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Title: The Phial of Dread and other stories
Author: Fitz Hugh Ludlow
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606031.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: December 2007

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The Phial of Dread and other stories
Fitz Hugh Ludlow

Table of Contents

The Phial of Dread
The Taxidermist
The Music-Essence


First Day's Journal.

I believe that I am now safe. This part of Columbia Street is not much
visited by any people who ever knew me. The other end is in Grand
Street. I doubt whether any of my acquaintance have vivid recollection
of that end either. As for myself, I was aware of neither end nor
middle till three days ago. Being in Broadway, with an infinite terror
hanging on my shoulders like a cloak--starting at every louder voice
of man, woman, or child---recoiling from every rapidly approaching
stranger who looked me in the face--I naturally enough wished to get
away--any where out of the bustle. On my left hand was Grand Street;
to turn into it was the most obvious method of escaping from Broadway.
So I _did_ turn. For a block beyond Brooks's great limbo of possible
but undeveloped pantaloons Grand Street keeps a fashionable air. Thus
far are whiffs of Broadway sucked into its draft; thus far you meet
Broadway faces; thus far you are reminded of Broadway---are not quite
at ease with the idea of being out of it--may at any moment be
accosted by somebody you have met before on the great pave. I walked
faster, therefore. Broadway began to fade out; the Bowery character
become slowly dominant. I reached--I crossed the Bowery. Now I began
to breathe freer. I was pretty sure--growing surer--that I should not
be recognized; and the cloak lifted from my shoulders. The terror did
not leave me, but it followed quietly afar off.

A strange place is the part of Grand Street I was going through now,
to be sure! Quite a Broadway by itself, though not _the_ Broadway,
thank Heaven! but a sort of shabby Broadway come to New York to visit
its merchant prince-cousin; and not being recognized as a connection,
going off in a huff and setting up for itself--the Broadway of the
east to west, entirely independent of the north to south aristocrat.
Or to the speculative mind it might seem an old shell shed by Broadway
the Magnificent thirty years ago, while marble and Albert granite were
unconceived--a shell captured by the hermit crab called Grand Street,
and peacefully lived in ever since; the ghost of old Broadway, as
known to our fathers, reappearing across the track of young Broadway,
yet a ghost, sociable, responsive, fearless of daylight, not to be
laid. All such thoughts as these whirled through my brain as I strode
along with nervous, devious feet, and they seemed to fight back for a
short farther distance _the terror_. I hailed them gladly, therefore,
and indulged them.

Here were tailors, from the plethora of their shops evidently
rejoicing in abundant custom, famous, blessed, well-to-do; and all
this within the world of Grand Street--elsewhere unknown. So many
green-grocers, with fresh Bermuda potatoes and cucumbers piled up in
front of them, supplying a class of citizens who never gave one
thought to Washington Market. So many celebrated doctors, all in black
and gilt on the dull sides of the two-story brick houses. Dentists, on
great door-plates of tarnished mock silver--and I had never heard of
them before. Mouths filled, teeth pulled, backs clothed, children
educated--all trades and professions going on--even a wholesale dry-
goods store taking up two numbers, like a Murray Street or Liberty
Street firm, and selling dollars' worths to its small neighbors who
did the pennyworth business; and evidently none of all these depended
in the least on any other part of New York for a living. I breathed
free in Grand Street, more and more.

All the baggage that it was at present convenient for my to carry was
a carpet-bag, not over heavy. I had that in my hand. What, then, was
to prevent my taking lodgings in Grand Street? I should not be traced
here; the chances were a thousand to one against my ever seeing a
known face; and these were the qualifications which just now would
make the most miserable tenement worth double the most sumptuous
parlor of the St. Nicholas. Why not take lodgings here?--yes, why not?

As I asked myself this question I stood, with the carpet-bag in my
hand, vacillating from one foot to the other, and once or twice
turning completely around. Take lodgings? Yes, to be sure. Why not?

But my eye struck a building somewhat taller than the rest, on the
opposite side of the street. In its door stood a bent man, with the
general air about him of being up all night, drinking beer and eating
Limburger cheese. His poll was bald; in his hand was a dispensatory,
and he peered down over it through some very round spectacles, as if
he were suspecting arsenic in the bricks and meant to sublimate it by
a look; on his right was a great green bottle; over his head, a blue;
on his left, a red one; and far up, under the third-story windows, in
very black letters, was printed all across the house-front.

Deutsche Apotheke.

The cold sweat came out in large drops upon my forehead. The German on
the opposite side lifted his eyes from the arsenical bricks and fixed
them upon me! Was I--? No! He quietly put up his dispensary, and
drawing a meerschaum from the depths of his loose greasy coat, filled
it, lighted it, and began to smoke. But he had given me a start--such
a start! I would not have lived in that vicinity for untold gold. All
trembling, I pushed on.

Supposing they had come in search of me even into Grand Street? Who?
Why, any body--any body that I had ever known. Supposing they should
track me even into that improbable locality, how would they seek me?
By my affinities, no doubt. I was a chemist; among chemists they would
seek me; and to be near that man of drugs there beyond were--well, to
speak plainly, death! I hoped Heaven he had not seen me clearly with
those horrible round goggles of his!

Fleeing from him, I passed street after street, still keeping in
Grand, when of a sudden, at one corner, my eye was arrested by the
faded word "Columbia" in dead old paint, on a dead old billet, on a
dead old brick wall. The rains had plowed its impress for how many
years only the Heaven from which they came could tell, scrubbing at it
assiduously, but as yet not quite able, with all their housemaid
energy, to obliterate the stain. "Columbia"--I paused and looked
north. The street descends a little, as if it were going to lead down
into pleasant valleys, then remembers itself, recalls the fact that it
is a city street, and mounts to go staidly on again. But afar I could
perceive signs of almost country quiet. There were some green trees---
green still, while all the urban parks were taking their dust-
baptism, and the lilac leaves, mad for thirst, in St. John's church-
yard, might be written on with the finger and keep their record a
week. There was one lazy omnibus utterly empty hurrying through it,
far, far up, as if astray there by mistake, and running what seemed
homeward with much bewilderment and sense of not having any business
there. I saw no one on the east sidewalk as far as the eye reached. On
the west a workman sat about midway between me and the farthest
visible point, on the grass which sprung up along the curb, his feet
in the dry gutter, eating his dinner out of a tin pail quite
pastorally. He had not been building any thing. He had only been
taking down a row of decayed tree-boxes; they lay in a neat pile near
him, waiting for some unlikely cart. When he went away business there
would be none in that street.

My mind was made up. I would get lodgings in Columbia Street. If
possible, just a little northward of the middle.

If I were a bank-defaulter--a traitor to government--a fallen
clergyman--a gallant who had brought gall into the heart---oblivion
upon the head of a once pure wife, and were flying the mad, tireless
husband--if I were any thing disgraced--in danger---I would make this
same point my aim--I would run hither to hide me. If I were a
murderer---But oh, hush! that word is too awful!

For when people came to hunt me, the first supposition would be that I
was escaping to foreign parts. That idea would draw off a large part
of my pursuers in the direction of the steamers, the foreign police
journals, efforts for extradition. There would be other who would say,
"He is in the States--he is too cunning to try such a common, such a
well-watched mode of escape as the steamers;" but being of a somewhat
timid mind themselves, they would be little likely to conceive of a
man in peril staying in the great, public city. These the suburbs and
the country would draw off. A few astute, alert, resolute, fearless
persons, clinging to the theory that I had never left New York, would
stay here to unearth me. And by them I should be looked for through
all the kennels of the lower wards--Leonard, Worth, Thomas streets,
and such like, and the upper tenement houses, as in further West
Thirty-first Street, for instance, and the ungraded streets still
higher. I do not suppose that of those pursuers who remained in New
York to look for me _three_ would consider for a moment the likelihood
of my being in the mid-heart of New York at the spot I mentioned.
Grant even that these three together came on my trail through Grand
Street. At the Bowery such an entirely different life and population
from that of Broadway begins to appear--the side-streets lose so
entirely all reference to the direction of that main artery, that two
of the three would be drawn up or down the Bowery in pursuit of me
through these branching ways, and to all of them it would appear most
likely that I had involved myself in this new current, this turbulent
swirl, obeying no Broadway laws, to escape discovery. One, perhaps,
perplexed with misgivings, would go on his lonely track, from mere
perversity, through Grand Street. There is no transverse way into
which I fancy he would be less likely to turn than this one. For, in
the first place, the air of respectability and quietude about it would
turn him away, on the ground that a man in peril of discovery might as
sensibly put himself within range of the lynx-eyes and gossiping
tongues of a country town as to come here--there would seem no hurly-
burly to merge one's criminal identity in. In the second place, he
_would_ have his attention attracted to the mysterious look of that
billet on the corner wall, bearing the name--its blank, faded,
sympathetic-ink appearance would certainly seem ominous to him--it has
a theatrical likeness, seems full of secret meaning, and strongly
attracts the man on a murder scent--on a defaulter's or a traitor's
scent, I mean. But as he drew closer and read the name--read it and
found it, after all its bad looks, to be something as patriotic, as
frank, as world-wide as "Columbia," he would say to himself, "Pish!
I'm a fool! One would have expected such a piratical-looking signal to
spell out Brinvilliere Street, Tofana, Borgia, Burke, or Daval Street!
Columbia! as soon expect to find a villain on the steps of the
Merchants' Exchange!" And so, led by the force of his own false
reasoning, made false at first by the disappointment of his sentiment
of mystery, he would pass on and seek me in some of the streets
parallel but nearer the river.

I am not a defaulter. I am not a seducer. I am not---Well, there are a
great many things which I am not. But I am in Columbia Street. On the
day when this clinging terror I have told of chased me from Broadway,
I stole into Columbia Street as into a shadow--rather as a moose with
the dog hanging to his flank will take to the water, deeper and still
deeper, so that if he can not drown off his persecutor he can at least
bear him easier in that denser fluid.

I could not content myself with any of the houses for a considerable
distance from Grand Street. This one was too full of windows--this one
had children playing in its front court---this had too much air of
ostentatious mystery in its closed blinds, its dull-papered side-
lights at the listed front door---and tying up the overgrown shoot of
a strangling Madeira vine, a young girl, eager-eyed, bare-shouldered,
flushed, and with lips half-parted, stood by a trellis just before
this one. Oh! ugh! the terror-cloud wrapped me like a cloak of
nightmare. I could not walk freely, but merely shuddered along. I
moved away by palpitating like a sea-jelly rather than with feet like
a man. It was a long way before I could recover myself at all. The
terror would not endure the sight of a young girl. She was water to
its hydrophobia!

By-and-by I came to a house two stories high--brick, and left
unpainted, so that time had made its original scarlet a grave and
staid dark red--shaded by two paper mulberries at the lower windows,
and above catching shadow from the lime-tree on the street. The front
fence was a picket--dark brown and rather higher than ordinary. I
touched the gate, and it did not creak. On a dark door-plate, of old,
silvery metal, with mourning lines about its rim, was the name John L.
Jones. The door was grained in imitation of mahogany, and its _tout
ensemble_ was coffiny. You might almost expect, if you opened that
door, to see John L. Jones lying pale and still in cerements behind
it--a most respectable man with no nonsense about him--and dead. I was
drawn to this house. Who would ever come to look for me in the house
of a man named John L. Jones! Who would seek for me, the living, among
the dead--or those who looked so dead as the inhabitants of this house
must? Had there been a _morgue_ in New York, among _its_ dead they
might have sought me, but not here---not here!

It suited me. I swung the noiseless gate and passed into the silent
yard--over the sweating, mould-chinked flag-stones of the shady
approach, that echoed not to the foot--up the damp, green, bordered
steps of cracked freestone. Ah! there is a bell--a brass handle, very
small, and lurking in a deep little recess by the architrave, as if it
would not break the deadness by being pulled--hiding from the sound of
its own tongue. And this alone took away from the coffiny look of the
entrance. But when my shaky, undecided hand pulled it I found it not
so incongruous with the general keeping--a slow, long-measured
succession of muffled tinkles followed the pull--a trickling of
mournful drops of sound far down through some dank, cellary air--not a
ringing, but a tolling, as if the ghost of some long-dead man had died
a second time to become a still fainter ghost--a ghost of a ghost---
and the spirits in the first stage--the undiluted survivors--were
tolling their chapel chime at his funeral. Link--link--link---link--

It suited me better. Presently I heard the steady, unimpassioned tread
of middle-aged footsteps--the skeleton of a sexton walking in slippers
of cemetery-moss, it might have been, coming to let me in to the
burial-yard. The door opened like the gate, equally without creaking,
and I saw a quiet, pale face looking languidly into my own--
listlessly, not forcefully, inquiring--the face of a woman weary with
long griefs which had worn out her resistance to them--a face forty in
years, a thousand in cares.

"Mrs. Jones--Mrs. John L. Jones?" said I.

The woman nodded feebly without change of expression.

"I have come," I continued, "to ask if I can have a room in your
house--a back one if possible--in which I may sleep and have my meals
quietly by myself. I am willing to pay liberally. All I need is
_quiet_, and you seem to have that here."

"Myfi Cymraes--Shawad Sais Dembid."

This, as nearly as I can spell it, was the sound that came from those
wan, changeless lips in reply. I understood it to mean--"I am a Welsh
woman, and speak no English"--for I had been with the Welsh, at their
settlement in Remson, in Middle New York, for a month of one summer,
and caught just a smattering of their strange tongue. I brought all my
vocabulary to the occasion, and rejoined.

"Bawarch--Odur--Gwelly--Tan," which is, being interpreted, "bread,
water, a bed, and a fire." This I intended as a concise symbol for my
whole want of food and lodging, at the same time pulling a handful of
silver and a roll of bills from my wallet to aid the intelligence of
the remark.

The woman motioned me in. I was left standing in the entry while she
retreated to the basement; and then, from below, I heard her voice mix
with a gruffer one, which seemed to indicate that John L. Jones,
contrary to all appearances, was _not_ in his coffin, but at his
dinner. After which she returned, and led the way up a narrow and
greasy-carpeted flight of stairs. At the top of it she turned a knob,
and disclosed to me a vacant room. No, not vacant in the sense of
being unfurnished; but there was a dead smell in it, and nobody sat
there; and the only fly on the window-panes was dead, and stuck
steadily there, held by stiffened gluey moisture. There were clothes
hanging on the walls on rusty iron books--coats, vests, pantaloons.
And over the mantel-piece was a dim, bleared daguerrotype. It was a
man's--a man who looked as Mrs. John L. Jones might have done when she
was, a long time ago, young and handsome. On the frame was pasted a
scrap out of some fine-print paper like the _Herald_. I drew close to
it and read:

"John L. Jones, Jun., in the 25th year of his age, being the last of
twelve children born to his afflicted parents, John J. and Bendigedig
Winifred Jones, died of heart complaint, at the residence of his
father in this city, June the 12th.

This was June the 19th, one week exactly.

As the woman saw me looking at it, she pointed to it, then to the bed.
It was the bed where her last son died! And our interview ended in my
taking the room, at eight dollars a week, my food to be sent up to me,
and my solitude never to be invaded by the sweeper, the bedmaker, or
any living being.

I was suited. The position, as I said when I began this day's journal,
strikes me, just as it struck me then, favorably in respect to safety.
The hunters who chance to come after me, and in all this vast chaos of
houses, this hive of involved yet separate and distinct cities, New
York, track me out to No.__ Columbia Street, must be omniscient! This
number of all--this street of all.

I keep this journal, because if I hold my secret I shall go mad. I
keep this journal, because to tell it but on paper were ruin--death.
And I think in this way I shall be safe from pursuit--safe also from
going crazy.

I have gone out of the house into the street but once since I came
here. I crept forth this evening at dusk, and found, as far off from
my lodgings as possible, a hardware store. I bought a saw, a screw-
driver, some screws, a couple of gimlets, and a chisel. The saw is
thin and fine, of that description known as a compass-saw. I then went
to a grocer's and purchased a bottle of sweet-oil. Saws go quite
silently well oiled, unless you strike knots. Lastly, I found a
carpenter's shop, still open. There were journeymen doing jobs for
themselves after hours, inside, and I easily got some nice pine boards
of them, fair and smooth planed. I shall go to work tomorrow.

Second Day's Journal.

I have done good work to-day. I have put the memorial of my terror out
of sight. It is safe; no one can know where it is but I.

Quietly, at dawn, I began operations. I am sure none of the family
were awake. I listened at the key-hole of John L. Jones; he and his
wife were in heavy slumber. And the one maid-servant they did keep did
not come down from her garret for three hours after.

There is a closet which opens out of my room, just large enough to
turn around in, and used as a clothes-press. A row of nails runs
around its plaster wall. There are a couple of large drawers close to
the floor. From all these conveniences every trace of John L. Jones,
Jun., has been removed, and I am installed therein. The contents of my
carpet-bag are spread about the closet as widely as possible, to make
a show of occupying it. A poor show it is, however. When the terror
first seized me I had only time to snatch this bag and be off. I would
not go back for the rest of my baggage for the world.

But what is the terror? Yes, I must tell it. I must faithfully
disclose every thing, or this journal will have been merely a
fruitless trouble, and I _shall_ go mad after all. I am coming to the

I said I began operations at dawn. This was the fashion of it. I drew
one of the drawers in the closet completely out of its case, so
gradually that it made no rumbling, no creaking. This left the floor
beneath it bare. I brushed away the dust that had been accumulating
ever since the drawer was first slid in. I measured out upon the floor
an area just six inches square. At each of the four corners of it I
bored a hole with my gimlet. And then, after thoroughly oiling my
compass-saw, I inserted it, and speedily had a square hole, of the
dimensions I have told, through the plank, and all without noise. The
square piece that came out I put carefully by, that it might not be
abraded on the edges and lose its accuracy for the purpose of a cover.

With the pieces of thin and smooth pine board I had procured of the
carpenters I framed a square box, exactly fitting within the hole, and
just deep enough not to strike the lath of the ceiling below when I
sunk its upper edges half the thickness of the floor-plank. This box I
fastened in its piece by noiseless screws. I then plowed the edge of
the cover which I had sawed out in making the hole, so that it fitted
in its place perfectly over the top of the box. I had thus a little
pit in the floor, with a lid admirably adjustable, and in a place
quite unimaginable to anybody but myself.

And now, what was all this for? Ugh! It freezes me to tell, but I
must--I will!

I go very quietly to my carpet-bag. It lies in an unusual place for
baggage--between the tick and the mattress of my bed. I have slept on
it thus ever since I came to the house of John L. Jones. I put my hand
in to draw it out--Hark! I withdraw my hand quickly! There is a
footstep outside; is any body looking in at the key-hole? No! the foot
goes up the garret stairs--it is the servant's--but I hang a coat over
the lock to make sure. I draw out the carpet-bag. I said I had
arranged its contents in the closet. Yes; but not all. In the very
bottom of the bag is a very carefully tied and sealed bundle;
cylindrical, and wrapped in strong papers. I take it out; I tremble
from head to foot while I am doing so; and even in the blurred, cheap
looking-glass which hangs on the pier I can see that my face is as
white as his who last lay on the bed before me. Both dim and pale, not
so much as if it were I as the only son of John L. Jones coming back
to haunt me out of the damp wall. But I break the seals with a
twitching hand, laying the fragments of wax carefully in one place,
where I may gather and destroy them; I unfold one by one the many
layers of paper, and place them also by themselves. And with the cold
beads standing on my brow and cheeks, as on a flask in an ice-house, I
come to the core of the bundle. I hold it in my hand.

A bloody dagger? No. A roll of bank-notes? No. A coining die? Not at
all. A harmless-looking, ordinary, stout glass phial, with a ground
glass stopper, cemented hermetically in the neck. A phial whose
capacity is about four fluid ounces. It is full almost to the top of a
transparent greenish liquid, and as I tip it the small bubble of air
which lies above it floats slowly up and down with a gradual sliding
motion and shows the liquid to be of a somewhat oily consistency, like
the stronger acids. I lift it to my nostrils, forced to do so by an
irresistible fascination; and even through that hermetical sealing it
seems to me as if I perceived a whiff of death--a charnel odor that is
horrible. It may be, nevertheless, only fancy working on me with the
heavy air of this recent corpse-chamber in which I live. But at any
rate I sicken, I faint, so that the phial nearly falls from my hands.
It is not poison--perhaps any one but I might drink it all and be
unharmed; but that fluid, even through its stout glass walls, _murders
me like a slow lightning_! O my God! would that I could bury it, burn
it, dash it from me where it would never return! But it is an
indestructible phial of vengeance--a fluid doom of hell--never, never,
never to be exiled from me any more!

It is this for which I have made the hiding-place in the closet. I
summon all my strength and will--I carry it, hardly opening my eyes to
look where I go, to that little pit which I have made--I lay it
therein--I cram down the layers of wrapping paper over it--I replace
the tight-fitting wood cover, and, finally, I slide the drawer back
over all to its former place. Then the horror lifts again from my
shoulders a little space, and I lie down on my bed, convulsed in every
nerve of my whole body.

The work is done. Through a broken shutter of my closed window one
clear, sharp pencil of sunlight, showing that the day is now high-
mounted, streams in, flushing the moty space about me, and falls like
an unescapable, omniscient finger right on the threshold of the

O God! the very sun knows my secret and tells it!

But I will not put down my revelations to-day. No. I am too sick. I
will stop till to-morrow.

Third Day's Journal.

It is--as I see on looking at my last date--five days since I wrote in
this record. I have been very ill; part of the time quite delirious, I
think. How fortunate that I have been alone! Yes, even if I had died
alone, how fortunate. The red-haired Denbighshire girl, who brings up
my meals sometimes, I am quite sure, knocked in vain for entrance, so
stertorous have been my slumbers; for although she has not a command
of English sufficient to communicate that fact to me, I infer it from
having found the salver, with my food all cold upon it, placed on the
floor outside my room, long after meal-hours. And at the times when I
have answered her knock, the pitying, half-fearful look she has cast
upon me seemed to prove that, in her experience, no much more
miserable man had manifested himself.

How fortunate that I am alone! For I have been doing, saying very
strange things, and I am not aware whether all of them, as I know part
to be, are dreams.

Take, for instance, the night after my last entry in my journal. I had
hardly closed my eyes in sleep before this vision came into my
presence. A beautiful girl of twenty knelt before me, her black hair
rushing down over her fair neck in great free waves, like a mid-forest
waterfall looked at in the first darkness of a summer evening, when
the white floor of pebbles below it could still be seen glimmering up
here and there through the water. A passionate melancholy made her
face shadowy, and at the same time glowed in it with unearthly light,
making a strange Rembrandt _chiar-oscuro_ that pained me mystically.
With her small white hands she beat her still whiter breast, and ever,
as her left side was disclosed, a deadly fresh wound showed ghastly in
the vague light of the dream--a wound to the very heart, and still
slowly dropping, dropping blood, like life telling itself away on
beads of coral. She spoke no word, but looked at me---looked me to
stone. I could not cry out; I could not move; yet I heard many voices
as of people coming behind me. I tried to flee, but I could not even
wake up.

At this moment of intense pain the dream changed. A shining mosque of
pure glass, with a single minaret, whose crystals blazed in the sun
like solid fire, rose suddenly from the ground---up-builded in an
instant by magic. Gravitation lost all power over me, and I flew to
the very pinnacle of the minaret with the ease of a wind-wafted
gossamer. Till I reached it I thought myself alone, but just as I
alighted I discovered that I had a burden in my arms. In surprise, I
scrutinized it--it was a woman. Oh horror! it was she of the raven
hair--the bleeding heart! I sought to loose her grasp from me, but I
could not; it was the death-clutch. At last, in my despair, seeing a
trap-door open in the bulb of the minaret, I hurled the girl down
through it, and saw her strike, fathoms below, on the crystal
pavement. So released, I flew leagues away across the air. But still I
was plagued. The mosque, also taking wings, pursued me. At last, in a
desert place, I dropped down breathless, and in anguish of fear
cowered shrinking into myself, for shelter there was none. A moment
more, and the mosque of glass dropped beside me. But how changed! It
had grown--it was still growing--smaller, and its rate of diminution
increased constantly. At last, with one great spiral whirl, it shrunk
to a gigantic flask, and in it, beating her breast, showing her red
heart's wound, knelt the girl! Another whirl, and it was the phial--
_the_ phial of dread! As small as the phial I thought I had buried out
of sight; but in it knelt clear as before, and seen through a green
fluid medium, though almost infinitesimally little and delicate, the
girl of the pierced heart. And as the apothecary labels his phials, so
this was labelled. In letters black as ink could be, yet burning into
my eyes like a calcium light, was written on the label, "Charlotte
Lynde, in the 21st year of her age." Then I _did_ wake! I leaped from
my bed crying, "Who labeled the phial? My God! who labeled the phial?
Who told you that I had put her in it? I am lost!" As I woke more
thoroughly I stilled myself; I think I was not heard; and then, to
reassure myself, I went to the closet, laboriously got out the phial
from its tomb, and, striking a light found it was _not_ labeled. Then
putting it back I slid the drawer home again, and sat on the closet-
floor all night, keeping watch in the darkness with my hand on the
drawer knob.

Fourth Day's Journal.

Among the Post-office advertisements in the _Herald_ of today (kindly
sent upon the salver with my breakfast) I saw my name. It seemed to
speak itself from the column--it gave me almost such a shock as
hearing it called at my side by a familiar voice. Ah! these
newspapers! that can shout their recognitions into your utmost dungeon
privacies; how dreadful would they be had they power of return to
their starting-place with answers! The reflection that they could not
reassured me, and I read my name over again with calmness.

It may seem fool-hardy, but I resolved to go for that letter. It would
be a relief to the intense silence and self-devourings of my own mind
to see what somebody else had to say--somebody who could not see me.
So I stole down by the extreme east edge of town. Along the piers,
through South Street, then across to the Post-office.

It was agony to stand in that string of applicants who, keeping
painful lock-step, march to the prison-looking window where advertised
letters are to be had! A slow ordeal of torture, truly, to a man who
hardly dares to stand in one place for an instant, lest he should
multiply the probability of recognition. The man in front of me, when,
after ages, it came his turn, higgled with the feverish, question-sick
clerk about the extra postal charge for advertising. I could have
knocked him down in my terrible agony of haste to be away. But he paid
his pennies and took himself off, and I stood at the grating.

"What name?" said the clerk.

"Edgar Sands," I answered, feeling my voice twitch at the muscles of
my throat like a horse at the rein. But I held it firm, it did not
tremble. Just then a hand fell on my shoulder. I started as if the
executioner grasped me, looked around, and found that it was only a
drunken sailor, who begged my pardon when he saw my astonishment. But
the shock he gave me I did not recover from for hours.

"Sands--Sands--what first name?" repeated the clerk, slowly.

"Edgar, I said," was my reply. I fancied he was longer in looking over
the bundle in his hand than there was need, and made a gesture of
impatience. His motions quickened perceptibly, but he seemed (though
that may have been fancy) scrutinizing me in an underbrowed way as
much as he did the letters. It was very disagreeable even to fancy it.

"Ah, here it is--Edgar Sands! By-the-way, Mr. Sands, could you give us
your address, so that the postman may call on you on his rounds when
you have any thing? We have so many Sandses come into the advertised
department that they give us a great deal of trouble; in fact, my own
sands nearly run out sorting them--ha, ha, ha! Heh?"

This sally of wit, coming as it did from a being whose particular
routine is usually supposed to have withered all the faculties save
those of quick reading and manipulation, so staggered me that I stood
regarding him fixedly for a moment, half suspecting him, half
overwhelmed by him, and then answered.

"I will come for my letters as I want them," and passed out the door.

The letter was in my pocket, and if possible, it brought me still
nearer than I had been to the further verge of miserableness. I
thought I knew the handwriting; I durst not open it to see. I durst
not stop for an instant on any account. The whole trial at the Post-
office had brought back the old dread in all its relentlessness of
clinging, freezing weight. I feared myself watched. Who could tell but
that unusual conversation of the delivery clerk had been meant to
detain me till I could be marked? How did I know but at that very
instant I was tracked by some lynx-eyed emissary? And what if, after
all my careful calculation, I should be followed to my improbable

I knew the horror of Cain; I seemed moving before an omniscient
persecutor! Yet I have not done his wrong. Nay--but my soul answers--
nay, but thou hast done a dreadful thing!

One hope of escape from the Nemesis I could not see (but felt as if
all my body were covered with eyes), one hope remained. I sauntered
into the Hotel Jellalich, a foreign inn, full of lounging men whose
beards were wet with beer, and cutting my way through the smoke of
pipes as up to a battery, demanded a room of the barkeeper. I had been
traveling--I was weary--I would sleep till the Cape May boat went out.
Monsieur would be called? Yes, at a quarter to four precisely. Would
it please Monsieur to take dinner? No dinner. The man handed me a key.
On which floor was the room? The second, Monsieur. I prefer the first,
the ground-floor. The man looked surprised, but changed my key. I
laid down the price on the counter, and a boy went before me to show
the way, carrying a whisk broom and slippers. I locked the door after
me as soon as I had entered, and then looked out of the window. It
opened on a court full of unsavory garlic steams, but just now
entirely empty of aught but that. A sensitive nose would have thought
it fully occupied.

But I had not time to think of such odors. I seemed to breathe in the
charnel smell of the dreadful phial, and behind me I fancied
footsteps, whispers, all sorts of sounds that tremble and cause to
tremble. I placed a chair against the door, on the chair a pillow from
the dingy bed to hide the keyhole, and then I tried the sash. It was
damp and swollen; it had lost one cord and weight, so that I made slow
progress, and was in an agony of fear to hear it creak. But then ten
minutes' patient, gradual pushing lifted it far enough to admit my
head and shoulders, after which I fell rather than clambered out.
Still there was no one in the court, and, thanking God, I slunk
through it to the farther side, out of which a dark porte-cochere led
into the street. I came into the open air; I was unperceived; I was
safe! Ah! safe? As safe as _I_ could be.

Thus I escaped, and by degrees got back to my room at John L. Jones's.
Once there, I sank trembling into a chair and drew forth the letter. I
tore open the envelope, and hungriedly read these words:

"Albany, June 3, 18--

"Edgar Sands, Esq.

"Very dear Sir,---It is now a week since my daughter Charlotte left
home in your charge, to spend a couple of days in the city of New
York. No one but a widowed father like myself, with this only child,
can fancy the distress with which I tell you that, in all this time, I
have not received a word of tidings from her. She was intending to
stop with her mother's sister in East Eleventh Street; and when two
days had elapsed beyond her furthest proposed stay, and I got no
letter relieving my anxiety, my fears became so extreme that I
telegraphed to that lady for some information relative to my poor
girl. In three hours the answer came back that she had not been seen
or heard from! I went immediately to New York by the earliest train
and sought out your laboratory. You were not there, nor have I been
able to find you. As a last resource, I take this means of reaching
you. If it fails--and nothing more reveals itself--I go down to the
grave in bitterness that has no name. For God's sake, dear Sir, let me
hear from you immediately! Telegraph me fully as you would write on

"I can form but one hypothesis to keep me from utter despair.
Charlotte's mother and her family were all subject to fits of
insanity--sometimes occurring most unexpectedly--once resulting
fatally. And in my daughter's childhood I remember her having shown
strange indications, which gave us much anxiety for the future. She
may have reached New York with you, and then wandered away, under the
influence of her first attack of this awful malady.

"Pity me! pity me! for God's sake. All you know, let me have; and if
she is dead, I shall be better satisfied than if she, the beautiful,
the lovely, is lost, without any guiding soul, in that dark, dangerous
city. Telegraph instantly! And God deal with you as you deal with her
heart-broken father, your father's friend and yours.

"Russell Lynde.

"Edgar Sands., Esq, New York."

You might tell me till my dying day that it was rats beneath the
floor; but it was not. With my last breath I would swear not. I heard
distinctly, as I read aloud the last words of this letter, a rattling
in the closet--a dull, heavy clink, as of that phial with its contents
shaken up and down, trying to escape from the pit in the floor! And
then there came up through the planks, and out of the crevices of the
door, a low, prolonged, bitter wail, as of a woman in soul-pain. Rats!
Do rats cry like dying women?

I ran to the closet, feeling my head full of molten lead, which was
about to pour out through my eyes. I tore out the drawer without much
regard to noise--I pried up the cover of my pit and looked down. The
phial _had_ moved; from the centre where I had placed it it had shrunk
into one corner. I had left it upright; it was lying flat! I took it
into my hand; it seemed blistered all over with icy drops of sweat!

I brought it out into the light of the room--a muffled light, but
brighter than the closet's. Did I dream again? I chafed my forehead to
wake me up, if all this was but another freak of sleep. I looked once

_Charlotte Lynde was kneeling in that phial--the blood-red spot
showing between the fingers that she pressed upon her heart_!

I shook the phial--I whispered madly, "If thou be now a fiend in the
life which thou livest, in God's name, _depart_! If thou be gathered
among the angels, pity me for Christ's mercy and _depart_!"

She never moved at atom's breadth. I set the phial down upon the
table, and felt a devil-calmness take possession of me. I looked the
dread full in the face, and sat down to write a _lie_ to the girl's

"Russell Lynde, Esq.

"Respected Sir,---On the day that I left Albany in company with your
daughter, I fully expected to take charge of her as far as New York. We
reached Poughkeepsie, where the train stopped ten minutes, and Miss
Lynde, who had seemed dejected during the whole three hours of our
journey, complained of feeling ill and desired me to bring her a glass
of water. I left our seat to comply with the request and returned as
soon as possible, but found her gone. Supposing her absence temporary,
I made no search for her until just before the train was to start, and
then, feeling somewhat anxious, rose and passed through to ascertain
whether she might not by mistake have got into the wrong car on her
return. She was nowhere to be seen. I then got off and looked for her
through the rooms of the station--alas! with the same result. My fears
became extreme, and I abandoned my project of taking that train to New
York, left it, and spent the remainder of the afternoon in looking for
her through the hotels of Poughkeepsie. My search was equally
fruitless there. At length I remembered her speaking of relatives in
the place, whom she very much wished to see, and came to the
conclusion that she had determined to change her plan and visit them.
But as their name was unknown to me, I could pursue my quest no
farther. I therefore returned to the station and took a late train to
the city. I have been out of town ever since, or would have received
your letter long ago and answered it immediately.

"I can understand your agony. I agree with your hypothesis of
derangement, but further information I am unable to give.

"May God pity and help you!

"Your humble servant--"

Thus far had I come in the written lie and was about to sign my name
to it, when I heard the very same dull ringing of the phial that had
driven me mad before. It was moving toward me on the table, and in it
I clearly beheld the figure shake its finger at me--once--twice--
thrice--and the pen fell from my hand.

I was _compelled_ to resume it. Within that horrible glass prison I
saw a gesture _commanding_ me to. I could have sooner disobeyed the
pitiless sweep of an engine crank to which I was lashed by cords!
Then, not audibly to the external sense, but ringing like a bell to
the inner ear, I heard a low voice dictating, and seizing another
sheet of paper I wrote:

"Thrice miserable Father,---I have no longer any hand which can hold
human pen, but I use Edgar Sands to write for me. I was going mad
slowly for days. Days and days, nights and nights, when no soul but I
knew it. When I left Albany, I was sure I should never see you again.
Death went riding at my side between me and my useless protector all
the way to New York. Protector! who _could_ protect me from the slayer
that he could not see, feel or hear? Though on the seat by my side, by
Edgar's, he sat to my eyes plainly visible, muttering, 'It comes! It
comes!' and when we were half-way down the road, 'It hastens! It

"Reaching New York, I asked Edgar Sands to show me his laboratory.
_It_ made me ask him. That was the place for the end of all things,
_it_ said. He took me there as I desired, immediately. We were alone
together among the strange poisons, each one of whom, with a quicker
or a slower death-devil in his eye, sat in his glass or porcelain
sentry-box, a living force of bale. Should it be Hemp? No, that was
too slow, uncertain, painful. Morphine? Too many antidotes--too much
commonness, ostentation in _that_. Daturin? I did not like to ask how
much of that was certain. I saw a small glass bottle full of crystals,
labeled 'Anhydrous Cyanic Acid.' I knew that was sure, quick as
thought. I slyly took down the bottle, opened it, withdrew a slender
diamond spear, and was just putting it to my tongue, when Edgar turned
around, saw me, caught my hand soon enough, and I was cheated of that
conclusion. He eyed me in surprise, cried, 'Are you crazy?' and I
answered, looking innocent, that I thought the thing was harmless. 'It
would have killed you like a thunderbolt!' he replied, pale as death
and trembling. 'Ah, indeed! how terrible!' I answered, and turned
away. There was a long, thin knife lying by the charcoal pan of a
blowpipe, used, I saw, to chip off small fragments of minerals to be
tested. That was bitter, but quick, and before Edgar had recovered
from his first alarm it was in my heart to the hilt.

"We were all alone, locked into the laboratory. I made only one faint
moan, and fell on my knees at his feet, the blood darting out between
the fingers, which I pressed against the faint, fierce pain. And he
only cried, 'My God! My God! we are lost, both lost!' He ran for help,
for a witness at the least, but before he could open the door I had
fallen upon the marble floor--_dead_!

"In the air, hovering among strange voices and shapes, I still saw
him. There must have been madness in my cold face, lying below there,
which he caught; for, instead of leaving the place, he went calmly to
work, with an awful despair in his eyes, and cut the shell of me--the
husk I had left--to pieces; as a surgeon would, on a table in a
laboratory. These fragments he screwed down into a large retort, and
placed in the fiercest of flames, fed with pure oxygen. Though still
above, apart from them and him, and in the spirit, I knew that all of
me that had been seen on earth was reducing there to the ultimates--I
was distilled there by degrees. Through the worm of the still my
physical life came over in a fluid; and, drop by drop, he saw it fall
into the receiver, watching through the whole night, with lips blue as
corruption in the flame which he moved only to feed. That motionless,
bloodless face of his, by its terrible attraction, called back my
soul into the fluid, though from the solid body my life had parted
long hours before. I was becoming enthralled--dungeon-covered in a
pit of glass. At four in the morning he had done the heaviest part of
his work. He let the fire go down; the ashy residuum in the bottom of
the retort he treated with acid; it cleared; and he poured the fluid
result into the receiver, which held my distilled being. Then it was
that my soul came wholly back into the liquid body thus prepared for
it--I was one with a strange, greenish, phosphorescent oil. Ah! that
was agony which, in the life of the frame of bone, nerve, muscle, had
no parallel! Agony--hellish agony--with no prospect of an end! For he
knew not what he was subjecting me to; the fiend used him for my
misery, while he only thought of obliterating all traces of the
damning crime humanity would lay at his door, finding me stabbed to
the heart.

"He poured all my life from the receiver into a phial. He sealed the
phial hermetically--yes, hermetically, for my shrieks within, which
cracked my own ears, were utterly inaudible to him. Then he deluged
with strong acids all the blood-spots on the floor, the table, and
fled the laboratory in the first gray light of morning, taking me with
him in his satchel.

"I am with him now--shut up to this liquid life of hell---a hell that
will never cease till the phial be broken, the liquid outpoured, and I
set free to fly to Heaven's court of pardon for forgiveness. I am
worthy of pardon: I was mad when I did the crime.

"God pity thee, poor, poor Father, and thy daughter.

"Charlotte Lynde."

I had finished this letter mechanically, not meaning aught else in my
pen but scrawls, never knowing what word was coming next, and wholly
forced along, by an outer will. I had signed the name; and then, for
the first time, I saw that the hand in which I had traced every letter
of the whole--was _Charlotte Lynde's_!

Heavy feet came up the front steps. They sounded like the feet
visiting a vault, on the damp stones in front of John L. Jones's. The
ghostly bell said link, link, link, link, link, as when I had pulled
it; it was answered by the same grim warder; and then I heard eager
voices in conversation. O God! I heard my own name mentioned
distinctly in the dark, wet entry below!

Then the heavy footsteps came up the stairs, trampling each step
behind angrily, each step in front, hungrily--all doomfully! They
reached the landing, stopped at my door, and my name was uttered

There was a large tub of water standing by the side of my washstand. I
ran to it, snatching the phial from the table as I went. With one blow
against the edge of the tub I broke off the neck of the phial, and let
the dreadful fluid run out. A violent vapor, variegated with amber and
leek-green, filled the room; a strangling grave odor pervaded my very
brain--my eyes were nigh burned out by the pungency of it--and still
the fluid trickled slowly down into the water.

No, not _into_ it, for it floated upon the water, utterly refusing to
mingle. At first it lay in a broad, shallow, iridescent pellicle over
the whole surface. My name was spoken louder at the door, and hard,
eager hands shook the lock. Then that concentrated essence of a mad
life gathered itself, by the same law of grouping which had given its
original members birth as one body, and turning an agonized face up
into my own--(a strong man's shoulder forges against the door!)--
trying to hide a red, pierced heart, there lay on the top of the
water, clear as in clearest life, Charlotte Lynde!

The door gave way. Three men came into the room. One was John L.
Jones, one was the delivery clerk, and one--the father of the dead

"Fiend!" he cried, making at me, while the two others scarcely held
his struggling arms, "what have you done with my child?"

I said not a word, but pointed first at the last letter I had written,
lying on the table; then at the surface of the water. The three men
bent over and gazed--two of them with looks of blank amazement, but
one with an agony that paralyzed every muscle of his face. And just
then the shape smiled full into the father's face, looked and pointed
toward heaven, then gathered itself above the water, and flew up
between us; for an instant lingering caressingly upon the old man's
white head--then disappeared forever.

I fell to the floor--not from dread, but because peace at last came
too suddenly. And this last day of my journal is written at the first
lodging I moved to after I was discharged from Bloomingdale Insane


Chapter I.--The Old Maid's Chapter

---Die, if dying I may give
Life to one who asks to live.
And more nearly.
Dying thus, resemble thee!

'Ciel! Zat is ze true heroique! Zat is ze very far finest ting in all
ze literature anglaise! Zere have not been made vun more sublime
poesie by your immortel Villiams Shakyspeare! Glorieux! Vat a grandeur
moral of ze woman who vill vonce die for her love!'

'_Once_? I knew a woman who died twice for _hers_.'

The enthusiastic admirer of Longfellow was a French professor in one
of our American Colleges, by name Gautier Bonenfant. The person who
met his panegyric with such a strange response, was Orloff Ruricson,
by birth a Swede, by adoption a New-Yorker, and by trade the
proprietor of a Natural History Museum. These two, with myself, were
sitting on the west piazza of the little inn at Kaaterskill Falls. All
of us hard-working men in the hard-working season; but on this tenth
day of July, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, soaking the dust out of
our brains in a bath of sunlight and mountain air, forgetting in
company that life was not all one sweet vacation.

Bonenfant and I looked at Ruricson with puzzled faces. Though a good
fellow and a wisely humorous one, he seldom said anything whose
cleverness lay in a double-entendre.

'Pray, who is that remarkable woman?' said I.

'It is my wife,' replied Orloff Ruricson soberly.

'And she die, von, two, tree time?' asked Bonenfant, with uplifted

'And she died three times for her love,' repeated Orloff Ruricson.

'Perhaps you would have no objection to tell us exactly what you
mean?' said I.

'None at all, to _you two_. With this proviso. I know that you, John
Tryon, write for the magazines. For aught I know, Bonenfant here, may
be a correspondent of the _Constitutionnel.'

'Mais non! I am ze mose red of Red Republican!'

'Perhaps you are Ledru Rollin, then, travelling in disguise to hunt
materials for a book. At any rate, I must exact of both of you a
promise, that if a single lineament of the story I am going to relate,
ever gets into print through your agency, it shall be represented as
fictitious, and under assumed names.'

'C'est fait!'

'It's a bargain!'

'You see, I live by my Museum. And if the public suspected that I was
a visionary man, the press and the pulpit and general opinion would
run me down immediately. I should be accused of denying the
originality of the human race inferentially, through my orang-outang;
of teaching lessons of maternal infidelity through my stuffed ostrich;
of seducing youth into a seafaring life by my preserved whale. No more
schools, at half-price on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by their
principal; no more favorable notices by editors 'who have been with
their families,' for you, Orloff Ruricson!'

'And what I am going to tell you will seem visionary. Even to you.
Nevertheless, it is as real as any of the hardest facts in my daily
life. Take my solemn word for it.

'When I was ten years old, my parents emigrated from Sweden to this
country. At the age of twelve, I lost my father. At thirteen, I was
apprenticed to a man who stuffed birds in Dutch-street. At fourteen,
I was motherless. At twenty, my term was out, and I began to think of
setting up as a taxidermist on my own hook. There! The Biographical
Dictionary can't beat that summary of ten years, for compactness!

'I made a very liberal offer to my master; in fact, proposed to take
him into partnership. He nobly refused to avail himself of my
generosity. Bird-stuffing, even in New-York, was not a very lucrative
business, and would hardly support two, he suggested. What did I think
of one of the river towns? Albany, or Hudson, or Poughkeepsie, for
instance? I did not tell him what; but in reality, I though so little
of them, that within ten days after my indenture was cancelled, I had
taken a little nook in the Bowery, with window enough to show off
three blue-jays, a chameleon, and a very young wild-cat, (whose
domesticity I may, at this day, acknowledge to have been slandered by
that name,) and sufficient door to display the inscription: 'Orloff
Ruricson, Taxidermist and Aviarian Professor.' Even at that day, you
see, Bonenfant, we imposters had begun to steal your literary title.'

'Sacrebleu! I do very moshe vish zat ze only ting ze plenty humbug
professors now-a-days _stuff_ was ze _birds_!'

'Well, _I_ may have stuffed the public a little, too. At any rate,
they patronized me far better than I had any reason to expect. By the
time I was of age, I had moved my business one door farther up, to a
shop treble the size of the first; and instead of sleeping under and
eating on top of my show-case, as I began, I occupied lodgings with a
respectable cutler's widow, second-story front of a brick house on
Third Avenue, and came down to my store every morning at nine o'clock,
like any wholesale grocer.

'I had been installed in my comfortable quarters only six weeks, when
a new lodger came to the boarding-house. The first thing that I knew
of it, was my beholding, directly opposite me at a Sunday dinner, the
most preternaturally homely face I had ever seen. As I took my seat,
and opened my napkin, the cutler's widow inclined her head in the
direction of the apparition, and uttered the words: 'Miss Brentnall.'
I cast a glance and a bow in the same quarter, pronouncing the name
after her. 'Mr. Ruricson,' said the landlady laconically, and nodded
toward me. 'Mr. Ruricson,' repeated the miracle of plainness, in a
voice so sweet that I could not rid myself of the impression that it
must be the ventriloquism of some one else. At the same moment she
smiled. The smile was as incongruous with the face as the voice; and
for that glancing half-minute, Miss Brentnall was a dozen shades more

'Cruikshank, acting as collaborator of Salvator Rosa, would fall short
of any thing more ambitious than a slight sketch of the woman's
unearthly homeliness. I dare hardly attempt to describing her in
words, but for your sake, let me try.

'Her hair was like Bonenfant's Republicanism, 'the most red of red,'
but without the usual characteristic of that color, silky fineness. In
fact, unless you have been through a New England corn-field in the
dog-days, and noticed the very crispest of all the crisp tassels which
a brazen sun has been at work baking for the month previous; unless
you have seen some peculiarly unsheltered specimen, to the eye like
dried blood, and to the fingers like dust and ashes, you cannot
imagine the impression produced by Miss Brentnall's hair. I really
trembled lest our awkward waiter's sleeve would touch it, in serving
the vegetables, and send it crumbling from her head in a form of a
crimson powder. Her forehead was in every respect immense---high,
broad, and protuberant enough for the tallest man who ever prided
himself on his intellect; still, it might have been pardoned, if it
had been fair withal, instead of sallow, wrinkled and freckled. A
nose, whose only excuse for its mammoth maturity of size and its
Spitzenberg depth of color, lay in the fact that it was exposed to the
torrid glare of the tresses, depended, like the nest of the hanging
bird, between a pair of ferrety eyes, which seemed mere penknife
gashes in a piece of red morocco. At that day, I could not swear to
the pupils; but a profane man of sensitive mind, might have sworn at
them, for they seemed to be a damp--not a swimming, but a soaked
damp--pale blue. Flanking the nose, imagine an inch and a half on
either side, of dingy parchment, stretched almost to tearing, and you
will get the general idea of the sides of Miss Brentnall's face; I
will not travesty the word 'cheeks,' by calling them that. Below the
nose, a mouth which would have been deformedly small for a child two
weeks old; before that, a chin which hardly showed at all in front,
and, taking a side view, seemed only an eccentric protraction of the
scraggy neck to which it was attached. Now for the figure. High,
stooping shoulders; a long, flat, narrow, mannish waist; the lower
extremities immoderately short; immense feet; group these in one
person, and you have a form to which I know only two parallels out of
the world of nightmare, a German wooden doll, and Miss Brentnall.'

'Diable de laideur! You see zat viz your own eyes?'

'Yes, Bonenfant.'

'And yet you be yourself not vare ugly, after all!'

'So I have heard, Bonenfant. You will be more surprised to feel that
this is the case, when you know that I lodged in the same house with
Miss Brentnall a whole year. Indeed, she occupied the very next room
to mine. I was second-story, front, she second-story back, during all
that time; and do you know that I became very well acquainted with

'Ah! It is pos-_sible_ for a gentleman to be vare polite to vare ugly

'Yes, but from preference, I mean. I could shut my eyes, and hear her
voice, or open them at the transient moment when she was smiling, and
forget that she was homely at all. I discovered that she was the only
remnant of a large family; that awakened my pity. In addition, she was
very well-informed, thought and conversed well; that aroused my
respect. And when, in spite of a face and figure which by poetic
justice should have belonged to Sin itself, I perceived that she had
the kindest of hearts, and the most delicate of sensibilities, I am
not ashamed to confess that I soon became attached to her.'

'Attach? You have fall in love vis zat e-scary-crow? You have married

'Hear me through, Bonenfant, and you will find out. In the present
instance, I mean, by the word 'attached,' nothing but a pure Platonic
friendship. I do not make acquaintance easily. I visited nobody in
New York at that time. There was no one whose cheerful fireside I
could make my own for an evening; and my natural tastes, to say
nothing of any other feeling, kept me away from drinking-saloons.
Moreover, I had an insatiable longing to make something of myself. I
wanted the means for buying books, for travelling, for putting myself
into what I considered good society. Accordingly, I often brought
home, at evening, the specimens I had been working upon all day, and
continued my labors long into the night. While I was busily engaged
with the knife or the needle, the gentlest little tap would come at
the door, so gentle, so unlike any other sound, that, however absorbed
I might be, I always heard it, knew it was Miss Brentnall, and said:
'Walk in!' So, in hopped that eighth world-wonder of ugliness, now
with an orange for my supper, now with some pretty ornithological
engraving, of which, by the merest chance, she always had a duplicate
copy, and whose effect she would like to see on my wall. When she went
out, she always forgot to take it with her; and in a few months, my
room, through such like little kindnesses, became quite a portrait-
gallery of celebrated birds. Sometimes, Miss Brentnall spent the whole
evening with me. On such occasions, it was her greatest delight to
stand by my table, and see some poor, mussed, shrivelled lark or
Canary grow plump and saucy again, through the transformations of my
art. She called it 'bird-resurrection.' For an hour at a time, she
would stay close at my elbow, perfectly quiet, holding a pair of glass
eyes in her hand. When I asked for one of them, she gave it to me with
all the happiness of a helpful child; and, when at last both eyes were
fixed in the specimen, I have seen her clap her hands, and jump up and
down. In process of time, she became a real assistance to me. So apt a
mind had she, that from merely witnessing my methods, she learned to
stuff birds herself; and one evening, when I called 'come in,' to the
well known tap, I was surprised by seeing a parrot in her hands,
prepared and mounted almost as well as I could have done it myself. It
was a little present for the Professor, she said; she had been at work
upon it for the last two days. From that time, her voluntary services
were in my constant employ, whenever I worked of evenings.

'I was not so ungallant, however, as to let Miss Brentnall do all the
visiting. Whenever a lazy fit took me, and I could not have worked, or
studied, or walked, if I had been offered ten dollars an hour for
these exertions, I always forestalled her coming to my room by going
to hers. She had a large rocking-chair, which always seemed to run up
to the fireplace of its own accord, and hold out its arms for me, the
moment I came in. I would drop into that, shut my eyes, and say,
'Please talk to me,' or 'Please read to me,' with as much abandonment
as if I were speaking to my own mother. It never felt like exacting
impertinent demands of a stranger, I was so marvellously at my ease in
Miss Brentnall's room.'

'Ze man of mose mauvaise honte be not embarrass, I have observe, viz
ze vare ugly lady.'

'I don't think it was that, Bonenfant. I used to ask myself if it
might not be. But I always came to the conclusion that I should feel
the same, were Miss Brentnall the most beautiful person in the world.
There was something in her mind, especially as expressed in voice and
style of talking, that lulled me when I was most irritable, that
lifted the weight of self and pride quite off me for the time being. I
knew that we both liked to be together; that was enough: I did not
care, indeed I never once thought, how we either of us seemed to any
one else.

'I could not help being aware that the other boarders talked about us.
Having a pair of tolerably good ears, likewise of eyes, it was
difficult not to know that old Miss Flitch, my landlady's half-sister,
smelt a match in my intimacy with Miss Brentnall; that she considered
it ill-advised, on the ground that I was twenty-one, and the lady at
least forty; that she could imagine no possible motive in my mind,
except a view to Miss Brentnall's snug little property; that, as a
consequence of these promises, she regarded one of us a very mean
knave, and the other a doting fool. It was not difficult to understand
the meaning of Miss Simmons, an acid contemporary of Miss Brentnall's,
possessing all her chances of celibacy, half her homeliness, and one-
thousandth of her mind, when, as I took my seat next her at the
breakfast-table, she asked me, with a pretty simper, if I had spent
the last evening as pleasantly as usual. It was difficult to avoid
seeing the gentlemen wink at each other when they passed us talking
together in the entry; it was also difficult, as I perceive from
Bonenfant's face he would like to suggest, not to pull their noses for
it; but reflection suggested the absurdity of such a course. This is
one of the few objections I have to your native, and my adopted
country, Tryon, that notwithstanding the great benefit which results
from that intimacy between a man and a woman, in which each is _mere
friend_, and neither present nor expectant _loser_, our society will
not hear of such a thing, without making indelicate reference to
marriage. Still, I suppose they would have talked about us any where.

'Miss Brentnall knew this as well as I, and like me, never gave it a
thought after the momentary demonstration which recalled it. We passed
one whole delightful year together in the Third Avenue boarding-house.
I felt my own mind growing, becoming richer in all sorts of knowledge,
freer and clearer in every field of thinking, with each succeeding
day. And as for Miss Brentnall, she was so kind as to say, and I knew
she sincerely meant it, that to her, all lonely in the world, our
friendship was in all respects inestimable. At the end of the year,
Miss Brentnall was taken ill. For the first few days, neither she nor
I felt any serious alarm with reference to her case. The doctor
pronounced it a mild type of typhoid fever. It proceeded, so he said
to me in private, more from mental causes than from any tangible
physical one. Had she been unfortunate in any way? he asked me. I
could only reply that, as her intimate friend, I was unaware of the
fact. Probably she read late, then, he suggested. I said that might
be. At all events, her mind had been very much overtaxed; what she
needed was perfect quiet, good nursing, and as little medicine as
possible. Upon his giving me this view of the case, I sought out the
most faithful, judicious woman within reach, and hired her on Miss
Brentnall's behalf, to stay by her bedside night and day. My own
income, from the little shop in the Bowery, was now so fair, that I
felt able to repay, in some measure, the debt of gratitude I owed my
kind friend for her many contributions to the walls of my lonely room.
Accordingly, whenever I lighted on any new engraving or book of art,
or any embellishment to a sick-chamber, which seemed likely to attract
without fatiguing a strained mind, I brought it up to her in the
evening. If I had not been in her debt already, I should have been a
thousand times repaid for these little evidences of friendship, by the
appreciative delight with which the childlike woman talked of them,
for their own sake, and the grateful enthusiasm she bestowed upon them
for mine.

'The opportunity to be kind and thoughtful was very short. At the end
of the third week, the doctor gravely told me that typhus pneumonia
was becoming alarmingly prevalent in New York, and that Miss
Brentnall's disease had taken that form. Furthermore, that unless some
change for the better occurred in the course of the next twenty-four
hours, she would die.

'I heard this piece of news without the least outward sign of sorrow.
It did not seem possible to me that I could lose this best, kindest
friend I had in the world. You will think the reason whimsical
perhaps; but, merely because she was not beautiful, I felt as if she
would not be taken away from me. 'Only the beautiful die, only the
beautiful,' I kept saying to myself all day, in the shop or at the
work-table. In the evening, when I came back to the house, I found
that two things had occurred. Miss Brentnall's pulse had become
feebler, and she did not seem to me so plain as before. Then, for the
first time, I began to be afraid.

'In the morning the doctor took me into the entry, and told me that
his patient might live till mid-night, but not longer. Would I take
the painful office of breaking the intelligence to her? 'Yes,' I
replied, hardly knowing what I said.

'I entered the sick-room. As I came toward the bed, Miss Brentnall
opened her eyes and smiled.

'Martha,' said she, in a feeble voice, 'you may go down-stairs, and
get me some arrow-root.'

''I shall be dead in a few hours, Orloff. I have something to say to
you alone. I am sorry to go away from you. You have been kind to me,
Orloff. More than any body else in the world.'

'I took Miss Brentnall's poor, parched hand, but could not answer.
'Orloff--kind as you are to me--in the bottom of your heart, you know
that I have the most repulsive face you ever saw. Say _yes_, Orloff.
You _do_ know it. I have been sure of it, since I was a little girl,
six years old, thirty-four years ago, yesterday. I was never sorry for
it, more than a moment at a time, _until a year ago_. And now you may
tell me you see it, without hurting me at all. Pride is past. Say that
my face is the most unlovely in the world. _Say it to me please_.'

'I saw she was in deep earnest, and I brought myself to answer for her

''Well. But your soul is most lovely.'

''I thank you for saying it, Orloff. And now, now that pride is past,
I may tell you something which life would hide forever, but death
wrings out of my very soul. You have been a friend to me, a dear, kind
friend, Orloff; but nothing more. I have been something else to _you_.
A dying woman may say it. _I have loved you_.'

'For a minute we were both silent, and then Miss Brentnall resumed:
'Passionately, passionately. Without once deluding myself; without
once dreaming that there was a shadow of hope. Had you been blind; had
you been deaf; so that you could never have seen what I am, or heard a
word of it from other lips; even had you, under these circumstances,
loved me, I would have felt it base to give you, in exchange for
yourself, such a thing as I. But you did see, you did hear, and knew
that I loved _impossibly_. You came in, now, to tell me that I would
not live till to-morrow, did you not, Orloff?'

''I meant to, if I could,' was my reply.

''I had a dream just before you came in. I thought I saw you, and you
told me so. Do you know what a strange thing happened, just as you
seemed speaking? But you are not angry with me, for what I have said

''Angry? My dear friend, no!' said I instantly.

''The strange thing was this. As you spoke, my deformed face fell off
like a veil, and my body, like a cloak, was lifted from me. At the
same moment, I had the power of being outside of myself, of looking
down on myself, and I was--_very beautiful_. I was not proud, but I
was glad. I drank in a whole fountain of peace at every breath. At
that instant, I began to float further and further from you; but as I
went, I heard, oh! such a sweet voice saying: 'Again! Again! You shall
meet again!' As you came into the room, I awoke. And I have dared to
uncover my soul to you, Orloff Ruricson, because those words are still
in my ears. We _shall_ meet again! And when we meet, I shall be

'With all my respect for Miss Brentnall, it was impossible for me not
to feel that she was raving. Indeed, from this very belief I took
hope. I had seldom heard of cases like hers, in which patients, almost
in the very last hour, continued to be delirious. I therefore doubted
the doctor's diagnosis, and persuaded myself that, since she had not
arrived at the lucid interval preceding death, she was not so near it
as he suspected.

'Comforting myself with the assurance that I should see her well
again, or at least, that there was no immediate danger, I went down to
my shop in the Bowery, leaving orders to send for me immediately, if
any change took place in Miss Brentnall.

'After transacting the business of my trade, all day, I came back
earlier than usual at evening, greatly depressed in spirits, but
without any idea that I had seen my friend for the last time. As I put
my latch-key into the door of the boarding-house, it opened. I saw the
pale, frightened face of Martha, the nurse. She was just coming out
after me. Miss Brentnall was _dead_.

'And again I was alone in the world.'

Chapter II.--The Flicker's Chapter

'There was a quiet funeral where I was the only mourner. There were
days of loneliness succeeding, in which it seemed to me that the small
isthmus by which I had been living for a year attached to my fellow-
men, had been suddenly covered by the rising of a dark, cold tide;
that I was an islander again, and the only one.

'There was a will to be proved in the Surrogate's Court. Miss
Brentnall's nurse and the landlady witnessed it. I thought this
strange at first, remembering what a friend the dead had been to
me; but my surprise at not being a witness was soon supplanted by the
greater one of being sole legatee.

'There was a monument to be placed over the dead. To every detail of
it I attended personally. I remember how heavy even that simple little
shaft seemed to me, how much too heavy for a head that had borne so
much of heaviness through life. Then I thought of her expression
'bird-resurrection,' of her perfect faith in the coming of better
things; and if the monument had been a pyramid, I would have known
that it could not press _her_ down.

'It is one of my eccentricities that I fear good-fortune; not bad-
fortune, at all. For I have seen so much of it, that it only looks to
me like a grimmer kind of father, coming to wake his over-slept son
and tell him that unless he leaps from his feather-bed, and that right
suddenly, the time for every thing good in life will have gone by. I
fear good-fortune, because I am not sure that I shall use it well. It
may carry me till it has dwarfed me; I may lie on its breast till I
have lost my legs; then whisk! it may slip away from under me and
leave me a lame beggar for the rest of my life.

'I resolved, therefore, that I would not touch a farthing of my new
property until I had become quite familiar with the idea of owning it.
It was in stocks when I found it. I converted it into real-estate
securities, and as fast as my interest came in, deposited it in the
bank. Meanwhile, I supported myself well upon the little shop; bought
books, and laid something by.

'I was busy one morning at my stuffing-table in the back-room, when
the bell over the street-door rang; and running into the front-shop, I
found a new customer. He was a private bird-fancier, he told me, and
had brought a specimen, which he wished mounted for his cabinet. As he
spoke, he slid back the cover from a box which he carried in his arm;
and as I looked in, expecting to see a dead bird, a live one hopped
out and sat upon my finger.

''I declare that is very curious!' said the gentleman; 'the creature
never did such a thing before! I have had it eight months without
being able to domesticate it in the slightest. It will not even eat or
drink when any body is in the room; yet there it is sitting on your

'I had never seen such a bird before. It resembled the northern
meadowlark in size and shape; in hue, its wings were like the quail's,
its breast ash-color, its tail mottled above, like the wings, and of a
delicate canary yellow beneath. But the greatest beauty it possessed
was a bright crimson crescent, covering the whole back of the head.
'What is this bird?' said I.

''It is a Flicker,' answered the gentleman. 'It was sent me by a
friend living in Florida.'

''Why don't you keep it alive?'

''For the reason I've told you. It's perfectly impossible to tame it.
My children and I have tried every means we can think of without
success. If we confine it in a cage, it mopes all day and eats
nothing; if we let it fly about the room, it sculks under the
furniture as soon as we enter; if we take it in our hands, it screams
and fights. There is a specimen of the execution it can do in an
emergency with that sharp, long bill!'

'And my customer showed me his finger, out of which a strip of flesh
an inch long had been gouged as neatly as it could have been done with
a razor.

''It is nothing but botheration, that confounded bird!' he continued.
'It does nothing but make muss and litter about the house from morning
till night; and for all our troubles, it never repays us with a single
chirp. Indeed, I don't believe it has any voice.'

'Just then the Flicker, still sitting on my finger, turned up its big,
brown eye to my face and uttered a soft, sweet gurgle, like a musical-

''Good heavens!' exclaimed the gentleman; 'it never did that before!'

''Suppose you let me take it for a month or so,' I said; 'it seems to
be fond of me, and perhaps I can tame it. I never felt so little like
killing any bird in my life. We may make something of its social
qualities yet.'

''Very well,' answered the new customer. 'Keep it for a month. I'll
drop in now and then to see how its education is getting on.'

''You may hold me responsible for it, Sir,' I replied; and the
gentleman left my shop.

'All day the Flicker staid by me as I worked. Now it perched upon my
shoulder, now on my head. At noon, when I opened my basket, it took
lunch with me. When I whistled or sang, it listened until it caught
the strain, and then put in some odd kind of accompaniment. The
compass and power of its voice was nothing remarkable, but the tone
was as sweet as a wood-robin's. I could not be enough astonished with
the curious little creature.

'Still, every kind of animal takes to me naturally. I accounted for
the previous wildness of the Flicker on the ground of mistaken
management in the gentleman who owned it, and as a matter of
professional pride, determined to make something of the bird, were it
only to show, like your Sam Patch, Tryon, that some things can be done
as well as others. When I went home in the evening I took the Flicker
with me, and made it a nest in an old cigar-box on my mantel-piece.

'The next morning, when I awoke, the bird was perched above me on the
scroll of the head-board! Again I carried it down-town with me; again
I brought it up in the evening. After that it was my companion every
where. You will hardly imagine how it could become better friends with
me than it did immediately upon our introduction. Yet our acquaintance
grew day by day, and with our acquaintance the little being's
intelligence. It had not been with me a fortnight before it knew my
name. You may think it curious, perhaps unfeeling, but you know it was
my only friend in the world, and in memory of the one who had lately
held that place, I called it 'Brenta.'

''Brenta!' I would say as I sat before my grate in the evening, and
wherever the little creature might be, it would come flying to me with
a joyful chirp, light on my finger, dance on the hearth-rug, eat out
of my hand, or go through the pantomime of various emotions I had
taught it. If I said, 'Be angry, Brenta,' it would scream, flap its
wings, and fight the legs of the chair. 'Be sorry, Brenta,' and it
would droop its little head, cower against my breast, and utter notes
as plaintive as a tired child's.

'By the time the month was up, it could do almost any thing but talk.
Its owner, who, to his great delight, had paid it several visits
during the progress of its education, now came to take it home.

''I have become very much attached to the little thing,' said I;
'won't you let me buy it of you?'

''You should have asked me when I first brought it,' was his answer.
'You have made it too valuable to part with now. To show you how much
I think it is worth, here is a ten-dollar piece for your services.'

'I took the money, feeling very much as if I were receiving the price
of treason. 'If you ever change your mind,' said I, 'remember that I
am always ready with a generous bid.'

'When we came to look for the Flicker, it was nowhere to be found. I
could not believe it possible that it had heard and understood our
conversation, but other hypothesis to account for its disappearance
was not at hand. After hunting every nook and corner of the shop, I
forced myself into the traitorous expedient of luring it by my own
voice. 'Brenta!' I called, and the poor creature instantly hopped out
of _my coat-pocket_, climbed up to my shoulder, and nestled against my

''The little rascal!' exclaimed the gentleman.

'I could willingly have knocked him down! It was not until I had
undertaken the business with my own hands that we could get the
Flicker into the cage which the gentleman had brought with him. Even
then, the poor thing continued clinging to my finger with claws which
had to be loosened by force, and went out of my shop-door screaming
piteously and beating itself against the bars of the cage.

'I had no heart for any thing the rest of the day. At night my room
seemed lonelier than a dungeon. The very next morning, the owner of
the bird came back with it in a terrible passion.

''You have been teaching the thing tricks!' was his first exclamation.

''To be sure,' said I mildly. 'Wasn't that what you wished me to do?'

''_Wished you to do?_' To mope, and wail, and lie on the carpet like a
dead chicken? Never to sing a note or eat a morsel? To peck at the
hands that brought food, and--and--'

''I am sure I cannot help it, Sir, if the bird has become attached to
me, and mourns when away.'

''You've taught the creature to do it! Look at this finger, will you!
another piece taken clean out of it! _Piece_, I say---_steak_, I mean!
The bird's a regular butcher! Here, kill the creature directly, and
have it stuffed for my cabinet by this day week.'

'And as he sat down the cage on the counter, the Flicker, with a
joyful cry, jumped to the wicker-door, and tired to pick a way out to
me by its beak.

''There! You see what you've done! Why don't the wretch act so to me?'

''I really can't say, Sir. Perhaps because I've had a great deal to do
with birds, and naturally know how to manage them.'

''Well, I don't care. Stuff the thing, and I shall be able to manage
it then myself.'

''May I make a repetition of my offer? If you haven't a toucan in your
collection, there is a very fine one I'll give you for the Flicker,
stuffed only last Saturday. Here's a young pelican---a still rarer
bird. Or how would you like a flamingo?'

''Got 'em all,' replied the gentleman curtly. 'And if I hadn't, I
count the Flicker. Kill the thing, I say, and stuff it.'

'Just then the bird cast on me a glance as imploring as ever looked
out of human eye. For a thousand dollars I could not have done the

''Really, Sir,' said I, 'I prefer not to take the job. I am very much
attached to your bird. I cannot bear to kill it.'

'''Pon my soul!' he exclaimed, 'if that isn't pretty for a
taxidermist! I should suppose, to hear you talk, that you would faint
at the sight of a dead sparrow! Well, you can get your courage up to
stuff the bird, I suppose? As for the killing, I'll do that myself.'

'As the man said this, he thrust his hand into the cage, and caught
the Flicker by the wing. With a sharp cry, his victim struck him again
on the finger, enraging him more than ever. He opened his pen-knife,
pulled the bird out, drew the blade across its throat, and out of the
cruel slash there poured, mingling with the blood, a bitter cry, like
a woman's. I heard it, and every drop of my own blood returned to my
heart. He let the bird drop upon the counter: it gave one hop, tumbled
over in my hand, and its eye-lids slid shut.

''This day week, remember,' said the man, and went out of the shop,
wiping his knife.

'I took up the bird, laid it in my neck, and, I am not ashamed to say,
cried over it.

'There are a good many things which may happen between now and this
day week. I am not one of those people who regard every misfortune
that occurs to an enemy the judgment of Heaven in their behalf. But I
must say, that the event which occurred before that man's week was
out, always seemed to me a direct blow from Nemesis. He was a very
passionate fellow; subject to temporary fits of insanity. One of them
came on in the morning while he was shaving, and he cut his own throat
as he had the Flicker's.

'When his estate was settled, nobody thought of the bird. I inclosed
the ten dollars he had given me for its education in an anonymous note
to his executors, simply stating that my conscience demanded it; and
having thus quieted that organ, kept the Flicker for myself. With a
daguerrotype of Miss Brentnall's found among a parcel of papers
labelled, '_To be burned up_,' and upon which alone, of all the
parcel, I could not persuade myself to execute her will, I put the
stuffed bird by. When I was too lonely to dare to be utterly alone, I
went to the trunk, where they were preserved and looked at them.

Chapter III.--The Marmoset's Chapter

'After the loss of my second only friend, a painful change came over
me. I had risen from the shock of Miss Brentnall's death with an
elasticity which surprised even myself. Partly for the reason that my
constitution was better by several less months of anxiety, grief, and
application to business. Partly because I felt assured that, as she
said, we should some time or other meet again.

'When the Flicker died, I felt that this only thing hitherto left to
love me, could never reappear. The kind heart of the woman would beat
again; the kind heart of the bird no more forever. And strangely
enough, the whole sorrow that I had passed through for Miss
Brentnall's loss revived, and I went about my day's work bearing the
weight of a two-fold melancholy.

'The first thing that the bird-fancying public knew--indeed almost the
first thing I knew myself, so abstracted, so moody was I--a paragraph
appeared in the morning papers, to the effect that the celebrated
Taxidermist and Aviarian Professor, Orloff Ruricson, was about to
close his business, and make a voyage to Europe, Asia and Africa, from
which parts he hoped to return in two or three years, with a large and
interesting collection of rare animals, to establish a Natural History

'I had caused the appearance of this notice myself; but when I read
it, felt quite as surprised by it as any body. In nerve and mind I was
so worn out that although thoroughly resolved to make the move, the
consolidation of the purpose into such a fixed form shocked me.

'When the novelty of the idea passed off, I disposed of all my stock
to various amateurs who knew me and had every disposition to help me
by paying large prices. I put the thirty thousand dollars I was now
worth into such a shape that I could get its increase in regular
remittances; packed the bird, the daguerrotype, and a small wardrobe,
and took passage by barque for Genoa.

'At sun-rise one Monday morning, the barque's yawl took me out to her
anchorage. As I went up the ladder at the side, I heard an opera-air
playing on board, and when I reached the deck, the first thing that
met my eyes was an Italian grinder, with his organ and monkey.

''Is that man going the voyage with us?' I asked the captain.

''Yes, Sir,' he replied; 'but he shan't play without permission after
we get to sea. He's a Genoese, who has made enough money in this
country to keep a fruit-stall in his own, so he's going home.'

'Home! He had a home and was going to it! I would have handed him my
bank-book--taken his money and organ--to be able to say _that_.

'As the tug hitched fast to us and we began walking down toward the
Narrows, I crossed to the other side of the ship, that I might take a
look at the fortunate man.

'Certainly, I said to myself, Fortune _is_ blind. He had a home; but
he was one of the most ill-favored rascals I ever laid my eyes on. No
body would have taken him for a Genoese--the New-Englander of Italy--
rather for a Romanesque cut-throat, or a brigand of the mountain, who
had found his stiletto or his carbine good for only the slowest kind
of shilling and taken to the nimble six-pence of the hand-organ, on
the principle that honesty was the best policy. You have seen a
thousand pen-and-pencil pictures of the fellow, and need no
description of him from me.

'As I stood beside him at the bulwarks, his monkey leapt upon me.

''Pardon, good gentleman,' said the Italian with an abject smirk, and
gave a jerk to the chain that brought back the little animal flying.

''Never mind that,' said I; 'let him come to me. I am fond of monkeys;
I would like to look at him.'

''As it pleases, then,' replied the Italian, with another smirk, and
loosed the chain again. 'Go, Beppo!'

'Beppo needed no command, but jumped instantly upon my arm and laid
his cheek upon my bosom. As I patted his head, I examined him
curiously, and found him the most beautiful little monkey in the
world. A Marmoset, with a great brown, tender eye like a gazelle's; a
face which varied its expression constantly without ever degenerating
into the brutal leer of the common ape; a winning, confiding mien of
head and hand that was human, child-like; and a soft coronal of
golden fur around his little skull, that added still more to his baby-
like look, giving him the appearance of some mother's favorite,
dressed for a walk in a bonnet of down. I don't know how I could have
been guilty of the folly of becoming attached to the little fellow,
after all the lessons of warning my life had taught me. But I did take
a great fancy to him. Never a day passed during the whole voyage, in
which he did not get many a tid-bit from my hands. He spent far more
of the time with me than with his own master, and before long obeyed
me with a hearty good nature, which he never thought of showing toward
that musical brigand.

'One sunny afternoon, when we were three weeks out, the captain, the
grinder and myself stood upon the forecastle-deck, trying to make out
a sail just visible on the horizon ahead of us. As usual, Beppo was
cutting his pranks about me. For a moment he would sit demurely on my
shoulder and hold his tail to his eye in mimicry of the captain's eye-
glass. A second more, and he would be sitting in the fore-top. The
next, and he came sliding down a halliard to his old perch. These
antics interfered with our look-out, and I put my hand into my pocket
to feel for something which might keep him still. Finding neither
prune, nor nut, nor string, but only the purse which I always carried
there, I drew it out and opened it, to look for a copper. As I
committed this incautious act, I saw the eyes of the Italian cast a
sidelong, sly glance at the gold that shone there, and I shut the
clasp with an uncomfortable sense of having been very silly. At the
same moment, he stole away, like a cat, to the fore-stays, and
pretended to be more earnestly interested than any of us in the sail.

'The nights grew still warmer and warmer as we sailed on. The cabin
became so close, that I ordered the steward to bring my mattress upon
deck, and usually slept there under a shawl, unless we had rain.

'I had lain down at about half-past eleven, upon one night in
particular, utterly fatigued, sick at heart, despairing. As the tall
masts nodded past the stars--the stars rather than the masts seemed
moving--and in my heart I believed that even heaven itself was not
permanent; that all things flickered and danced, and passed away as
earthly hope had passed from my heart; nothing was fixed, certain, and
to be striven for. Finally, I only wished to sleep. 'Let me die this
temporary death of slumber,' said I; 'there is happiness therein, and
therein only.' I was more of a Lord Byron in that instant; more of a
moral desperado; less of a Thomas Carlyle, a Goethe, sanguine Yankee,
who believes that the best way to get rid of misery is to suffer and
_work out_, if you fall, always to fall on your feet and _scramble
out_, than I had ever been in my life, Messers. Tryon and Bonenfant!
So, said I, let me go to sleep.

'Would you believe it, that confounded little Beppo would not hear of
such a thing! Over my face this minute, over my legs the next; now
tumbling down on my breast from a line; now, as the sailors say,
working Tom Cox's traverse, up one hatchway and down the other, past
my side.

'I could not get a wink of sleep. I tossed and I tumbled; I swore and
I grumbled. I called Beppo to me, and for the first time without

'I was just about going after Luigi, his master, when I saw that
person creeping to me in the shadow of the mizzen-mast, by the high
cove of the after-hatch, I was quite hid from the stern, and the only
person who happened to be there, the second mate, could see Luigi no
more than me.

'At that instant the monkey gave me a tweak of the hair that nearly
made me scream out, and then ran away noiselessly forward. Luigi crept
on and on. As he drew nearer, I could perceive a stiletto in his hand.
Its blade gleamed faintly now and then in the star-light, so
indistinctly that at first it seemed like a trailing white ribbon.

'I did not believe his first intention was to kill me. That would have
been absurd as well as cruel. So I lay still and let him come close. I
feigned myself fast asleep and snored heavily.

'He knelt at my side, and holding the knife over my heart with one
hand, felt with the other in my pocket. Still I slept away for dear
life. He found the purse; drew it out with a slow, gentle motion, and
crept forward again on his hands and knees, thanking his saints in a
whisper. I was on his back before he could turn around. He was lithe,
but feeble, and I had him pinioned, prone upon his face, with the
purse in his hand and the thanksgiving in his mouth, while it was yet
only half-changed to a curse. Thus I forced from him both the stiletto
and the purse, and threw the one over-board at the same time that I
returned the other to my pocket. Then I arose, and we stood up face to

''Shall I have you hanged at the yard-arm in half-an-hour?' was my
first question.

'The little Italian looked me full in the face, his olive cheeks were
like chalk, his lips quivered, but he did not speak. And then, as if
suddenly understanding the cause of his failure, he ran forward to the
fore-stay, where the marmoset was clinging and chattering.

'I hurried after him. Catching him by the shoulder, I whispered in his
ear: 'If one hair of Beppo's head is hurt, _you_ are a dead man before
you can say your prayers. You came after my money. You are a villain,
but you shall have it--two gold pieces, ten dollars, at least--if you
sell him to me on the spot. Is Beppo mine, on these conditions? If he
isn't, I will arouse the crew, and you shall dangle aloft before the
next watch is set. Yes or no?'

''You shall have the monkey,' replied the Italian, with another of his
infernal smirks. 'You shall have him, but the gentleman will not find
him good fortune.'

''The devil take you and your fortune! If he brings me no better
fortune than you deserve--and for the same reason--I shall wish, and
not wait, to die.' So I brought the monkey aft, and made Luigi
acknowledge him mine, while I counted out the ten dollars, in the
presence of the second mate.

'After that night, warm as it might be, you will readily believe that
I slept in the cabin. Beppo nestled by me, occupying as much of the
berth as his little form required; and I declare to you, that had he
needed it all I would have given it to him, and stretched myself on
the floor, so warm an affection had I for the creature who had saved
my money; possibly my life.

'At that time, perhaps you will say because I was young and visionary,
I often believed that Beppo knew what he had been the means of doing
for me. At this day I shall be still insaner in your eyes, for I hold
that he was not only the _means_, but the intentional _agent_. I must
stop. I am forerunning my story.

'It was amazing how I improved as soon as I had something to love! I
became so strong, so hearty, that I was quite ashamed to think of
having abandoned America for my health; and meditated going back with
the barque's return voyage. Nothing but the presence on board of that
cursed Luigi prevented my spirits from being better than since I could

'We reached Genoa, and anchored in Quarantine. My trunk was on deck,
and in all respects I was ready to go ashore. Already the infernal
Italian had taken his seat in the health-officer's boat; and, with his
elbow resting on his organ, looked up at me over the gunwale. Beppo,
for very joy of seeing land again, had climbed clear to the main
truck, and was chattering audibly as he whisked his tail.

''All ready, Beppo!' I cried; come down, boy!'

'In his haste at hearing my voice, as he tumbled head over heels down
the main shrouds, for the first time in my life that I ever saw a
monkey do such a thing, he missed his hold on a ratline and tumbled
into the water of the harbor. I sprang to the side, and called to the
oarsman of the boat:

''Save that monkey, and you shall have--whatever you ask!' Fool! I was
talking English, and every man of them was an Italian! A language I
had some understanding of, but could not speak.

'And then I heard that olive-skinned wretch, the organ-grinder, reply
to the speaker: 'He says the beast who fell overboard is sick of the
small-pox, and you must not touch him.'

'As he made this answer he turned around to me with one of his
diabolical smirks, kissed his lips to me, spit at the drowning Beppo,
then asked me blandly: 'Did I not tell the good gentleman his buying
would be bad fortune? Are we settled of accounts, good gentleman?'

'I to hear this! I to look over the side; hear my last friend
screaming his poor wordless agony; see him look up at me with that
supplicating child's eye of his; see him fighting the water
despairingly with his little unlearned hands, then go down in a
bubbling circle out of sight; I who could not swim a stroke!

'The captain, seeing my distress, humanely put his own boat after the
poor creature. With the boat-hook a sailor brought him up after he had
gone down for the last time. And thus they laid him on the deck at my
feet. I lifted him up; his child eyes were closed, and the golden
crown of his fur lay matted and dripping over them. I tried to warm
him in my bosom. I laid my hand on his heart; it had stopped.

'Beppo was dead. The Marmoset whose nature had given, only of all, to
love the man!

'And I went into Quarantine at Genoa, once more alone in the world.'

'Ciel! and vat you do with zat cursed Italian?'

'I? Nothing. Ten years afterward I saw him rowing in the galley at
Marseilles. He knew me; I knew him. He smirked as of old, but which
such very visible teeth that I was glad he was chained; and passed on
without even asking the overseer his crime.

Chapter IV.--The Young Maiden's Chapter

'My wanderings, dating from the day I landed at Genoa, would fill with
their narrative a book far larger than 'Livingston's Travels.' I
journeyed over all the traversable regions of Africa; in India I have
been wherever the foot of the white man has trodden; I spent a year
and a half in China; almost as long in Syria; and I went every where
over the continent of Europe. Then I passed six months in Sweden; most
of that time living at my native town, Jonpoping, until at last the
sound of my mother's tongue spoken by stranger mouths became
absolutely unbearable to me, and I left the country never to return. I
will see Great Britain, I said. No better place for that purpose, at
least to begin with, than London. So I went there; and, with all the
curiosities I had collected in my vagabond life, opened a shop as
Exhibitor and Taxidermist, in Piccadilly.

'By this time, you will perceive, I had quite abandoned my original
idea of returning to America to open a museum. It takes no longer for
the world in general, or the world of New York, to forget its largest
man, than for a heaping measure of grain to close up the gap after a
hand is withdrawn. And I was a long way from the conceit of fancying
myself even a large man. Probably, I said to myself, there are a dozen
in my place by this time. I will not go back to revive a name wiped
out; it is at least more entertaining to stay here and try chalking
out a new one. If I fail, why, the remittances come regularly.

'So up went the old sign on a fresh board: 'Orloff Ruricson,
Taxidermist and Aviarian Professor.' In about three months from the
opening of the establishment, the collection was a little more than
self-supporting, and the Taxidermy throve at the rate of ten guineas a
week. I got some favorable critiques in the _Times_; some body called
me the Minor Zoological Gardens; and gradually my aviarianism came
into play. Lord Crinkum consulted me about his Chinese pheasants, and
Lord Crankum got my general views on fighting-cocks. The Honorable
Miss Dingleton, like Mr. Pecksniff, only with more money to bestow on
the object, thought she would like to see my ideas of a grotto. I gave
it to her, and of course every alderman's wife must have me fussing
about her cobble-stones out in what she called a suburban willer.
That's the great beauty of the art in England, looked at in the paying
light; the moment you're so fortunate as to get a lord by the nose,
you lead all Cockneydom withersoever you will. It's a country where
every body shuts his eyes, and grabs the next bigger man by the coat-
tail. No, on the whole, I got along.'

'That was all very well, looked at in the paying light, as you say,'
interrupted John Tryon, 'but you must have been terribly lonely during
the long winter evenings. Didn't you have any body to speak to; any
body to _love_?'

'Nobody. I had learned the misery of that by lessons enough, I should
think. Even in the desert I never made a pet of my camel, and most
people do that, to the extent, at least, of complimenting the lovely
beast upon his patience. I had nothing to care for and cared for
nothing. I was now thirty years old, you see, and had travelled.

'I had kept the shop in Piccadilly for a year. I stood one morning, at
the expiration of that period, in a room of the back-shop, where I
prepared specimens, and was consulted. My clerks had just taken down
the shutters, and were chattering to each other behind the counter. I
was pensive that morning, a mighty unusual thing for me, and their
gabble disturbed me. I meditated calling out to them to be still, when
the shop-door opened, the front-door looking on the street, and some
one said:

''Please, Sir, can you give me any work?'

'Good Heavens! I started to my feet, and yet seemed in such a dream
that I could scarcely move them after I was erect. Who spoke? It was a
low, sweet, woman's voice, the like whereof I had not heard for nine
years! Not that it was low, or sweet, or a woman's; not that it was
all these together, but that it was _the voice_.

''Get out with you, beggar!' answered the chattering clerks, with
unanimous fierceness; and I heard the front shop-door shut slowly, as
if by a tired, feeble hand.

'In a second more and she would be gone; I should never see her again!
That thought awakened me, and gave wings to my feet. I dashed through
the shop; my clerks looking at me as if they thought I had suddenly
gone mad. I jerked the door open, and saw a little girl's figure
moving wearily away among the hurrying crowd; her back toward me.

''Who asked for work?' I called out aloud.

'Among the few that turned to look was this lithe figure. She turned
hastily, anxiously, deprecatingly, and again I heard that wonderful

''It was I, Sir.'

''Come into the shop, if you please. Let us talk about it.'

''You are not vexed with me, Sir?'

'As the girl said this she cast her great brown eyes upon me so
piteously, so helplessly, seeming so intensely to fear displeasure,
yet so wistfully to beg help, that all at once there flashed before me
the harbor of Genoa! I saw it for an instant as distinctly as we now
see the Kaaterskill Clove; saw the villainous Italian smirking across
his organ; saw the glassy, shining waters of the Mediterranean; and
the drowning face of Beppo going down therein; _with those same eyes
in it!_

''Vexed with you? With _you_? God knows I am not!' was my first wild
exclamation, as soon as this strange phantasmagoria passed by; and I
saw Piccadilly, and its crowd, and the slender girl, again, standing
there uncared for, like myself, in the great ocean of London being.

''Come in, I say! Come in! For the love of God, come in!' I continued
passionately, reckless who heard me.

''Work, food, money, help, any thing, every thing! I will give you

'This I said beseechingly, yet neither this nor the passionate command
did the girl, timid as she was, seem to regard as at all strange or
out of place. She only came confidingly toward me, put her hand in
mine, and I led her into the back-shop, while the chatterers stared.

'I bade her take off her faded bonnet, and sit down. As she obeyed,
her golden brown hair caught on a pin in the bonnet behind; its soft,
well-grown mass lifted from her neck, and there I beheld, close where
the brown joined the white, _a small red crescent mark reaching almost
from ear to ear_!

'I seemed to be wandering through a chain of dreams. I tried to speak,
but in vain. To think, but as vainly. She disengaged the bonnet, and
let it droop upon her shoulders. Her face, thus disclosed, was the
most beautiful array of human features, flushed through by the light
of the most beautiful human soul, I ever saw, or mused of, or believed
in, in my life!

'She sat in the chair opposite me. As for me, I gazed and gazed.
Modestly inviting questions, she looked me frankly in the eyes; and
then, as in wonder that I did not speak, threw her hand backward, and
perused my face curiously. This posture elevated her chin. I was about
to say something, but just then _I saw under that chin another crimson
mark, the slenderest of slender lines, as if the finest knife-point
dipped in blood had been drawn clear across the throat by a nervous
hand_. I durst not say to myself what I was reminded of by _that_. Not
even to think of it at all. I half-feared that I had become insane,
rubbed my forehead, and kept repeating: 'Oh! it is only her bonnet-
strings tied too tightly, that is all!'

'I would not trust myself with questioning her then. Not a word of any
kind did I speak to her, except to say gently, that she might consider
herself my apprentice in the art of bird-stuffing; and that all her
necessities should be provided for.

'I had a little bed made for her in the room of the old Yorkshire
woman who minded my solitary establishment for me. She was an orphan,
so she said afterward; and had walked all the way from the Stafford
Potteries, where her only relative, an aunt, was just dead; hoping to
find work in London, that might keep her from the street. She was
eighteen years of age, and had never known father or mother.

'Once more I had a living creature to feel an interest in, to become
attached to. Whatever was mysterious in her arrival, her appearance,
or her voice, I dismissed from my mind as mere curious coincidences,
at once too frivolous, too perplexing to be followed up. There was the
real substantial fact: a girl without home or friends. Now what was to
be done with her?

'I settled the question gradually day by day. I taught her, in the
day-time, to help me at my specimen-table; in the evening, to read and
write. The rapidity with which she caught by the right end, and made
her own every new process, either of brain or fingers, was
astonishing. She was my constant wonder and delight. So imitative, yet
so original; so talented but so modest withal; so bright and sportive,
so docile and grateful; she soon became my right hand and right eye in
all I had to do.

'As soon as I had dressed her presentably, the clerks saw her
superiority as they could not through the old clothes, and did it
unquestioning reverence. But for this _reverence_ I verily believe
they would have come in a body, and thrown themselves at her feet,
entreating her to take her pick within the first month after she was
domesticated with me. For they were all desperately in love with her;
devouring her with their eyes as she went in and out among them so
modestly and yet so loftily, like a queen in disguise.

'Well, I did not wonder; I could forgive them. For, six months after
she had entered my shop-door, the homeless wayfarer, I awoke to the
fact that I was in love with her myself. For the first time in all the
days of my manhood, did I know what it was to feel a woman wrought
into the texture of my life, so that pulling her away seemed an
endless pain to look forward to; and before I knew that it had
happened. And that combination of circumstances only, as I view it, is
adequate to constitute_love, on which marriage may be honorably

'As soon as I knew that I loved Bessie Cartwright--that was her name--
I began to torture myself with the question whether I ought to tell
her of it _yet_. Whether, if I did so, her simple heart, out of mere
gratefulness, would not instantly give itself up as a matter of debt
and honor to the man whom she regarded only in the light of a
benefactor. And I had rather have any thing happen than this, my own
loneliness till I died even, than this, so galling to me if I
discovered it when it was too late, so ruinous to every thing that was
best in her young growing womanhood.

'As in the old days, it was my custom to look at the memorials of my
lost friends, when times went hard with me, and my spirits fell. So,
one evening, after I had been musing painfully in my room for a couple
of hours, I took from my battered old trunk Miss Brentnall's portrait,
the Flicker, and the Marmoset, which I had embalmed after his death in
the harbor of Genoa.

'I ranged them on my table, and with a feeling of mournful pleasure
gazed from one to the other, dwelling upon all the past which they

'As I sat thus employed, I heard Bessie's tap at the door; I called,
'Come in!' and she entered, with her reading-book for the evening's
lesson. Seeing the unusual array upon my table, she asked me: 'What!
Working still?'

''No; not working, Bessie,' I replied; 'thinking.'

''May I see who that is?' said she artlessly, pointing to the

''Oh! certainly. Though you must not laugh at it. It is a very homely
lady, but a very good one; and, while she lived, my dearest friend.'
So I handed it to her.

'She bent her brown head down to the shaded drop-light on my table,
and held the portrait close to it. I watched her face to see the
effect of that strange world-wronged face on the beautiful, Heaven-
favored one.

'I saw Bessie Cartwright grow pale as death! Her eyes became fixed
like a cataleptic person's. But her head moved, from the portrait to
the Flicker, from the Flicker to the Marmoset. The portrait fell from
her hand, she grasped hurriedly at the table, and then fell to the

''Dead; dead like the rest!' said I, with a fierce coldness; 'and
because I loved her.'

'I pulled the shade from the drop-light, and drew it to the edge of
the table, so that the light fell full on the prostrate girl. I called
her by name, and got no answer. I loosened her dress, and in doing so
pushed the heavy knot of her brown hair away from her neck. That
scarlet crescent glowed there in the midst of a marble whiteness, like
a flame!

'I turned her upon her back, and beneath her chin saw the slender
crimson line, burning also brighter than ever, while all the throat
was deadly pale. 'Bessie! Bessie! speak to me once, only once more.' I
spoke passionately at her ear.

'Still no answer. I looked in agony at the dead things which had once
been mine; saw plainest of all the Flicker; and again that strange
suspicion which I had felt the first day I ever saw the girl, awoke in
my brain.

'I bent my mouth to her ear, and softly said: 'Brenta!' At that
instant her great dark eyes opened, she read my face wistfully, and
then her lips murmured:

''Orloff, dear Orloff! I told you I would meet you again; I have kept
my word.'

'It was the voice that became silent ten years before in the sick-room
next my own!

''Miss Brentnall!' I exclaimed, not knowing what I said.

''Orloff, dear Orloff!' replied _the voice_, once more from the lips
of Bessie Cartwright.

'And then the blood came rushing back to the young girl's face.
Timidly she sat up, passed her hand across her eyes, and said faintly:

'Oh! I have had _such_ a dream!'

''What was it, dear child?' I asked.

''I thought that picture you showed me was I. Then I felt myself
dying. You were by me till all the room grew dark. I hardly remember
what came then; but I have had, oh! so many strange thoughts, and been
in so many strange places! I thought I was killed with a little knife;
I was on the sea; I was close by a great town that rose from the
water's side; I was drowning; then I was myself again in the old dress
I wore when I came to you; then I seemed to be all things at once, and
you called me a name I had heard before, when I lay in the bed dying;
and oh! forgive me, Sir, I called you by your Christian name, Orloff,
_dear_ Orloff! I said, do forgive me; I will never do it again.'

''You must do something else than that,' said I, no longer awe-
stricken and trembling, for in a moment the mystery of my life parted
like a fog, and I saw its meaning beyond in the clearest of Heaven's
twilight. 'Something else than that, Bessie. You must never call me by
any other name than _dear_ Orloff! Can you call me that? For _I love
you_; God only knows how I love you. Can you?'

'The girl looked at me with parted lips; caught her breath quickly;
hid her face in my bosom; and once more after all those years the
beloved voice, knowing what it said, replied:

''Orloff, _dear_ Orloff.'

'Bessie Cartwright is my wife. Not until years after did I tell her
the meaning of her dream; not how through lives and deaths she had
followed me to save and claim her own. She knows it now; we both keep
it for the grateful wonder of our prayers; a mystery like all
mysteries had we but the key, with its grand, beneficent meaning,
unmeaning, contemptible only to those who read it wrong or not at

'And you mean to tell to me zat ze beautiful lady you have now
espouse, be vonce in ze body of ze vare ugly woman, ze red-head bird
vat you call him, and ze marmosette; you mean to zay to me zat?'

'I'd like to ask that question too,' said John Tryon.

'I mean to tell you both,’ answered Orloff Ruricson, 'that you can put
_your own interpretation on my facts_. Also, that if you ever break
our confidence in telling my history with its proper names, then good-
by to your friendship with Orloff Ruricson.'

I have been permitted to state the facts without the names. Let me
also be permitted to state them without my interpretation.


Chapter I

THE first five years of my manhood were too painful to be dwelt upon.
Years, it may be, of much wrong doing--years certainly of great
ignorance and unwisdom--years also of suffering like the inextricable
entanglements of some slowly thickening nightmare. Let them be summed
up in this: that without any world-knowledge I went into the world,
without business capacity I attempted business, with a morbid nature
which felt the breath of real life as a flayed surface feels a draught
of Winter wind, I rashly thrust myself into the tumult of a great city
and struggled for prizes with the strong. I had a partner. At this day
the smile with which I speak that word is not one of bitterness, but
simply of calm, experienced pity for the man that long ago I ceased to
be. For what partnership can there be between strength and weakness--
the bold, pushing mind of the market-place, the self-distrusting,
shrinking, moody nature of the closet? Because I did not know this, or
knowing, madly shut my eyes to it, I failed in my first scheme of

There were a few bright days when the venture looked prosperous, and
cause delayed asserting itself in effect. I verily believed that I had
conquered the course of nature--that even _I_ might win the race of
the world. There came long days of growing doubt, of mutual coldness
between my partner and me. Angry recriminations followed, and at last
with a few fierce words we parted.

At this moment, though each impartial calm has succeeded to the former
tempestuous bitterness, I cannot tell which was in the wrong. The
whole affair was an inexplicable enigma to me. I was accused of fraud,
but I could recollect no fraud. Of deceit, but my brain was so
distracted by things I had no talents for, that I knew not true from
false. Of treachery--how could any man enmeshed like me beguile

After that there were law suits--arrests--yes, even one short
imprisonment. During that latter, which lasted two days and nights,
nothing but the absolute barrenness of all means in my narrow cell
prevented my ending that miserable life of mine.

At last--with my once sufficient property dwindled to a pauper's
pension--the law let me go. The fraud which I could not remember,
which I never knew when I committed it, which at this day I do not
understand--was only not quite proven. My counsel told me I had
escaped by a hair's breadth, and I know that he worked night and day
to save me. I have wondered since, how many men like me may be
shuddering all night long in the stone coffins of Auburn, of Sing
Sing? Vae victis! Prison is for the weak as well as the wicked.

Thus I passed the first five years of my manhood. Can you wonder that
I cast them behind me--that I drop them in the depths of the sea? Let
them be forgotten, unspoken things!

But because a man cannot be quite miserable while the Destinies have
some work left for him to do--a great kindness was shown to me in that
hour when I found myself penniless--disgraced--utterly bewildered, and
twenty six years old.

An old friend of my father's--head of an asylum for deaf mutes---
invited me to become one of his assistants. I accepted the offer as if
it had been a call into Heaven from the beckoning hands of the angels!
I had been thinking of the silence of death--here were life and
silence possible. No more maddening rush of feet, no more tumult of
wrathful voices, no more cries of conflict or pain--but a great
overshadowing rest and hush. This was better than being rich again,
with one more chance to risk my ruin; and for the first time in months
I felt my eyes grow wet, and thanked God.

Seven o'clock of a Saturday evening in September saw me within the
walls of this asylum for the first time. A mute servant maid opened
the door of the great front hall--a mute porter carried my trunks up
the broad staircase to my room--and while I stood waiting and
wondering at the solemn silence which reigned through that immense
home of seven hundred living souls--looking up at the high arched
ceiling of spotless white, and the heavy doors of shining oak, with a
feeling that all this largeness of proportion must be one of the
traits of a dream in which spirits were thronging around me, silent to
me only because I was mortal--my friend came down the opposite
corridor and spoke my name. Not a look--not a tone in his voice
recalled the past, as with a few kind words he welcomed me _home_.

"You will find your room ready for you," said he. "You must be dusty
and hungry. After you change your clothes--come down to my parlor--No.
30--and take supper with me. At eight o'clock the pupils hold one of
their Saturday evening soirees in the large assembly room. It is the
only time of the week that the girls' and boys' departments meet on a
social footing. They have games---and many of them dance very
prettily. If you are not too tired, this will be a fine opportunity
for you to become acquainted with them and their peculiar
characteristics. What do you say?"

"That it will interest me greatly. I'll be with you in five minutes."

Supper being finished we repaired to the assembly room. This was a
house in itself--one hundred feet in length, sixty in breadth and with
a ceiling twenty five feet high. Its floor had no carpet and needed
none--for its planks of yellow pine were so daintily clean, and so
beautifully variegated by the darkened natural grain of the wood, that
a refined eye felt no desire to replace them even by mosaics. In this
immense hall were gathered all but those very youngest pupils of the
institution who had by this time been fast asleep for an hour in
the baby-beds of their department. Every age above the child of seven
or eight years was represented in this concourse. To my surprise, many
of the pupils were full grown young men and women. The larger portion
of them were dressed in that cheap, neat uniform of blue and white
check blouses and grey pantaloons for which the state contributes the
raw materials and the apprentice tailors of the institution do the
making up--or dark blue dresses and white aprons from the same
warehouse, and of like home construction. A hundred, it may be, of
both sexes, were paying pupils from families more or less opulent--and
these were permitted to dress as they chose within the boundaries of
elegant simplicity. Notwithstanding this discrepancy in attire--and the
social interval plainly indicated, a most democratic equality of
feeling seemed to pervade the whole party. Check and blue were at ease
in the presence of silk and broadcloth--the soft white fingers that
were born to gloves, unshrinkingly clasped the rough brown hands of
labor, in all the common games.

Dr. Gaskell and I took seats on a sofa near the door where we could
watch the universal merriment without appearing to intrude the
presence of a stranger.

"Do they never _laugh_?” I asked.

"Sometimes--but the sound is not pleasant to hearing ears. It is harsh
because they are without any test for its modulations. As they grow up
they become aware of this--and put a restraint upon themselves. The
younger children laugh like wild beasts---there, you hear that burst
from those little fellows at the other end of the room? How jarring it
seems! The older--more refined pupils--unless in severe pain, never
venture an audible sound."

At this instant, a low silvery gurgle of laughter--like a wood--
robin's evening note or the tone of a delicate harmonic glass---welled
up from a throng at our side.

"Ah!" said Dr. Gaskell. "I should have made one exception. We have a
most remarkable girl here who has never become entirely inaudible. It
was she who laughed then. And she always laughs in that tone. How she
contrives to make her voice so sweet is a never-ceasing enigma to me.
If I were superstitious I should believe that her inner ear is in
communication with the angels---that she hears _their_ laugh and
repeats it in her own, modulated by them. In twenty five years
acquaintance with every grade and variety of deaf-mutes I have never
met a parallel instance."

"Are you sure that she does not hear in some slight degree?"

"Perfectly sure. Her external sense of sound is so near the absolute
zero point as the organs can possibly be reduced. I asked myself the
same question--trying to find a clue to her remarkable idiosyncrasy--
till last fourth of July--when I saw my naughty little boy fire a
pistol close beside her ear without in the least startling her."

"What is her name?"

"Margaret Somers."

"And how old is she?"

"Seventeen. She has been here since she was nine. Nearly half her
life. I expect that we must part with her year after next---for her
adopted father, Major Braithwaite, is determined that she shall be
graduated as soon as possible. His only real relation to her is that
of second cousin--but I believe he loves her as well as he might have
loved wife and children. He has never married--she seems all in all to
him. He comes to see her whenever he can get furlough--and has only
permitted her to stay with us so long because he is satisfied that she
has great genius and wishes it cultivated to the utmost. I agree with
him--she is a wonderful girl. But see--they are getting up a dance!"

"Where is the music?"

"Ha, ha! You are betrayed into the question that everybody from the
outside asks, when I invite him to a dance of the deaf-mutes! Think
again. What good would music do them?"

"How absurd in me! Of course! But what pleasure can there be in
dancing without it? And how can they keep time?"

"They _do_ take pleasure in it. As to the fact of their keeping time,
you will see for yourself presently. Of its reason, you are as good a
judge as I. It's all conjecture--but you can choose between the
opinion I threw out just now, that Margaret Somers, who almost always
leads them, hears spirit music, and they follow her measure with their
eyes--and another one of a phrenological nature, that every man has an
organ of time independent of these fleshy flaps which we hear with,
and measures ideal successions quite inaudible externally."

The set had taken the floor. Eight of the older pupils stood _en-
carrer_, waiting some signal, as you and I would pause for the music
to begin. I did not need to be told who of the eight was Margaret
Somers. Standing opposite to us, in the head couple, her great blue
eyes looking far away and half upward--her head inclined as if
listening--her hands extended winningly but beseechingly, their
gesture full of wonderful expression, like one who asks silence in a
lovely tone--her almost aerial figure swaying unconsciously with that
dramatic grace which none but the deaf-mute can ever attain, which in
the deaf-mute is the embodiment of the very inmost soul of language--
she gave the signal and the dance began.

I could not believe it! “Wonderful! Wonderful!” I kept saying to Dr.
Gaskell, as the silent dancers went gliding through the evolutions of
their quadrille, and I, compelled by the absence of all other music,
and the suggestions of their inimitable motion, hummed in myself a
reminiscence of three strains to which I had so often kept gay time,
during the years which now were forever cast behind me.

Like some poor star-gazer, straining from his cold pinnacle to come at
the very heart of those far torch-bearers on the Olympian course of
the universe--enamored of their glory, awe-struck at the fleetness of
their tireless glancing round the cycles, and certain that they run to
the measure of some infinite unbearable music, could he but hear--I
bent further and further forward, devouring the glad faces of those
silent dancers with my eyes---until the last foot paused--and I leaped
to my feet, trembling strangely.

"How pale you are!" said Dr. Gaskell. "Do you feel ill?"

"No, but this dancing affects me very remarkably--_they must hear!
she_ at least."

"I assure you, they do not. Try it--call 'Margaret' in your loudest

I hardly durst make the venture--so sure was I that it would startle
her--but I did it. And the result was just what any unimpassioned
spectator might have foreseen.

The doctor rose, and catching Margaret Somers's eye, signalled to her.
With the unembarrassed springy footstep of a child she came to us, and
the Doctor told her in the sign language that I was the new teacher.
For a moment she measured me from head to foot--not staring at me, but
gliding over me with a ripple of quiet sight--then smiled, and
confidingly shook my extended hand.

"Do you hear at all?" asked Dr. Gaskell manually, translating to me
the conversation as it proceeded.

She touched her ears and shook her head.

"Do you know what _music_ is?"

"Oh yes," she answered, her face gladdening suddenly, like a hill side
when the clouds break.

"What is music?"

For a moment she paused, her face changing into that expression of
deep concentration which is so well known to those familiar with the
deaf and dumb, and which is interpreted, even by those who have
longest known them, as "_waiting to be inspired_." Then she answered
in signs so marvellously vital that I had no need of Dr. Gaskell's
tongue translation.

"_Music is the heart's feeling of God close by, when He touches us in
quick throbs, and we try to measure them_."

I lay thinking of that answer all night. It seemed to ensphere like a
great soul all that the masters have sung and written from the day
that Israel rejoiced passing through the sea to the last echo of
Bertramo's tremendous entreaty in Robert Le Diable!

Chapter II

Three weeks had passed away since my coming to the asylum, and in that
time I had made no mean progress in the language of the hands. _Hands_
I say advisedly, for it is a common error among outsiders to suppose
that the ordinary intercourse of the deaf and dumb is carried on by
means of the _fingers_ merely; in other words, that they _spell_ out
their thoughts by the alphabet. Whereas, the truth is that this
admirable alphabet of theirs is seldom used because it is seldom
needed, a system of pantomime far superior in all qualities of grace
and expressiveness to any seen upon the stage, superseding it for all
ordinary purposes, and indeed far more accurately and rapidly
conveying delicate shades of meaning than any possible alphabetic
speech save in the rare cases where some profound or novel
metaphysical assertion has to be conveyed. Even in such instances I
have seen the sign language carried, by preference, to the very
furthest limits of its capability, and many of the abstruser tenets of
Whateley or of Hickok which a speaking teacher has required three
readings to master have been pantomimically given to my perfect
understanding by a deaf-mute class in logic or mental philosophy.

In the alphabet also, I was literary "_factus ad unguem_" But as yet
my province lay among the middle classes of pupils only. _Why_, will
be very evident. The dormant or just awakened minds of the younger
children need all the practised patience, ingenuity and technical
knowledge of their intellectual processes which can be grouped
together in the most experienced teacher, to conduct the delicate
first steps of their thinking and communicating life. For this reason,
a highly developed deaf-mute--if he has the rare faculty of meek
forbearance, is often their best master, as being the true
"_hegemon_"--the leader who never keeps farther ahead than the ranks
can see him. Next in importance and dignity of requirements is the
teacher who takes charge of the highest and graduating classes,
composed of such pupils as have emerged from the workshop of the
merely objective faculties, and must now be indoctrinated into truths
demanding all the more inward implements of the mind in their subtlest

Accordingly, it was only in the evenings that I could prosecute my
study of that wonderful new science, Margaret Somers. I improved every
hour of those, I can assure you. I set myself to the work of learning
her as I would a system of philosophy, or of the Mecanique Celeste.
After tea, it was customary for Dr. Gaskell to invite several of the
older pupils into his parlor, when for the time being we all threw off
the trammelling relations of master and scholar and talked together on
bare friendly terms. Two of the deaf-mutes who frequented these
_conversazioni_ possessed the auditory faculty just so far as this--
that by opening their mouths over the strings of a piano or guitar
they could catch the very faintest shadows of its vibrations through
the Eustachian tube--and enjoy the thin ghost of the music rather as
an impulse than a sound. It was both touching and amusing to see three
poor outcasts from one common world of musical delights--bending over
the sounding board of Mrs. Gaskell's piano, listening literally with
open mouth, and holding their breaths as in the presence of some
strange, beautiful angel, whose magic harpstrings of tenuous air they
feared to shatter by a sigh of bliss. As Mrs. Gaskell played them some
glad resounding strain--the Wedding March from Midsummer Night's
Dream, for instance, which was their favorite---I have many a time
seen them press their handkerchiefs to their eyes half to let the
quivering chords meet them in a sacred solitude of sense and half to
catch the tears which were falling thick and fast like rain in the

On such occasions, Margaret Somers sat far apart from them, her
usually bright face settled into an expression of intense melancholy.
She had not even that poor relic of a sense. And invariably--after the
playing had ceased--she would ask them with great interest what music
they had been hearing tonight--if they enjoyed it as much as ever--and
_what it was like_.

I fancy that most of us hearing ears, would be puzzled by that
question. Imagine it asked in Fifth avenue or Beacon street, of a lady
just come back from Don Giovanni, her opera cloak, as you may say,
still fluttering with the rush of bravos and one or two little
tremulos of Zerlina lingering like frightened birds caught between it
folds. "What was Vedrai Carino _like_, to-night?" I wonder how she
would answer!

But the deaf-mutes who heard with their mouths seemed to find no such
puzzle. They took the question quite as a matter of course, and made
replies that to us were very curious. Once, one of them told Margaret
that the Wedding March was like a beautiful peach tree, whose fruit
ripened so fast that you see the down blush deeper and deeper after
the fashion of a young girl's cheeks, and growing heavier till the
twigs bent almost to the ground, fall off, and becoming alive danced
away through the air to turn into a sunset! You may laugh at this, but
it gave Margaret great pleasure. She had a mind which could find
reality in the ghost of their ghost, and re-embody it for herself into
some weird Wedding March as I guess that Mendelssohn heard when he
caught at least its negative daguerreotype on his score. By a singular
coincidence I have also heard the two deaf-mutes describe Verdi's
great Zingarella to her, simultaneously as "the brightest possible
Northern lights."

It was on this last occasion, and by its suggestion, that an idea
which for months had been lying chaotic in my mind, began to find an
axis for itself and take on crystalline form.

First, I thought how strange it was that that these two friends of
Margaret habitually preferred the higher kinds of music--music for
which nine tenths of the hearing people, in this country, have just as
much penchant for as Chopin or Thalberg have for Old Dog Tray. By the
way, this latter was the very air which Mrs. Gaskell tried on them one
evening when they replied, with an effort of great politeness, that it
was a very nice _noise_. We, the hearing people, all laughed very
heartily at this, but _they_ saw nothing strange in it, and supposed
the distinction one which everybody made in the given case. It was
evident therefore, that their pleasure in music consisted in no mere
passive impression of the auditory nerve, but that they possessed
musical _feeling_ of a very marked order. How could this be, on the
common assumptions that all internal organs must be developed through
the outer? Must there not be, on the other hand, a vast possibility of
culture for this inner sense from inner sources---and through the
other still acute passages of external impressions--as our minds may
be lifted by the music of a dream? And if so, was it not likely that
Margaret Somers, superior to these two as she was in all spiritual
perceptions, and analogical expressions of rhythm, had the internal
organ of melodies and chords developed in the deep laboratory which we
called silence, to a still greater degree? Then, also, their
translations of music into form and color gave me a hint--which I had
been for months growing more and more willing to use for _her_--
because---but never mind now--I am anticipating.

Why might not _I_ be the one, whom Divine Music had sealed to carry
her message to that longing spirit?

This was the last bead on the rosary of the thoughts which I counted
on that evening in the parlor. I had come to the cross--a long hard
work to be done--but I did not grudge it. Again, when we had separated
for the night, I lay awake, hour after hour, considering at which end
I should take hold of it. Then the finger of dreams put itself forth
and touched the right place, without its aerial print vanishing.

Chapter III

Old John Bull--"Tunefulle Maister Bull of Gresham"--as his
contemporaries used to call him, remarks in the course of some
fragmentary personal recollections he has left us, that the great
enjoyment of his own musical compositions was not vouchsafed him at
the time of public performance--nor even during his own private
renderings of the same, but that while he perused his completed score
in the perfect quiet of the music loft at mid-day--a divine delight
ever seized him, and the spirit of his notes clothed themselves in a
harmonious body infinitely more splendid than any audible song. This
fact made it possible for him to read music--not in the common sense--
but as he would swim in the deep Summer sea of a rare book, revelling
in all the sweet meanings of the author, yet never speaking a single
word aloud.

Remembering this fact, I reflected that if Margaret Somers had ever
possessed the faculty of hearing--and developed her musical perception
by a scientific course of training--she might now read music after
Master Bull's fashion and enjoy it to a similar degree.

The form which her problem consequently took was this. Is there no
method by which the scientific relations of _pitch_ (_time_ I was sure
she had become acquainted with already) may be communicated to the
mind through other adits than the ear? Music in its pure scientific
aspect is quite independent of sound--uses sound only as its ordinary
_normal_ expression--and by all the more delicate intellects--the
poets especially--is constantly translated according to a system of
analogies, into other than audible forms. Rossini is called _florid_--
but his roulades have no effect of garlands to the _eye_, no fragrance
to the _nose_. Verdi, they tell us is _brilliant_--but who _sees_ him
shine? And the painters have no difficulty in understanding a
picture's _tone_.

All music, it seemed to me, finally resolved itself into a science of
_tensions_ and one nerve as well as another may convey the relations
of tension, provided that we attain the means best calculated to awake
their idea through the sense. The most delicate receptacles for
external impression still left to Margaret Somers were sight, touch,
and smell. After long thought, I most unwillingly gave up all idea of
attempts to communicate through the last of these, not because I
abjured the life long conviction that the olfactory sense is next to
sight in its capacity for receiving the most delicate impressions--but
because as yet its very etheriality has prevented any true science of
its phenomena. Through sight and touch therefore, I must operate

For a month, without communicating my plans to any one--not even the
object of them--I spent every hour of leisure in elaborating a system
of means.

At the expiration of that time, I told Margaret Somers that I would
teach her music.

My earnestness--and the very fact of my making such a statement at
all--opened her great blue eyes wider than I had ever seen them. "You
forget"--she signed--and put her fingers on her poor dead ears.

"Yes," I replied. “But I have eyes--and fingers."

"I would give them away willingly for ears--even such ears as John's
or Augusta's," (the deaf-mutes who heard with their mouths.)

"You shall keep those and have these," I answered. "Are you willing to
try it? You have to study hard if I am your teacher--but I am
sure I _can_ teach you."

"Will it give me great _pain_?"

"Are you afraid of pain?"

A quick scorn trembled over her lip, and she made a gesture as if the
idea were some tangible bad thing which she would brush away.

"Afraid? No indeed! But I have been praying for a year that God would
give me hearing--even with torture--and I was wondering whether he had
answered me to the utmost."

"No, dear soul, it will give you no pain! I have been praying God for
you too--without any request for the risk of torture--and I hope _He_
will answer us both, in his gentlest fashion. How could He torture
you! Don't you remember your definition of music--that you gave me the
first time I ever saw you--'God closely touching us in quick throbs?'
Is it not good to have God close by--yes, if we shall be blessed in
our good work, to have Him even closer?"

"It is _good_. But sometimes even now, in His veiled comings, it is
almost _unbearable_."

"Perhaps that may be the reason He _is_ veiled, because of His dimness
and mystery. To know Him nearer is to love Him more, you know. Are you
willing to try it?"

She put her hand into mine like a white nestling dove. How delicate
were the fingers! Their taper ends were as soft as an infant's. I
could not have been surprised if I had heard that she used them to see

I led her into my recitation room--now, at seven in the evening, left
a wide desert of benches, by that throng of children who had all day
been devouring blackboard geography by the continent and made nothing
of taking in a whole ocean at one draught. I lighted the gas--and with
one sweep of the sheep-skin pad swept from the board those three
hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains which had been left over from the
last course of my little Leviathans' late repast. In its place I drew
a staircase of seven steps--on as large a scale as the space would
permit. The first and second I made of equal heights--the third only
half as high as these--then three more of the same altitude with the
first two--and finally one of half height again. While Margaret was
looking at this figure with an expression of puzzled interest, I took
from my desk where it had been lying all day, so that I could glance
at it paternally between classes--a smooth deal board, three feet long
by two broad. Across this I had stretched seven guitar strings--all of
the high E quality, and of equal length--attached at one end by a
permanent ledge as in the instrument to which they belonged--and at
the other two wooden screws of my own manufacture. At present these
strings lay lax along the board.

"Now, Margaret," said I, "take your eyes from the blackboard for a
moment, and look at this thing which I have in my hand. It is the
simplest instrument of music which we know. It is so simple because it
is most like the human soul which has to understand it. _How_ it is
like we must go back to your definition to perceive. When you have
that strange sense of a presence near you--which you call 'God close
by' do you ever feel any _growth_, any _increase_, in the nearness?"

"Almost always!"

I waved my hands up and down--then let them drop wearily--and made the
sign for laxity.

"Does the Presence ever come to you when you feel _thus_?"

"It does indeed! Oftenest _then_--when I least look for it, and most
need it. _That_ is the reason I think it is the _Dear God_!"

I drew an extra guitar string from my pocket, and gently stretched it
with my hands.

"And as the Presence draws near, does your heart feel more like

She understood me, but was by this time watching my hand so eagerly
that she said yes only by an indication of the head. I stretched the
string still tighter.

"And as it draws still nearer, is the feeling still greater?"


I stretched it tighter yet--"And _still_ greater?"


I was adding force to my pull, when she caught my hands in hers, and
with a wild impetuousness that I had never seen in her before, aided
me at the extremity of her strength. The string snapped asunder, and
trembling like one seized with a divine afflatus, she exclaimed by a
quick cry of her speaking hands.

"There! like _that_ nearly!"

I drew her to me and, laying her head upon my shoulder, smoothed its
fair, sweet brow, and twined its rich soft threads of golden brown
about my fingers, till the storm that shook her was overpast. Like a
dear pure startled child I cherished her---yet not _quite_ like that.
I could not help it, for she let me.

Then I renewed the lesson.

"The way in which men have agreed to represent the soul, and that
growing strain it feels as the Presence draws nearer and nearer is by
an instrument like this." I touched the lower string of the seven and
continued. "This is loose now, as the soul is, before the Presence
comes. I will tighten it a little to express the first sense of the

With a tuning fork I got C natural of the vocal pitch and began
tightening the string up to it.

"That is right," said I; "Watch my hand closely. You see how many
turns I give this screw? One--two--three--there! nearly three and a
half. Let this degree of tension represent the feeling of the first
throb of the Presence. Now--to represent the sense of the second--I
tighten the first string a little more. Nearly half a turn tighter
yet--you see."

And so I continued up the whole septenary system--avoiding for the
present, so as not to embarrass her mind with too much, any exposition
of the only half-interval between the third and fourth, the seventh
and eighth steps of pitch. Besides, I felt enough faith in her ideal
music to believe, chimerical as it might seem, that she would
unerringly translate the half-tension of this minor interval into the
internal impulse which quantitatively corresponded to it, at the
proper time. And who can _explain_ it, further than to reduce it to
mathematical formulas themselves still more inexplicable?

The instrument being perfectly tuned in the natural gamut, I put it
into her hands.

"Now shut your eyes, Margaret," said I; "And pull the first and second
strings gently with your forefinger. Try to banish everything outside
of you but the strings, and see if you can perceive any difference in
their tension."

"May I think of _God_? You know I believe _He_ is the presence."

"So do I. By all means, it if helps you."

"It does help me, very much."

She closed her eyes, and with her right hand struck the strings in
succession. Her left was extended--oh, so gracefully!--as if she were
listening with those delicate beseeching fingers.

One, two--one, two--and she still sat motionless, giving me no report
of any perception.

Presently she opened her eyes again, and looked at me for a moment
with half timid earnestness--Then laid the instrument in her lap,
while she signed to me.

"Must I banish _everything_ but the strings?"

"And the Presence, you know, we agreed."

"Must I banish--_you too_?"

As I looked at her, thinking with a strange conflict of emotions for a
right reply, her eyes fell for an instant from mine, but only for an
instant, and then resumed their pure fearless gaze of inquiry.

"Do I help you, too, Margaret?"

"Yes. You are _very_ good to me."

"Then think of _me_, dear child."

She closed her eyes again. It was the first time any one had ever
begged that leave, since my mother died, long before the terrible five
years, saying she would always think of me, even in Heaven.

The silence of that wide blank recitation-room had been broken by the
frail soft repetitions that came from Margaret's fingers, scarcely
three minutes, when her eyes opened again, a quick gleam of delight
bathed her whole face, and her rapid hands exclaimed:

"I feel it! I feel it! I understand what you mean."

I was like one intoxicated in my joy. I have heard people say that of
such at such times they could "dance." As for _me_, sitting perfectly
still, and looking straight into that illuminated face was my only
adequate expression of myself. I had reached the first possibility
which was the mother of all the rest. Margaret could hear with her

"Thank God!" said I at length. "You will certainly learn music, now,
if we live. To-night we have been glad enough, and learned all that is
good for either of us without having time to think of it. Let us put
by this instrument till to-morrow. And now--why it is half-past ten
o'clock!--go and sleep sweetly, and may the Presence be gently near

"Do you wish to lock this up in your desk?"


"Did you make it for me?"

"Yes, Margaret."

"Do you think I would be tempted to play on it, are you afraid it
would keep me awake, if I should take it with me and put it behind my

"No, not if you promised not to play on it."

"I _will_ promise. And no one shall see it."

So clasping the board to her side with one hand--she put the other
into my own--and went, holding it there like a child, to the foot of
the broad staircase where we must separate.

There it seemed as if I could not let her go--And I did not, till our
good night had been said in "_ kisses sweeter, Sweeter than
anything on earth!_"

Chapter IV

A fortnight from her first lesson Margaret had mastered the whole
gamut of C natural. I could blindfold her--place her fingers upon any
of the strings--and get back an unerring response as to the position
in the scale. To my great encouragement, her enthusiasm for this
exercise continued unabated. She seemed to find all the pleasure of a
hearing ear in the practice of her finger education.

To relieve the monotony of this practice--for _I_ could not see any
possibility of its being otherwise than monotonous, remembering my
first lessons on the scale--I composed now and then some simple
recreation for her by a numerical system of notation. She soon learned
to recognize the little melodies I set for her, and was as delighted
as a child when she discovered that the air she had been playing as
"1, 1, 2, 3," was really the great national hymn "Yankee Doodle."

But I felt the necessity of writing on these recreations, as over the
benches on London bridge--"To _rest_--not to _lounge_ on."

By the diagram of the staircase, which I drew, you remember, during
Margaret's first lesson, but did not then have time to use, I conveyed
to her mind, little by little, the ideas of transposition. It is the
most difficult thing in the world to explain even the mere external
method by which she learned them---_my_ part of the work I mean--
without a diagram like that on the blackboard. Even then, some
scientific musician might so far discredit the possibility of teaching
their science by such a method, that they would not care to understand
me. But as nearly as words can explain it this was the system which I
used. Recollect that I had taught Margaret the letters representing
the notes of the scale, and had shown her the strings of the simple
gamut instrument which corresponded to them. Also that I had drawn for
her a flight of steps--marking each step with a letter in the order of
the scale--making _F_ a low step because it was only half the usual
rate of ascent from _E_--and _C_, a step equally low, because it bore
the same relation of ascent from _B_. I now wiped out the original _F_
which I had drawn and replaced it with another twice the former size.
At the same time I sharped the F string of our gamut instrument, and
without altering any of the others, put it back into Margaret's hands.
This was my moment of suspense--yes--it may seem strange to an
uninterested person that I use this word--_agony_! For I reasoned
thus. If all my past convictions have been delusive, then she will not
notice this change except as a mere meaningless vagary, and will find
just as much pleasure in strumming the strings in their new relations
of tension, as before. But if she really grasped the ideal principle
of musical successions--if they have been recognized by her mind not
only as a pleasure but a _law_--then this disproportion which now
exists will give her pain, and she will at least ask me what I have

A look of puzzlement came over her face. First she glanced at the
blackboard and then she felt of the strings. She lifted them one by
one with the delicatest touch of her finger, as if she were weighing
them, and she always paused longest at the sharped F. At last she
searched my face feebly with an expression of query, and then shook
her head.

"What is the matter, Margaret," said I.

She touched the F of the instrument, and pointed to its corresponding
stop on the board. Then she signed this answer.

"I do not know why, but I have learned to _need rest_ at this step.
The soul seems always to tire for a moment and lifts its feet only
half as high as before. There are too many high steps together,

My heart beat like a hammer! Would she, could she find of herself what
she must do?

"What will you do to help it, Margaret?" said I.

She thought, and looked, and fingered for several minutes more. The
she rose, took the chalk from my hand, and going to the board, altered
all the other steps of the staircase to correspond with the raised F.
Without my suggestion, she had transposed the scale!

I took the instrument into my hands and tuned it to the transposed
key. I thought she might have done it--was sure she could, indeed--but
I could not bear to mar the strange delight of my new triumph by any
further suspense. Then I handed it back to her, she ran over the
strings, and in an instant her whole face beamed with joy at the
discovery of the restored proportion. I knew such gladness in that
hour as all imaginable riches could not buy from me!

Day after day I taught, and she studied patiently. In two months from
the time of our first lesson in transposition, she had learned all the
keys and acquired the ideal philosophy of their meaning. At length I
ventured to put a guitar into her hands. The artificial arrangement of
its strings baffled her long, but before the Summer vacation of the
asylum had arrived, she had mastered the relations which existed
between our simple gamut instrument and this more complicated one.

As yet, neither of us had imparted our secret studies to another soul
beside ourselves. I knew Major Braithwaite was coming to see her
graduated, and I wished to reserve the great surprise of her
accomplishment for him.

Commencement day had come. With it came all the friends of pupils who
had friends. And among the first persons whom I saw in the morning as
I came down the broad stair to breakfast was Major Braithwaite. He was
just entering the front door.

Margaret happened to be in the entry at the time. The moment she saw
him, she ran into his arms, and he clasped her to him, passionately? A
heart-sickening doubt came over me. I had supposed he was a kind of
adopted father to her. I had never heard of his being, thinking of
being, anything else. Yet a father does not kiss in the way he kissed.
There is not that strange light in a father's eyes when he sees his

Major Braithwaite was the perfection of soldierly beauty. His beard,
which he wore full, was a luxuriant curly black, like his hair, only
as the hair was not, touched here and there with iron grey. His
features were massive and Roman without being heavy. His figure was
tall, erect, but not inflexible, and he seemed about thirty six years

I was introduced to him at breakfast, and he thanked me for the
interest I had taken in his ward. He meant the books I had explained
to her--the conversation I had enjoyed with her in Dr. Gaskell's
parlor, of which that kind man had told him. But the greatest of all
interests--did he know _that_, and would he have thanked me if he had
known it?

Before the exercises of the day commenced, Dr. Gaskell called me into
his study.

"I have good news for you," said he. "You are so trusted by all of us,
that I know I am not betraying confidence in telling it to you.
Margaret is going to be married. Now, who do you think is the

"I'm sure I can't think," replied I, in a dream.

"_Major Braithwaite_! He has always loved her since she was a child.
He believed that there was nothing she could not be taught to do. He
has all the admiration of her that you or I would feel for Elizabeth
Barrett Browning. And so he sent her here to be developed. This
morning he asked me if she was sufficiently the woman to know her own
mind, if I thought she could love anybody consciously and answer for
herself intelligently. I told him yes--decidedly. You see he has all
the gentlemanly and soldierly honor of taking the weak at a
disadvantage. When I said yes, he acted like a boy! He was perfectly
overcome! He means to tell her that he loves her, to-morrow. Of
course she will accept him. Then she will be married during the
vacation and have a happy home as long as she lives. He is rich--and
if she wishes it, he will resign his commission." So concluded the
doctor, rubbing his hands with pleasure, "her fortune is made for
life. Dear girl! I am so glad! I think you will be asked to be the

"That is capital!" said I coolly--still in my dream--and so we parted
to get ready for the exercises.

In these Margaret acquitted herself well--admirably. She shone like a
queen among all the deaf-mutes who read or recited. At every new
eloquent answer to the questions of the examiner, which she wrote on
the blackboard, I glanced furtively at the Major, and saw proud
sparkles in his eye which set my own heart on fire.

When all was over, the graduates were invited into Dr. Gaskell's
parlor. I was still in my dream, but I thought enough of the outer
world and its results, to bring in Margaret's guitar unnoticed and set
it in the corner by Mrs. Gaskell's piano. The hours of the evening
went on and still Major Braithwaite was chained to Margaret's side. He
hung on her every gesture and lived in her looks. At ten o'clock all
of the deaf-mute company, wearied with the day's labor, had departed,
leaving Dr. Gaskell and Mrs. Gaskell, Margaret, the Major and myself
alone together.

I signed to Margaret. She went to the corner and brought out her
guitar. The rest looked at her with puzzled curiosity.

"Major Braithwaite," said I, calmly, when she had taken her seat again
with the instrument in her lap, "I have kept the best wine until now.
I wish to crown the last day of Miss Somers at the asylum with the
highest attainment she has made--Listen, if you please, and hear what
she will do for you."

Again I signed to Margaret, and her fingers ran nervously over the
strings. I looked at her steadily and tried to throw into that look
all the cheerfulness I could imagine. Then she seemed to take heart
and began that simple rich melody from the Bohemian Girl--"When other
lips and other hearts their tales of love shall tell."

Then came the turn of the others to dream! Dr. and Mrs. Gaskell sat
silently in a trance when astonishment had not yet yielded to delight.
Major Braithwaite, sitting straight upright in his chair after the
soldierly manner, was pale as death, listening with compressed lips
and breath that was imperceptible, save now and then in strong
burdened inflations.

From the first air, Margaret's fingers wandered on to the second I had
taught her. This was the Kataplan from The Child of the Regiment. I
had given her that, in the old times that looked at through my dream,
seemed a hundred years ago--because I thought it would please Major

When she had finished playing, Mrs. Gaskell turned to me.

"_Does_ she hear after all?" said she.

Major Braithwaite answered for me.

"No, she does not. She never knew I had entered this morning till I
touched her. Her back was turned when I came in. I slammed the door,
and almost forgetting her affliction, called her name. _Who_ taught
her to play?"

"Major Braithwaite asks who taught you to play, Margaret," said I.

She replied by laying down her guitar, stealing up to my side like a
child, and taking my hand. The look she gave me then was at once joy
and agony enough for years! Major Braithwaite saw it and grew paler

"Does she know any meaning in what she plays?" said he eagerly. "Does
she play like an automaton? Or can it be possible that in any way she
understands it as music?"

As he spoke he signed the same questions to her. And she answered

"I feel _God_ near me in that music. God and _kindness_. God and
_him_." She pointed to me as she signed.

"Wonderful! Wonderful!" Was all that Dr. Gaskell and his wife could

But Major Braithwaite rose and stood between Margaret and me.

"What made you think of teaching her this thing?" said he. "I do not
ask you _how_--for I could not understand that part now if you should
tell me. But why? What was your motive?"

It then broke forth from me for the first time--because, even in his
presence I could not hold it longer--

"Because I _loved_ her!"

"And does she love you?"

"Ask _her_."

So he asked her. And she returned me such an ineffable look that now
remembering it, I seem to be among the angels.

Major Braithwaite folded his arm around her and kissed her on the
forehead. Not as in the morning he had kissed her on the mouth.

"My dear--_dear daughter_!" said he. "I believe you have chosen well.
Would you be willing to go everywhere over the world and be this young
man's wife? Supposing he had to be a soldier, like--many men, for
instance. Had to fight the Indians---be separated from you through
nights and days when you would be very anxious about him. Had to
endure hardships for him--loneliness--doubt--fear--everything bitter
and dreadful--would you be his wife, still? His true, loving wife?"

Margaret's only answer to his signs was to cling still closer to me
and hide her face against my shoulder.

"Very well," spoke the Major. "Have you the salary which will enable
you to support a wife, young man?"

Dr. Gaskell answered for me that my salary would be raised to twelve
hundred the next term.

"That is enough," said Major Braithwaite. "A woman who loves a man can
live on much less that one who does not. Margaret is now graduated.
She can be married at any time. I would like to have it take place
somewhere where I can be present. Can you come to Fort Allen and be
married, sir?"

"We can go anywhere to have you in our happiness, dear father!" said

"Very well," said the Major calmly, "let it be August then."

Chapter V

After Margaret and I were married we continued to live at the asylum
for a year. Then my mother's brother--an eccentric though not an
unusually rich man--who believed that young people should help
themselves, awoke to the consciousness that I was doing that thing
tolerably well and had a wife to carry honorably through the world
besides. So--one day--he offered to take me into partnership with him
in his flourishing New York jobbing house, and for Margaret's sake I
accepted the offer.

When we got into New York I found my means ampler, and the first
thought I had was to complete my wife's _musical_ education.

Again there arose in my mind those old analogies between sight and
hearing. I had taught her something about music by the relation
between sight and touch. There were still greater harvests of delight
to be reaped by that wonderful mind of hers in the domain of _color_
as representative of music.

We had a house in West Twenty-sixth street. For the first time in my
life I knew what it was to have all the _gas_ I wanted, and to pay the
company a corresponding large bill for the same. For my wife's New
Year's present during the second year of my marriage, I prepared a
surprise based upon the following principles.

In natural philosophy we are taught that the primal colors, as
ascertained from the phenomenon of the rainbow, are:---"Violet,
indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red." But the question arises--Is
the rainbow a _gamut_ or a harmony? I decided that it was the latter.
For its intention is the expression of _hope_ to man. A mere
scientific gamut would not have done _that_. The rainbow must be an
expression in color of certain _gratifying_ sentiments in the divine
mind. Those sentiments, in heaven at least, must be reduceable to
speech. Therefore to music also. Let us try them on earth!

I came to the conclusion that the rainbow was not the true gamut of
colors correspondent to the ascertained gamut of sound. It must be
divided and re-arranged before the gamut can be made. And this was the
rearrangement which after long thinking I arrived at:--

Yellow, violet, blue, indigo, green, orange, red.

This you see, at least in theory, was an order measurably consistent
with the gamut of sounds. Between blue and indigo there is apparent
but half the interval of color which intervenes between yellow and
violet. Orange and red are separated from each other by but half the
distance which divides indigo and green. Thus I constructed a gamut of
color which should to my mind represent that of sounds. I arranged in
my study a long gas pipe, consecting laterally with burners where
several ground glass shades were colored in order according to my
theory. I then constructed an apparatus with strings like the original
one by which I taught my wife, so that at least pressure upon the
strings the delicate cone of burning gas which I had already lighted
within three colored shades should flare up into a broad tinted
brilliancy. If for instance I moved the _F_ string, it not only gave
me the sense of the peculiar tension, but an indigo light on the wall
before me also. Likewise a touch on the _A_ string gave me orange
light, on the _D_ string violet, and so on. Between each of these
shades, was one of compromised tints, representing the half intervals.

On New Year's day, for the first time in a month, I opened to my wife
the door of my study.

"Come in, darling!" signed I. "I have a new instrument for you. I want
you to play on it for me. See if it gives you any greater pleasure
than the guitar."

Margaret sat down in front of the strings and began playing the air--
"True love can ne'er forget," while she watched the coming and going
of the colored lights. A new delight seemed to seize her. She tried
all the strings at once with capricious fingers, and shuddered as she
saw a certain discrepancy in their relation. She pulled two
neighboring strings at once, and the effect of their light combination
on her was that of a musical discord. Then finally, she returned to
the true melody, and found such a new pleasure in the relation between
tension and colors--in what we call music--as I never saw in the most
rapt of hearing performers.

After this first experiment, she grew rapidly in her knowledge of
inaudible music. She made me many suggestions by which I immediately
profited--as to the colors of the lamps. With a box of paints, she
drew me the exact shades which to her mind represented a certain
tension of string, and I had it immediately copied in glass to replace
in the apparatus.

From melodies she gradually rose to harmonies. She learned to combine
two tints and tensions so as give her the idea of _chords_. And when
she had accomplished this attainment, I knew that her musical
attainment was at its earthly apex. She might learn the most difficult
pieces of Chopin--and find pleasure in them--but she never could
attain further _primal ideas of music_, till she reached that great
resounding dome of Heaven where the angels play and God is satisfied!

Chapter VI

"Doctor Athanasius Bloor cures all diseases of the eye and ear. His
operations are painless, his success absolute, and he is recommended
by the following gentlemen, whose selves or family have been benefited
by this treatment:--

"Timothy Tompkins, Esq, Common Councilman of Peoria--strabismus.

"Rev. Hezekiah Green, Jenkinstown, Conn--permanent deafness.

"Hon. Peter Plumbpie, Sec. For. Miss.--blindness and deafness,

I saw this advertisement in one of the New York papers, eighteen
months after I was married. I debated for a while whether Dr.
Athanasius Bloor was not a quack. Finally I determined to take my wife
to him. He could not hurt her at any rate, and he might make her hear,
which would be the crowning delight of my life!

So I took my wife to Dr. Athansius Bloor's.

I found that he was _not_ a mere quack; that he had really done, and
was capable of doing, far more good than the newspapers gave him
credit for. I put my wife under his treatment. He discovered that her
loss of hearing was to be ascribed to no congenital and irremediable
cause, but to a pressure on the auditory nerve which rendered it
obtuse. This pressure, he thought, might be either a sluggish cerebral
tumor, or a closing of the out passage through the results of early

Whatever it might be, he had remedied it in two months from our first
interview with him. Margaret heard some sounds. She knew when they
were firing salutes from Governor's Island, or ringing the bells for
fire in our district, for instance, and in six weeks more, she heard
my voice! Oh blessed time! It seemed as if Heaven had been brought
down to earth again. The voice that spoke to her sweetest! And she
distinguished it from the hard noises of the world.

Well, for one short month I was a happy man. He who has been happy for
a whole month, if he remembers it, may be happy forever. So, at least,
must I fancy, to live--to _bear_ life at all now.

My beautiful one began fading. Day by day I saw it without believing
it. And when I asked her why she was so wan and pale---why she
trembled so as to wake me through the long nights--she answered in her
old beloved signs, which she clung to still.

"It _jars_ me so! There is too much noise in the world. I do not hear
enough _music_."

At last I became sorry that she heard. I even prayed God that he would
make her deaf again. She had expected too much of the world. There was
more noise than music there.

But I had made her _hear_. I must accept _that_. I had thought it a
blessing. If it was not a blessing, whose fault was it!

I was compelled to confess my wife's situation very critical. Her peril
stared me in the face. If some means could not be found of protecting
her sensitive soul from the shocks of the outer world's discordant
sound--she would certainly die--and that very speedily. I could think
of no other comparison for her than a spirit walking through the din
and roughness of life, in perfect nakedness, but with all the bodily
senses strangely preserved to it, feeling the cold with an intensity
of pain which bodies never know, hearing the outcries, the curses, the
wailings of men and women with an infinitely sensitive ear, seeing all
the cruellest wretchedness of humanity with a piercing eye that could
not close, without shelter, without sleep. I began to understand that
God had meant Margaret's deafness as a great mercy--that it was the
necessary cover to the most delicate of human souls--that she could
really bear no more of the world than might be taken in through sight,
touch, taste and smell.

I could not restore her to deafness but I environed her with all that
was loveliest in earthly voices. I made the care of her my only
luxury. I sacrificed every thing which men usually call desirable to
the one aim of enshrining her in a sacredness of sweet sound. I bought
the choicest music boxes and kept them playing by her bedside when she
lay down to sleep. I took her to every performance given by the best
artists in opera or concert room. Oh with what joy did I thank God
when I found that there were some musicians whose music was not too
harsh to give her pleasure! How I exulted when that grand dear Formes
brought tears of happiness to her eyes in Bertramo--when D'Angri's
wonderful honey of song distilled through her ears into her heart and
made her clasp my hand with a glad thrill in Zerlima.

But from all the great singers and instruments she ever came home to
seek a better bliss in the music of that apparatus I had given her on
New Year's day. That expressed to her mind a music such as she would
never hear till she reached Heaven. And while she tenderly touched the
strings, weighing their tension as of old, and watched the gleaming
colors dance hither and thither on the wall, the bitterness within me
welled to the eyes, for I knew that she was getting ready to hear that
music of eternal life, in which there are no false tones.

We had been married two years--when, one night, I took her to hear
Formes for the third time in Roberto. That night the greatest of
living singers and actors eclipsed himself. Having the greatest opera
that was ever written to be great in, he was great enough for it. He
was the Bertramo whom Meyerbeer _meant_. Never again in this world do
I expect to see Robert the Devil. The thought of hearing any other man
than Formes sing the tremendous music of that last act is a pain to
me. My memory of the opera now is such that to find it misrendered in
a single point, would be like breaking down the everlasting
distinction between right and wrong. Roberto is an opera whose plot
has no parallel for sublimity in the grandest involvements of Greek
tragic writing. Aeschylus never had such a plot. And there is not one
particular in which the music of Meyerbeer could be ameliorated for
the plot's expression. Nor is there a man living who understands that
plot--that music--who can sing it, save Carl Formes. So now we went to
hear him for the third--yes, though I did not know it then--the _last_

Formes, I have said, surpassed himself. The cumulative horrors of the
fiendish father were borne up on his demi-god shoulders as Atlas bears
the world. My wife never took her eyes from the stage when he stood
there. In the last act she clasped my hand and turned so pale that I
half rose from my seat with fright. I thought the long feared end was
coming. But seeing my suffering she composed herself and managed to
endure the finale.

The moment that we got home she went to the instrument in my study,
which, out of burlesque acquiesence with the Graecizing nomenclature
of the time, we had called the _kaleidophone_. I lighted the colored
lamps and I took my seat beside her. She began wandering over the
strings into a memory of Roberto. First she repeated the "Vanne,
Vanne," that exquisite air in which Alice brings to Robert the message
of their dying mother. Thence she strayed to the Gaming Chorus.
Finally she found herself in the grand mazes of Bertramo's character,
and from that moment restricted herself to expressing him alone.

It will seem incredible, I know, how by an instrument like this, where
only melody was possible, in perfection and that the slender melody of
a single gamut of strings, the music of Roberto could be at all
conveyed. And truly, any but Margaret or I might have found it meagre
enough for the purpose. But we knew its hidden meanings. She had
translated its tensions and its colors into the music of the soul. And
I, though less favored than she, because I had not like her any
enclosed and purely spiritual sense, from the long efforts I had made
to awaken this sense in her, at length reached some measurable
perception of her interior music.

That night to me she seemed inspired. The rich hues of the lamps
danced on the wall as if they were alive. The lamp which she played
most was the red one. She told me that this color was the best to
express Bertramo's character where it touched humanity, but our
apparatus was sadly deficient in shades of the tint. It needed at
least a hundred lamps to give the representations of Bertramo's music
in this particular alone. I promised her to complete the instrument
according to any suggestion she might make. Alas! I have never done
so. There on my lonely wall it stands imperfect still!

But when the fiendish side of Bertramo showed itself, the colors she
most used were a succession of violet and orange. As she touched the
strings communicating with those lamps, the room was full of a lurid
light and I saw the caverns opening to receive the Demon home. We
forgot the simple music of the strings. We revelled in a gorgeous
coming and going of rich lights which spoke Meyerbeer's meaning as no
sound can ever speak. And when at last she came to the passage where
Alice triumphs and Robert is saved--the green lamp sent a mellow
lustre of hope and peace through the study, in which, as on a ladder
of Heaven, our lifted minds seemed to see angels, passing up and down!

When the last strain of color died away, Margaret said to me---"I am
very tired, dear. Let me sleep."

I took her in my arms as was my wont and carried her like a sick child
up to our chamber. I helped her undress for the night and lay down
beside her. She slept almost immediately, and as soon as I heard her
beloved heart beating and her breath coming regularly, I slept also.

It was about three o'clock in the morning when her voice awakened me.

"Husband," said she, "don't be frightened--but I feel very strangely.
Take my hand, please. I love to feel you by me. For I am so happy, and
I hear such wonderful music that I am afraid to be alone."

"Oh, Margaret," I answered, my own heart almost stopping with a
mystical undefined fear. "It is nothing but the effect of last night's
music on your overwrought nerves. Try, darling, if you cannot sleep
again. I will stroke your forehead and lull you as I have so often
done before. Go to sleep, beautiful one! Precious one!"

And she answered me:

"I feel too wide awake. I do not think I shall ever sleep again."

I watched by her side in the loneliness for an hour. Her breath grew
softer and slower. I made an effort to arouse myself, to call the
servants and send for a doctor. But she clasped my hand so tightly
that I feared to loose it lest I should loose life with it. I must
have been paralyzed.

At the end of the hour she spoke to me once more.

"I hear again!" said she, "as I used to in the old times at the
institute. The Presence is coming nearer--and nearer." Then she added
faintly---"_And is close beside me. I hear again_."

And she _did_ hear. For she was among the music of the Angels!


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