind, and beamed upon the
young pair as if her prophetic eye even at this early
stage beheld them walking altarward in a proper
state of blond white vest and bridal awkwardness.

"Can you skip a stone, Mr. Leavenworth?
asked Debby, possessed with a mischievous desire
to shock the piece of elegance at her side.

"Eh? what's that? " he inquired, with his
head on one side, like an inquisitive robin.

Debby repeated her question, and illustrated it
by sending a stone skimming over the water in the
most scientific manner.  Mr. Joe was painfully
aware that this was not at all "the thing," that his
sisters never did so, and that Seguin would laugh
confoundedly, if he caught him at it; but Debby
looked so irresistibly fresh and pretty under her
rose-lined parasol that he was moved to confess
that he had done such a thing, and to sacrifice his
gloves by poking in the sand, that he might indulge
in a like unfashionable pastime.

"You'll be at the hop to-night, I hope, Miss
Wilder," he observed, introducing a topic suited
to a young lady's mental capacity.

"Yes, indeed; for dancing is one of the joys of
my life, next to husking and making hay"; and
Debby polked a few steps along the beach, much
to the edification of a pair of old gentlemen,
serenely taking their first constitutional."

"Making what? " cried Mr. Joe, poking after
her.

"Hay; ah, that is the pleasantest fun in the
world,--and better exercise, my mother says, for
soul and body, than dancing till dawn in crowded
rooms, with everything in a state of unnatural
excitement.  If one wants real merriment, let him go
into a new-mown field, where all the air is full of
summer odors, where wild-flowers nod along the
walls, where blackbirds make finer music than any
band, and sun and wind and cheery voices do their
part, while windrows rise, and great loads go
rumbling through the lanes with merry brown faces
atop.  Yes, much as I like dancing, it is not to be
compared with that; for in the one case we shut
out the lovely world, and in the other we become
a part of it, till by its magic labor turns to poetry,
and we harvest something better than dried buttercups
and grass."

As she spoke, Debby looked up, expecting to
meet a glance of disapproval; but something in the
simple earnestness of her manner had recalled
certain boyish pleasures as innocent as they were
hearty, which now contrasted very favorably with
the later pastimes in which fast horses, and that
lower class of animals, fast men, bore so large a
part.  Mr. Joe thoughtfully punched five holes in
the sand, and for a moment Debby liked the expression
of his face; then the old listlessness returned,
and, looking up, he said, with an air of
ennui that was half sad, half ludicrous, in one so
young and so generously endowed with youth,
health, and the good gifts of this life,--

"I used to fancy that sort of thing years ago,
but I'm afraid I should find it a little slow now,
though you describe it in such an inviting manner
that I would be tempted to try it, if a hay-cock
came in my way; for, upon my life, it's deused
heavy work loafing about at these watering-places
all summer.  Between ourselves, there's a deal of
humbug about this kind of life, as you will find,
when you've tried it as long as I have."

"Yes, I begin to think so already; but perhaps
you can give me a few friendly words of warning
from the stones of your experience, that I may be
spared the pain of saying what so many look,--
'Grandma, the world is hollow; my doll is stuffed
with sawdust; and I should 'like to go into a
convent, if you please.'"

Debby's eyes were dancing with merriment;
but they were demurely down-cast, and her voice
was perfectly serious.

The milk of human kindness had been slightly
curdled for Mr. Joe by sundry college-tribulations;
and having been "suspended," he very naturally
vibrated between the inborn jollity of his
temperament and the bitterness occasioned by his wrongs.

He had lost at billiards the night before, had been
hurried at breakfast, had mislaid his cigar-case,
and splashed his boots; consequently the darker
mood prevailed that morning, and when his counsel
was asked, he gave it like one who bad known
the heaviest trials of this "Piljin Projiss of a
wale."

"There's no justice in the world, no chance
for us young people to enjoy ourselves, without
some penalty to pay, some drawback to worry us
like these confounded 'all-rounders.' Even here,
where all seems free and easy, there's no end of
gossips and spies who tattle and watch till you feel
as if you lived in a lantern. 'Every one for himself,
and the Devil take the hindmost'; that's the
principle they go on, and you have to keep your
wits about you in the most exhausting manner, or
you are done for before you know it.  I've seen a
good deal of this sort of thing, and hope you'll get
on better than some do, when it's known that you
are the rich Mrs. Carroll's niece; though you don't
need that fact to enhance your charms,--upon my
life, you don't."

Debby laughed behind her parasol at this burst
of candor; but her independent nature prompted
her to make a fair beginning, in spite of Aunt
Pen's polite fictions and well-meant plans.

" Thank you for your warning, but I don't
apprehend much annoyance of that kind," she said,
demurely.  "Do you know, I think, if young
ladies were truthfully labelled when they went into
society, it would be a charming fashion, and save a
world of trouble? Something in this style:--
'Arabella Marabout, aged nineteen, fortune
$100,000, temper warranted'; 'Laura Eau-de-Cologne,
aged twenty-eight, fortune $30,000,
temper slightly damaged'; Deborah Wilder,
aged eighteen, fortune, one pair of hands, one head,
indifferently well filled, one heart, (not in the
market,) temper decided, and no expectations.'
There, you see, that would do away with much of
the humbug you lament, and we poor souls would
know at once whether we were sought for our fortunes
or ourselves, and that would be so comfortable!"

Mr. Leavenworth turned away, with a convicted sort
of expression, as she spoke, and, making
a spyglass of his hand, seemed to be watching
something out at sea with absorbing interest.  He
had been guilty of a strong desire to discover
whether Debby was an heiress, but had not expected
to be so entirely satisfied on that important
subject, and was dimly conscious that a keen eye
had seen his anxiety, and a quick wit devised a
means of setting it at rest forever.  Somewhat
disconcerted, he suddenly changed the conversation,
and, like many another distressed creature, took to
the water, saying briskly,--

"By-the-by, Miss Wilder, as I've engaged to
do the honors, shall I have the pleasure of bathing
with you when the fun begins?  As you are fond
of hay-making, I suppose you intend to pay your
respects to the old gentleman with the three-
pronged pitchfork?"

"Yes, Aunt Pen means to put me through a course
of salt water, and any instructions in the art
of navigation will be gratefully received; for I
never saw the ocean before, and labor under a
firm conviction, that, once in, I never shall come
out again till I am brought, like Mr. Mantilini, a
'damp, moist, unpleasant body.'"

As Debby spoke, Mrs. Carroll hove in sight,
coming down before the wind with all sails set, and
signals of distress visible long before she dropped
anchor and came along-side.  The devoted woman
had been strolling slowly for the girl's sake, though
oppressed with a mournful certainty that her most
prominent feature was fast becoming a fine copper-
color; yet she had sustained herself like a Spartan
matron, till it suddenly occurred to her that her
charge might be suffering a like

"sea-change
Into something rich and strange."

Her fears, however, were groundless, for Debby
met her without a freckle, looking all the better
for her walk; and though her feet were wet with
chasing the waves, and her pretty gown the worse
for salt water, Aunt Pen never chid her for the
destruction of her raiment, nor uttered a warning
word against an unladylike exuberance of spirits,
but replied to her inquiry most graciously,--

"Certainly, my love, we shall bathe at eleven,
and there will be just time to get Victorine and our
dresses; so run on to the house, and I will join you
as soon as I have finished what I am saying to
Mrs. Earl,"--then added, in a stage-aside, as she
put a fallen lock off the girl's forehead, "You are
doing beautifully!  He is evidently struck; make
yourself interesting, and don't burn your nose, I
beg of you."

Debby's bright face clouded over, and she
wakked on with so much stateliness that her escort
wondered " what the deuse the old lady had done
to her," and exerted himself to the utmost to recall
her merry mood, but with indifferent success.


"Now I begin to feel more like myself, for this
is getting back to first principles, though I fancy I
look like the little old woman who fell asleep on
the king's highway and woke up with abbreviated
drapery; and you look funnier still, Aunt Pen,"
said Debby, as she tied on her pagoda-hat, and
followed Mrs. Carroll, who walked out of her
dressing-room an animated bale of blue cloth
surmounted by a gigantic sun-bonnet.

Mr. Leavenworth was in waiting, and so like a
blond-headed lobster in his scarlet suit that Debby
could hardly keep her countenance as they joined
the groups of bathers gathering along the breezy
shore.

For an hour each day the actors and actresses
who played their different roles at the ----- Hotel
with such precision and success put off their masks
and dared to be themselves.  The ocean wrought
the change, for it took old and young into its arms,
and for a little while they played like children in
their mother's lap.  No falsehood could withstand
its rough sincerity; for the waves washed paint and
powder from worn faces, and left a fresh bloom
there.  No ailment could entirely resist its vigorous
cure; for every wind brought healing on its wings,
endowing many a meagre life with another year
of health.  No gloomy spirit could refuse to listen
to its lullaby, and the spray baptized it with the
subtile benediction of a cheerier mood.  No rank
held place there; for the democratic sea toppled
down the greatest statesman in the land, and
dashed over the bald pate of a millionnaire with
the same white-crested wave that stranded a poor
parson on the beach and filled a fierce reformer's
mouth with brine.  No fashion ruled, but that
which is as old as Eden,--the beautiful fashion of
simplicity.  Belles dropped their affectations with
their hoops, and ran about the shore blithe-hearted
girls again. Young men forgot their vices and
their follies, and were not ashamed of the real
courage, strength, and skill they had tried to leave
behind them with their boyish plays.  Old men
gathered shells with the little Cupids dancing on
the sand, and were better for that innocent
companionship; and young mothers never looked so
beautiful as when they rocked their babies on the
bosom of the sea.

Debby vaguely felt this charm, and, yielding
to it, splashed and sang like any beach-bird, while
Aunt Pen bobbed placidly up and down in a
retired corner, and Mr. Leavenworth swam to and
fro, expressing his firm belief in mermaids, sirens,
and the rest of the aquatic sisterhood, whose warbling
no manly ear can resist.

" Miss Wilder, you must learn to swim.  I've
taught quantities of young ladies, and shall be
delighted to launch the 'Dora,' if you'll accept me
as a pilot.  Stop a bit; I'll get a life-preserver
and leaving Debby to flirt with the waves, the scarlet
youth departed like a flame of fire.

A dismal shriek interrupted his pupil's play, and
looking up, she saw her aunt beckoning wildly with
one hand, while she was groping in the water with
the other. Debby ran to her, alarmed at her
tragic expression, and Mrs. Carroll, drawing the
girl's face into the privacy of her big bonnet,
whispered one awful word, adding, distractedly,--

"Dive for them! oh, dive for them! I shall be
perfectly helpless, if they are lost!"

"I can't dive, Aunt Pen; but there is a man,
let us ask him," said Debby, as a black head
appeared to windward.

But Mrs. Carroll's "nerves" had received a
shock, and, gathering up her dripping garments,
she fled precipitately along the shore and vanished
into her dressing-room.

Debby's keen sense of the ludicrous got the better
of her respect, and peal after peal of laughter
broke from her lips, till a splash behind her put an
end to her merriment, and, turning, she found that
this friend in need was her acquaintance of the day
before.  The gentleman seemed pausing for permission
to approach, with much the appearance of a sagacious
Newfoundland, wistful and wet.

"Oh, I'm very glad it's you, Sir!" was Debby's
cordial greeting, as she shook a drop off the end of
her nose, and nodded, smiling.

The new-comer immediately beamed upon her
like an amiable Triton, saying, as they turned
shoreward,--

"Our first interview opened with a laugh on my
side, and our second with one on yours.  I accept
the fact as a good omen.  Your friend seemed in
trouble; allow me to atone for my past misdemeanors
by offering my services now.  But first let me introduce
myself; and as I believe in the fitness of things, let
me present you with an appropriate card"; and, stooping,
the young man wrote "Frank Evan" on the hard sand at
Debby's feet.

The girl liked his manner, and, entering into the
spirit of the thing, swept as grand a curtsy as her
limited drapery would allow saying, merrily,-
-
"I am Debby Wilder, or Dora, as aunt prefers
to call me; and instead of laughing, I ought to be
four feet under water, looking for something we
have lost; but I can't dive, and my distress is
dreadful, as you see."

"What have you lost?  I will look for it, and
bring it back in spite of the kelpies, if it is a human
possibility," replied Mr. Evan, pushing his wet
locks out of his eyes, and regarding the ocean with
a determined aspect.

Debby leaned toward him, whispering with
solemn countenance,--

"It is a set of teeth, Sir."

Mr. Evan was more a man of deeds than words,
therefore he disappeared at once with a mighty
splash, and after repeated divings and much
laughter appeared bearing the chief ornament of Mrs.
Penelope Carroll's comely countenance.  Debby
looked very pretty and grateful as she returned her
thanks, and Mr.  Evan was guilty of a secret wish
that all the worthy lady's features were at the
bottom of the sea, that he might have the satisfaction
of restoring them to her attractive niece;
but curbing this unnatural desire, he bowed, saying,
gravely,--

"Tell your aunt, if you please, that this little
accident will remain a dead secret, so far as I am
concerned, and I am very glad to have been of
service at such a critical moment."

Whereupon Mr. Evan marched again into the
briny deep, and Debby trotted away to her aunt,
whom she found a clammy heap of blue flannel
and despair. Mrs. Carroll's temper was ruffled,
and though she joyfully rattled in her teeth, she
said, somewhat testily, when Debby's story was
done,--

"Now that man will have a sort of claim on us,
and we must be civil, whoever he is. Dear! dear!
I wish it had been Joe Leavenworth instead.
Evan,--I don't remember any of our first families
with connections of that name, and I dislike to be
under obligations to a person of that sort, for
there's no knowing how far he may presume; so,
pray, be careful, Dora."

"I think you are very ungrateful, Aunt Pen;
and if Mr. Evan should happen to be poor, it does
not become me to turn up my nose at him, for I'm
nothing but a make-believe myself just now. I
don't wish to go down upon my knees to him, but
I do intend to be as kind to him as I should to that
conceited Leavenworth boy; yes, kinder even; for
poor people value such things more, as I know very
well."

Mrs. Carroll instantly recovered her temper,
changed the subject, and privately resolved to
confine her prejudices to her own bosom, as they
seerned to have an aggravating effect upon the
youthful person whom she had set her heart on
disposing of to the best advantage.

Debby took her swimming-lesson with much
success, and would have achieved her dinner with
composure, if white-aproned gentlemen had not
effectually taken away her appetite by whisking
bills-of-fare into her hands, and awaiting her orders
with a fatherly interest, which induced them to
congregate mysterious dishes before her, and
blandly rectify her frequent mistakes. She survived
the ordeal, however, and at four p.m. went to drive
with "that Leavenworth boy" in the finest turnout
----- could produce.  Aunt Pen then came off guard,
and with a sigh of satisfaction subsided into a peaceful
doze, still murmuring, even in her sleep,-

"Propinquity, my love, propinquity works
wonders."



"Aunt Pen, are you a modest woman?" asked
the young cruisader against established absurdities,
as she came into the presence-chamber that evening
ready for the hop.

"Bless the child, what does she mean? " cried
Mrs. Carroll, with a start that twitched her
back-hair out of Victorine's hands.

"Would you like to have a daughter of yours
go to a party looking as I look?" continued her
niece, spreading her airy dress, and standing
very erect before her astonished relative.

"Why, of course I should, and be proud to own
such a charming creature," regarding the slender
white shape with much approbation,--adding,
with a smile, as she met the girl's eye,--

"Ah, I see the difficulty, now; you are disturbed
because there is not a bit of lace over
these pretty shoulders of yours.  Now don't be
absurd, Dora; the dress is perfectly proper, or
Madame Tiphany never would have sent it home.
It is the fashion, child; and many a girl with such
a figure would go twice as decolletee, and think
nothing of it, I assure you."

Debby shook her head with an energy that set
the pink heather-bells a-tremble in her hair, and
her color deepened beautifully as she said, with
reproachful eyes,--

"Aunt Pen, I think there is a better fashion
in every young girl's heart than any Madame
Tiphany can teach.  I am very grateful for all
you have done for me, but I cannot go into public
in such an undress as this; my mother would never
allow it, and father never forgive it. Please don't
ask me to, for indeed I cannot do it even for you."

Debby looked so pathetic that both mistress
and maid broke into a laugh which somewhat
reassured the young lady, who allowed her
determined features to relax into a smile,
as she said,--

"Now, Aunt Pen, you want me to look pretty
and be a credit to you; but how would you like to
see my face the color of those geraniums all the
evening?"

"Why, Dora, you are out of your mind to ask
such a thing, when you know it's the desire of
my life to keep your color down and make you
look more delicate," said her aunt, alarmed at the
fearful prospect of a peony-faced protegee.

Well, I should be anything but that, if I wore
this gown in its present waistless condition; so here
is a remedy which will prevent such a calamity
and ease my mind."

As she spoke, Debby tied on her little blonde
fichu with a gesture which left nothing more to be
said.

Victorine scolded, and clasped her hands; but
Mrs. Carroll, fearing to push her authority too far,
made a virtue of necessity, saying, resignedly,--

"Have your own way, Dora, but in return
oblige me by being agreeable to such persons as I
may introduce to you; and some day, when I ask
a favor, remember how much I hope to do for you,
and grant it cheerfully."

"Indeed I will, Aunt Pen, if it is anything I
can do without disobeying mother's 'notions' as
you call them.  Ask me to wear an orange-colored
gown, or dance with the plainest, poorest man in
the room, and I'll do it; for there never was a
kinder aunt than mine in all the world," cried
Debby, eager to atone for her seeming wilfulness,
and really grateful for her escape from what seemed
to her benighted mind a very imminent peril.

Like a clover-blossom in a vase of camellias little
Debby looked that night among the dashing or
languid women who surrounded her; for she possessed
the charm they had lost,--the freshness of
her youth.  Innocent gayety sat smiling in her eyes,
healthful roses bloomed upon her cheek, and
maiden modesty crowned her like a garland. She
was the creature that she seemed, and, yielding to
the influence of the hour, danced to the music of
her own blithe heart. Many felt the spell whose
secret they had lost the power to divine, and
watched the girlish figure as if it were a symbol
of their early aspirations dawning freshly from the
dimness of their past. More than one old man
thought again of some little maid whose love made
his boyish days a pleasant memory to him now.
More than one smiling fop felt the emptiness of his
smooth speech, when the truthful eyes looked up
into his own; and more than one pale woman
sighed regretfully with herself, "I, too, was a
happy-hearted creature once!"

"That Mr. Evan does not seem very anxious
to claim our acquaintance, after all, and I think
better of him on that account.  Has he spoken to
you to-night, Dora?" asked Mrs. Carroll, as
Debby dropped down beside her after a "splendid
polka."

"No, ma'am, he only bowed.  You see some
people are not so presuming as other people
thought they were; for we are not the most
attractive beings on the planet; therefore a gentleman
can be polite and then forget us without breaking
any of the Ten Commandments.  Don't be offended
with him yet, for he may prove to be some
great creature with a finer pedigree than any of
your first families.' Mr. Leavenworth, as you
know everybody, perhaps you can relieve Aunt
Pen's mind, by telling her something about the
tall, brown man standing behind the lady with
salmon-colored hair."

Mr. Joe, who was fanning the top of Debby's
head with the best intentions in life, took a survey,
and answered readily,--

"Why, that's Frank Evan.  I know him, and
a deused good fellow he is,--though he don't
belong to our set, you know."

"Indeed! pray, tell us something about him,
Mr. Leavenworth.  We met in the cars, and he
did us a favor or two.  Who and what is the
man?" asked Mrs. Carroll, relenting at once
toward a person who was favorably spoken of by
one who did belong to her "set."

"Well, let me see," began Mr. Joe, whose
narrative powers were not great." He is a
bookkeeper in my Uncle Josh Loring's importing
concern, and a powerful smart man, they say.  There's
some kind of clever story about his father's leaving
a load of debts, and Frank's working a deused
number of years till they were paid.  Good of him,
wasn't it?  Then, just as he was going to take
things easier and enjoy life a bit, his mother died,
and that rather knocked him up, you see.  He fell
sick, and came to grief generally, Uncle Josh said;
so he was ordered off to get righted, and here he
is, looking like a tombstone. I've a regard for
Frank, for he took care of me through the smallpox
a year ago, and I don't forget things of that
sort; so, if you wish to be introduced, Mrs. Carroll,
I'll trot him out with pleasure, and make a proud
man of him."

Mrs. Carroll glanced at Debby, and as that
young lady was regarding Mr. Joe with a friendly
aspect, owing to the warmth of his words, she
graciously assented, and the youth departed on his
errand.  Mr. Evan went through the ceremony
with a calmness wonderful to behold, considering
the position of one lady and the charms of the
other, and soon glided into the conversation with
the ease of a most accomplished courtier.

"Now I must tear myself away, for I'm engaged
to that stout Miss Bandoline for this dance.
She's a friend of my sisLer's, and I must do the
civil, you know; powerful slow work it is, too, but
I pity the poor soul,--upon my life, I do;" and
Mr.  Joe assumed the air of a martyr.

Debby looked up with a wicked smile in her
eyes, as she said,--

"Ah, that sounds very amiable here; but in five
minutes you'll be murmuring in Miss Bandoline's
earm--'I've been pining to come to you this half
hour, but I was obliged to take out that Miss
Wilder, you see--countrified little thing enough,
but not bad-looking, and has a rich aunt; so I've
done my duty to her, but deuse take me if I can
stand it any longer."

Mr. Evan joined in Debby's merriment; but
Mr. Joe was so appalled at the sudden attack that
he could only stammer a remonstrance and beat a
hasty retreat, wondering how on earth she came
to know that his favorite style of making himself
agreeable to one young lady was by decrying
another.

"Dora, my love, that is very rude, and 'Deuse'
is not a proper expression for a woman's lips.
Pray, restrain your lively tongue, for strangers may
not understand that it is nothing but the sprightliness
of your disposition which sometimes runs away with you."

"It was only a quotation, and I thought you
would admire anything Mr. Leavenworth said,
Aunt Pen," replied Debby, demurely.

Mrs. Carroll trod on her foot, and abruptly
changed the conversation, by saying, with an
appearance of deep interest,--

"Mr. Evan, you are doubtless connected with
the Malcoms of Georgia; for they, I believe, are
descended from the ancient Evans of Scotland.
They are a very wealthy and aristocratic family,
and I remember seeing their coat-of-arms once:
three bannocks and a thistle."

Mr. Evan had been standing before them with
a composure which impressed Mrs. Carroll with a
belief in his gentle blood, for she remembered her
own fussy, plebeian husband, whose fortune had
never been able to purchase him the manners of a
gentleman.  Mr. Evan only grew a little more
erect, as he replied, with an untroubled mien,--

"I cannot claim relationship with the Malcoms
of Georgia or the Evans of Scotland, I believe,
Madam.  My father was a farmer, my grandfather
a blacksmith, and beyond that my ancestors
may have been street-sweepers, for anything I
know; but whatever they were, I fancy they were
honest men, for that has always been our boast,
though, like President Jackson's, our coat-of-arms
is nothing but 'a pair of shirt-sleeves.'"

From Debby's eyes there shot a bright glance
of admiration for the young man who could look
two comely women in the face and serenely own
that he was poor.  Mrs. Carroll tried to appear at
ease, and, gliding out of personalities, expatiated
on the comfort of "living in a land where fame
and fortune were attainable by all who chose to
earn them," and the contempt she felt for those
"who had no sympathy with the humbler classes,
no interest in the welfare of the race," and many
more moral reflections as new and original as the
Multiplication-Table or the Westminster Catechism.
To all of which Mr. Evan listened with
polite deference, though there was something in
the keen intelligence of his eye that made Debby
blush for shallow Aunt Pen, and rejoice when the
good lady got out of her depth and seized upon a
new subject as a drowning mariner would a hen-coop.

"Dora, Mr. Ellenborough is coming this way;
you have danced with him but once, and he is a
very desirable partner; so, pray, accept, if he asks
you," said Mrs. Carroll, watching a far-off individual
who seemed steering his zigzag course toward them.

"I never intend to dance with Mr. Ellenborough
again, so please don't urge me, Aunt Pen; "
and Debby knit her brows with a somewhat irate
expression.

"My love, you astonish me!  He is a most agreeable 
and accomplished young man,--spent three years in
Paris, moves in the first circles, and is considered
an ornament to fashionable society.

"What can be your objection, Dora?" cried Mrs.
Carroll, looking as alarmed as if her niece had
suddenly announced her belief in the Koran.

"One of his accomplishments consists in drinking
champagne till he is not a 'desirable partner'
for any young lady with a prejudice in favor of
decency.  His moving in 'circles' is just what I
complain of; and if he is an ornament, I prefer
my society undecorated.  Aunt Pen, I cannot
make the nice distinctions you would have me,
and a sot in broadcloth is as odious as one in rags.
Forgive me, but I cannot dance with that silver-
labelled decanter again."

Debby was a genuine little piece of womanhood;
and though she tried to speak lightly, her
color deepened, as she remembered looks that had
wounded her like insults, and her indignant eyes
silenced the excuses rising to her aunt's lips.  Mrs.
Carroll began to rue the hour she ever undertook
the guidance of Sister Deborah's headstrong child,
and for an instant heartily wished she had left her
to bloom unseen in the shadow of the parsonage;
but she concealed her annoyance, still hoping to
overcome the girl's absurd resolve, by saying,
mildly,--

"As you please, dear; but if you refuse Mr.
Ellenborough, you will be obliged to sit through
the dance, which is your favorite, you know."

Debby's countenance fell, for she had forgotten
that, and the Lancers was to her the crowning
rapture of the night.  She paused a moment, and
Aunt Pen brightened; but Debby made her little
sacrifice to principle as heroically as many a greater
one had been made, and, with a wistful look down
the long room, answered steadily, though her foot
kept time to the first strains as she spoke,--

"Then I will sit, Aunt Pen; for that is preferable
to staggering about the room with a partner
who has no idea of the laws of gravitation."

"Shall I have the honor of averting either calamity?"
said Mr. Evan, coming to the rescue with
a devotion beautiful to see; for dancing was nearly
a lost art with him, and the Lancers to a novice is
equal to a second Labyrinth of Crete.

"Oh, thank you!" cried Debby, tumbling fan,
bouquet, and handkerchief into Mrs. Carroll's lap,
with a look of relief that repaid him fourfold for
the trials he was about to undergo.  They went
merrily away together, leaving Aunt Pen to wish
that it was according to the laws of etiquette to
rap officious gentlemen over the knuckles, when
they introduce their fingers into private pies
without permission from the chief cook.  How the
dance went Debby hardly knew, for the conversation
fell upon books, and in the interest of her
favorite theme she found even the "grand square"
an impertinent interruption, while her own deficiences
became almost as great as her partner's;
yet, when the music ended with a flourish, and her
last curtsy was successfully achieved, she longed
to begin all over again, and secretly regretted that
she was engaged four deep.

"How do you like our new acquaintance, Dora?" asked
Aunt Pen, following Joe Leavenworth with her eye,
as the "yellow-haired laddie" whirled by with the
ponderous Miss Flora.

"Very much; and I'm glad we met as we did,
for it makes things free and easy, and that is so
agreeable in this ceremonious place," replied
Debby, looking in quite an opposite direction.

"Well, I'm delighted to hear you say so, dear,
for I was afraid you had taken a dislike to him,
and he is really a very charming young man, just
the sort of person to make a pleasant companion
for a few weeks.  These little friendships are part
of the summer's amusement, and do no harm; so
smile away. Dora, and enjoy yourself while you
may."

"Yes, Aunt, I certainly will, and all the more
because I have found a sensible soul to talk to.
Do you know, he is very witty and well informed,
though he says he never had much time for self-
cultivation? But I think trouble makes people
wise, and he seems to have had a good deal,
though he leaves it for others to tell of.  I am
glad you are willing I should know him, for I
shall enjoy talking about my pet heroes with him
as a relief from the silly chatter I must keep up
most of the time."

Mrs. Carroll was a woman of one idea; and
though a slightly puzzled expression appeared in
her face, she listened approvingly, and answered,
with a gracious smile,--

"Of course, I should not object to your knowing
such a person, my love; but I'd no idea Joe
Leavenworth was a literary man, or had known
much trouble, except his father's death and his
sister Clementina's runaway-marriage with her
drawing-master."

Debby opened her brown eyes very wide, and
hastily picked at the down on her fan, but had
no time to correct her aunt's mistake, for the real
subject of her commendations appeared at that
moment, and Mrs. Caroll was immediately absorbed
in the consumption of a large pink ice.

"That girl is what I call a surprise-party, now,"
remarked Mr. Joe confidentially to his cigar, as
he pulled off his coat and stuck his feet up in the
privacy of his own apartment. "She looks as mild
as strawberries and cream till you come to the
complimentary, then she turns on a fellow with
that deused satirical look of hers, and makes him
feel like a fool.  I'll try the moral dodge to-morrow
and see what effect that will have; for she is
mighty taking, and I must amuse myself somehow,
you know."

"How many years will it take to change that
fresh-hearted little girl into a fashionable belle,
I wonder?" thought Frank Evan, as he climbed
the four flights that led to his "sky-parlor."

"What a curious world this is!" mused
Debby, with her nightcap in her hand.  "The
right seems odd and rude, the wrong respectable
and easy, and this sort of life a merry-go-round,
with no higher aim than pleasure.  Well, I have
made my Declaration of Independence, and Aunt
Pen must be ready for a Revolution if she taxes
me too heavily."

As she leaned her hot cheek on her arm,
Debby's eye fell on the quaint little cap made
by the motherly hands that never were tired of
working for her.  She touched it tenderly, and
love's simple magic swept the gathering shadows
from her face, and left it clear again, as her
thoughts flew home like birds into the shelter of
their nest.

"Good night, mother! I'll face temptation steadily.
I'll try to take life cheerily, and do nothing that
shall make your dear face a reproach, when it looks
into my own again."

Then Debby said her prayers like any pious
child, and lay down to dream of pulling
buttercups with Baby Bess, and singing in the
twilight on her father's knee.



The history of Debby's first day might serve
as a sample of most that followed, as week after
week went by with varying pleasures and increasing
interest to more than one young debutante.

Mrs. Carroll did her best, but Debby was too
simple for a belle, too honest for a flirt, too
independent for a fine lady; she would be nothing
but her sturdy little self, open as daylight, gay as
a lark, and blunt as any Puritan.  Poor Aunt
Pen was in despair, till she observed that the girl
often "took" with the very peculiarities which
she was lamenting; this somewhat consoled her,
and she tried to make the best of the pretty bit
of homespun which would not and could not become
velvet or brocade.  Seguin, Ellenborough,
& Co. looked with lordly scorn upon her, as a
worm blind to their attractions.  Miss MacRimsy
and her "set" quizzed her unmercifully behind
her back, after being worsted in several passages
of arms; and more than one successful mamma
condoled with Aunt Pen upon the terribly defective
education of her charge, till that stout matron
could have found it in her heart to tweak off their
caps and walk on them, like the irascible Betsey
Trotwood.

But Debby had a circle of admirers who loved
her with a sincerity few summer queens could
boast; for they were real friends, won by gentle
arts, and retained by the gracious sweetness of her
nature.  Moon-faced babies crowed and clapped
their chubby hands when she passed by their
wicker-thrones; story-loving children clustered
round her knee, and never were denied; pale invalids
found wild-flowers on their pillows; and
forlorn papas forgot the state of the moneymarket
when she sang for them the homely airs their
daughters had no time to learn.  Certain plain
young ladies poured their woes into her friendly
ear, and were comforted; several smart Sophomores
fell into a state of chronic stammer, blush,
and adoration, when she took a motherly interest
in their affairs; and a melancholy old Frenchman
blessed her with the enthusiasm of his nation, because
she put a posy in the button-hole of his
rusty coat, and never failed to smile and bow as
he passed by.  Yet Debby was no Edgworth heroine
preternaturally prudent, wise, and untemptable;
she had a fine crop of piques, vanities, and
dislikes growing up under this new style of cultivation.
She loved admiration, enjoyed her purple
and fine linen, hid new-born envy, disappointed
hope, and wounded pride behind a smiling face,
and often thought with a sigh of the humdrum
duties that awaited her at home.  But under the
airs and graces Aunt Pen cherished with such
sedulous care, under the flounces and furbelows
Victorine daily adjusted with groans, under the
polish which she acquired with feminine ease, the
girl's heart still beat steadfast and strong, and
conscience kept watch and ward that no traitor should
enter in to surprise the citadel which mother-love
had tried to garrison so well.

In pursuance of his sage resolve,  Mr. Joe tried
the "moral dodge," as he elegantly expressed it,
and, failing in that, followed it up with the tragic,
religious, negligent, and devoted ditto; but acting
was not his forte, so Debby routed him in all; and
at last, when he was at his wit's end for an idea,
she suggested one, and completed her victory by
saying pleasantly,--

"You took me behind the curtain too soon, and
now the paste-diamonds and cotton-velvet don't
impose upon me a bit.  Just be your natural self,
and we shall get on nicely, Mr. Leavenworth."

The novelty of the proposal struck his fancy,
and after a few relapses it was carried into effect
and thenceforth, with Debby, he became the
simple, good-humored lad Nature designed him
to be, and, as a proof of it, soon fell very sincerely
in love.

Frank Evan, seated in the parquet of society,
surveyed the dress-circle with much the same
expression that Debby had seen during Aunt Pen's
oration; but he soon neglected that amusement
to watch several actors in the drama going on
before his eyes, while a strong desire to perform a
part therein slowly took possession of his mind.

Debby always had a look of welcome when he
came, always treated him with the kindness of a
generous woman who has had an opportunity to
forgive, and always watched the serious, solitary
man with a great compassion for his loss, a growing
admiration for his upright life.  More than
once the beach-birds saw two figures pacing the
sands at sunrise with the peace of early day upon
their faces and the light of a kindred mood shining
in their eyes.  More than once the friendly ocean
made a third in the pleasant conversation, and its
low undertone came and went between the mellow
bass and silvery treble of the human voices
with a melody that lent another charm to interviews
which soon grew wondrous sweet to man
and maid.  Aunt Pen seldom saw the twain together,
seldom spoke of Evan; and Debby held
her peace, for, when she planned to make her
innocent confessions, she found that what seemed
much to her was nothing to another ear  and
scarcely worth the telling; so, unconscious as yet
whither the green path led, she went on her way,
leading two lives, one rich and earnest, hoarded
deep within herself, the other frivolous and gay
for all the world to criticize.  But those venerable
spinsters, the Fates, took the matter into their own
hands, and soon got the better of those short-sighted
matrons, Mesdames Grundy and Carroll;
for, long before they knew it, Frank and Debby
had begun to read together a book greater than
Dickens ever wrote, and when they had come to
the fairest part of the sweet story Adam first told
Eve, they looked for the name upon the title-page,
and found that it was "Love."

Fight weeks came and went,--eight wonderfully
happy weeks to Debby and her friend; for
"propinquity" had worked more wonders than poor
Mrs. Carroll knew, as the only one she saw or guessed
was the utter captivation of Joe Leavenworth.
He had become "himself" to such an extent that a
change of identity would have been a relief; for
the object of his adoration showed no
signs of relenting, and he began to fear, that, as
Debby said, her heart was "not in the market."
She was always friendly, but never made those
interesting betrayals of regard which are so
encouraging to youthful gentlemen "who fain would
climb, yet fear to fall." She never blushed when
he pressed her hand, never fainted or grew pale
when he appeared with a smashed trotting-wagon
and black eye, and actually slept through a
serenade that would have won any other woman's
soul out of her body with its despairing quavers.
Matters were getting desperate; for horses lost
their charms, "flowing bowls" palled upon his
lips, ruffled shirt-bosoms no longer delighted him,
and hops possessed no soothing power to allay
the anguish of his mind.  Mr. Seguin, after
unavailing ridicule and pity, took compassion on
him, and from his large experience suggested a
remedy, just as he was departing for a more
congenial sphere.

"Now don't be an idiot, Joe, but, if you want
to keep your hand in and go through a regular
chapter of flirtation, just right about face, and
devote yourself to some one else.  Nothing like
jealousy to teach womankind their own minds,
and a touch of it will bring little Wilder round in
a jiffy.  Try it, my boy, and good luck to you!"
--with which Christian advice Mr. Seguin slapped
his pupil on the shoulder, and disappeared, like
a modern Mephistopheles, in a cloud of cigar-smoke.

"I'm glad he's gone, for in my present state of
mind he's not up to my mark at all.  I'll try his
plan, though, and flirt with Clara West; she's
engaged, so it won't damage her affections; her
lover isn't here, so it won't disturb his; and, by
Jove!  I must do something, for I can't stand this
suspense."

Debby was infinitely relieved by this new move,
and infinitely amused as she guessed the motive
that prompted it; but the more contented she
seemed, the more violently Mr. Joe flirted with her
rival, till at last weak-minded Miss Clara began to
think her absent George the most undesirable of
lovers, and to mourn that she ever said "Yes"
to a merchant's clerk, when she might have said it
to a merchant's son.  Aunt Pen watched and approved
this stratagem, hoped for the best results,
and believed the day won when Debby grew pale
and silent, and followed with her eyes the young
couple who were playing battledoor and shuttle-cock
with each other's hearts, as if she took some
interest in the game. But Aunt Pen clashed
her cymbals too soon; for Debby's trouble had a
better source than jealousy, and in the silence of
the sleepless nights that stole her bloom she was
taking counsel of her own full heart, and resolving
to serve another woman as she would herself be
served in a like peril, though etiquette was outraged
and the customs of polite society turned upside down.



"Look, Aunt Pen! what lovely shells and moss
I've got! Such a splendid scramble over the rocks
as I've had with Mrs. Duncan's boys! It seemed
so like home to run and sing with a troop of
topsy-turvy children that it did me good; and I wish you
had all been there to see." cried Debby, running
into the drawing-room, one day, where Mrs. Carroll
and a circle of ladies sat enjoying a dish of
highly flavored scandal, as they exercised their
eyesight over fancy-work.

"My dear Dora, spare my nerves; and if you
have any regard for the proprieties of life, don't go
romping in the sun with a parcel of noisy boys.  If
you could see what an object you are, I think you
would try to imitate Miss Clara, who is always a
model of elegant repose."

Miss West primmed up her lips, and settled a
fold in her ninth flounce, as Mrs. Carroll spoke,
while the whole group fixed their eyes with
dignified disapproval on the invader of their refined
society.  Debby had come like a fresh wind into
a sultry room; but no one welcomed the healthful
visitant, no one saw a pleasant picture in the
bright-faced girl with windtossed hair and rustic
hat heaped with moss and many-tinted shells; they
only saw that her gown was wet, her gloves forgotten,
and her scarf trailing at her waist in a manner no
well-bred lady could approve.  The sunshine faded out
of Debby's face, and there was a touch of bitterness
in her tone, as she glanced at the circle of fashion-plates,
saying with an earnestness which caused Miss West to
open her pale eyes to their widest extent,--

"Aunt Pen, don't freeze me yet,--don't take
away my faith in simple things, but let me be a
child a little longer,--let me play and sing and keep
my spirit blithe among the dandelions and the
robins while I can; for trouble comes soon enough,
and all my life will be the richer and the better for
a happy youth."

Mrs. Carroll had nothing at hand to offer in
reply to this appeal, and four ladies dropped their
work to stare; but Frank Evan looked in from
the piazza, saying, as he beckoned like a boy,--

"I'll play with you, Miss Dora; come and make
sand pies upon the shore.  Please let her, Mrs.
Carroll; we'll be very good, and not wet our
pinafores or feet."

Without waiting for permission, Debby poured
her treasures into the lap of a certain lame Freddy,
and went away to a kind of play she had never
known before.  Quiet as a chidden child, she
walked beside her companion, who looked down
at the little figure, longing to take it on his knee
and call the sunshine back again.  That he dared
not do; but accident, the lover's friend, performed
the work, and did him a good turn beside.  The
old Frenchman was slowly approaching, when a
frolicsome wind whisked off his hat and sent it
skimming along the beach.  In spite of her late
lecture, away went Debby, and caught the truant
chapeau just as a wave was hurrying up to claim
it. This restored her cheerfulness, and when she
returned, she was herself again.

"A thousand thanks; but does Mademoiselle
remember the forfeit I might demand to add to the
favor she has already done me?" asked the gallant
old gentleman, as Debby took the hat off
her own head, and presented it with a martial
salute.

"Ah, I had forgotten that; but you may claim
[text missing in original copy]
do something more to give you pleasure;" and
Debby looked up into the withered face which
had grown familiar to her, with kind eyes, full
of pity and respect.

Her manner touched the old man very much;
he bent his gray head before her, saying,
gratefully,--

"My child, I am not good enough to salute
these blooming checks; but I shall pray the Virgin
to reward you for the compassion you bestow on
the poor exile, and I shall keep your memory very
green through all my life."

He kissed her hand, as if it were a queen's,
and went on his way, thinking of the little daughter
whose death left him childless in a foreign land.

Debby softly began to sing, "Oh, come unto
the yellow sands! " but stopped in the middle of
a line, to say,--

"Shall I tell you why I did what Aunt Pen
would call a very unladylike and improper thing,
Mr. Evans? "

"If you will be so kind;" and her companion
looked delighted at the confidence about to be
reposed in him.

"Somewhere across this great wide sea I hope
I have a brother," Debby said, with softened voice
and a wistful look into the dim horizon." Five
years ago he left us, and we have never heard
from him since, except to know that he landed
safely in Australia.  People tell us he is dead; but
I believe he will yet come home; and so I love to
help and pity any man who needs it, rich or poor,
young or old, hoping that as I do by them some
tender-hearted woman far away will do by Brother
Will."

As Debby spoke, across Frank Evan's face
there passed the look that seldom comes but once
to any young man's countenance; for suddenly
the moment dawned when love asserted its supremacy,
and putting pride, doubt, and fear underneath
its feet, ruled the strong heart royally and bent it
to its will.  Debby's thoughts had floated across
the sea; but they came swiftly back when her
companion spoke again, steadily and slow, but
with a subtile change in tone and manner which
arrested them at once.

"Miss Dora, if you should meet a man who
had known a laborious youth, a solitary manhood,
who had no sweet domestic ties to make home
beautiful and keep his nature warm, who longed
most ardently to be so blessed, and made it the aim
of his life to grow more worthy the good gift,
should it ever come,--if you should learn that you
possessed the power to make this fellow-creature's
happiness, could you find it in your gentle heart
to take compassion on him for the love of 'Brother
Will'?"

Debby was silent, wondering why heart and
nerves and brain were stirred by such a sudden
thrill, why she dared not look up, and why, when
she desired so much to speak, she could only
answer, in a voice that sounded strange to her own
ears,--

"I cannot tell."

Still, steadily and slow, with strong emotion
deepening and softening his voice, the lover at her
side went on,--

"Will you ask yourself this question in some quiet
hour?  For such a man has lived in the sunshine of
your presence for eight happy weeks, and
now, when his holiday is done, he finds that the
old solitude will be more sorrowful than ever,
unless he can discover whether his summer dream
will change into a beautiful reality.  Miss Dora,
I have very little to offer you; a faithful heart to
cherish you, a strong arm to work for you, an
honest name to give into your keeping,--these are
all; but if they have any worth in your eyes, they
are most truly yours forever."

Debby was steadying her voice to reply, when
a troop of bathers came shouting down the bank,
and she took flight into her dressing-room, there
to sit staring at the wall, till the advent of Aunt
Pen forced her to resume the business of the hour
by assuming her aquatic attire and stealing shyly
down into the surf.

Frank Evan, still pacing in the footprints they
had lately made, watched the lithe figure tripping
to and fro, and, as he looked, murmured to himself
the last line of a ballad Debby sometimes sang,--

"Dance light! for my heart it lies under your feet, love!"

Presently a great wave swept Debby up, and
stranded her very near him, much to her confusion
and his satisfaction. Shaking the spray out of her
eyes, she was hurrying away, when Frank said,--

"You will trip, Miss Dora; let me tie these
strings for you;" and, suiting the action to the
word, he knelt down and began to fasten the cords
of her bathing shoe.

Debby stood Looking down at the tall head bent
before her, with a curious sense of wonder that a
look from her could make a strong man flush and
pale, as he had done; and she was trying to concoct
some friendly speech, when Frank, still fumbling
at the knots, said, very earnestly and low,--

"Forgive me, if I am selfish in pressing for an
answer; but I must go to-morrow, and a single
word will change my whole future for the better
or the worse.  Won't you speak it, Dora?"

If they had been alone, Debby would have put
her arms about his neck, and said it with all her
heart; but she had a presentiment that she should
cry, if her love found vent; and here forty pairs
of eyes were on them, and salt water seemed
superfluous.  Besides, Debby had not breathed the air
of coquetry so long without a touch of the infection;
and the love of power, that lies dormant in
the meekest woman's breast, suddenly awoke and
tempted her.

"If you catch me before I reach that rock,
perhaps I will say 'Yes,'" was her unexpected
answer; and before her lover caught her meaning,
she was floating leisurely away.

Frank was not in bathing-costume, and Debby
never dreamed that he would take her at her
word; but she did not know the man she had to
deal with; for, taking no second thought, he flung
hat and coat away, and dashed into the sea.  This
gave a serious aspect to Debby's foolish jest.  A
feeling of dismay seized her, when she saw a
resolute face dividing the waves behind her, and
thought of the rash challenge she had given; but
she had a spirit of her own, and had profited well
by Mr. Joe's instructions: so she drew a long
breath, and swam as if for life, instead of love.
Evan was incumbered by his clothing, and Debby
had much the start of him; but, like a second
Leander, he hoped to win his Hero, and, lending
every muscle to the work, gained rapidly upon
the little hat which was his beacon through the
foam.  Debby heard the deep breathing drawing
nearer and nearer, as her pursuer's strong arms
cleft the water and sent it rippling past her lips,
something like terror took possession of her; for
the strength seemed going out of her limbs, and
the rock appeared to recede before her; but the
unconquerable blood of the Pilgrims was in her
veins, and "Nil desperandum" her motto; so,
setting her teeth, she muttered, defiantly,--

"I'll not be beaten, if I go to the bottom!"

A great splashing arose, and when Evan recovered
the use of his eyes, the pagoda-hat had
taken a sudden turn, and seemed making for the
farthest point of the goal. "I am sure of her
now," thought Frank; and, like a gallant seagod,
he bore down upon his prize, clutching it with a
shout of triumph.  But the hat was empty, and like
a mocking echo came Debby's laugh, as she
climbed, exhausted, to a cranny in the rock.

"A very neat thing, by Jove! Deuse take me
if you a'n't 'an honor to your teacher, and a terror
to the foe,' Miss Wilder," cried Mr. Joe, as he
came up from a solitary cruise and dropped anchor
at her side.  "Here, bring along the hat, Evan;
I'm going to crown the victor with apropriate
what-d'ye-call-'ems," he continued, pulling a handful
of sea-weed that looked like well-boiled greens.

Frank came up, smiling; but his lips were white,
and in his eye a look Debby could not meet; so,
being full of remorse, she naturally assumed an air
of gayety, and began to sing the merriest air she
knew, merely because she longed to throw herself
upon the stones and cry violently.

"It was 'most as exciting as a regatta, and you
pulled well, Evan; but you had too much ballast
aboard, and Miss Wilder ran up false colors just
in time to save her ship.  What was the wager?"
asked the lively Joseph, complacently surveying
his marine millinery, which would have scandalized
a fashionable mermaid.

"Only a trifle," answered Debby, knotting up
her braids with a revengeful jerk.

"It's taken the wind out of your sails, I fancy,
Evan, for you look immensely Byronic with the
starch minus in your collar and your hair in a
poetic toss.  Come, I'll try a race with you; and
Miss Wilder will dance all the evening with the
winner.  Bless the man, what's he doing down
there?  Burying sunfish, hey?"

Frank had been sitting below them on a narrow
strip of sand, absently piling up a little mound
that bore some likeness to a grave.  As his
companion spoke, he looked at it, and a sudden flush
of feeling swept across his face, as he replied,--

"No, only a dead hope."

"Deuse take it, yes, a good many of that sort
of craft founder in these waters, as I know to my
sorrow;" and, sighing tragically.  Mr. Joe turned
to help Debby from her perch, but she had glided
silently into the sea, and was gone.

For the next four hours the poor girl suffered
the sharpest pain she had ever known; for now
she clearly saw the strait her folly had betrayed
her into. Frank Evan was a proud man, and
would not ask her love again, believing she had
tacitly refused it; and how could she tell him that
she had trifled with the heart she wholly loved and
longed to make her own?  She could not confide
in Aunt Pen, for that worldly lady would have
no sympathy to bestow. She longed for her
mother; but there was no time to write, for Frank
was going on the morrow, --might even then be
gone; and as this fear came over her, she covered
up her face and wished that she were dead.  Poor
Debby! her last mistake was sadder than her first,
and she was reaping a bitter harvest from her summer's
sowing.  She sat and thought till her cheeks
burned and her temples throbbed; but she dared
not ease her pain with tears.  The gong sounded
like a Judgment-Day trump of doom, and she
trembled at the idea of confronting many eyes with
such a telltale face; but she could not stay behind,
for Aunt Pen must know the cause.  She tried to
play her hard part well; but wherever she looked,
some fresh anxiety appeared, as if every fault and
folly of those months had blossomed suddenly
within the hour. She saw Frank Evan more
sombre and more solitary than when she met him
first, and cried regretfully within herself, "How
could I so forget the truth I owed him? -- She
saw Clara West watching with eager eyes for the
coming of young Leavenworth, and sighed, -- "This
is the fruit of my wicked vanity!" She saw Aunt
Pen regarded her with an anxious face, and longed
to say, "Forgive me, for I have not been sincere!"
At last, as her trouble grew, she resolved to go
away and have a quiet "think,"--a remedy which
had served her in many a lesser perplexity; so,
stealing out, she went to a grove of cedars usually
deserted at that hour.  But in ten minutes Joe
Leavenworth appeared at the door of the summer
house, and, looking in, said, with a well-acted
start of pleasure and surprise,--

"Beg pardon, I thought there was no one here,
My dear Miss Wilder, you look contemplative;
but I fancy it wouldn't do to ask the subject of
your meditations, would it?"

He paused with such an evident intention of
remaining that Debby resolved to make use of the
moment, and ease her conscience of one care that
burdened it; therefore she answered his question
with her usual directness,--

"My meditations were partly about you."

Mr. Joe was guilty of the weakness of blushing
violently and looking immensely gratified; but
his rapture was of short duration, for Debby went
on very earnestly,--

"I believe I am going to do what you may
consider a very impertinent thing; but I would
rather be unmannerly than unjust to others or
untrue to my own sense of right.  Mr. Leavenworth,
if you were an older man, I should not dare to say
this to you; but I have brothers of my own, and,
remembering how many unkind things they do for
want of thought, I venture to remind you that a
woman's heart is a perilous plaything, and too tender
to be used for a selfish purpose or an hour's
pleasure.  I know this kind of amusement is not
considered wrong; but it is wrong, and I cannot
shut my eyes to the fact, or sit silent while another
woman is allowed to deceive herself and wound
the heart that trusts her. Oh, if you love your
own sisters, be generous, be just, and do not
destroy that poor girl's happiness, but go away
before your sport becomes a bitter pain to her!"

Joe Leavenworth had stood staring at Debby
with a troubled countenance, feeling as if all the
misdemeanors of his life were about to be paraded
before him; but, as he listened to her plea, the
womanly spirit that prompted it appealed more
loudly than her words, and in his really generous
heart he felt regret for what had never seemed
a fault before.  Shallow as he was, nature was
stronger than education, and he admired and
accepted what many a wiser, worldlier man would
have resented with anger or contempt.  He loved
Debby with all his little might; he meant to tell
her so, and graciously present his fortune and
himself for her acceptance; but now, when the
moment came, the well-turned speech he had prepared
vanished from his memory, and with the
better eloquence of feeling he blundered out his
passion like a very boy.

"Miss Dora, I never meant to make trouble between
Clara and her lover; upon my soul, I didn't,
and wish Seguin had not put the notion into my
head, since it has given you pain.  I only tried to
pique you into showing some regret, when I
neglected you; but you didn't, and then I got
desperate and didn't care what became of any one.
Oh, Dora, if you knew how much I loved you, I
am sure you'd forgive it, and let me prove my
repentance by giving up everything that you dislike.
I mean what I say; upon my life I do; and I'll
keep my word, if you will only let me hope."

If Debby had wanted a proof of her love for
Frank Evan, she might have found it in the fact
that she had words enough at her command now,
and no difficulty in being sisterly pitiful toward
her second suitor.

"Please get up," she said; for Mr. Joe, feeling
very humble and very earnest, had gone down
upon his knees, and sat there entirely regardless
of his personal apearance.

He obeyed; and Debby stood looking up at
him with her kindest aspect, as she said, more
tenderly than she had ever spoken to him before,--

"Thank you for the affection you offer me, but
I cannot accept it, for I have nothing to give you
in return but the friendliest regard, the most sincere
good-will.  I know you will forgive me, and do
for your own sake the good things you would have
done for mine, that I may add to my esteem a real
respect for one who has been very kind to me."

"I'll try,--indeed, I will, Miss Dora, though
it will be powerful hard without yourself for a
help and a reward."

Poor Joe choked a little, but called up an
unexpected manliness, and added, stoutly,--

"Don't think I shall be offended at your speaking
so or saying 'No' to me,--not a bit; it's all
right, and I'm much obliged to you.  I might have
known you couldn't care for such a fellow as I am,
and don't blame you, for nobody in the world
is good enough for you.  I'll go away at once,
I'll try to keep my promise, and I hope you'll be
very happy all your life."

He shook Debby's bands heartily, and hurried
down the steps, but at the bottom paused and
looked back. Debby stood upon the threshold
with sunshine dancing on her winsome face, and
kind words trembling on her lips; for the moment
it seemed impossible to part, and, with an
impetuous gesture, he cried to her,--

"Oh, Dora, let me stay and try to win you!
for everything is possible to love, and I never
knew how dear you were to me till now!"

There were sudden tears in the young man's
eyes, the flush of a genuine emotion on his cheek,
the tremor of an ardent longing in his voice, and,
for the first time, a very true affection strengthened
his whole countenance.  Debby's heart was full of
penitence; she had given so much pain to more than
one that she longed to atone for it--longed to do
some very friendly thing, and soothe some trouble
such as she herself had known.  She looked into
the eager face uplifted to her own and thought
of Will, then stooped and touched her lover's
forehead with the lips that softly whispered, "No."

If she had cared for him, she never would
have done it; poor Joe knew that, and murmuring
an incoherent "Thank you!" he rushed away,
feeling very much as he remembered to have felt
when his baby sister died and he wept his grief
away upon his mother's neck.  He began his
preparations for departure at once, in a burst of
virtuous energy quite refreshing to behold, thinking
within himself, as he flung his cigar-case into the
grate, kicked a billiard-ball into a corner, and
suppressed his favorite allusion to the Devil,--

"This is a new sort of thing to me, but I can
bear it, and upon my life I think I feel the better
for it already."

And so he did; for though he was no Augustine
to turn in an hour from worldly hopes and climb
to sainthood through long years of inward strife,
yet in aftertimes no one knew how many false
steps had been saved, how many small sins repented
of, through the power of the memory that
far away a generous woman waited to respect him,
and in his secret soul he owned that one of the best
moments of his life was that in which little Debby
Wilder whispered "No," and kissed him.

As he passed from sight, the girl leaned her
head upon her hand, thinking sorrowfully to herself,--

"What right had I to censure him, when my
own actions are so far from true?  I have done a
wicked thing, and as an honest girl I should undo
it, if I can.  I have broken through the rules of a
false propriety for Clara's sake; can I not do as
much for Frank's?  I will. I'll find him, if I
search the house,--and tell him all, though I never
dare to look him in the face again, and Aunt Pen
sends me home to-morrow."

Full of zeal and courage, Debby caught up her
hat and ran down the steps, but, as she saw Frank
Evan coming up the path, a sudden panic fell
upon her, and she could only stand mutely waiting
his approach.

It is asserted that Love is blind; and on the
strength of that popular delusion novel heroes and
heroines go blundering through three volumes of
despair with the plain truth directly under their
absurd noses: but in real life this theory is not
supported; for to a living man the countenance of a
loving woman is more eloquent than any language,
more trustworthy than a world of proverbs, more
beautiful than the sweetest love-lay ever sung.

Frank looked at Debby, and "all her heart
stood up in her eyes," as she stretched her hands
to him, though her lips only whispered very
low,--

"Forgive me, and let me say the 'Yes' I
should have said so long ago."

Had she required any assurance of her lover's
truth, or any reward for her own, she would have
found it in the change that dawned so swiftly in
his face, smoothing the lines upon his forehead,
lighting the gloom of his eye, stirring his firm lips
with a sudden tremor, and making his touch as soft
as it was strong.  For a moment both stood very
still, while Debby's tears streamed down like
summer rain; then Frank drew her into the green
shadow of the grove, and its peace soothed her
like a mother's voice, till she looked up smiling
with a shy delight her glance had never known
before.  The slant sunbeams dropped a benediction
on their heads, the robins peeped, and the
cedars whispered, but no rumor of what further
passed ever went beyond the precincts of the
wood; for such hours are sacred, and Nature
guards the first blossoms of a human love as
tenderly as she nurses May-flowers underneath
the leaves.



Mrs. Carroll had retired to her bed with a
nervous headache, leaving Debby to the watch
and ward of friendly Mrs. Earle, who performed
her office finely by letting her charge entirely alone.
In her dreams Aunt Pen was just imbibing a copious
draught of champagne at the wedding-breakfast of
her niece, "Mrs. Joseph Leavenworth,"
when she was roused by the bride elect, who
passed through the room with a lamp and a shawl
in her hand.

"What time is it, and where are you going,
dear?" she asked, dozily wondering if the carriage
for the wedding-tour was at the door so soon.

"It's only nine, and I am going for a sail, Aunt
Pen."

As Debby spoke, the light flashed full into her
face, and a sudden thought into Mrs. Carroll's
mind.  She rose up from her pillow, looking as
stately in her night-cap as Maria Theresa is said
to have done in like unassuming head-gear.

"Something has happened, Dora!  What have
you done?  What have you said?  I insist upon
knowing immediately," she demanded, with somewhat
startling brevity.

"I have said 'No' to Mr. Leavenworth and 'Yes' to
Mr. Evan; and I should like to go home to-morrow,
if you please," was the equally concise reply.

Mrs. Carroll fell flat in her bed, and lay
there stiff and rigid as Morlena Kenwigs.  Debby
gently drew the curtains, and stole away leaving
Aunt Pen's wrath to effervesce before morning.

The moon was hanging luminous and large on
the horizon's edge, sending shafts of light before
her till the melancholy ocean seemed to smile, and
along that shining pathway happy Debby and her
lover floated into that new world where all things
seem divine.


THE BROTHERS.

Doctor Franck came in as I sat sewing up the
rents in an old shirt, that Tom might go tidily to his
grave.  New shirts were needed for the living, and
there was no wife or mother to "dress him handsome
when he went to meet the Lord," as one
woman said, describing the fine funeral she had
pinched herself to give her son.

"Miss Dane, I'm in a quandary," began the
Doctor, with that expression of countenance which
says as plainly as words, "I want to ask a favor,
but I wish you'd save me the trouble."

"Can I help you out of it?

"Faith!  I don't like to propose it. but you
certainly can, if you please."

"Then give it a name, I beg."

"You see a Reb has just been brought in crazy
with typhoid; a bad case every way; a drunken,
rascally little captain somebody took the trouble
to capture, but whom nobody wants to take the
trouble to cure.  The wards are full, the ladies
worked to death, and willing to be for our own
boys, but rather slow to risk their lives for a Reb.
Now you've had the fever, you like queer patients,
your mate will see to your ward for a while, and I
will find you a good attendant.  The fellow won't
last long, I fancy; but he can't die without some
sort of care, you know.  I've put him in the fourth
story of the west wing, away from the rest.  It is
airy, quiet, and comfortable there. I'm on that
ward, and will do my best for you in every way.
Now, then, will you go?"

"Of course I will, out of perversity, if not common
charity; for some of these people think that
because I'm an abolitionist I am also a heathen,
and I should rather like to show them, that, though
I cannot quite love my enemies, I am willing to
take care of them."

"Very good; I thought you'd go; and speaking
of abolition reminds me that you can have a contraband
for servant, if you like. It is that fine
mulatto fellow who was found burying his Rebel
master after the fight, and, being badly cut over
the head, our boys brought him along.  Will you
have him?"

"By all means,--for I'll stand to my guns on
that point, as on the other; these black boys are
far more faithful and handy than some of the white
scamps given me to serve, instead of being served
by. But is this man well enough?"

"Yes, for that sort of work, and I think you'll
like him.  He must have been a handsome fellow
before he got his face slashed; not much darker
than myself; his master's son, I dare say, and the
white blood makes him rather high and haughty
about some things.  He was in a bad way when
he came in, but vowed he'd die in the street rather
than turn in with the black fellows below; so I
put him up in the west wing, to be out of the way,
and he's seen to the captain all the morning.
When can you go up?"

"As soon as Tom is laid out, Skinner moved,
Haywood washed, Marble dressed, Charley
rubbed, Downs taken up, Upham laid down, and
the whole forty fed."

We both laughed, though the Doctor was on
his way to the dead-house and I held a shroud on
my lap.  But in a hospital one learns that cheerfulness
is one's salvation; for, in an atmosphere of
suffering and death, heaviness of heart would soon
paralyze usefulness of hand, if the blessed gift of
smiles had been denied us.

In an hour I took possession of my new charge,
finding a dissipated-looking boy of nineteen or
twenty raving in the solitary little room, with no
one near him but the contraband in the room adjoining.
Feeling decidedly more interest in the
black man than in the white, yet remembering the
Doctor's hint of his being "high and haughty," I
glanced furtively at him as I scattered chloride of
lime about the room to purify the air, and settled
matters to suit myself.  I had seen many contrabands,
but never one so attractive as this.  All
colored men are called "boys," even if their heads
are white; this boy was five-and-twenty at least,
strong-limbed and manly, and had the look of one
who never had been cowed by abuse or worn with
oppressive labor.  He sat on his bed doing nothing;
no book, no pipe, no pen or paper anywhere
appeared, yet anything less indolent or listless than
his attitude and expression I never saw.  Erect he
sat with a hand on either knee, and eyes fixed on
the bare wall opposite, so rapt in some absorbing
thought as to be unconscious of my presence,
though the door stood wide open and my movements
were by no means noiseless.  His face was
half averted, but I instantly approved the Doctor's
taste, for the profile which I saw possessed all the
attributes of comeliness belonging to his mixed race.
He was more quadroon than mulatto, with Saxon
features, Spanish complexion darkened by exposure,
color in lips and cheek, waving hair, and
an eye full of the passionate melancholy which in
such men always seems to utter a mute protest
against the broken law that doomed them at their
birth.  What could he be thinking of? The sick
boy cursed and raved, I rustled to and fro, steps
passed the door, bells rang, and the steady rumble
of army-wagons came up from the street, still he
never stirred.  I had seen colored people in what
they call "the black sulks," when, for days, they
neither smiled nor spoke, and scarcely ate.  But
this was something more than that; for the man
was not dully brooding over some small grievance,--
he seemed to see an all-absorbing fact or fancy
recorded on the wall, which was a blank to me.
I wondered if it were some deep wrong or sorrow,
kept alive by memory and impotent regret; if he
mourned for the dead master to whom he had been
faithful to the end; or if the liberty now his were
robbed of half its sweetness by the knowledge that
some one near and dear to him still languished in
the hell from which he had escaped.  My heart
quite warmed to him at that idea; I wanted to
know and comfort him; and, following the impulse
of the moment, I went in and touched him on the
shoulder.

In an instant the man vanished and the slave
appeared.  Freedom was too new a boon to have
wrought its blessed changes yet, and as he started
up, with his hand at his temple and an obsequious
"Yes, Ma'am," any romance that had gathered
round him fled away, leaving the saddest of all
sad facts in living guise before me.  Not only did
the manhood seem to die out of him, but the comeliness
that first attracted me; for, as he turned, I
saw the ghastly wound that had laid open cheek
and forehead. Being partly healed, it was no
longer bandaged, but held together with strips of
that transparent plaster which I never see without
a shiver and swift recollections of scenes with
which it is associated in my mind. Part of his
black hair had been shorn away, and one eye was
nearly closed; pain so distorted, and the cruel
sabre-cut so marred that portion of his face, that,
when I saw it, I felt as if a fine medal had been
suddenly reversed, showing me a far more striking
type of human suffering and wrong than Michel
Angelo's bronze prisoner.  By one of those inexplicable
processes that often teach us how little we
understand ourselves, my purpose was suddenly
changed, and though I went in to offer comfort as
a friend, I merely gave an order as a mistress.

"Will you open these windows? this man needs
more air."

He obeyed at once, and, as he slowly urged up
the unruly sash, the handsome profile was again
turned toward me, and again I was possessed by
my first impression so strongly that I involuntarily
said,--

"Thank you, Sir."

Perhaps it was fancy, but I thought that in the
look of mingled surprise and something like
reproach which be gave me there was also a trace of
grateful pleasure. But he said, in that tone of
spiritless humility these poor souls learn so
soon,--

"I ain't a white man, Ma'am, I'm a contraband."

"Yes, I know it; but a contraband is a free
man, and I heartily congratulate you."

He liked that; his face shone, he squared his
shoulders, lifted his head, and looked me full in
the eye with a brisk--

"Thank ye, Ma'am; anything more to do fer
yer?"

"Doctor Franck thought you would help me
with this man, as there are many patients and few
nurses or attendants.  Have you had the fever?"

"No, Ma'am."

"They should have thought of that when they
put him here; wounds and fevers should not be
together. I'll try to get you moved."

He laughed a sudden laugh,--if he had been a
white man, I should have called it scornful; as he
was a few shades darker than myself, I suppose it
must be considered an insolent, or at least an
unmannerly one.

"It don't matter, Ma'am. I'd rather be up
here with the fever than down with those niggers;
and there ain't no other place fer me."

Poor fellow! that was true.  No ward in all
the hospital would take him in to lie side by side
with the most miserable white wreck there.  Like
the bat in Aesop's fable, he belonged to neither
race; and the pride of one, the helplessness of the
other, kept him hovering alone in the twilight a
great sin has brought to overshadow the whole
land.

"You shall stay, then; for I would far rather
have you than any lazy Jack.  But are you well
and strong enough?"

"I guess I'll do, Ma'am."

He spoke with a passive sort of acquiescence,--
as if it did not much matter, if he were not able,
and no one would particularly rejoice, if he
were.

"Yes, I think you will.  By what name shall
I call you?"

"Bob, Ma'am."

Every woman has her pet whim; one of mine
was to teach the men self-respect by treating them
respectfully.  Tom, Dick, and Harry would pass,
when lads rejoiced in those familiar abbreviations;
but to address men often old enough to be my
father in that style did not suit my old-fashioned
ideas of propriety.  This "Bob" would never do;
I should have found it as easy to call the chaplain
"Gus" as my tragical-looking contraband by a
title so strongly associated with the tail of a kite.

"What is your other name?" I asked. "I like to call my
attendants by their last names rather than by their first."

"I've got no other, Ma'am; we have our masters' names,
or do without.  Mine's dead, and I won't have anything
of his about me."

"Well, I'll call you Robert, then, and you may
fill this pitcher for me, if you will be so kind."

He went; but, through all the tame, obedience
years of servitude had taught him, I could see that
the proud spirit his father gave him was not yet
subdued, for the look and gesture with which he
repudiated his master's name were a more effective
declaration of independence than any Fourth-of-July
orator could have prepared.

We spent a curious week together.  Robert
seldom left his room, except upon my errands; and
I was a prisoner all day, often all night, by the
bedside of the Rebel.  The fever burned itself rapidly
away, for there seemed little vitality to feed it in
the feeble frame of this old young man, whose life
had been none of the most righteous, judging from
the revelations made by his unconscious lips; since
more than once Robert authoritatively silenced
him, when my gentler bushings were of no avail,
and blasphemous wanderings or ribald camp-songs
made my cheeks burn and Robert's face assume
an aspect of disgust.  The captain was a gentleman
in the world's eye, but the contraband was
the gentleman in mine;--I was a fanatic, and that
accounts for such depravity of taste, I hope. I
never asked Robert of himself, feeling that somewhere
there was a spot still too sore to bear the
lightest touch; but, from his language, manner, and
intelligence, I inferred that his color had procured
for him the few advantages within the reach of a
quick-witted, kindly treated slave.  Silent, grave,
and thoughtful, but most serviceable, was my contraband;
glad of the books I brought him, faithful
in the performance of the duties I assigned to him,
grateful for the friendliness I could not but feel and
show toward him.  Often I longed to ask what purpose
was so visibly altering his aspect with such daily
deepening gloom.  But I never dared, and no one else
had either time or desire to pry into the past of this
specimen of one branch of the chivalrous "F.F.Vs."

On the seventh night, Dr. Franck suggested that
it would be well for some one, besides the general
watchman of the ward, to be with the captain, as
it might be his last.  Although the greater part of
the two preceding nights had been spent there, of
course I offered to remain,--for there is a strange
fascination in these scenes, which renders one
careless of fatigue and unconscious of fear until the
crisis is passed.

"Give him water as long as he can drink, and
if he drops into a natural sleep, it may save him.
I'll look in at midnight, when some change will
probably take place. Nothing but sleep or a
miracle will keep him now.  Good night."

Away went the Doctor; and, devouring a whole
mouthful of grapes, I lowered the lamp, wet
the captain's head, and sat down on a hard stool
to begin my watch.  The captain lay with his
hot, haggard face turned toward me, filling the air
with his poisonous breath, and feebly muttering,
with lips and tongue so parched that the sanest
speech would have been difficult to understand.
Robert was stretched on his bed in the inner room,
the door of which stood ajar, that a fresh draught
from his open window might carry the fever-fumes
away through mine.  I could just see a long, dark
figure, with the lighter outline of a face, and, having
little else to do just then, I fell to thinking of
this curious contraband, who evidently prized
his freedom highly, yet seemed in no haste to
enjoy it. Doctor Franck had offered to send him on
to safer quarters, but he had said, "No, thank
yer, Sir, not yet," and then had gone away to
fall into one of those black moods of his, which
began to disturb me, because I had no power to
lighten them.  As I sat listening to the clocks from
the steeples all about us, I amused myself with
planning Robert's future, as I often did my own,
and had dealt out to him a generous hand of
trumps wherewith to play this game of life which
hitherto had gone so cruelly against him, when a
harsh, choked voice called,--

"Lucy!"

It was the captain, and some new terror seemed
to have gifted him with momentary strength.

"Yes, here's Lucy," I answered, hoping that
by following the fancy I might quiet him,--for
his face was damp with the clammy moisture, and
his frame shaken with the nervous tremor that so
often precedes death. His dull eye fixed upon
me, dilating with a bewildered look of incredulity
and wrath, till he broke out fiercely.--

"That's a lie! she's dead,--and so's Bob,
damn him!"

Finding speech a failure, I began to sing the
quiet tune that had often soothed delirium like
this; but hardly had the line,

"See gentle patience smile on pain,"

passed my lips, when he clutched me by the wrist,
whispering like one in mortal fear,--

"Hush! she used to sing that way to Bob, but
she never would to me. I swore I'd whip the
Devil out of her, and I did; but you know before
she cut her throat she said she'd haunt me, and
there she is!"

He pointed behind me with an aspect of such
pale dismay, that I involuntarily glanced over
my shoulder and started as if I had seen a veritable
ghost; for, peering from the gloom of that inner
room, I saw a shadowy face, with dark hair all
about it, and a glimpse of scarlet at the throat.
An instant showed me that it was only Robert
leaning from his bed's-foot, wrapped in a gray
army-blanket, with his red shirt just visible above
it, and his long hair disordered by sleep.  But
what a strange expression was on his face!  The
unmarred side was toward me, fixed and motionless
as when I first observed it,--less absorbed
now, but more intent.  His eye glittered, his lips
were apart like one who listened with every sense,
and his whole aspect reminded me of a hound to which
some wind had brought the scent of unsuspected prey.

"Do you know him, Robert?  Does he mean
you?"

"Lord, no, Ma'am; they all own half a dozen
Bobs: but hearin' my name woke me; that's all."

He spoke quite naturally, and lay down again,
while I returned to my charge, thinking that this
paroxysm was probably his last.  But by another
hour I perceived a hopeful change, for the tremor
had subsided, the cold dew was gone, his breathing
was more regular, and Sleep, the healer, had
descended to save or take him gently away.
Doctor Franck looked in at midnight, bade me
keep all cool and quiet, and not fail to administer
a certain draught as soon as the captain woke.
Very much relieved, I laid my head on my arms,
uncomfortably folded on the little table, and
fancied I was about to perform one of the feats
which practice renders possible,--"sleeping with
one eye open," as we say: a half-and-half doze, for
all senses sleep but that of hearing; the faintest
murmur, sigh, or motion will break it, and give
one back one's wits much brightened by the
permission to "stand at ease." On this night,
the experiment was a failure, for previous vigils,
confinement, and much care had rendered naps
a dangerous indulgence, Having roused half a
dozen times in an hour to find all quiet, I dropped
my heavy head on my arms, and, drowsily resolving
to look up again in fifteen minutes, fell fast
asleep.

The striking of a deep-voiced clock woke me
with a start.  "That is one," thought I, but, to
my dismay, two more strokes followed; and in
remorseful haste I sprang up to see what harm my
long oblivion had done.  A strong hand put me
back into my seat, and held me there.  It was
Robert.  The instant my eye met his my heart
began to beat, and all along my nerves tingled
that electric flash which foretells a danger that we
cannot see.  He was very pale, his mouth grim,
and both eyes full of sombre fire,--for even the
wounded one was open now, all the more sinister
for the deep scar above and below.  But his touch
was steady, his voice quiet, as he said,--

"Sit still, Ma'am; I won't hurt yer, nor even
scare yer, if I can help it, but yer waked too
soon."

"Let me go, Robert,--the captain is stirring,
--I must give him something."

"No, Ma'am, yer can't stir an inch.  Look
here!"

Holding me with one hand, with the other he
took up the glass in which I had left the draught,
and showed me it was empty.

"Has he taken it?" I asked, more and more
bewildered.

"I flung it out o' winder, Ma'am; he'll have to
do without."

"But why, Robert? why did you do it?"

"Because I hate him!"

Impossible to doubt the truth of that; his whole
face showed it, as he spoke through his set teeth,
and launched a fiery glance at the unconscious
captain.  I could only hold my breath and stare
blankly at him, wondering what mad act was coming
next.  I suppose I shook and turned white, as women
have a foolish habit of doing when sudden danger
daunts them; for Robert released my arm, sat down
upon the bedside just in front of me, and said, with
the ominous quietude that made me cold to see and hear,--

"Don't yer be frightened, Ma'am: don't try
to run away, fer the door's locked an' the key
in my pocket; don't yer cry out, fer yer'd have to
scream a long while, with my hand on yer mouth,
before yer was heard.  Be still, an' I'll tell yer
what I'm goin' to do."

"Lord help us! he has taken the fever in some
sudden, violent way, and is out of his head.  I
must humor him till some one comes"; in pursuance
of which swift determination, I tried to say,
quite composedly,--

"I will be still and hear you; but open the
window.  Why did you shut it?"

"I'm sorry I can't do it, Ma'am; but yer'd
jump out, or call, if I did, an' I'm not ready yet.
I shut it to make yer sleep, an' heat would do it
quicker'n anything else I could do."

The captain moved, and feebly muttered,
"Water!" Instinctively I rose to give it to him,
but the heavy hand came down upon my shoulder,
and in the same decided tone Robert said,-=

"The water went with the physic; let him
call."

"Do let me go to him! he'll die without
care!"

"I mean he shall;--don't yer interfere, if yer
please, Ma'am."

In spite of his quiet tone and respectful manner,
I saw murder in his eyes, and turned faint with
fear; yet the fear excited me, and, hardly knowing
what I did, I seized the hands that had seized me,
crying,--

"No, no, you shall not kill him! it is base to
hurt a helpless man.  Why do you hate him?
He is not your master?"

"He's my brother."

I felt that answer from head to foot. and
seemed to fathom what was coming, with a
prescience vague, but unmistakable.  One appeal
was left to me, and I made it.

"Robert, tell me what it means? Do not
commit a crime and make me accessory to it--
There is a better way of righting wrong than by
violence;--let me help you find it."

My voice trembled as I spoke, and I heard the
frightened flutter of my heart; so did he, and if
any little act of mine had ever won affection or
respect from him, the memory of it served me
then.  He looked down, and seemed to put some
question to himself; whatever it was, the answer
was in my favor, for when his eyes rose again,
they were gloomy, but not desperate.

"I will tell you, Ma'am; but mind, this makes
no difference; the boy is mine.  I'll give the Lord
a chance to take him fust; if He don't, I shall."

"Oh, no! remember, he is your brother."

An unwise speech; I felt it as it passed my lips,
for a black frown gathered on Robert's face, and
his strong hands closed with an ugly sort of grip.
But he did not touch the poor soul gasping there
before him, and seemed content to let the slow
suffocation of that stifling room end his frail life.

"I'm not like to forget that, Ma'am, when I've
been thinkin' of it all this week.  I knew him when
they fetched him in, an' would 'a' done it long
'fore this, but I wanted to ask where Lucy was;
he knows,--he told to-night,--an' now he's done
for."

"Who is Lucy?" I asked hurriedly, intent on
keeping his mind busy with any thought but
murder.

With one of the swift transitions of a mixed
temperament like this, at my question Robert's
deep eyes filled, the clenched hands were spread
before his face, and all I heard were the broken
words,--

"My wife,--he took her--"

In that instant every thought of fear was swallowed
up in burning indignation for the wrong,
and a perfect passion of pity for the desperate man
so tempted to avenge an injury for which there
seemed no redress but this. He was no longer
slave or contraband, no drop of black blood
marred him in my sight, but an infinite compassion
yearned to save, to help, to comfort him.
Words seemed so powerless I offered none, only
put my hand on his poor head, wounded, homeless,
bowed down with grief for which I had no
cure, and softly smoothed the long neglected hair,
pitifully wondering the while where was the
wife who must have loved this tender-hearted man
so well.

The captain moaned again, and faintly whispered,
"Air!" but I never stirred.  God forgive me!
just then I hated him as only a woman thinking
of a sister woman's wrong could hate.  Robert
looked up; his eyes were dry again, his mouth
grim.  I saw that, said, "Tell me more," and he
did,--for sympathy is a gift the poorest may give,
the proudest stoop to receive.

"Yer see, Ma'am, his father,--I might say
ours, if I warn't ashamed of both of 'em,--his
father died two years ago, an' left us all to
Marster Ned,--that's him here, eighteen then.   He
always hated me, I looked so like old Marster: he
don't--only the light skin an' hair.  Old Marster
was kind to all of us, me 'specially, an' bought
Lucy off the next plantation down there in South
Car'lina, when he found I liked her.  I married
her, all I could, Ma'am; it warn't much, but we
was true to one another till Marster Ned come
home a year after an' made hell fer both of us.
He sent my old mother to be used up in his
rice swamp in Georgy; he found me with my pretty
Lucy, an' though young Miss cried, an' I prayed
to him on my knees, an' Lucy run away, he
wouldn't have no mercy; he brought her back,
an'--took her, Ma'am."

"Oh! what did you do?" I cried, hot with
helpless pain and passion.

How the man's outraged heart sent the blood
flaming up into his face and deepened the tones
of his impetuous voice, as he stretched his arm
across the bed, saying, with a terribly expressive
gesture,--

"I half murdered him, an' to-night I'll finish."

"Yes, yes,--but go on now; what came next?"

He gave me a look that showed no white man could
have felt a deeper degradation in remembering and
confessing these last acts of brotherly
oppression.

"They whipped me till I couldn't stand, an'
then they sold me further South. Yer thought
I was a white man once;--look here!"

With a sudden wrench he tore the shirt from
neck to waist, and on his strong brown shoulders
showed me furrows deeply ploughed, wounds
which, though healed, were ghastlier to me than
any in that house.  I could not speak to him, and,
with the pathetic dignity a great grief lends the
humblest sufferer, he ended his brief tragedy by
simply saying,--

"That's all.  Ma'am.  I've never seen her since,
an' now I never shall in this world,--maybe not
in t' other."

"But, Robert, why think her dead?  The
captain was wandering when he said those sad
things; perhaps he will retract them when he is
sane.  Don't despair; don't give up yet."

"No, Ma'am, I guess he's right; she was too
proud to bear that long.  It's like her to kill
herself.  I told her to, if there was no other way;
an' she always minded me, Lucy did.  My poor
girl!  Oh, it warn't right! No, by God, it warn't!"

As the memory of this bitter wrong, this
double bereavement, burned in his sore heart, the
devil that lurks in every strong man's blood leaped
up; he put his hand upon his brother's throat, and,
watching the white face before him, muttered low
between his teeth,--

"I'm lettin' him go too easy; there's no pain in
this; we a'n't even yet.  I wish he knew me.
Marster Ned! it's Bob; where's Lucy?"

From the captain's lips there came a long faint
sigh, and nothing but a flutter of the eyelids
showed that he still lived.  A strange stillness
filled the room as the elder brother held the
younger's life suspended in his hand, while wavering
between a dim hope and a deadly hate.  In
the whirl of thoughts that went on in my brain,
only one was clear enough to act upon.  I must
prevent murder, if I could,--but how?  What
could I do up there alone, locked in with a dying
man and a lunatic?--for any mind yielded utterly
to any unrighteous impulse is mad while the impulse
rules it. Strength I had not, nor much
courage, neither time nor wit for stratagem, and
chance only could bring me help before it was
too late.  But one weapon I possessed,--a tongue,
--often a woman's best defence: and sympathy,
stronger than fear, gave me power to use it.  What
I said Heaven only knows, but surely Heaven
helped me; words burned on my lips, tears
streamed from my eyes, and some good angel
prompted me to use the one name that had power
to arrest my hearer's hand and touch his heart.
For at that moment I heartily believed that Lucy
lived, and this earnest faith roused in him a like
belief.

He listened with the lowering look of one in
whom brute instinct was sovereign for the time,--
a look that makes the noblest countenance base.
He was but a man,--a poor, untaught, outcast,
outraged man.  Life had few joys for him; the
world offered him no honors, no success, no home,
no love.  What future would this crime mar? and
why should he deny himself that sweet, yet bitter
morsel called revenge?  How many white men,
with all New England's freedom, culture, Christianity,
would not have felt as he felt then?
Should I have reproached him for a human anguish,
a human longing for redress, all now left
him from the ruin of his few poor hopes?  Who
had taught him that self-control, self-sacrifice, are
attributes that make men masters of the earth and
lift them nearer heaven?  Should I have urged
the beauty of forgiveness, the duty of devout
submission? He had no religion, for he was no
saintly "Uncle Tom," and Slavery's black shadow
seemed to darken all the world to him and shut
out God.  Should I have warned him of penalties,
of judgments, and the potency of law?  What
did he know of justice, or the mercy that should
temper that stern virtue, when every law, human
and divine, had been broken on his hearthstone?
Should I have tried to touch him by appeals to
filial duty, to brotherly love?  How had his
appeals been answered? What memories had
father and brother stored up in his heart to plead
for either now?  No,--all these influences, these
associations, would have proved worse than useless,
had I been calm enough to try them.  I was
not; but instinct, subtler than reason, showed me
the one safe clue by which to lead this troubled
soul from the labyrinth in which it groped and
nearly fell. When I paused, breathless, Robert
turned to me, asking, as if human assurances could
strengthen his faith in Divine Omnipotence,--

"Do you believe, if I let Marster Ned live, the
Lord will give me back my Lucy?"

"As surely as there is a Lord, you will find her
here or in the beautiful hereafter, where there is
no black or white, no master and no slave."

He took his hand from his brother's throat,
lifted his eyes from my face to the wintry sky
beyond, as if searching for that blessed country,
happier even than the happy North.  Alas, it was
the darkest hour before the dawn!--there was no
star above, no light below but the pale glimmer
of the lamp that showed the brother who had
made him desolate.  Like a blind man who believes
there is a sun, yet cannot see it, he shook
his head, let his arms drop nervously upon his
knees, and sat there dumbly asking that question
which many a soul whose faith is firmer fixed than
his has asked in hours less dark than this,--

"Where is God?" I saw the tide had turned,
and strenuously tried to keep this rudderless
lifeboat from slipping back into the whirlpool
wherein it had been so nearly lost.

"I have listened to you, Robert; now hear me,
and heed what I say, because my heart is full of
pity for you, full of hope for your future, and a
desire to help you now.  I want you to go away
from here, from the temptation of this place, and
the sad thoughts that haunt it.  You have conquered
yourself once, and I honor you for it, because,
the harder the battle, the more glorious the
victory; but it is safer to put a greater distance
between you and this man.  I will write you
letters, give you money, and send you to good old
Massachusetts to begin your new life a freeman,
--yes, and a happy man; for when the captain is
himself again, I will learn where Lucy is, and move
heaven and earth to find and give her back to
you.  Will you do this, Robert?"

Slowly, very slowly, the answer came; for the
purpose of a week, perhaps a year, was hard to
relinquish in an hour.

"Yes, Ma'am, I will."

"Good! Now you are the man I thought you,
and I'll work for you with all my heart.  You
need sleep, my poor fellow; go, and try to forget.
The captain is still alive, and as yet you are spared
the sin.  No, don't look there; I'll care for him.
Come, Robert, for Lucy's sake."

Thank Heaven for the immortality of love!
for when all other means of salvation failed, a spark
of this vital fire softened the man's iron will until
a woman's hand could bend it.  He let me take
from him the key, let me draw him gently away
and lead him to the solitude which now was the
most healing balm I could bestow.  Once in his
little room, he fell down on his bed and lay there
as if spent with the sharpest conflict of his life. I
slipped the bolt across his door, and unlocked my
own, flung up the window, steadied myself with a
breath of air, then rushed to Doctor Franck. He
came; and till dawn we worked together, saving
one brother's life, and taking earnest thought how
best to secure the other's liberty.  When the sun
came up as blithely as if it shone only upon happy
homes, the Doctor went to Robert.  For an hour
I heard the murmur of their voices; once I caught
the sound of heavy sobs, and for a time a reverent
hush, as if in the silence that good man were
ministering to soul as well as sense.  When he
departed he took Robert with him, pausing to tell
me he should get him off as soon as possible, but
not before we met again.

Nothing more was seen of them all day; another
surgeon came to see the captain, and another
attendant came to fill the empty place.  I tried to
rest, but could not, with the thought of poor Lucy
tugging at my heart, and was soon back at my
post again, anxiously hoping that my contraband
had not been too hastily spirited away. Just as
night fell there came a tap, and opening, I saw
Robert literally "clothed and in his right mind."
The Doctor had replaced the ragged suit with
tidy garments, and no trace of that tempestuous
night remained but deeper lines upon the forehead,
and the docile look of a repentant child.  He did
not cross the threshold, did not offer me his hand,
--only took off his cap, saying, with a traitorous
falter in his voice,--

"God bless you, Ma'am!  I'm goin'."

I put out both my hands, and held his fast.

"Good-bye, Robert! Keep up good heart,
and when I come home to Massachusetts we'll
meet in a happier place than this.  Are you quite
ready, quite comfortable for your journey?

"Yes, Ma'am, Yes; the Doctor's fixed everything;
I'm goin' with a friend of his; my papers
are all right, an' I'm as happy as I can be till I
find,--"

He stopped there; then went on, with a glance
into the room,--

"I'm glad I didn't do it, an' I thank yer,
Ma'am, fer hinderin' me,--thank yer hearty; but
I'm afraid I hate him jest the same."

Of course he did; and so did I; for these faulty
hearts of ours cannot turn perfect in a night, but
need frost and fire, wind and rain, to ripen and
make them ready for the great harvest-home.
Wishing to divert his mind, I put my poor mite
into his hand, and, remembering the magic of a
certain little book, I gave him mine, on whose
dark cover whitely shone the Virgin Mother and
the Child, the grand history of whose life the book
contained.  The money went into Robert's pocket
with a grateful murmur, the book into his bosom
with a long took and a tremulous--

"I never saw my baby, Ma'am."

I broke down then; and though my eyes were
too dim to see, I felt the touch of lips upon my
hands, heard the sound of departing feet, and
knew my contraband was gone.

When one feels an intense dislike, the less one
says about the subject of it the better; therefore
I shall merely record that the captain lived,--in
time was exchanged; and that, whoever the other
party was, I am convinced the Government got
the best of the bargain.  But long before this
occurred, I had fulfilled my promise to Robert; for
as soon as my patient recovered strength of memory
enough to make his answer trustworthy, I asked, without
any circumlocution,--

"Captain Fairfax, where is Lucy?"

And too feeble to be angry, surprised, or insincere,
he straightway answered,--

"Dead, Miss Dane."

"And she killed herself, when you sold Bob?"

"How the Devil did you know that?" he
muttered, with an expression half-remorseful,
half-amazed; but I was satisfied, and said no more.

Of course, this went to Robert, waiting far
away there in a lonely home,--waiting, working,
hoping for his Lucy.  It almost broke my heart
to do it; but delay was weak, deceit was wicked;
so I sent the heavy tidings. and very soon the
answer came,--only three lines; but I felt that the
sustaining power of the man's life was gone.

"I thought I'd never see her any more; I'm glad
to know she's out of trouble.  I thank yer, Ma'am;
an' if they let us, I'll fight fer yer till I'm killed.
which I hope will be 'fore long."

Six months later he had his wish, and kept his
word.

Every one knows the story of the attack on
Fort Wagner; but we should not tire yet of
recalling how our Fifty-Fourth, spent with three
sleepless nights, a day's fast, and a march under
the July sun, stormed the fort as night fell, facing
death in many shapes, following their brave leaders
through a fiery rain of shot and shell, fighting
valiantly for God and Governor Andrew,"--
how the regiment that went into action seven hundred
strong came out having had nearly half its
number captured, killed, or wounded, leaving
their young commander to be buried, like a chief
of earlier times, with his body-guard around him,
faithful to the death. Surely, the insult turns to
honor, and the wide grave needs no monument
but the heroism that consecrates it in our sight;
surely, the hearts that held him nearest see through
their tears a noble victory in the seeming sad defeat;
and surely, God's benediction was bestowed,
when this loyal soul answered, as Death called
the roll, "Lord, here I am, with the brothers
Thou hast given me!"

The future must show how well that fight was
fought; for though Fort Wagner still defies us,
public prejudice is down; and through the cannon
smoke of that black night the manhood of the
colored race shines before many eyes that would
not see, rings in many ears that would not hear,
wins many hearts that would not hitherto believe.

When the news came that we were needed,
there was none so glad as I to leave teaching
contrabands, the new work I had taken up, and
go to nurse "our boys," as my dusky flock so
proudly called the wounded of the Fifty-Fourth.
Feeling more satisfaction, as I assumed my big
apron and turned up my cuffs, than if dressing for
the President's levee, I fell to work on board the
hospital-ship in Hilton-Head harbor.  The scene
was most familiar, and yet strange; for only dark
faces looked up at me from the pallets so thickly
laid along the floor, and I missed the sharp accent
of my Yankee boys in the slower, softer voices
calling cheerily to one another, or answering my
questions with a stout, "We'll never give it up,
Ma'am, till the last Reb's dead," or, "If our
people's free, we can afford to die."

Passing from bed to bed, intent on making one
pair of hands do the work of three, at least, I
gradually washed, fed, and bandaged my way
down the long line of sable heroes, and coming to
the very last, found that he was my contraband.
So old, so worn, so deathly weak and wan, I
never should have known him but for the deep
scar on his cheek.  That side lay uppermost, and
caught my eye at once; but even then I doubted,
such an awful change had come upon him, when,
turning to the ticket just above his head, I saw the
name, "Robert Dane." That both assured and
touched me, for, remembering that he had no
name, I knew that he had taken mine.  I longed
for him to speak to me, to tell how he had fared
since I lost sight of him, and let me perform some
little service for him in return for many he had
done for me; but he seemed asleep; and as I
stood re-living that strange night again, a bright
lad, who lay next him softly waving an old fan
across both beds, looked up and said,--

"I guess you know him, Ma'am?"

"You are right.  Do you?"

"As much as any one was able to, Ma'am."

"Why do you say 'was,' as if the man were
dead and gone?"

"I s'pose because I know he'll have to go.
He's got a bad jab in the breast, an' is bleedin'
inside, the Doctor says. He don't suffer any,
only gets weaker 'n' weaker every minute.  I've
been fannin' him this long while, an' he's talked
a little; but he don't know me now, so he's most
gone, I guess."

There was so much sorrow and affection in the
boy's face, that I remembered something, and
asked, with redoubled interest,--

Are you the one that brought him off?  I
was told about a boy who nearly lost his life in
saving that of his mate."

I dare say the young fellow blushed, as any
modest lad might have done; I could not see it,
but I heard the chuckle of satisfaction that escaped
him, as he glanced from his shattered arm and
bandaged side to the pale figure opposite.

"Lord, Ma'am, that's nothin'; we boys always
stan' by one another, an' I warn't goin' to
leave him to be tormented any more by them
cussed Rebs.  He's been a slave once, though
he don't look half so much like it as me, an'
was born in Boston."

He did not; for the speaker was as black as the ace
of spades,--being a sturdy specimen, the knave of clubs
would perhaps be a fitter representative,-- but the dark
freeman looked at the white slave with the pitiful, yet
puzzled expression I have so often seen on the faces of
our wisest men, when this tangled question of Slavery
presents itself, asking to be cut or patiently undone.

"Tell me what you know of this man; for,
even if he were awake, he is too weak to talk."

"I never saw him till I joined the regiment, an'
no one 'peared to have got much out of him.  He
was a shut-up sort of feller, an' didn't seem to
care for anything but gettin' at the Rebs.  Some
say he was the fust man of us that enlisted; I know
he fretted till we were off, an' when we pitched
into old Wagner, he fought like the Devil."

"Were you with him when he was wounded?
How was it?"

"Yes, Ma'am.  There was somethin' queer
about it; for he 'peared to know the chap that
killed him, an' the chap knew him.  I don't dare
to ask, but I rather guess one owned the other
some time,--for, when they clinched, the chap
sung out, 'Bob!' an' Dane, 'Marster Ned!
then they went at it."

I sat down suddenly, for the old anger and
compassion struggled in my heart, and I both longed
and feared to hear what was to follow.

"You see, when the Colonel--Lord keep an'
send him back to us!--it a'n't certain yet,  you
know, Ma'am, though it's two days ago we lost
him--well, when the Colonel shouted, 'Rush on.
boys, rush on!' Dane tore away as if he was
goin' to take the fort alone; I was next him, an'
kept close as we went through the ditch an' up
the wall. Hi! warn't that a rusher!" and the
boy flung up his well arm with a whoop, as if the
mere memory of that stirring moment came over
him in a gust of irrepressible excitement.

"Were you afraid?" I said,--asking the question
women often put, and receiving the answer
they seldom fail to get.

"No, Ma'am!"-- emphasis on the "Ma'am,"
--"I never thought of anything but the damn
Rebs, that scalp, slash, an' cut our ears off, when
they git us.  I was bound to let daylight into one
of 'em at least, an' I did.  Hope he liked it!"

"It is evident that you did, and I don't blame
you in the least.  Now go on about Robert, for
I should be at work."

"He was one of the fust up; I was just behind,
an' though the whole thing happened in a minute.
I remember how it was, for all I was yellin' an'
knockin' round like mad.  Just where we were,
some sort of an officer was wavin' his sword an'
cheerin' on his men; Dane saw him by a big
flash that come by; he flung away his gun, give a
leap, an' went at that feller as if he was Jeff,
Beauregard, an' Lee, all in one.  I scrabbled
after as quick as I could, but was only up in time
to see him git the sword straight through him an'
drop into the ditch.  You needn't ask what I did
next, Ma'am, for I don't quite know myself; all
I 'm clear about is, that I managed somehow to
pitch that Reb into the fort as dead as Moses,
git hold of Dane, an' bring him off.  Poor old
feller! we said we went in to live or die; he said
he went in to die, an' he 's done it."

I had been intently watching the excited
speaker; but as he regretfully added those last
words I turned again, and Robert's eyes met mine,
--those melancholy eyes, so full of an intelligence
that proved he had heard, remembered, and reflected
with that preternatural power which often
outlives all other faculties. He knew me, yet
gave no greeting; was glad to see a woman's face,
yet had no smile wherewith to welcome it; felt
that he was dying, yet uttered no farewell.  He
was too far across the river to return or linger
now; departing thought, strength, breath, were
spent in one grateful look, one murmur of submission
to the last pang he could ever feel.  His lips
moved, and, bending to them, a whisper chilled
my cheek, as it shaped the broken words,--

"I would have done it,--but it 's better so,--
I'm satisfied."

Ah! well he might be,--for, as he turned his face
from the shadow of the life that was, the sunshine
of the life to be touched it with a beautiful
content, and in the drawing of a breath my
contraband found wife and home, eternal liberty
and God.


NELLY'S HOSPITAL

Nelly sat beside her mother picking lint; but
while her fingers flew, her eyes often looked
wistfully out into the meadow, golden with
buttercups, and bright with sunshine.  Presently she
said, rather bashfully, but very earnestly, "Mamma,
I want to tell you a little plan I've made, if
you'll please not laugh."

I think I can safely promise that, my dear,"
said her mother, putting down her work that she
might listen quite respectfully.

Nelly looked pleased, and went on confidingly,

"Since brother Will came home with his lame
foot, and I've helped you tend him, I've heard a
great deal about hospitals, and liked it very much.
To-day I said I wanted to go and be a nurse, like
Aunt Mercy; but Will laughed, and told me I'd
better begin by nursing sick birds and butterflies
and pussies before I tried to take care of men.  I
did not like to be made fun of, but I've been
thinking that it would be very pleasant to have a
little hospital all my own, and be a nurse in it,
because, if I took pains, so many pretty creatures
might be made well, perhaps.  Could I, mamma?"

Her mother wanted to smile at the idea, but
did not, for Nelly looked up with her heart and
eyes so full of tender compassion, both for the
unknown men for whom her little hands had done
their best, and for the smaller sufferers nearer
home, that she stroked the shining head, and answered
readily: "Yes, Nelly, it will be a proper
charity for such a young Samaritan, and you may
learn much if you are in earnest.  You must study
how to feed and nurse your little patients, else
your pity will do no good, and your hospital become
a prison.  I will help you, and Tony shall
be your surgeon."

"O mamma, how good you always are to me!
Indeed, I am in truly earnest; I will learn,
I will be kind, and may I go now and begin?"

"You may, but tell me first where will you
have your hospital?"

"In my room, mamma; it is so snug and sunny,
and I never should forget it there," said Nelly.

"You must not forget it anywhere.  I think
that plan will not do.  How would you like to
find caterpillars walking in your bed, to hear sick
pussies mewing in the night, to have beetles clinging
to your clothes, or see mice, bugs, and birds
tumbling downstairs whenever the door was
open?" said her mother.

Nelly laughed at that thought a minute, then
clapped her hands, and cried: "Let us have the
old summer-house!  My doves only use the upper
part, and it would be so like Frank in the storybook.
Please say yes again, mamma."

Her mother did say yes, and, snatching up her
hat, Nelly ran to find Tony, the gardener's son,
a pleasant lad of twelve, who was Nelly's favorite
playmate. Tony pronounced the plan a "jolly" one, and,
leaving his work, followed his young mistress to the
summer-house, for she could not wait one minute.

"What must we do first?" she asked, as they
stood looking in at the dusty room, full of
garden tools, bags of seeds, old flower-pots, and
watering-cans.

"Clear out the rubbish, miss," answered Tony.

"Here it goes, then," and Nelly began bundling
everything out in such haste that she broke
two flower-pots, scattered all the squash-seeds,
and brought a pile of rakes and hoes clattering
down about her ears.

"Just wait a bit, and let me take the lead,
miss.  You hand me things, I'll pile 'em in the
barrow and wheel 'em off to the barn; then it
will save time, and be finished up tidy."

Nelly did as he advised, and very soon nothing
but dust remained.

"What next?" she asked, not knowing in the
least.

"I'll sweep up while you see if Polly can
come and scrub the room out. It ought to
be done before you stay here, let alone the
patients."

"So it had," said Nelly, looking very wise all
of a sudden. "Will says the wards--that means
the rooms, Tony--are scrubbed every day or
two, and kept very clean, and well venti-some-
thing--I can't say it; but it means having a plenty
of air come in.  I can clean windows while Polly
mops, and then we shall soon be done."
Away she ran, feeling very busy and important.
Polly came, and very soon the room looked
like another place. The four latticed windows
were set wide open, so the sunshine came dancing
through the vines that grew outside, and curious
roses peeped in to see what frolic was afoot.  The
walls shone white again, for not a spider dared
to stay; the wide seat which encircled the room
was dustless now,--the floor as nice as willing
hands could make it; and the south wind blew
away all musty odors with its fragrant breath.
" How fine it looks! " cried Nelly, dancing
on the doorstep, lest a foot-print should mar the
still damp floor.

"I'd almost like to fall sick for the sake of
staying here," said Tony, admiringly.  "Now, what
sort of beds are you going to have, miss?

"I suppose it won't do to put butterflies and
toads and worms into beds like the real soldiers
where Will was?" answered Nelly, looking
anxious.

Tony could hardly help shouting at the idea;
but, rather than trouble his little mistress, he said
very soberly: "I'm afraid they wouldn't lay
easy, not being used to it.  Tucking up a butterfly
would about kill him; the worms would be apt to
get lost among the bed-clothes; and the toads
would tumble out the first thing."

"I shall have to ask mamma about it.  What will
you do while I'm gone?" said Nelly, unwilling
that a moment should be lost.

"I'll make frames for nettings to the windows,
else the doves will come in and eat up the sick
people.

"I think they will know that it is a hospital,
and be too kind to hurt or frighten their neighbors,"
began Nelly; but as she spoke, a plump white dove walked
in, looked about with its red-ringed eyes, and quietly
pecked up a tiny bug that had just ventured out from
the crack where it had taken refuge when the deluge came.

"Yes, we must have the nettings.  I'll ask
mamma for some lace," said Nelly, when she saw
that; and, taking her pet dove on her shoulder,
told it about her hospital as she went toward the
house; for, loving all little creatures as she did, it
grieved her to have any harm befall even the least
or plainest of them. She had a sweet child-fancy
that her playmates understood her language
as she did theirs, and that birds, flowers, animals,
and insects felt for her the same affection which
she felt for them. Love always makes friends,
and nothing seemed to fear the gentle child; but
welcomed her like a little sun who shone alike on
all, and never suffered an eclipse.

She was gone some time, and when she came
back her mind was full of new plans, one hand
full of rushes, the other of books, while over her
head floated the lace, and a bright green ribbon
hung across her arm.

"Mamma says that the best beds will be little
baskets, boxes, cages, and any sort of thing that
suits the patients; for each will need different care
and food and medicine. I have not baskets
enough, so, as I cannot have pretty white beds, I
am going to braid pretty green nests for my
patients, and, while I do it, mamma thought you'd
read to me the pages she has marked, so that we
may begin right."

"Yes, miss; I like that.  But what is the ribbon
for?" asked Tony.

"O, that's for you.  Will says that, if you are
to be an army surgeon, you must have a green
band on your arm; so I got this to tie on when we
play hospital."

Tony let her decorate the sleeve of his gray
jacket, and when the nettings were done, the
welcome books were opened and enjoyed. It
was a happy time, sitting in the sunshine, with
leaves pleasantly astir all about them, doves cooing
overhead, and flowers sweetly gossiping together
through the summer afternoon.  Nelly wove her
smooth, green rushes.  Tony pored over his pages,
and both found something better than fairy legends
in the family histories of insects, birds, and beasts.
All manner of wonders appeared, and were explained
to them, till Nelly felt as if a new world
had been given her, so full of beauty, interest, and
pleasure that she never could be tired of studying
it. Many of these things were not strange to
Tony, because, born among plants, he had grown
up with them as if they were brothers and sisters,
and the sturdy, brown-faced boy had learned
many lessons which no poet or philosopher could
have taught him, unless he had become as child-like a
s himself, and studied from the same great book.

When the baskets were done, the marked pages
all read, and the sun began to draw his rosy
curtains round him before smiling "Good night,"
Nelly ranged the green beds round the room, Tony
put in the screens, and the hospital was ready.
The little nurse was so excited that she could
hardly eat her supper, and directly afterwards
ran up to tell Will how well she had succeeded
with the first part of her enterprise.  Now brother
Will was a brave young officer, who had fought
stoutly and done his duty like a man.  But when
lying weak and wounded at home, the cheerful
courage which had led him safely through many
dangers seemed to have deserted him, and he was
often gloomy, sad, or fretful, because he longed
to be at his post again, and time passed very
slowly. This troubled his mother, and made
Nelly wonder why he found lying in a pleasant
room so much harder than fighting battles or
making weary marches. Anything that interested
and amused him was very welcome, and when
Nelly, climbing on the arm of his sofa, told her
plans, mishaps, and successes, he laughed out more
heartily than he had done for many a day, and his
thin face began to twinkle with fun as it used to
do so long ago.  That pleased Nelly, and she
chatted like any affectionate little magpie, till
Will was really interested; for when one is ill,
small things amuse.

"Do you expect your patients to come to you,
Nelly?" he asked.

"No, I shall go and look for them. I often
see poor things suffering in the garden, and the
wood, and always feel as if they ought to be taken
care of, as people are."

"You won't like to carry insane bugs, lame
toads, and convulsive kittens in your hands, and
they would not stay on a stretcher if you had
one. You should have an ambulance and be
a branch of the Sanitary Commission," said
Will.

Nelly had often heard the words, but did not
quite understand what they meant.  So Will told
her of that great never-failing charity, to which
thousands owe their lives; and the child listened
with lips apart, eyes often full, and so much love
and admiration in her heart that she could find no
words in which to tell it.  When her brother
paused, she said earnestly: "Yes, I will be a
Sanitary. This little cart of mine shall be my
amb'lance, and I'll never let my water-barrels go
empty, never drive too fast, or be rough with my
poor passengers, like some of the men you tell
about.  Does this look like an ambulance, Will?"

"Not a bit, but it shall, if you and mamma
like to help me.  I want four long bits of cane, a
square of white cloth, some pieces of thin wood,
and the gum-pot," said Will, sitting up to examine
the little cart, feeling like a boy again as
he took out his knife and began to whittle.
Upstairs and downstairs ran Nelly till all
necessary materials were collected, and almost
breathlessly she watched her brother arch the
canes over the cart, cover them with the cloth,
and fit an upper shelf of small compartments, each
lined with cotton-wool to serve as beds for
wounded insects, lest they should hurt one another
or jostle out.  The lower part was left free for any
larger creatures which Nelly might find.  Among
her toys she bad a tiny cask which only needed a
peg to be water-tight; this was filled and fitted
in before, because, as the small sufferers needed
no seats, there was no place for it behind, and, as
Nelly was both horse and driver, it was more
convenient in front.  On each side of it stood a
box of stores. In one were minute rollers, as
bandages are called, a few bottles not yet filled,
and a wee doll's jar of cold-cream, because Nelly
could not feel that her outfit was complete without
a medicine-chest. The other box was full of
crumbs, bits of sugar, bird-seed, and grains of
wheat and corn, lest any famished stranger should
die for want of food before she got it home.  Then
mamma painted "U.S. San. Com." in bright letters on
the cover, and Nelly received her charitable
plaything with a long sigh of satisfaction.

"Nine o'clock already.  Bless me, what a
short evening this has been," exclaimed Will, as
Nelly came to give him her good-night kiss.

"And such a happy one," she answered.

"Thank you very, very much, dear Will.  I only
wish my little amb'lance was big enough for
you to go in,--I'd so like to give you the first
ride."

"Nothing I should like better, if it were possible,
though I've a prejudice against ambulances in
general.  But as I cannot ride, I'll try and hop out
to your hospital to-morrow, and see how you get
on,"--which was a great deal for Captain Will
to say, because he had been too listless to leave
his sofa for several days.

That promise sent Nelly happily away to bed,
only stopping to pop her head out of the window
to see if it was likely to be a fair day to-morrow,
and to tell Tony about the new plan as he passed
below.

"Where shall you go to look for your first load
of sick folks, miss?" he asked.

"All round the garden first, then through the
grove, and home across the brook.  Do you think
I can find any patients so? " said Nelly.

"I know you will.  Good night, miss," and
Tony walked away with a merry look on his face,
that Nelly would not have understood if she had
seen it.

Up rose the sun bright and early, and up rose
Nurse Nelly almost as early and as bright.  Breakfast
was taken in a great hurry, and before the
dew was off the grass this branch of the S. C.
was all astir.  Papa, mamma, big brother and
baby sister, men and maids, all looked out to see
the funny little ambulance depart, and nowhere in
all the summer fields was there a happier child than
Nelly, as she went smiling down the garden path,
where tall flowers kissed her as she passed and
every blithe bird seemed singing a "Good speed!"

"How I wonder what I shall find first," she
thought, looking sharply on all sides as she went.
Crickets chirped, grasshoppers leaped, ants
worked busily at their subterranean houses,
spiders spun shining webs from twig to twig, bees
were coming for their bags of gold, and butterflies
had just begun their holiday.  A large white one
alighted on the top of the ambulance, walked
over the inscription as if spelling it letter by letter,
then floated away from flower to flower, like one
carrying the good news far and wide.

"Now every one will know about the hospital
and be glad to see me coming," thought Nelly.
And indeed it seemed so, for just then a black-
bird, sitting on a garden wall, burst out with a
song full of musical joy, Nelly's kitten came
running after to stare at the wagon and rub her soft
side against it, a bright-eyed toad looked out
from his cool bower among the lily-leaves, and at
that minute Nelly found her first patient.  In one
of the dewy cobwebs hanging from a shrub near
by sat a fat black and yellow spider, watching
a fly whose delicate wings were just caught in the
net.  The poor fly buzzed pitifully, and struggled
so hard that the whole web shook: but the more
he struggled, the more he entangled himself, and
the fierce spider was preparing to descend that it
might weave a shroud about its prey, when a
little finger broke the threads and lifted the fly
safely into the palm of a hand, where he lay
faintly humming his thanks.

Nelly had heard much about contrabands, knew who
they were, and was very much interested in them;
so, when she freed the poor black
fly she played he was her contraband, and felt
glad that her first patient was one that needed
help so much.  Carefully brushing away as much
of the web as she could, she left small Pompey,
as she named him, to free his own legs, lest her
clumsy fingers should hurt him; then she laid him
in one of the soft beds with a grain or two of
sugar if he needed refreshment, and bade him rest
and recover from his fright, remembering that he
was at liberty to fly away whenever he liked,
because she had no wish to male a slave of him.

Feeling very happy over this new friend, Nelly
went on singing softly as she walked, and presently
she found a pretty caterpillar dressed in
brown fur, although the day was warm. He lay
so still she thought him dead, till he rolled himself
into a ball as she touched him.

"I think you are either faint from the heat of
this thick coat of yours, or that you are going to
make a cocoon of yourself, Mr. Fuzz," said Nelly.

"Now I want to see you turn into a butterfly, so
I shall take you, and if get lively again I will
let you go. I shall play that you have given out
on a march, as the soldiers sometimes do, and
been left behind for the Sanitary people to see to."

In went sulky Mr. Fuzz, and on trundled the
ambulance till a golden green rose-beetle was
discovered, lying on his back kicking as if in a fit.

"Dear me, what shall I do for him?" thought
Nelly. "He acts as baby did when she was so
illl, and mamma put her in a warm bath.  I haven't
got my little tub here, or any hot water, and I'm
afraid the beetle would not like it if I had.  Perhaps
he has pain in his stomach; I'll turn him over,
and pat his back, as nurse does baby's when she
cries for pain like that."

She set the beetle on his legs, and did her best
to comfort him; but he was evidently in great distress,
for he could not walk, and instead of lifting
his emerald overcoat, and spreading the wings
that lay underneath, be turned over again, and
kicked more violently than before.  Not knowing
what to do,  Nelly put him into one of her soft
nests for Tony to cure if possible.  She found no
more patients in the garden except a dead bee,
which she wrapped in a leaf, and took home to
bury.  When she came to the grove, it was so
green and cool she longed to sit and listen to the
whisper of the pines, and watch the larch-tassels
wave in the wind.  But, recollecting her charitable
errand, she went rustling along the pleasant
path till she came to another patient, over which
she stood considering several minutes before she
could decide whether it was best to take it to her
hospital, because it was a little gray snake, with
bruised tail.  She knew it would not hurt her,
yet she was afraid of it; she thought it pretty,
yet could not like it: she pitied its pain, yet shrunk
from helping it, for it had a fiery eye, and a keep
quivering tongue, that looked as if longing to bite.

"He is a rebel, I wonder if I ought to be good
to him," thought Nelly, watching the reptile
writhe with pain.  "Will said there were sick
rebels in his hospital, and one was very kind to
him.  It says, too, in my little book, 'Love your
enemies.' I think snakes are mine, but I guess I'll
try and love him because God made him.  Some boy
will kill him if I leave him here, and then perhaps
his mother will be very sad about it.  Come,
poor worm, I wish to help you, so be patient, and
don't frighten me."

Then Nelly laid her little handkerchief on the
ground, and with a stick gently lifted the wounded
snake upon it, and, folding it together, laid it in
the ambulance. She was thoughtful after that,
and so busy puzzling her young head about the
duty of loving those who hate us, and being kind
to those who are disagreeable or unkind, that she
went through the rest of the wood quite forgetful
of her work.  A soft "Queek,queek!" made her
look up and listen. The sound came from the
long meadow-grass, and, bending it carefully
back, she found a half-fledged bird, with one
wing trailing on the ground, and its eyes dim with
pain or hunger.

"You darling thing, did you fall out of your
nest and hurt your wing?" cried Nelly, looking
up into the single tree that stood near by.  No
nest was to be seen, no parent birds hovered
overhead, and little Robin could only tell its troubles
in that mournful "Queek, queek, queek!"

Nelly ran to get both her chests, and, sitting
down beside the bird, tried to feed it. To her
joy it ate crumb after crumb, as if it were
half starved, and soon fluttered nearer a
confiding fearlessness that made her very proud.
Soon baby Robin seemed quite comfortable, his
eye brightened, he "queeked" no more, and but
for the drooping wing would have been himself
again.  With one of her bandages Nelly bound
both wings closely to his sides for fear he should
hurt himself by trying to fly; and though he seemed
amazed at her proceedings, he behaved very
well, only staring at her, and ruffling up his few
feathers in a funny way that made her laugh.
Then she had to discover some way of accommodating
her two larger patients so that neither should
hurt nor alarm the other.  A bright thought came
to her after much pondering. Carefully lifting
the handkerchief, she pinned the two ends to the
roof of the cart, and there swung little Forked-
tongue, while Rob lay easily below.

By this time, Nelly began to wonder how it
happened that she found so many more injured
things than ever before.  But it never entered her
innocent head that Tony had searched the wood
and meadow before she was up, and laid most of
these creatures ready to her hands, that she
might not be disappointed.  She had not yet lost
her faith in fairies, so she fancied they too
belonged to her small sisterhood, and presently it
did really seem impossible to doubt that the good
folk had been at work.

Coming to the bridge that crossed the brook,
she stopped a moment to watch the water ripple
over the bright pebbles, the ferns bend down to
drink, and the funny tadpoles frolic in quieter
nooks, where the sun shone, and the dragon-flies
swung among the rushes.  When Nelly turned to
go on, her blue eyes opened wide. and the handle
of the ambulance dropped with a noise that caused
a stout frog to skip into the water heels over head.
Directly in the middle of the bridge was a pretty
green tent, made of two tall burdock leaves. The
stems were stuck into cracks between the boards,
the tips were pinned together with a thorn, and
one great buttercup nodded in the doorway like a
sleepy sentinel.  Nelly stared and smiled, listened,
and looked about on every side.  Nothing was
seen but the quiet meadow and the shady
grove, nothing was heard but the babble of
the brook and the cheery music of the bobolinks.

"Yes," said Nelly softly to herself, "that is a
fairy tent, and in it I may find a baby elf sick
with whooping-cough or scarlet-fever.  How
splendid it would be! only I could never nurse
such a dainty thing."

Stooping eagerly, she peeped over the buttercup's
drowsy head, and saw what seemed a tiny
cock of hay. She had no time to feel disappointed,
for the haycock began to stir, and, looking
nearer, she beheld two silvery gray mites, who
wagged wee tails, and stretched themselves as if
they had just waked up.  Nelly knew that they
were young field-mice, and rejoiced over them,
feeling rather relieved that no fairy had appeared,
though she still believed them to have had a hand
in the matter.

"I shall call the mice my Babes in the Wood,
because they are lost and covered up with leaves,"
said Nelly, as she laid them in her snuggest bed,
where they nestled close together, and fell fast
asleep again.

Being very anxious to get home, that she might
tell her adventures, and show how great was the
need of a sanitary commission in that region,
Nelly marched proudly up the avenue, and, having
displayed her load, hurried to the hospital,
where another applicant was waiting for her.  On
the step of the door lay a large turtle, with one
claw gone, and on his back was pasted a bit of
paper, with his name,-- Commodore Waddle,
U.S.N." Nelly knew this was a joke of Will's,
but welcomed the ancient mariner, and called
Tony to help her get him in.

All that morning they were very busy settling
the new-comers, for both people and books had
to be consulted before they could decide what
diet and treatment was best for each.  The
winged contraband had taken Nelly at her word,
and flown away on the journey home.  Little
Rob was put in a large cage, where he could use
his legs, yet not injure his lame wing.  Forked-tongue
lay under a wire cover, on sprigs of fennel,
for the gardener said that snakes were fond of it.
The Babes in the Wood were put to bed in one
of the rush baskets, under a cotton-wool coverlet.
Greenback, the beetle, found ease for his unknown
aches in the warm heart of a rose, where he sunned
himself all day. The Commodore was
made happy in a tub of water, grass, and stones,
and Mr. Fuzz was put in a well-ventilated glass
box to decide whether he would be a cocoon or not.

Tony had not been idle while his mistress was
away, and he showed her the hospital garden he
had made close by, in which were cabbage, nettle,
and mignonette plants for the butterflies, flowering
herbs for the bees, chick-weed and hemp for
the birds, catnip for the pussies, and plenty of room
left for whatever other patients might need.  In
the afternoon, while Nelly did her task at lint-picking,
talking busily to Will as she worked, and
interesting him in her affairs, Tony cleared a
pretty spot in the grove for the burying-ground,
and made ready some small bits of slate on which
to write the names of those who died.  He did
not have it ready an hour too soon, for at sunset
two little graves were needed, and Nurse Nelly
shed tender tears for her first losses as she laid the
motherless mice in one smooth hollow, and the
gray-coated rebel in the other. She had learned
to care for him already, and when she found him
dead, was very glad she had been kind to him,
hoping that he knew it, and died happier in her
hospital than all alone in the shadowy wood.

The rest of Nelly's patients prospered, and of
the many added afterward few died, because of
Tony's skilful treatment and her own faithful care.
Every morning when the day proved fair the little
ambulance went out upon its charitable errand;
every afternoon Nelly worked for the human
sufferers whom she loved; and every evening brother
Will read aloud to her from useful books, showed
her wonders with his microscope, or prescribed
remedies for the patients, whom he soon knew by
name and took much interest in.  It was Nelly's
holiday; but, though she studied no lessons, she
learned much, and unconsciously made her pretty
play both an example and a rebuke for others.

At first it seemed a childish pastime, and people
laughed.  But there was something in the familiar
words "sanitary," "hospital" and "ambulance"
that made them pleasant sounds to
many ears.  As reports of Nelly's work went
through the neighborhood, other children came to
see and copy her design. Rough lads looked
ashamed when in her wards they found harmless
creatures hurt by them, and going out they said
among themselves, "We won't stone birds, chase
butterflies, and drown the girls' little cats any
more, though we won't tell them so." And most
of the lads kept their word so well that people
said there never had been so many birds before
as all that summer haunted wood and field.  Tender-
hearted playmates brought their pets to be
cured; even busy farmers bad a friendly word
for the small charity, which reminded them so
sweetly of the great one which should never be
forgotten; lonely mothers sometimes looked out
with wet eyes as the little ambulance went by,
recalling thoughts or absent sons who might be
journeying painfully to some far-off hospital, where
brave women waited to tend them with hands as
willing, hearts as tender, as those the gentle child
gave to her self-appointed task.

At home the charm worked also.  No more idle
days for Nelly, or fretful ones for Will, because
the little sister would not neglect the helpless
creatures so dependent upon her, and the big
brother was ashamed to complain after watching
the patience of these lesser sufferers, and merrily
said he would try to bear his own wound as
quietly and bravely as the "Commodore" bore
his.  Nelly never knew how much good she had
done Captain Will till he went away again in the
early autumn.  Then he thanked her for it, and
though she cried for joy and sorrow she never
forgot it, because he left something behind him
which always pleasantly reminded her of the
double success her little hospital had won.

When Will was gone and she had prayed
softly in her heart that God would keep him safe
and bring him home again, she dried her tears
and went away to find comfort in the place where
he had spent so many happy hours with her.  She
had not been there before that day, and when she
reached the door she stood quite still and wanted
very much to cry again, far something beautiful
had happened.  She had often asked Will for a
motto for her hospital, and he had promised to
find her one.  She thought he had forgotten it;
but even in the hurry of that busy day he had
found time to do more than keep his word, while
Nelly sat indoors, lovingly brightening the tarnished
buttons on the blue coat that had seen so
many battles.

Above the roof, where the doves cooed in the
sun, now rustled a white flag with the golden
S.C." shining on it as the wind tossed it to and
fro.  Below, on the smooth panel of the door, a
skilful pencil had drawn two arching ferns, in
whose soft shadow, poised upon a mushroom,
stood a little figure of Nurse Nelly, and undeneath
it another of Dr. Tony bottling medicine, with spectacles
upon his nose.  Both hands of the miniature Nelly were
outstretched, as if beckoning to a train of insects,
birds and beasts, which was so long that it not only
circled round the lower rim of this fine sketch, but
dwindled in the distance to mere dots and lines.  Such
merry conceits as one found there!  A mouse bringing the
tail it had lost in some cruel trap, a dor-bug with
a shade over its eyes, an invalid butterfly carried
in a tiny litter by long-legged spiders, a fat frog
with gouty feet hopping upon crutches, Jenny
Wren sobbing in a nice handkerchief, as she
brought dear dead Cock Robin to be restored to
life.  Rabbits, lambs, cats, calves, and turtles, all
came trooping up to be healed by the benevolent
little maid who welcomed them so heartily.

Nelly laughed at these comical mites till the
tears ran down her cheeks, and thought she never
could be tired of looking at them.  But presently
she saw four lines clearly printed underneath her
picture, ahd her childish face grew sweetly serious
as she read the words of a great poet, which
Will had made both compliment and motto:-

"He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."



THE END





This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia