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A Beautiful Possibility by Edith Ferguson Black

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"Bringing such a disreputable character into the house. When I came in
and found her sitting in the hall and you talking to her I was perfectly
paralyzed. Horrible! Why her rags were abominable, and her feet were
bare!"

"But she had no shoes, Aunt Kate, and she was just my height. I was so
glad that my clothes would fit her."

"A pretty thing to have your clothes paraded through the streets by
such a creature! Most likely she would pawn them for gin. I am sure she
was an improper character."

"But, Aunt Kate," pleaded Evadne, "Jesus Christ says we must clothe the
naked and feed the hungry if we would be his followers. I must do as he
tells me for I am going to follow him."

"Your uncle does enough of that for the family," said her aunt coldly.
"I do not wish you to try any such experiments again."

Puzzled and chilled, Evadne left the room. Was obeying the commands of
Christ only an "experiment" after all?

She crept up to her favorite retreat and threw herself upon her gayly
covered couch. "Oh, Jesus Christ!" she cried passionately, "I am _glad_
I did not live in Galilee when you were there! Aunt Kate and Isabelle
would have thought it bad form for me to follow you in the crowd where
the sinners were. But they can't keep me from doing so now!

"Oh, I wish I were dead! No one would care. Yes, Pompey would be sorry.
Louis would call it 'a sable attachment,' but Pompey loved my father.
Oh, dearest! dearest!"

She buried her head in her hands while wave after wave of desolation
broke over the lonely soul. "A beautiful possibility" her knight of the
gate had said. Could life become that to her?

Downstairs Pompey began to sing,--

"Shall we meet beyond the river,
Where the surges cease to roll,
Where in all the bright forever
Sorrow ne'er shall press the soul?"

The rich vibrations rolled up and trembled about her. She held out her
arms and her voice broke in a cry of triumphant faith, "Yes, we _shall_
meet, Lord Jesus, face to face!"

CHAPTER VIII.

"Pompey," said Evadne one morning, "I am going to see your wife."

The black face beamed with satisfaction. "Dyee'll be mighty uplifted,
Miss 'Vadney. She think a powerful sight o' Mass Lennux."

Evadne stood watching him as he gave finishing touches to the silver
mountings of the handsome harness. "I don't believe there is another
harness in Marlborough that shines like yours, Pompey," she said with a
laugh. "You are as particular with it as though every day was a special
occasion."

"So 'tis, Miss 'Vadney," said Pompey simply. "Can't slight nuthin' when
de Lord's lookin' on. Whoa, Brutis! Dere's goin' ter be Holiness to de
Lord written on de bells ob de horses bimeby, Missy. I'se got it writ
dere now."

"I believe you have, Pompey," said Evadne soberly, "for you do your work
just as perfectly whether Uncle Lawrence is going to see it or not. It
almost seems as if you were trying to please someone out of sight."

Pompey drew himself up to his full height. "I'se a frien' ob de Lord
Jesus, Miss 'Vadney. I'se got ter do everything perfect 'cause ob dat.
Couldn't bring no disgrace on my Lord."

"But would that disgrace him?" asked Evadne in wonderment.

"Why, yes, Missy. Ef I wuz a poor, shifles' crittur, only workin' fer de
praise o' men, folks would say,--'he's no differen' frum de rest; you've
got to keep yer eye on him ef yer want tings done properly. De King's
chillen ain't no better dan de worl's chillen be.'

"De Lord Jesus, he say to me,--'Pompey, you must be faithful in de
little things as well as in de big. I never slurred nuthin when I wuz a
walkin' up and down troo Palestine. I sees you, Pompey; don't make no
difference whether de earthly master does or not.' So I does all de
little tings to de Lord, Miss 'Vadney, an' de Jedge knows he can depen'
on Pompey. Whenever he wants me, I'se here."

"That is lovely!" said Evadne softly. "But don't you get dreadfully
tired doing the same work over and over? Every day you have to do
exactly the same things. It is as bad as a tread-mill. You just keep on
going round and round."

Pompey gave one of his low chuckles. "'Specs dat's de way in dis worl',
Miss 'Vadney. We'se got ter keep on eatin', an' we can't sleep enuff one
night ter last fer a week,--but I 'low it's jes' one o' de beautiful
laws ob de Lord,--de sun an' de moon an' de stars keeps a'goin over de
same ground most continuous. So long as we'se doin' his will, Missy, it
don't matter much whether we'se goin' roun' an' roun' or straight ahead.
Stan' over, Ceesah!" and Pompey gave a final polish to the horse's
already immaculate legs.

"Why don't you blacken their hoofs, Pompey? They used to do it in
Barbadoes."

Pompey's eyes twinkled. "Dat's a no 'count livery notion, Miss 'Vadney,
a coverin' up de cracks an' makin' de horse's hufs look better dan dey
is. De King's chillens can't stoop ter any sech decepshuns. De Lord
Jesus says, 'Pompey, I is de truff. You's got ter speak de truff an'
live de truff ef you belongs ter me.' We ain't got no call ter cover up
anything, Miss 'Vadney, ef we'se livin' ez de Lord wants us to. 'Sides,
der ain't no 'cashun fer it. Ef we keeps de stable pure an' de food good
an' gives de horse de right kind of exercise an' plenty of 'tention, de
hufs will take care ob demselves," and he held Caesar's foot up for her
inspection.

"Halloo, Evadne, are you taking lessons in farriery? What's the matter,
Pompey? Has Caesar got a sand crack?" and Louis sauntered up, the
inevitable cigar between his lips.

"I don't 'low my horses ever hez sech things, Mass Louis," said Pompey
grandly.

"Ha, ha! what a conceited old beggar you are. But I'll give the devil
his due and acknowledge the horses are a credit to you." He held a dollar
towards him balanced on his forefinger. "Here, take this and fill your
pipe with it."

"Don't want no pay fer doin' my dooty, Mass Louis."

"Pshaw, man! Take a tip, can't you?"

Pompey shook his head. "I don't smoke, Mass Louis."

"Don't smoke!" ejaculated Louis. "You don't here, I know, because the
Judge is afraid of fire, but you'll never make me believe that you don't
spend your evenings over the fire with your pipe. You darkeys are as
fond of one as the other."

"You's mistaken, Mass Louis," said Pompey quietly.

"'Pon my word! And why don't you smoke, Pomp? You don't know what you're
missing. It is the greatest comfort on earth."

"'Specs I don't need sech poor comfort, Mass Louis. I takes my comfort
wid de Lord."

Pompey's voice was low and sweet. Evadne felt her heart glow.

"But come now, Pomp," persisted Louis, "that's all nonsense. You must
have some reason for not smoking. Everybody does. Come, I insist on your
telling me."

Pompey was silent for a moment. "'The pure in heart shall see God,'" he
said slowly. "I 'low, Mass Louis, de King's chillen's got ter be pure in
body too."'

"You insolent scoundrel! How dare you?" and Louis dashed the glowing end
of his cigar in the negro's face.

For a moment Pompey stood absolutely still,--the cigar which had left
its mark upon his cheek lying smouldering at his feet,--then he turned
quietly and walked away.

Louis strode out of the coach-house. Evadne followed him, her eyes
blazing. "You are a coward!" she cried passionately. "You would not have
dared to do that to a man who could hit you back. You forced him to tell
you and then struck him for doing it! If this is your culture and
refinement, I despise it! I am going to be a Christian, like Pompey.
That is grand!"

"Well done, coz!" and Louis affected a laugh. "There's not much of the
'meek and lowly' in evidence just now at any rate."

He looked after her as she walked away, her indignant tones still
lingered in his ears. "By Jove! there's something to her though she is
so quiet! I must cultivate the child."

Seen through Evadne's clear eyes his action looked despicable and his
better nature suggested an apology, but he swept the suggestion aside
with a muttered "Pshaw! he's only a nigger," and turned carelessly on
his heel.

"You are Dyce!" cried Evadne impulsively when she reached the cottage in
whose open doorway a pleasant-faced colored woman was standing. "Pompey
has told me about you. I think your husband is one of the grandest men I
know."

"Thank you, Missy. Walk right in, I'se proper glad ter see Mass Lennux's
chile."

"Why, how did you know me?" asked Evadne wonderingly.

The woman laughed softly. "Laws, honey, you'se de livin' image of yer
Pa."

She excused herself after a few moments and Evadne laid her head against
the cushions of a comfortable old rocking chair and rested. She wondered
sometimes where her old strength had gone. She had never felt tired in
Barbadoes. The tiny room was full of a homely comfort which did her
heart good. There were books lying on the table and flowers in the
window, a handsome cat purred in front of the fireplace, and on a
bracket in one corner an asthmatic clock ticked off the hours with
wheezy vigor. In an adjoining room Evadne could see a bed with its gay
patchwork quilt of Dyce's making, and in the little kitchen beyond she
heard her singing as she trod to and fro. A couple of dainty muslin
dresses were draped over chairs, for Dyce was the finest clear starcher
in Marlborough, and her kitchen was all too small to hold the products
of her skill. She entered the room again bearing a tray covered with a
snowy napkin on which were quaint blue plates of delicious bread and
butter, pumpkin pie, golden browned as only Dyce could bake it, and a
cup of fragrant coffee.

"I did not know anything could taste quite so good!" Evadne said when
she had finished, "you must be a wonderful cook."

Dyce laughed, well pleased. "When de Lord gives us everything in
perfecshun, 'specs it would be terrible shifles' of me ter spoil it in
de cookin', Miss 'Vadney."

"The Lord," repeated Evadne. "You know him too, then? You must, if you
live with Pompey."

Dyce's face grew luminous. "He is my joy!" she said softly.

"And does he make you happy all the time?" asked the girl wistfully.
"You seem to have to work as hard as Pompey. What is it makes you so
glad?"

"Laws, honey, how kin I help bein' glad? De chile o' de King, on de way
ter my Father's palace. Ain't dat enuff 'cashun ter keep a poor cullered
woman rejoicin' all de day long? I'se so happy I'se a singin' all de
time over my work, an' in de street; it don't matter where I be."

"But you can't sing in the streets, Dyce!"

"Laws, chile, don't yer know de heart kin sing when de lips is silent?
It's de heart songs dat de King tinks de most of, but when de heart gits
too full, den de lips hez ter do deir share."

"But suppose you were to lose your eyesight, or Pompey got sick,
or----"

Dyce gave one of her soft laughs. "Laws, honey, I never supposes. De
Lord's got no use fer a lot o' supposin' chillen who's allers frettin'
demselves sick fer fear Satan'll git de upper han'. De Lord's reignin',
dat's enuff fer me. I 'low he'll take care o' me in de best way."

Evadne looked again at the exquisitely laundered dresses. "Why do you
work so hard?" she asked. "Doesn't Pompey get enough to live on?"

"Oh, yes, honey; de Jedge gives good wages; but yer see, we wants to do
so much fer Jesus dat de wages don't hold out."

"So much for Jesus!"

"Why, yes, Missy. He says ef we loves him we'll do what he tells us, an'
he's tol' us ter feed de hungry, an' clothe de naked, an' go preach de
gospel. So, when we cum ter talk it ober, it seem drefful shifles' in me
ter be doin' nothin' when de Lord worked night an' day, so I begun ter
take in laundry work an' now we hev more money ter spen' on de Lord. But
we never hez enuff. De worl's so full o' perishin' souls an' starvin'
bodies. I tells Pompey I never wanted ter be rich till I began ter do de
King's bizniss. It's drefful comfortin' work, Miss 'Vadney."

* * * * *

The chill March wind blew fiercely along the streets of Marlborough one
afternoon and Evadne shivered. She had been standing for an hour wedged
tightly against the doors of the Opera House by an impatient crowd which
swayed hither and thither in a fruitless effort to force an entrance. It
was Signor Ferice's farewell to America and it was his whim to make his
last concert a popular one, with no seats reserved. Every nerve in her
body seemed strained to its utmost tension and her head was in a whirl.
She turned and faced the crowd. A sea of faces; some eager, some sullen,
some frowning, all impatient. The scraps of merry talk which had floated
to her at intervals during the earlier stages of the waiting were no
longer heard. A gloomy silence seemed to have settled down upon every
one. Suddenly a laugh rang out upon the keen air,--so full of a clear
joyousness that people involuntarily straightened their drooping
shoulders, as if inspired with a new sense of vigor and smiled in
sympathy.

Evadne started. Surely she had heard that voice before! It must
be,--yes, it was,--her knight of the gate! Their eyes met. A great light
swept over his face and he lifted his hat. Then the surging crowd
carried him out of her range of vision.

"I don't see what you find to look so pleased about, Evadne," grumbled
Isabelle, as they drove homeward. "For my part I think the whole thing
was a fizzle."

"I was thinking," said Evadne slowly, "of the power of a laugh."

"The power of a laugh! What in the World do you mean?"

"I mean that it is a great deal better for ourselves to laugh than to
cry, and vastly more comfortable for our neighbors."

"Evadne will not be down," announced Marion the next morning as she
entered the breakfast room. "She caught a dreadful cold at the concert
yesterday and she can't lift her head from the pillow. Celestine thinks
she is sickening for a fever."

"Dear me, how tiresome!" exclaimed Mrs. Hildreth. "I have such a horror
of having sickness in the house,--one never knows where it will end.
Ring the bell for Sarah, Marion, to take up her breakfast."

"It is no use, Mamma. She says she does not want anything."

"But that is nonsense. The child must eat. If it is fever, she will need
a nurse, and nurses always make such an upheaval in a house."

"You had better go up, my dear, and see for yourself," said Judge
Hildreth. "Celestine may be mistaken."

"Mercy!" cried Isabelle, "it is to be hoped she is! I have the most
abject horror of fevers and that is enough to make me catch it. Fancy
having one's head shorn like a convict! The very idea is appalling."

"Oh, of course if there is the slightest danger, you and Marion will
have to go to Madame Castle's to board," said her mother. "It is very
provoking that Evadne should have chosen to be sick just now."

"Not likely the poor girl had much choice in the matter," laughed Louis.
"There are a few things, lady mother, over which the best of us have no
control."

"I wish you would go up and see the child, Kate," said Judge Hildreth
impatiently. "If there is the least fear of anything serious I will send
the carriage at once for Doctor Russe. It is a risky business
transplanting tropical flowers into our cold climate."

The kind-hearted French maid was bending over Evadne's pillow when Mrs.
Hildreth entered the room. She had grown to love the quiet stranger
whose courtesy made her work seem light, and it was with genuine regret
that she whispered to her mistress,--"It is the feevar. I know it well.
My seestar had it and died."

Evadne's eyes were closed and she took no notice of her aunt's entrance.
Mrs. Hildreth spoke to her and then left the room hurriedly to summon
her husband. Even her unpractised eyes showed her that her niece was
very ill.

Doctor Russe shook his head gravely. "It is a serious case," he said,
"and I do not know Where you will find a nurse. I never remember a
spring when there was so much sickness in the city. I sent my last nurse
to a patient yesterday and since then have had two applications for one.
It is most unfortunate. The young lady will need constant care. She
requires a person of experience."

Pompey, waiting to drive the doctor home, caught the words, spoken as he
descended the steps to enter the carriage, and came forward eagerly. "If
you please, Missus," he said, touching his hat, "Dyce would come. She's
hed a powerful sight of 'sperience nussin' fevers in New Orleans. She'd
be proper glad ter tend Miss 'Vadney."

"How is that?" questioned the busy doctor. "Oh, your wife, my good
fellow? The very thing. Let her come at once."

So Dyce came, and into her sympathetic ears were poured the delirious
ravings of the lonely heart which had been so suddenly torn from its
genial surroundings of love and happiness and thrust into the chilling
atmosphere of misunderstanding and neglect.

Every day the patient grew weaker and after each visit the doctor looked
graver. Mrs. Hildreth began to feel the gnawings of remorse, as she
thought of the lonely girl to whom she had so coldly refused a
daughter's place; and the Judge's thoughts grew unbearable as he
remembered his broken trust; even Louis missed the earnest face which he
had grown to watch with a curious sense of pleasure; while the girls at
school felt their hearts grow warm as they thought of the young cousin
so soon to pass through the valley of the shadow.

But Evadne did not die. The fever spent itself at last and there
followed long days of utter prostration both of mind and body. Dyce's
cheery patience never failed. Her sunny nature diffused a bright
hopefulness throughout the sick chamber, until Evadne would lie in a
dreamy content, almost fancying herself back in the old home as she
listened to the musical tones and watched the dusky hands which so
deftly ministered to her comfort. One day after she had lain for a long
time in silence, she looked up at her faithful nurse and the grey eyes
shone like stars.

"Dyce!" she cried softly. "I have found Jesus Christ!"

CHAPTER IX.

Reginald Hawthorne lay upon a couch on the wide veranda of his lovely
home. The birds held high carnival around him,--nesting in the large
cherry tree, playing hide and seek among the fragrant apple blossoms and
making the air melodious with their merry songs. Brilliant orioles
flashed to and fro like gleams of gold in the sunlight, as they built
their airy hammocks high among the swaying branches of the great willow,
and one inquisitive robin swept boldly through the clustering vines
which screened the front of the veranda and perched upon his shoulder.
He heard the merry hum of the bees at work and the strident call of the
locusts, mingled with the distant neighing of horses and the soft lowing
of the cows, but all the sweetness of nature was powerless to lift the
gloom which seemed to envelop him as in a shroud. His face was white and
drawn with pain and there were heavy rings beneath his eyes. Reginald
Hawthorne would be a cripple for life.

The College Football Club had met a New York team in the yearly
contest, which was looked forward to as one of the events in the
athletic world, and Reginald had been foremost among the leaders of the
play. Fierce and long had been the fight and the enthusiastic spectators
had shouted themselves hoarse with applause or groaned in despair when
the honor of Marlborough seemed likely to be lost. Then had come a
mighty onward rush and the opposing forces concentrated into one
seething mass of struggling humanity. When they drew apart at last the
College boys had made the welkin ring with shouts of victory, but their
bravest champion lay white and still upon the field.

Long days and nights of pain had followed, when John and Mrs. Hawthorne
were at their wits' end to alleviate the sufferings of the unfortunate
boy. Now the pain had resolved itself into a dull aching but Reginald
would never walk without a crutch again.

The mortification to his father was extreme. A passionate man, he had
centred all his hopes upon his son, whose position in life he fondly
expected to repay him for his years of unremitting toil, and this was
the end of it all! He grew daily more overbearing and hard to please,
and his ebullitions of disappointment and rage were terrible to witness.
He vented his anger most frequently upon John, the sight of whose
superb strength goaded the unhappy man into a frenzy, and John's
forbearance was tried to the utmost, but there was a sweet patience
growing in his soul which made it possible to endure in silence, however
capricious or unreasonable the commands of his master might be, and
Reginald, watching him critically, marvelled at the mysterious inner
strength of his friend.

He came along now with his quick, light step and drew a chair up beside
Reginald's couch. He planned his work so as to be with the invalid as
much as possible, and his constant sympathy and cheer were all that made
the days bearable to him.

"Well, Rege, how goes it?" he asked in tones as tender as a woman's.

Reginald looked up at him with envious eyes. There was such a freshness
about this strong young life, as if every moment were a separate joy.

"I wish I was dead!" he answered moodily.

"Don't dare to wish that!" said John quickly, "until you have made the
most of your life."

"The most of my life!" echoed Reginald contemptuously. "That's well put,
John, I must say! What is my life worth to me now? You see what my
father thinks of it. A useless log, as valuable as a piece of waste
paper. I believe it would have pleased him better if I had been killed
outright. He wouldn't have had the humiliation of it always before his
eyes. If it had been any sort of a decent accident, I believe I could
bear it better, but to be knocked over in a football match, like the
precious duffer that I am--bah!"

The concentrated bitterness of the last words made John's heart ache.
"Looking backward, Rege," he said quietly, "will never make a man of
you. It is only a waste of time and vital tissue. But there are lots of
noble lives in spite of limitations. Paul had his thorn in the flesh,
you know, and Milton his blindness. Difficulties are a spur to the best
that is in us."

"Difficulties, John. You never look at them, do you?"

John laughed. "It is not worth while except to see how to surmount
them."

"I wish you could be idle just for an hour," said Reginald peevishly,
"you make me nervous."

John took another stitch in the halter he was mending. "Old Father
Time's spoiling tooth is never still, Rege. I have to work to keep pace
with it."

"I should think you would need a month of loafing to made up for the
sleep you have lost. You're ahead of Napoleon, John, for he only kept
one eye open, but I've never been able to catch you napping once. How
have you stood it, man?"

"Forty winks is a fair allowance sometimes, Rege."

Reginald groaned. "Your pluck is worth a king's ransom, John. I wish I
had it."

John began to whistle softly as he drew his waxed ends in and out.

"I declare, John, I can't fathom you!" and Reginald moved impatiently
upon his couch. "You are invulnerable as Achilles. I never saw a fellow
get so much comfort out of everything as you do, and yet your life is a
steady grind. What does it all mean?"

"It means," said John softly, "that I am a Christ's man, and he has
lifted me above the power of circumstances. Jesus is centre and
circumference with me now, Rege.

"You were talking yesterday about some men wanting the earth. I _own_
the earth, because it belongs to my Father,--the best part of it, you
know,--there is a truer giving than by title deeds to material
acres--and the world has grown very beautiful since my Father made me
heir of all things through his Son. The birds' songs have a new note in
them, and the sunlight is brighter, and there is a different blue in
the sky. I'm monarch of all I survey because I get the good out of
everything,--mere earthly possession doesn't amount to much, a man has
to leave the finest estates behind him,--but I get the concentrated
sweetness of it all wherever I am. It is God's world, you know, and he
is my Father."

John was called away just then to attend to some gentlemen who had come
to look at the horses, and Reginald waited for his return in vain. He
heard his father's voice once, raised high in stormy wrath, then all was
still again. Some time afterwards, through the leafy curtain of his
veranda, he saw Mr. Hawthorne drive past with a face so distorted with
passion that he shivered.

"There's been no end of a row this time," he soliloquized. "It is a
mystery to me why John puts up with it. He's free to go when he chooses.
I'm sure I'd clear out if I wasn't such a good-for-nothing. The governor
is getting to be more like a bear than a human being, it's a dog's life
for everybody unlucky enough to be under the same roof with him."

* * * * *

Down at the bend of the river a tall figure lay stretched upon the moss.
The river laughed and the birds sang, but John Randolph's face was
buried in his arms.

To leave Hollywood--that very night! The place whose very stones were
dear to him, where he had learned all he knew of home. To be turned off
like a beggar, without a moment's warning, after all his years of toil!
To say good-bye forever to the human friends who loved him, and the
dear, dumb friends whom he had fondled and tended with such constant
care. Never again to swing along through the sweet freshness of the
morning before the sun was up to find the earliest snowdrops for Mrs.
Hawthorne, or take a spin in the moonlight with every nerve a-tingle
across the frozen bosom of the lake, or wander in delight along the wood
roads when every tree was clad in the witching beauty of a silver thaw,
or sweep across the wide stretching country in the very poetry of
motion, or hear the soft swish of the tall grass as it fell in fragrant
rows before the mower, or the creak of the vans as they bore its ripened
sweetness towards the great barns, while bird and bee and locust joined
in the harmony of the Harvest Home, until the sun sank to rest amidst
cloud draperies of royal purple and crimson and gold and the
sweet-voiced twilight soothed the world into peace.

On and on the hours swept while John fought his battle. At length he
rose, and with long, lingering glances of good-bye to every tree and
rock and flower, began his homeward way. He would think of it so while
he could. In a few short hours he would be a wanderer upon the face of
the earth. A sudden joy crept into the weary eyes. So was Jesus Christ!

"Why, John, what has happened!" cried Reginald, as his faithful nurse
came to make him comfortable for the night. "You look like a ghost, and
you have had no dinner! What the mischief is to pay? You must have been
precious busy to leave me alone the whole afternoon."

"I have been, Rege," said John quietly, "very busy."

"I declare, John, I'd make tracks for freedom if I were in your shoes.
You're a regular convict, and, since you've had me on your hands, a
galley slave is a gentleman of leisure in comparison! Why don't you go,
John? You've had nothing but injustice at Hollywood."

John fell on his knees beside the bed. "I am going, Rege. Your father
has ordered me away."

When the thought which has floated--nebulous--across our mental vision,
suddenly resolves itself into tangible form and becomes a solid fact to
be confronted and battled with, the shock is greater than if no shadowy
premonition had ever haunted the dreamland of our fancy. Reginald gave a
low cry, then he lay looking at John with eyes full of a blank horror.
His mind utterly refused to grasp the situation.

"You see, Rege, it is this way," said John gently. "Your father seems to
have taken a dislike to me and lately I have fancied he was only waiting
for an excuse to turn me off. As soon as those fellows began to talk to
him about the horses I saw there was trouble brewing. Everything I did
was wrong, and once he swore at me. He would order me to bring one horse
and then change his mind before I got half across the field, and then he
would rail at me for not having brought the first one.

"They pitched on Neptune at last, and asked if he had been registered. I
said 'No,' so then they refused to pay the price your father asked, and
he had to come down on him. He was furious, and, as soon as the men's
backs were turned, he ordered me out of his sight forever. He says I
have ruined the reputation of Hollywood," John's voice broke.

"But, John, you mustn't go!" cried Reginald. "You cannot! My father is
out of his mind. People don't pay any attention to the ravings of a
lunatic."

John shook his head sadly. "He is master here, Rege. There is nothing
else for me to do."

"But, John, it is impossible--preposterous! Why, everything will go to
ruin without you, and I will take the lead."

"No, no!" said John quickly. "You will be a rich man some day, Rege.
Wealth is a wonderful opportunity. Prepare yourself to use it well."

"I tell you I can't do anything without you, John. I am like a ship
without a rudder. It is no use talking. I cannot spare you. You must not
go!"

"If you take the great Pilot aboard, Rege, you will be in no danger of
drifting. It is only when we choose Self for our Captain that the ship
runs on the rocks."

* * * * *

"Don, Don!" The child heard his step in the hall long before he reached
the door. He was coming, as he did every night, to give her a ride in
his arms before she went to by-by. She held out her little arms from
which the loose sleeves had fallen back. John lifted her up, for the
last time.

He laid his strong, set face against the rosy cheek, and looked into the
laughing eyes which the sand man had already sprinkled with his magic
powder. "Nansie, baby, I have come to say good-bye."

"Not dood-bye, Don, oo always say dood-night."

"But it is good-bye this time, little one, there will be no more
good-nights for you and me. I am going away."

A bewildered look swept over the child's face. "Away!" she echoed, "to
leave Nan an' Pwimwose an' the horsies? Me'll do too, Don. He'll do
anywhere wid oo, Don."

"I wish I could take you!" and John strained her to his breast. "But
there is no Neptune to carry us now, little one. Your father sold him
this afternoon."

"My nice Nepshun!" The child's lip quivered, but something in the
suffering face above her made her say quickly, "Me'll be dood, Don, an'
when oo turn back, me'll be waitin' at de gate."

She patted his cheek confidingly. "Nice Don! Nan loves oo, dear, an'
Desus. Nan loves Desus 'cause oo do, Don."

John's voice choked. "Keep on loving, Nansie."

"Yes, me will. Does Desus carry de little chil'en in his arms like oo
do, Don? Me's so comf'able. Me loves Desus."

The little arm, soft and warm, crept closer around his neck, while the
golden curls swept his cheek. "Oo's my bootiful man, Don. Me'll marry oo
when me gets big," and then, all unconscious of the sorrow which should
greet her in the morning, the baby slept.

To and fro across the floor John trod lightly with his precious burden.
His arms never felt the weight. They would be such empty arms
bye-and-bye! Then at last he laid her down, and, taking a pair of
scissors from his pocket, he carefully severed one of the golden rings
of hair, and laid it within the folds of the handkerchief which he still
carried in his vest pocket. The fair girl and the little child. These
should be his memory of womanhood.

[Illustration: 'ME'LL DO ANYWHERE, WIV OO, DON.]

* * * * *

In Reginald's room kind-hearted Mrs. Hawthorne was weeping bitterly. She
loved John as her own son, but no one ever dreamed of disputing the
tyrannical dictates of the master of Hollywood, however unjust they
might be.

Reginald lay as John had left him with his face buried in the pillows
and utterly refused to be comforted. What comfort could there be if
John was going away? It never occurred to him that his mother needed
cheer as much as he. Like all selfish souls his own pain completely
filled his horizon.

CHAPTER X.

"I don't see what we are to do about Evadne!" and Mrs. Hildreth sighed
disconsolately. "She looks like a walking shadow. I should not be
surprised if she had inherited her father's disease, and they say now
that consumption is as contagious as diphtheria."

"Horrors!" cried Isabelle. "Do quarantine her somewhere, Mamma, until
you are quite sure there is no danger. I haven't the faintest
aspirations to martyrdom."

"It is a great care," sighed Mrs. Hildreth. "All of you children have
always been so healthy. I don't believe Doctor Russe will listen to her
going to the seaside, and the mountains are so monotonous! Other
people's children are a great responsibility."

Suddenly Isabelle clapped her hands. "I have it!" she cried. "Send her
up to Aunt Marthe, and then we can tease Papa to let us go to Newport.
Marion is going to spend the summer with Christine Drayton, you know,
and Papa does not intend to leave the city, so we can persuade him that
it is our duty to seize such a golden opportunity of doing things
economically. I am sure I don't know what people must think of us, never
going to any of the fashionable places. For my part I think we owe it to
Papa's position to keep up with the world."

"I believe it might be managed," said Mrs. Hildreth after some
consideration. "It was very clever of you to think of it, Isabelle. You
ought to be a diplomat, my dear," and she smiled approvingly on her
daughter.

* * * * *

The train swept along through the picturesque Vermont scenery and Evadne
looked out of her window with never ending delight.

"I am like a poor, lonely bird," she said to herself, "who flits from
shore to shore, seeking rest and finding none. Another journey in the
dark! I wonder what will be at the end of this one? Well, I'll hope for
the best. Aunt Marthe's letter was kind, and her name sounds as cheery
as Aunt Kate's sounds cold."

Mr. Everidge came to meet her as the train steamed into the little
station, and Evadne soon found herself seated in a comfortable carriage
behind a handsome chestnut mare, bowling along a fragrant country road,
catching glimpses at every turn of the verdure-clad hills.

She found her new uncle very pleasant. There was a silver-tongued
suavity about him in striking contrast to the growing preoccupation of
Judge Hildreth, and a sort of airy self complaisance which took it for
granted that he should be well treated by the world.

"I am very glad you have come, my dear niece," he said, "to relieve the
tedium of our uneventful existence. You must let our Vermont air kiss
the roses into bloom again in your pale cheeks. It has a world-wide
reputation as a tonic. I hope you left our Marlborough relatives in a
pleasant attitude of mind? It is one of the evidences of this
progressive age that you should woo 'tired Nature's sweet restorer' one
night under the roof of my respected brother-in-law, the next under my
own. The ancients, with their primitive modes of laborious transit, were
only half alive. We of to-day, thanks to the melodious tea-kettle and
inventive cerebral tissue of the youthful Watt, live in a perpetual
hand-clasp, so to speak, and, by means of the flashing chain of light
which girdles the globe are kept in touch with the world. It is food for
reflection that the thought which is evolved from the shadowy recesses
of our brain to-day, should be, by the mysterious camera of electricity,
photographed upon the retina of the Australian public to-morrow, and we
need to have the archives of our memory enlarged to hold the voluminous
correspondence of the century.

"Ah, Squire Higgins, good-evening. My niece by marriage, Miss Hildreth
of Barbadoes."

The Squire lifted his hat, there was a little desultory conversation,
then the carriages went on their separate ways, and soon Evadne found
herself at her destination.

She looked eagerly at the pretty house with its _entourage_ of flowers
and lawns, grand old trees and distance-purpled hills, then Aunt Marthe
appeared in the doorway and she saw nothing else.

She was of medium height with a crown of soft, brown hair, and eyes
whose first glance of welcome caught Evadne's heart and held her
captive. There was a wonderful sweetness about the smiling mouth, and
the face, although not classically beautiful, possessed a subtle
spiritual charm more fascinating than mere physical perfection of color
and form. She moved lightly with a buoyant youthfulness strangely at
variance with the stately dignity of Mrs. Hildreth and the studied
repose of Isabelle.

"You dear child!" The soft arms held her close, the sweet lips caught
hers in a kiss, and Evadne felt with a great throb of joy that the
weary bird had found a resting-place at last.

She led her into a cool, tastefully furnished room, drew her down beside
her on the couch and took off her hat and gloves, then she handed her a
fan and went to make her a lemon soda.

Evadne looked round the room with its soft curtains swaying in the
breeze, the cool matting on the floor with a rug or two, the light
bookcases with their wealth of thought, the comfortable wicker rockers,
the bamboo tables holding several half cut magazines, an open
work-basket, a vase with a single rose, while on the low mantel a
cluster of graceful lilies were reflected in the mirror. "Why, this is
home!" she cried and she laid her head against the cushions with a
delightful sense of freedom.

The early supper was soon announced and Evadne found herself in a cozy
dining-room seated near a window which opened into a bewildering vista
of summer beauty. There were flowers beside each plate as well as in the
quaintly carved bowl in the centre of the table. Evadne caught herself
smiling. That had always been a conceit of hers in Barbadoes.

Everything was simple but delicious. The tender, juicy chicken, the
delicate pink ham, the muffins browned to a turn, the Jersey butter
moulded into a sheaf of wheat, and moist brown bread of Aunt Marthe's
own making, the blocks of golden sponge cake, the crisp lettuce, the
fragrant strawberries, the cool jelly frosted with snow. Evadne drank
her tea out of a chocolate tinted cup, fluted like the bell of a flower,
and felt as if she were feasting on the nectar of the gods, while Mr.
Everidge's silvery tones kept up a constant stream of talk and Aunt
Marthe's beautiful hospitality made her feel perfectly at home.

"Tea, my dear Evadne," he said, as he passed her cup to be refilled, "is
an infusion of poison which is slowly but surely destroying the coatings
of the gastronomical organ of the female portion of society. I tremble
to think of the amount of tannin which analysis would show deposited in
the systems of the votaries of the deadly Five o'clock, and the
unhealthy nervous tension of the age is largely traceable to the
excessive consumption of the pernicious liquid. Chocolate, on the
contrary, taken as I always drink it, is simple and nutritive, with no
unpleasant after effects to be apprehended, but this decoction of bitter
herbs, steeped to death in water far past its proper temperature, is
concentrated lye, my dear Evadne, nothing but concentrated lye. By the
way, Marthe, I wish you would give your personal supervision to the
preparation of my hot water in the future. Nothing comparable to hot
water, Evadne, just before retiring. It aids digestion and induces
sleep, and sleep you know is a gift of the gods. The Chinese mode of
punishing criminals has always seemed to me exquisite in its barbarity.
They simply make it impossible for the unhappy wretches to obtain a wink
of sleep, until at length the torture grows unbearable and they find
refuge in the long sleep which no mortal has power to prevent. So, my
dear Marthe, see to it if you please in future that my slumber tonic is
served just on the boil. The worthy Joanna does not understand the
mysteries of the boiling process. Water, after it has passed the
initiatory stage becomes flat, absolutely flat and tasteless. What I had
to drink last night was so repugnant to my palate that I found it
impossible to sink into repose with that calm attitude of mind which is
so essential to perfect slumber.

"See to it also, my dear, that I am not disturbed at such an unearthly
hour again as I was this morning. Tesla, the great electrician, has put
himself on record as intimating that the want of sleep is a potent
factor in the deplorably heavy death rate of the present day. He thinks
sleep and longevity are synonymous, therefore it becomes us to bend
every effort to attain that desirable consummation."

Involuntarily Evadne looked at Mrs. Everidge. Her face was slightly
turned towards the open window and there was a half smile upon her lips,
as if, like Joan of Arc, she was listening to voices of sweeter tone
than those of earth. She came back to the present again on the instant
and met her niece's eyes with a smile, but in the subtle realm of
intuition we learn by lightning flashes, and Evadne needed no further
telling to know that the saddest loneliness which can fall to the lot of
a woman was the fate of her aunt.

Immediately after supper Mrs. Everidge persuaded Evadne to go to her
room. The long journey had been a great strain upon her strength and she
was very tired.

"I wish you a good night, Uncle Horace," she said as she passed him in
the doorway.

"And you a pleasant one," he rejoined with a gallant bow. "'We are such
stuff as dreams are made of--and our little life is rounded with a
sleep.'"

She lay for a long time wakeful, revelling in the strange sense of peace
which seemed to enfold her, while the evening breeze blew through the
room and the twilight threw weird shadows among the dainty draperies.
At length there came a low knock and Mrs. Everidge opened the door.

Evadne stretched out her hands impulsively. "Oh, this beautiful
stillness!" she exclaimed. "In Marlborough there is the clang of the car
gongs and the rumble of cabs and the tramp of feet upon the pavement
until it seems as if the weary world were never to be at rest, but this
house is so quiet I could almost hear a pin drop."

Mrs. Everidge smiled. "You have quick ears, little one. But we are
quieter than usual to-night; Joanna is sitting up with a sick neighbor,
your uncle went to his room early, and I have been reading in mine."

She drew a low chair up beside the bed. "Now we must begin to get
acquainted," she said.

"Dear Aunt Marthe!" cried Evadne, "I feel as if I had known you all my
life."

She gave her a swift caress. "You dear child! Then tell me about your
father."

Evadne looked at her gratefully. No one had ever cared to know about her
father before. Forgetting her weariness in the absorbing interest of her
subject, she talked on and on, and Mrs. Everidge with the wisdom of true
sympathy, made no attempt to check her, knowing full well that the
relief of the tried heart was helping her more than any physical rest
could do.

"And now, oh, Aunt Marthe, life is so desperately lonely!" she said at
last with a sobbing sigh.

Mrs. Everidge leaned over and kissed the trembling lips. "I think
sometimes the earthly fatherhood is taken from us, dear child, that we
may learn to know the beautiful Fatherliness of God. We can never find
true happiness until our restless hearts are folded close in the hush of
his love. Human love--however lovely--does not satisfy us. Nothing
can,--but God!"

"The Fatherliness of God," repeated Evadne. "That sounds lovely, but
people do not think of him so. God is someone very terrible and far
away."

"'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' Does that sound as
if he were far away, little one? 'As one whom his mother comforteth, so
will I comfort you.' Why, God is father and mother both to us, dear
child. Can you think of anyone nearer than that?"

Evadne caught her breath in a great gladness. "I believe you are his
angel of consolation," she said in a hushed voice.

"'Even unto them will I give ... a place and a name better than of sons
and daughters,'" quoted Aunt Marthe softly. "That means a location and
an identity. Here, sometimes, it seems as if we had neither the one nor
the other. Christ follows out the same idea in his picture of the
abiding place which is being prepared for you and me. Everything on
earth is so transitory, and the human heart has such a hunger for
something that will last."

"Have you felt this too?" cried Evadne. "I thought I was the only one."

Mrs. Everidge laughed. "The only one in all the world to puzzle over its
problems! Oh, yes, the older we grow, the more we find that the great
majority have the same feelings and perplexities as ourselves, although
some may not understand their thought clearly enough to put it into
words."

"What is your favorite verse in all the Bible?" asked Evadne after a
pause.

Mrs. Everidge laughed again, and Evadne thought she had never heard a
laugh at once so merry and so sweet.

"You send me into a rose garden, dear child, and tell me to select the
choicest bloom out of its wilderness of beauty. How can I when every one
has a different coloring and a fragrance all its own? Two of my special
favorites are in the Revelation,--'To him that overcometh, to him will
I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and upon
the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth
it.' 'And they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their
foreheads.'

"That means a possession and a belonging. It is the spiritual symbol
which binds us to our heavenly lover for eternity just as the wedding
ring is a pledge of fidelity for our earth time. It is only as we see it
so, that we get the full beauty of the religion of Jesus. His
church--the inner circle of his chosen 'hidden ones'--is his bride, and
what can be more glorious than to be the bride of the King of kings? The
dear souls who only serve him with fear do not get the sweetness out of
it at all. How can they, when their lives are all duty? 'Perfect love
casteth out fear' and there is no duty about it, for when we love, it is
a joy to serve and give. It hurts the Christ to have us content to be
simply servants when he would lift us up to the higher plane of
friendship, when he has put upon us the high honor of the dearest friend
of all! Earthly brides spend a vast deal of time and thought over their
trousseau, so I think Christ's bride should walk among men with a sweet
aloofness while the spiritual garments are being fashioned in which she
is to dwell with him. The Bible says a great deal about dressing. 'Let
thy garments be always white'--the sunshine color, the joy color--for
bye and bye we are to walk with him in white, you know. Our spiritual
wardrobe must be fitted and worn down here. It is a terrible mistake to
put off donning the wedding robes until we come to the feast. And the
wardrobe is very ample. Christ would have his bride luxuriously
appareled. 'Be clothed with humility.' That is a fine, close-fitting
suit for every day, but over it we are to wear the garment of praise and
the warm, shining robe of charity. Can you fancy anything more beautiful
than a life clothed in such garments as these? And to me the loveliest
of all is charity. The highest praise I ever heard given to a woman was
that 'she had such a tender way of making excuses for everybody.'

"Very fair must be the bride in the eyes of her royal lover, clothed in
the garments which he has selected,--all light and joy and tenderness,
for, the King's daughter is all glorious within."

"Aunt Marthe," said Evadne, after a long silence, in which they had been
tasting the sweetness of it, "I do not need to ask if you know Jesus
Christ?"

The lovely face took on an added beauty. "He is my life," she said.

CHAPTER XI.

Evadne was swinging in the hammock one golden summer afternoon, humming
soft snatches of her old songs while she played with her aunt's pet
black and tan. The sweet freshness of her new existence was rapidly
restoring tone to her mental system, and life no longer seemed a
hopeless task. The days were full of dreamy contentment. She spent long
mornings under the murmuring pines in the deep belt of forest which
stretched for miles behind the house, or helped Mrs. Everidge keep the
rooms in dainty order; drove with her along the grass-bordered roads,
while ears and eyes feasted on the symphonies of Nature and the ever
changing beauty of the hills; or stood beside Joanna in a trance of
delight out in the fragrant dairy, whose windows opened into a wild
sweetness of fluttering leaves, and whose cool stone floor made a
channel for a purling brook, watching her as with dexterous hands she
shaped and moulded the bubbley dough or tossed up an omelet or made one
of her delicious cherry pies, conscious through it all of the sweet
influence which seemed to pervade every corner of the house and grounds.

"I wonder what it is about you, you dear Aunt Marthe?" she soliloquized,
as she pulled Noisette's silky ears. "When you are away I cannot bear to
go into the house,--everything seems so different, so cold and
dark,--but the moment you come home again it is as lovely as ever.
Concentrated light. Yes, that name would suit you, for light is sweet
and pure and stimulating and precious. If all the people in the world
were like you, _what_ a world it would be!"

She looked up as she heard footsteps approaching, and then rose to
welcome her visitor. A woman twenty years her senior, bright, capable,
energetic, with a shrewd face and kindly eyes whose keen glance was
quick to pierce the flimsy veil of humbug, and a tongue whose
good-natured sarcasm had made more than one pretender feel ashamed.

"How do?" she said briskly, as she took the chair Evadne offered. "I
hope you're feelin' better sence you've cum?"

"Much better, thank you. I am very sorry my aunt is not at home."

"I'm sorry likewise, though it don't make as much difference as it might
have done, as I'm callin' a purpose to see you."

"That is very good of you," said Evadne with a laugh. There was a spicy
flavor about this child of the mountains which she found refreshing.

"It's a bit awkward," continued her visitor with a twinkle in her eye,
"as we'll have to do our own introducin'. My name's Penelope Riggs,
Penel for brevity. What's yours?"

"Evadne Hildreth."

"Evadne. That's uncommon and pretty. I'm goin' to call you so if you're
not objectionable to it. Life's too short for handles."

Evadne laughed merrily. "I'm not in the least objectionable," she said.

"No, that's a fact," said her visitor after a moment's kindly scrutiny.
"You're true and thorough. I knew I was goin' to like you when I saw you
in meetin'."

Evadne flushed with pleasure. "Why, that is a beautiful character! I
only wish I deserved it. But I fear you are very much mistaken in me,
though it is very kind in you to think such nice things."

"Nonsense, child! I don't waste my time thinkin'. Let me have a good
look at your face for half an hour and I'll know as much about you as
you could tell me in a week. Malviny Higgins has just come back from
Bosting with her head full of sykick forces an' mental affinities an'
the dear knows what else, but I think it's just a cultivation of our
common senses--number, five. You can feel a person without touching
them; it's in the air all round you; and you don't need much
discrimination to know whether what you will say will hurt them or be a
blessin'. The main thing is to put yourself in their shoes before you
begin to talk."

"Their shoes, Miss Riggs," laughed Evadne, "why they might not fit."

"Penelope," corrected her visitor, "Penel for brevity. Yes, they will
too, that kind of shoe leather is elastic. It's the old Bible doctrine,
'never do anything to others that you wouldn't like others to do to
you.' If people got the shoes well fitted before they let their tongues
loose, there would be a deal less sorrow and heartburn in the world."

"'Love thy neighbor as thyself,'" said Evadne. "I never thought of it in
that way before."

"Well," said Miss Riggs briskly, "I'm dredful glad you've cum, Evadne.
It'll do Mis' Everidge a sight of good to have you, though Marthe
Everidge is raised above the need of humans as far as any mortal can be
on this earth. With all their inventions there ain't nobody discovered
how to make spiritual photographs yet, or I would have the picture of
_her_ character in all the windows of the land. 'Twould do more good
than miles of tracts. I agree with Paul that livin' epistles make the
best readin' an' it don't seem fittin' that she should be shut up in
this little place where only a few of us have the right kind of
spectacles to see her through. Most of the folks just allow it's Mis'
Everidge's way, and would as soon think of tryin' to imitate her as a
tadpole would a star."

"But we are to imitate Christ," said Evadne.

"'Course, child! But it's dredful comfortin' to have a human life in
front of us to show us that is possible. Lots of times when life looks
like a long seam an' the sewin' pricks my fingers, a new light falls on
this picture, and I sez to myself, 'Penel,' says I, 'look at Marthe
Everidge. The Lord has made you both out of the same material. There
ain't no reason why she should be always gettin' nearer heaven and you
goin' back to earth. She has difficulties and worriments, same as you
have, but if she can make every trial into a new rung for the ladder on
which she is mountin' up to God, there ain't no reason why you should
make a gravestone out of yours to bury yourself under; and so I start
on with a new courage, an' when we get to the end of the journey, I'll
not be the only one who'll have to thank Marthe Everidge for showin' the
way."

Evadne's eyes shone. "You make me feel," she cried, "as if I would
rather live a beautiful life than do the most magnificent thing in the
world!"

"That's a safe feelin' to tie to," said Penelope with an approving
smile; "for character is the only thing we've got to carry with us when
we go."

"Well," she continued, "I must be goin'. I did think I'd be forehanded
in callin', but mother's been dredful wakeful lately, and when daylight
comes, it don't seem as if I had the ambition of a snail. She don't like
to be left alone for a minit, mother don't, so it's a bit of a puzzle to
keep up with society."

She laughed cheerily as she held out her hand. "Well, I'm dredful
pleased to have met you. I'll be more than glad to have you come in
whenever you're down our way."

Evadne watched her as she walked briskly along the road. "She is not
Aunt Marthe," she said slowly; "I suppose Louis would call it a case of
the solanum and the potato blossom, but she is one of the Lord's plants
all the same."

"Aunt Marthe, what _is_ culture?" she asked suddenly, as later in the
afternoon Mrs. Everidge sat beside her hammock. "Is Louis right? Is it
just the veneer of education and travel and environment?"

"You can hardly call that a veneer, little one. Real education goes very
deep. Emerson says 'nothing is so indicative of deepest culture as a
tender consideration of the ignorant.' I think that culture, to be
perfect, must have its root in love. It is impossible that anyone filled
with the love of Christ should ever be discourteous or lack in
thoughtfulness for the feelings of others."

"Why that must be what Penelope Riggs meant by her 'elastic shoe
leather,'" said Evadne with a laugh, and then she repeated the
conversation.

"Oh, she has been here! I am glad. It will do you good to know her. She
is the cheeriest soul, and the busiest. She always acts upon me as a
tonic, for I know just how much she has had to give up and how hard her
life has been."

"Why, Aunt Marthe, she says when she gets to heaven she will have to
thank you for showing her the way. She thinks you are perfection."

"'Not I, but Christ,'" said Aunt Marthe with a happy smile. She went
into the house and returned with a book in her hand. "You asked what
culture really was. This writer says 'Drudgery.' Listen while I give you
a few snatches, then you shall have the book for your own.

"'Culture takes leisure, elegance, wide margins of time, a pocket-book;
drudgery means limitations, coarseness, crowded hours, chronic worry,
old clothes, black hands, headaches. Our real and our ideal are not
twins. Never were! I want the books, but the clothes basket wants me. I
love nature and figures are my fate. My taste is books and I farm it. My
taste is art and I correct exercises. My taste is science and I measure
tape. Can it be that this drudgery, not to be escaped, gives 'culture?'
Yes, culture of the prime elements of life, of the very fundamentals of
all fine manhood and fine womanhood, the fundamentals that underlie all
fulness and without which no other culture worth the winning is even
possible. Power of attention, power of industry, promptitude in
beginning work, method and accuracy and despatch in doing it,
perseverance, courage before difficulties, cheer, self-control and
self-denial, they are worth more than Latin and Greek and French and
German and music and art and painting and waxflowers and travels in
Europe added together. These last are the decorations of a man's life,
those other things are the indispensables. They make one's sit-fast
strength and one's active momentum,--they are the solid substance of
one's self.

"'How do we get them? High school and college can give much, but these
are never on their programmes. All the book processes that we go to the
schools for and commonly call our 'education' give no more than
opportunity to win the indispensables of education. We must get them
somewhat as the fields and valleys get their grace. Whence is it that
the lines of river and meadow and hill and lake and shore conspire
to-day to make the landscape beautiful? Only by long chiselings and
steady pressures. Only by ages of glacier crush and grind, by scour of
floods, by centuries of storm and sun. These rounded the hills and
scooped the valley-curves and mellowed the soil for meadow-grace. It was
'drudgery' all over the land. Mother Nature was down on her knees doing
her early scrubbing work! That was yesterday, to-day--result of
scrubbing work--we have the laughing landscape.

"'Father and mother and the ancestors before them have done much to
bequeath those mental qualities to us, but that which scrubs them into
us, the clinch which makes them actually ours and keeps them ours, and
adds to them as the years go by,--that depends on our own plod in the
rut, our drill of habit, in a word our 'drudgery.' It is because we have
to go and go morning after morning, through rain, through shine, through
toothache, headache, heartache to the appointed spot and do the
appointed work, no matter what our work may be, because of the rut,
plod, grind, humdrum in the work, that we get our foundations.

"'Drudgery is the gray angel of success, for drudgery is the doing of
one thing long after it ceases to be amusing, and it is 'this one thing
I do' that gathers me together from my chaos, that concentrates me from
possibilities to powers and turns powers into achievements. The aim in
life is what the backbone is in the body, if we have no aim we have no
meaning. Lose us and the earth has lost nothing, no niche is empty, no
force has ceased to play, for we have no aim and therefore we are
still--nobody. Our bodies are known and answer in this world to such or
such a name, but, as to our inner selves, with real and awful meaning
our walking bodies might be labelled 'An unknown man sleeps here!'

"'But we can be artists also in our daily task,--artists not artisans.
The artist is he who strives to perfect his work, the artisan strives to
get through it. If I cannot realize my ideal I can at least idealize my
real--How? By trying to be perfect in it. If I am but a raindrop in a
shower, I will be at least a perfect drop. If but a leaf in a whole
June, I will be a perfect leaf. This is the beginning of all Gospels,
that the kingdom of heaven is at hand just where we are.'"

"Oh!" cried Evadne, drawing a long breath, "that is beautiful! I feel as
if I had been lifted up until I touched the sky."

"Marthe," exclaimed Mr. Everidge reproachfully, suddenly appearing in
the doorway with a sock drawn over each arm, "it is incomprehensible to
me you do not remember that my physical organism and darns have
absolutely no affinity."

Mrs. Everidge laughed brightly. "If you will make holes, Horace, I must
make darns," she said.

"Not a natural sequence at all!" he retorted testily. "When the wear and
tear of time becomes visible in my underwear it must be relegated to
Reuben."

"But Reuben's affinity for patches may be no stronger than your own,
Uncle Horace," said Evadne mischievously.

Mr. Everidge waved his sock-capped hands with a gesture of disdain.
"The lower orders, my dear Evadne, are incapable of those delicate
perceptions which constitute the mental atmosphere of those of finer
mould. The delft does not feel the blow which would shiver the porcelain
into atoms, and Reuben's epidermis is, I imagine, of such a horny
consistency that he would walk in oblivious unconcern upon these
elevations of needlework which are as a ploughshare to my sensitive
nerves. It is the penalty one has to pay for being of finer clay than
the common herd of men."

Evadne looked at Mrs. Everidge. A deep flush of shame had dyed her
cheeks and her lips were quivering.

"Oh, Horace," she cried, "Reuben is such a faithful boy!"

"My dear," said her husband airily, "I make no aspersions against his
moral character, but he certainly cannot be classed among the
velvet-skinned aristocracy. By the way, I wish you would see in future
that my undergarments are of a silken texture. My flesh rebels at
anything approaching to harshness," and then he went complacently back
to his library to weave and fashion the graceful phrases which flowed
from his facile pen.

"Why should he go clothed in silk and you in cotton!" cried Evadne,
jealous for the rights of her friend.

Mrs. Everidge's eyes came back from one of their long journeys, "Oh, I
have learned the luxury of doing without," she said lightly.

Evadne threw her arms around her impulsively. "But why, oh, Aunt Marthe,
why should not Uncle Horace learn it too?"

"We do not see things through the same window," she answered with a
smile and a sigh.

CHAPTER XII.

John Randolph walked slowly through the soft dawning. It had been a
brilliant night. The late moon had risen as he was bidding good-bye to
the graceful creatures he should never see again, and Hollywood had been
clad in a bewitching beauty which made it all the harder to say
farewell. Far into the night he had lingered, visiting every corner of
the dearly loved home, then at last he had turned away and walked
steadily along the road which led to Marlborough.

The sun rose in a blaze of splendor and the birds began to twitter. The
gripsack which he carried grew strangely heavy, and he felt faint and
weary. The long strain of the day before was beginning to tell upon him,
and it was many hours since he had tasted food.

A sudden turn of the road brought him in sight of a trig little farm,
against whose red gate a man was leaning, leisurely enjoying the beauty
of the morning before he began work. He had a pleasant face, strong and
peaceful. No one had ever known Joseph Makepeace to be out of temper or
in a hurry. He would have said it was because he commenced every day
listening to the inner voice among the silences of Nature. Joseph
Makepeace was a Quaker.

"Why, John, lad!" he cried, "thou art a welcome sight on this fair
morning. Come in, come in. Breakfast will soon be ready and thou art in
sore need of it by the look of thy face." He gave John's hand a mighty
grasp and took his gripsack from him.

"Why, John, hast thou walked far with this load? Where were all the
horses of Hollywood? Is anything wrong, John? I don't like thy looks,
lad."

John's voice trembled. "I have left Hollywood" he said. "Mr. Hawthorne
has turned me off."

"Left Hollywood! You don't mean it, John? Well, well, folks say Robert
Hawthorne has not been right in his mind since his boy got hurt. I
believe it now. It's a comfort that the great Master will never turn us
off, lad. Thee'd better lie down on the lounge and rest thee a bit,
John, while I go and tell mother."

He entered the spotless kitchen where his wife was moving blithely to
and fro. "Thee has another 'unawares angel' to breakfast, Ruth. It's a
grand thing being on the public road!"

Ruth Makepeace laughed merrily. "An angel, Joseph? I hope he's not like
thy last one, who stole three of my best silver spoons!"

"So, so, thee didst promise to forget that, Ruth, if I replace them next
time I go to Marlborough."

"Well, so I do, except when thee does remind me. Is this a very hungry
angel, Joseph? Does thee think I'd better cook another chicken?"

"He ought to be hungry, poor lad, but I doubt if he eats much. Does thee
remember friend Randolph, Ruth?"

"Of course I do. But he's been dead these ten years. Thee doesn't mean
he's come back to breakfast with us?"

Her husband put his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently. Then he
kissed her. "Thee is fractious this morning, Ruth. Friend Randolph had a
son, thee dost mind, whom Robert Hawthorne took to live at Hollywood. It
is he whom the good Lord has sent to us to care for, Ruth. He's just
been turned adrift."

"If thee wasn't so big I would shake thee, Joseph! The idea of John
Randolph being in this house and thee beating round the bush with thine
angels!" and with all her motherhood shining in her eyes, Ruth Makepeace
started for the parlor.

In spite of the overflowing kindness with which he was surrounded John
found the meal a hard one. He had been used to breakfast with little Nan
upon his knee.

"When thee is rested we'll have a talk, lad," said his host, as they
rose from the table; "but thee'd better bide with us for the summer and
not fret about the future: thee dost need a holiday."

"Of course thee dost, John!" said blithe little Mrs. Makepeace. "I wish
thee would bide for good."

Her husband laid his hand upon his shoulder. "Thou knowest, lad, there
is the little grave out yonder. Thee should'st have his place in our
hearts and home. Would'st thee be content to bide, John?"

John Randolph looked at his friends with shining eyes. "You have done me
good for life!" he said, "but the world calls me, I must go. I mean to
work my way through college, and be a physician, Mr. Makepeace."

"So! so! Well, we mustn't stand in the way, Ruth. Thee'll make a good
one, John. But how art thee going to manage it, lad?"

"The Steel Works in Marlborough pay good wages. I mean to get a place
there if I can, and study in the evenings."

"Why, John, lad, the Steel Works shut down yesterday afternoon."

For an instant the brave spirit quailed, only for an instant. "Then I
must find something else," he said quietly.

"It's a bad season, John, and the times are hard." Joseph Makepeace
thought for a moment. "There's friend Harris up the river. What dost
thee think, Ruth?"

"Why, he wants men to pile wood," exclaimed his wife. "Thee would'st not
set John at that!"

"Lincoln split rails," said John with a smile, "why should not I pile
them? It's clean work, and honest, Mrs. Makepeace."

"He has a logging camp in the winter. Thee would'st have good pay then,
John."

"But thee would'st be so lonely, John, amongst all those rough men! And
thee did'st say once it was dangerous, Joseph. It's not fit work for
John."

"I am not afraid of work, Mrs. Makepeace, and I can never be lonely with
Jesus Christ."

* * * * *

In far Vermont Evadne was reading aloud from a paper she had brought
from the post-office. "The whole sum of Christian living is just
loving." "Do you believe that, Aunt Marthe?"

"Surely, dear child. Love is the fulfilling of the law, you know. When
we love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves, there
is no danger of our breaking the Decalogue. 'He who loveth knoweth God,'
and 'to know him is life eternal.'"

"Just love," said Evadne musingly. "It seems so simple."

"Do you think so?" said Aunt Marthe with a smile. "Yet people find it
the hardest thing to do, as it is surely the noblest. Drummond calls it
'the greatest thing in the world' and you have Paul's definition of it
in Corinthians. Did you ever study that to see how perfect love would
make us?

"'Love suffereth long,' that does away with impatience; 'and is kind,'
that makes us neighborly; 'love envieth not,' that saves from
covetousness; 'vaunteth not itself,' that does away with self-conceit;
'seeketh not its own,' that kills selfishness; 'is not provoked,' that
shows we are forgiving; 'rejoiceth not in unrighteousness,' makes us
love only what is pure; 'covereth [Footnote: Marginal rendering.] all
things,' that leaves no room for scandal; 'believeth all things,' that
does away with doubt; 'hopeth all things,' that is the antithesis of
distrust; 'endureth all things,' proves that we are strong; and then the
beautiful summing up of the whole matter, 'love never faileth.' If that
is true of us, it can only be as we are filled with the spirit of the
Christ of God, 'whose nature and whose name is love.'"

"You see such beautiful things in the Bible!" said Evadne despairingly,
"why cannot I get below the surface?"

"You will, dearie. You forget I have been digging nuggets from this
precious mine for years and you have just begun to search for them.
Would you like another drive, or do you feel too tired?"

"Not in the least. What can I do for you?"

"I would like to send some of that currant jelly I made yesterday to old
Mrs. Riggs, if you are sure you would like to take it?"

"As sure as sure can be, dear," said Evadne with a kiss, "Where shall I
find it?"

"In the King's corner."

"'The King's corner?'" echoed Evadne with a puzzled look.

"Oh, I forgot you did not know. I always give the Lord the first fruits
of my cooking, and keep them in a special place set apart for his use,
then, when I go to see the sick, there is always something ready to
tempt their fancy. It is wonderful what a saving of time it is. I rarely
have to make anything on purpose,--there is always something prepared."

She followed her niece out to the carriage, helped her pack the jelly
safely, with one of her crisp loaves of fresh brown bread, bade her a
merry farewell and went back to the house again singing.

"Oh, Aunt Marthe!" cried Evadne, as she drove slowly under the trees,
"shall I ever, ever learn to be like you?"

She found the old lady sitting by the fire wrapped up in a shawl,
although the day was sultry.

"Good-morning," said Evadne, as she deposited her parcels on the table.
"I come from Mrs. Everidge. She thought you would fancy some of her
fresh brown bread and currant jelly."

"Hum!" said the old lady ungraciously, "I hope it's better than the last
wuz. Guess Mis' Everidge ain't ez pertickler ez she used ter be."

"Aunt Marthe!" cried Evadne indignantly. "Why, everything she does is
perfection!"

"Land, child! There ain't no perfecshun in this world. It's all a wale,
a wale o' tears. We'se poor, miserable critters,--wurms o' the
dust,--that's what we be."

"There isn't any worm about Aunt Marthe," cried Evadne with a laugh. "I
think you must be looking through a wrong pair of spectacles, Mrs.
Riggs."

"Land, child! I ain't got but the one pair, an' they got broke this
morning. But it's jest my luck. Everything goes agin me."

"But you can get them mended," said Evadne.

"Sakes alive! There ain't much hope o' gettin' them mended, with Penel
behindhand on the rent, an' the firin' an' the land knows what else. I
don't see why Penel ain't more forehanded. I tell her ef I wuz ez young
an' ez spry ez she be, I guess I'd hev things different, but, la! that's
Penel's way. She's terrible sot in her own way, Penel is. She's not
willin' ter take my advice. Children now-a-days allers duz know more
than their mothers."

"Where is Penelope?" asked Evadne.

"Oh, skykin' round. She's gone over to Miss Johnsing's ter help with the
quiltin'. That's the way she duz, an' here I am all alone with the fire
ter tend ter, an' not a livin' soul ter do a hand's turn fer me! She sez
she hez ter do it ter keep the pot bilin'--'pears ter me Penel's pots
take a sight uv bilin'."

"But she has left a nice pile of wood close beside you, Mrs. Riggs."

"La, yes," grumbled the old lady, "but it's dretful thoughtless in her
ter stay away so long, when she knows the stoopin' cums so hard on my
rheumatiz. An' it's terrible lonesome. I get that narvous some days I'm
all of a shake. 'Tain't ez ef she kep within' call, but t'other day she
went clean over ter Hancocks,--a hull mile an' a half! She sez she hez
ter go where folks wants things done, but that's nonsense, folks oughter
want things done near at hand,--they know how lonesome I be. Why, a bear
might cum in an' eat me up for all Penel would know. She gits so taken
up a' larfin' an' singin', she ain't got no sympathy. Oh, it's a wale o'
tears!"

"But there are no bears in Vernon, Mrs. Riggs," laughed Evadne.

"Land, child! you never know what there might be!" said the old lady
testily. "Be you a' stayin' at Mis' Everidge's?"

"Yes," said Evadne, "she is my aunt."

"Hum! I never knew she hed any nieces, 'cept them two gals uv Jedge
Hildreth's down ter Marlborough."

"I am their cousin, Mrs. Riggs. I used to live in Barbadoes."

"Well, I declar! Why, Barbaderz is t' other side of nowhere! Used ter
be when I went ter school. Well, well, some folks hez a lion's share uv
soarin' an' here I've ben all my life jest a' pinin' my heart out ter
git down ter Bosting, an' I ain't never got there! But that's allers the
way. I never git nuthin'. I'm sixty-nine years old cum Christmas an' I
ain't never ben further away frum hum than twenty miles hand runnin',
an' here's a chit like you done travelin' enuff ter last a lifetime."

"But I didn't want to travel, Mrs. Riggs," said Evadne gently. "I would
so much rather have stayed at home."

"There you go!" grumbled the old lady. "Folks ain't never satisfied with
their mercies. Allers a' flyin' in the face uv Providence. I tell you
we'se wurms, child; miserable, shiftless wurms, a' crawlin' down in this
walley of humiliation, with our faces ter the dust."

"But you've got a great deal to be thankful for, Mrs. Riggs," ventured
Evadne, "in having such a daughter. Aunt Marthe thinks she is a splendid
character."

"So she oughter be!" retorted the old lady, "with sech a bringin' up ez
she's hed. But land! childern's dretful disappointin' ter a pusson.
There ain't a selfish bone in _my_ body, but Penel's ez full uv 'em.
She'll let me lie awake by the hour at a time while she's a' snoozin'
on the sofy beside me. She don't sleep in her own bed any more because I
hev ter hev her handy ter rub me when the rheumatiz gits ter jumpin'.
She sez she can't help bein' drowsy when she's workin' through the day,
but land! she'd manage ter keep awake ef she hed any sympathy! She ain't
got no sympathy, Penel ain't; an' she ain't a bit forehanded.

"But I don't 'spect nuthin' else in this world. It's a wale o' tears an'
we ain't got nuthin' else ter look fer but triberlation an' woe. Man ez
born ter trouble ez the sparks fly upward, an' a woman allers hez the
lion's share."

Evadne burst into the sitting-room with flashing eyes. "Aunt Marthe, if
I were Penelope Riggs, I would shoot her mother! She's just a crooked
old bundle of unreasonableness and ingratitude!"

Mrs. Everidge laughed. "No, you wouldn't dear, not if you _were_
Penelope."

"But, Aunt Marthe, how does she stand it? Why, it would drive me crazy
in a week! To think of that poor soul, working like a slave all day, and
then grudged the few winks of sleep she gets on a hard old sofa. I
declare, it makes me feel hopeless!"

"The day I climbed Mont Blanc," said Mrs. Everidge softly, "we had a
wonderful experience. Down below us a sudden storm swept the valley.
The rain fell in torrents, and the thunder roared, but up where we stood
the sun was shining and all was still. When we walk with Christ, little
one, we find it possible to live above the clouds."

"An Alpine Christian!" cried Evadne. "Oh, Aunt Marthe, that is
beautiful!"

CHAPTER XIII.

"The ancient Egyptians, Evadne," remarked Mr. Everidge the next day at
dinner, as he selected the choicest portions of a fine roast duck for
his own consumption, "during the period of their nation's highest
civilization, subsisted almost exclusively upon millet, dates and other
fruits and cereals; and athletic Greece rose to her greatest culture
upon two meals a day, consisting principally of maize and vegetables
steeped in oil. Don't you think you ladies would find it of advantage to
copy them in this laudable abstemiousness? There is something repugnant
to a refined taste in the idea of eating flesh whose constituent
particles partake largely of the nature of our own."

"Why, certainly, Uncle Horace," said Evadne merrily. "I am quite ready
to become a vegetarian, if you will set me the example. The feminine
mind, you know, is popularly supposed to be only fitted to follow a
masculine lead."

"Ah, I wish it were possible, my dear Evadne, but the peculiar
susceptibility of my internal organism precludes all thought of my
making such a radical change in the matter of diet. Even now, in spite
of all my care, indigestion, like a grim Argus, stares me out of
countenance. I wish you would bear this fact more constantly in mind, my
dear Marthe. This duck, for instance, has not arrived at that stage of
absolute fitness which is so essential to the appreciation of a delicate
stomach. A duck, Evadne, is a bird which requires very careful treatment
in its preparation for the table. It should be suspended in the air for
a certain length of time, and then, after being carefully trussed, laid
upon its breast in the pan, in order that all the juices of the body may
concentrate in that titbit of the epicure,--then let the knife touch its
richly browned skin, and, presto, you have a dish fit for the gods! The
skin of this duck on the contrary presents a degree of resistance to the
carver which proves that it has been placed in the oven before it had
arrived at that stage of perfection."

"Why, Horace," laughed Mrs. Everidge, "I thought this one was just
right! You remember you told me the last one we had, had hung five hours
too long."

"Exactly so. My friend, Trenton, will tell you that five hours is all
the length of time required to seal the fate of nations. It is a pet
theory of his that the finale of the material world will be rapid. He
bases his conclusions upon the fact of the steady decrease in the volume
of the surrounding atmosphere and the almost instantaneous action of all
of Nature's destructive forces, fire and flood, storm and sunstroke,
lightning and hail, earthquake and cyclone. Oh, _apropos_ of my erudite
friend, Marthe, he has promised to spend August with us, so you will
have to look to your culinary laurels, for he is accustomed to dine at
Delmonico's."

"Professor Trenton coming here in August!" cried Mrs. Everidge in
dismay. "Why, Horace, you never told me you had invited him!"

"My dear, I am telling you now."

"But I meant to take Evadne up to our mountain camp in August. I am sure
the resinous air would make her strong. I had my plans all laid."

"'The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley,'" said her husband
suavely. "Evadne's mental strength cannot fail to be developed by
intercourse with such a clever man. We must not allow the culture of the
body to occupy so prominent a place in our thoughts that we forget the
mind, you know."

"A fusty old Professor!" pouted Evadne. "Oh, Uncle Horace, why didn't
you leave him among his tomes and his theories and let us be free to
enjoy?"

"Mere sensual gratification, Evadne," said Mr. Everidge, as he
replenished his plate with some dainty pickings, "is not the true aim of
life. I consider it a high honor that the Professor should consent to
devote a month of his valuable time to my edification, for he is getting
to be quite a lion in the literary world. You had better have your
chamber prepared for his occupancy, Marthe. As I remember him at college
he had a fondness amounting almost to a craze for rooms with a western
aspect."

Joanna came in to announce the arrival of a visitor whom Evadne had
already learned to dread on account of her continual depression.

"Oh, Aunt Marthe!" she exclaimed, "must you waste this beautiful
afternoon listening to her dolorosities. I wanted you to go for a
drive!"

"You go, dearie, and take Penelope Riggs. It will be a treat to her and
you ought to be out in the open air as much as possible."

Evadne went out on the veranda. Through the open window she could hear
the visitor's ceaseless monotone of complaint mingled with the soft
notes of Mrs. Everidge's cheery sympathy. "Oh, dearest," she murmured,
"if you had seen this beautiful life, you would have known that there is
no sham in the religion of Jesus!"

She waited long, in the hope that Mrs. Everidge would be able to
accompany her, then she started for the Eggs cottage. She found the old
lady alone. "Where is Penelope, Mrs. Riggs?"

"Oh, skykin' round ez usual," was the peevish response. "It's church
work this time. When I wuz young, folks got along 'thout sech an
everlastin' sight uv meetins, but nowadays there's Convenshuns, an'
Auxils an' Committees, an' the land knows what, till a body's clean
distracted. Fer my part I hate ter see wimmen a' wallerin' round in the
mud till it takes 'em the best part uv the next day ter git their skirts
clean."

"But there is no mud now, Mrs. Riggs," laughed Evadne.

"Land alive, child! There will be sometime. In my day folks used ter
stay ter hum an' mind their childern, but now they've all took ter
soarin' an' it don't matter how many ends they leave flyin' loose behind
'era."

"But Penelope has no children to mind, Mrs. Riggs."

"Land alive! She hez me, an' I oughter be more ter her than a duzzen
childern,--but she ain't got no proper feelin's, Penel ain't. When I'm
a' lyin' in my coffin she'll give her eyes ter hev the chance ter rub my
rheumatiz, an' run for hot bottles an' flannels an' ginger tea. It's an
ongrateful world but I allcrs sez there ain't no use complainin'; it's
what we've got ter expec',--triberlation an' anguish an' mournin' an'
woe. It's good enuff fer us too. Sech wurms ez we be!"

"Well, Evadne, how do you do, child? I'm dretful glad to see you," and
Penelope, breezy and keen as a March wind, came bustling into the room.
"Why, yes, I'm well, child, if it wasn't for bein' so tumbled about in
my mind."

"What has tumbled you, Penelope?" asked Evadne with a merry laugh.

"The Scribes and Pharisees," was the terse rejoinder. "I've just cum
from a Committee meeting of the Missionary Society an' I'm free to
confess my feelin's is roused tremendous. Seems to me nowadays the
church is built at a different angle from the Sermon on the Mount an'
things is measured by the world's yardsticks till there ain't much
sense in callin' it a church at all. Ef you'd seen the way Squire
Higgins' girls sot down on poor little Matildy Jones this afternoon,
just because her father sells fish! Their father sells it too, but he's
got forehanded an' can do it by the gross, an' so they toss their heads
an' set a whole garden full o' flowers a' shakin' upan' down. They're
allers more peacocky in their minds after they git their spring bunnets.
The Lord said we was to consider the lilies, but I guess he meant us to
leave 'em in the fields, for I notice the more folks carries on the tops
of their heads the less their apt to be like 'em underneath."

"But what did they say to her?" asked Evadne.

"You're young, child, or you'd know there's more ways of insultin' than
with the tongue, an' poor little Matildy is jest the one to be hurt that
way. Some folks is like clams, the minute you touch 'em, they shut
themselves up in their shells an' then they don't feel what you do to
'em any more'n the Rocky mountains, but Matildy isn't made that way. She
just sot there with the flushes comin' in her cheeks an' the tears
shinin' in her pretty eyes till my heart ached. I leaned over to her an'
whispered, 'Don't fret, Matildy, they ain't wuth mindin'. She gave me a
little wintry smile but the tears kep a' comin' an' by an' bye she got
up and went out, an' ef she don't imitate the Prophet Jeremi an' water
her piller with her tears this night, then I've changed my name sence
mornin'.

"I was so uplifted in my mind with righteous indignation that I felt
called upon to let it loose, so I begun in a musin' tone, as ef I was
havin' a solil."

"'A solil?'" said Evadne in a mystified tone.

"Why, yes; talkin' to myself, child. I did think, ef there was any place
folks was free an' eqal 'twould be in the Lord's service,' sez I. 'The
Bible teaches it's a pretty dangerous bizness to offend one uv these
little ones. I'm not much of a hand at quotations, but there's an
unpleasant connection between it an' a millstun,' sez I.

"Malviny Higgins tossed her head an' giv me one uv her witherinest
looks, but I'm not one uv the perishin' kind, so I kep on a' musin'.

"'It's wonderful what a difference there is between sellin' by the poun'
an' the barrel,' sez I. 'It's unfortunet that there's only one way to
the heavenly country, an' it's a limited express with no Pullman
attached. The Lord hedn't time to put on a parlor car fer the wholesale
trade; seems like as if it was kind uv neglectful in him. It would hev
been more convenient an' private.'

"Malviny's cheeks got as red as beets an' the flowers on her bonnet
danced a Highland Fling as she leaned over to whisper somethin' to her
sister, but I hed relieved my feelin's an' could join in quite peaceful
like when Mrs. Songster said we'd close the meetin' by singin' 'Blest be
the tie that binds.' Well, there'll be no clicks in heaven, that's one
blessin'."

"'Clicks,' Penelope?"

"Why, yes, child, the folks that gets off by themselves in a corner an'
thinks nobody outside the circle is fit to tie their shoe. I expect to
hev edifyin' conversations with Moses an' Elija, an' the first thing I
mean to ask him is what kind of ravens they really were."

"'Ravens,'" echoed Evadne bewildered, "what _do_ you mean, Penelope?"

"Sakes alive, child! Haven't you read your Bible? and don't you know the
ravens fed the old gentleman in the desert, an' that folks now say they
were Arabs, because the ravens are dirty birds an' live on carrion, an'
it stands to reason Elija couldn't touch that if he hed an ordinary
stumach. As if the Lord couldn't hev made 'em bring food from the king's
table if he hed chosen to do it! It's all of a piece with the way folks
hev now of twistin' the Bible inside out till nobody knows what it
means. For my part I believe if the Lord hed meant Arabs he would hev
said Arabs an' not hev deceived us by callin' 'em birds uv prey. Folks
is so set against allowin' anything that looks like a meracle that
they'll go all the way round the barn an' creep through a snake fence if
they can prove it's jest an ordinary piece of business. They do say
there are some things the Lord can't do, but I'm free to confess I've
never found them out."

* * * * *

"Aunt Marthe," said Evadne, when they had settled down for their evening
talk, "what does it all mean? 'The victory of our faith,' you know, and
the 'Overcomeths' in Revelation? I thought Christ got the victory for
us?"

"So he does, dear child, and we through him. I came across a lovely
explanation of it some time ago which I will copy for you; it has been
such an inspiration. Listen,--

"'When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught and you
smile inwardly, glorying in the insult or the oversight,--that is
victory.

"'When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your
tastes offended, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and
you take it all in patient and loving silence,--that is victory.

"'When you are content with any food, any raiment, any climate, any
society, any position in life, any solitude, any interruption,--that is
victory.

"'When you can bear with any discord, any annoyance, any irregularity or
unpunctuality (of which you are not the cause),--that is victory.

"'When you can stand face to face with folly, extravagance, spiritual
insensibility, contradiction of sinners, persecution, and endure it all
as Jesus endured it,--that is victory.

"'When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, nor to
record your works, nor to seek after commendation; when you can truly
love to be unknown,--that is victory.'"

"Now I see!" exclaimed Evadne. "It means the beautiful patience with
which you bear aggravating things and the gentle courtesy with which you
treat all sorts of troublesome people. Oh, my Princess, I envy you your
altitude!"

CHAPTER XIV.

Professor Trenton had come and gone and the glory of the autumn was over
the land. The early supper was ended and Evadne had ensconced herself in
her favorite window to catch the sun's last smile before he fell asleep.
In the room across the hall Mr. Everidge reclined in his luxurious
arm-chair and leisurely turned the pages of the last "North American
Review." It was Saturday evening.

"Why, Horace, can this be possible?" Mrs. Everidge entered the room
quickly and stood before her husband. Neither of them noticed Evadne.

"My dear, many things are possible in this terrestrial sphere. What
particular possibility do you refer to?"

"That you have discharged Reuben?" The sweet voice trembled. Mr.
Everidge's tones kept their usual complacent calm.

"That possibility, my dear, has taken definite form in fact."

"But, Horace, the boy is heart-broken."

"Time is a mighty healer, my love. He will recover his mental equipoise
in due course."

"But you might have given him a month's warning. Where is the poor boy
to find another place? It is cruel to turn him off like this!"

"Really, my dear Marthe, I do not feel myself competent to solve all the
problems of the labor question," said Mr. Everidge carelessly. "Reuben
must take his chances in common with the rest of his class."

"But, Horace, I cannot imagine what your reason for this can be! Where
will you find so good a boy?"

"I am not aware that Socrates thought it necessary to acquaint the
worthy Xantippe with the reasons for his conduct," remarked Mr. Everidge
suavely. "The feminine mind is too much disposed to jump to hasty
conclusions to prove of any assistance in deciding matters of
importance. The masculine brain, on the contrary, takes time for calm
deliberation and weighs the pros and cons in the scale of a well
balanced judgment before arriving at any definite decision. But my
reason in this case will soon become apparent to you. I do not intend to
keep a boy at all."

"But who will take care of Atalanta? Are you going to forsake your
cherished books for a curry-comb?"

"Really, Marthe!" exclaimed her husband in an aggrieved tone, "it is
incomprehensible that you should have such a total disregard for the
delicacy of my constitution,--especially when you know that the very
odor of the stable is abhorrent to my olfactory senses. Atalanta has
quarters provided for her at the Vernon Livery, and one of the grooms
has orders to bring the carriage to the door at two o'clock every
afternoon."

"But that will make it very awkward, Horace. I so often have to use the
carriage in the morning."

"'Have,' my dear Marthe, is a word which admits of many
substitutions,--'cannot' in this case will be a suitable one. I find it
is necessary to resume possession of the reins. Atalanta is retrograding
and is rapidly losing that characteristic of speed which made her name a
fitting one. There is a lack of mastery about a woman's handling of the
ribbons which is quickly detected by horses, especially when they are of
more than average intelligence."

"But, Horace, if Reuben goes, Joanna will go too. You know she promised
her mother she would never leave him."

"In that event, my dear, you will have an opportunity to become more
intimately acquainted with the mysteries of the culinary art," observed
Mr. Everidge cheerfully. "It will be a splendid chance to evolve that
finest of character combinations, Spartan endurance coupled with
American progressiveness."

Mrs. Everidge smiled. "But what if I do not have the Spartan strength,
Horace?"

"That is merely a matter of imagination, my love. It proves the truth of
my theory that necessity develops capacity. A woman of leisure, for want
of suitable mental pabulum, grows to fancy she has every ill that flesh
is heir to, whereas, when she is obliged by compelling circumstances to
put her muscles into practice, her mind acquires a more healthy tone.
Self-contemplation is a most enervating exercise and involves a
tremendous drain on the moral forces."

"Do you think I waste much time in that way, Horace?" Mrs. Everidge
spoke wistfully, and Evadne, forced to be an unwilling listener to the
conversation, felt her cheeks grow hot with indignation.

"My dear, I merely refer to the deplorable tendency of your sex. All you
require is moral stamina to tear yourself away from the arms of Morpheus
at an earlier hour in the It is a popular illusion, you know, that work
performed before sunrise takes less time to accomplish and is better
done than later in the day. My mother used to affirm that she
accomplished the work of two days in one when she arose at three a.m.,
but then my mother was a most exceptional woman," with which parting
thrust Mr. Everidge retired behind the pages of his magazine.

Upstairs in her own room Evadne paced the floor with tightly clenched
hands. "Oh!" she cried, "what shall I do? I hate him! I hate him! How
dare he! He ought to be glad to go down on his knees to serve her, she
is so sweet, so dear! Oh, I cannot bear it! That she should be compelled
to endure such servitude, and I can do nothing to help, nothing!
nothing!" She threw herself across the bed and burst into a passion of
tears. Was this the silent girl whom Isabelle had voted tiresome and
slow?

A little later than usual she heard the low knock which always preceded
the visit which she looked forward to as the sweetest part of the day.
Could it be possible she would come to-night? Was no thought of self
ever permitted to enter that brave, suffering heart?

She rose and opened the door. The dear face was paler than usual but
there was no shadow upon the smooth brow. Marthe Everidge had crossed
the tempest-tossed ocean of human passion into the sun-kissed calm of
Christ's perfect peace.

Evadne threw her arms around her neck and laid her storm-swept face upon
her shoulder. "Forgive me!" she cried, "I heard it all. I could not help
it. I think my heart is breaking. Do not be angry, you see I love you
so! How can I bear to have you subjected to this? You are so tender, so
true. There is such a charm about you! You are so beautifully unselfish!
Oh, my dear, my dear, how can you, do you bear it?"

Mrs. Everidge lifted her face tenderly and kissed the quivering lips.
"It is 'not I but Christ,' dear child. That makes it possible." Then she
drew her over to the lounge and began to undress her as if she had been
a baby. "My dear little sister. You are utterly exhausted. You are not
strong enough to suffer so."

"Oh, will you let me be your sister and help you bear your burdens?"
cried Evadne, unconscious that all the time the skilful hands were
keeping up their sweet ministry and that her burden was being lifted for
her by the one who had the greater burden to bear.

When she was comfortably settled for the night Mrs. Everidge drew her
low chair up beside the bed. Evadne caught her hand in hers and kissed
it reverently. "I wish I could make you understand how I honor you!" she
said.

"You must not do it, dear!" said Aunt Marthe quickly. "Honor the King."

After a pause she began to speak slowly and her voice was sweet and low.
"When, the first night you came, you asked me if I knew Jesus Christ, I
told you he was my life. That explains it all. It is very sweet of you
to say the kind things that you have about me but they are not true. In
and of herself, Marthe Everidge is nothing. The moment she tries to live
her own life she utterly fails. If there is anything good about her
life, it is only as she lets Christ live it for her."

"I do not understand," said Evadne with a puzzled look. "How is it
possible for any one else to live our lives for us?"

"No one can but Jesus," said Aunt Marthe with a smile. "He does the
impossible. Take that exquisite fifteenth chapter of St. John and study
it verse by verse. 'Abide in me, and I in you.' There you have the two
abidings. We are _in_ Christ when we believe in him and are accepted
through the merit of his blood and brought by adoption into the family
of God, but not until he abides in our hearts shall our lives become as
beautiful as God means them to be. Fruitfulness,--that is the cry
everywhere. Men are calling for intellectual fruitfulness and mechanical
fruitfulness, and are bending their energies to find the soil which will
develop at once the best quality and greatest amount of fruit. Take a
tree, to make my meaning clearer. The tree may abide in the soil and be
just alive, but it is not until the essence of the soil enters into and
abides in the tree, that it really grows and bears fruit. Growers of the
finest varieties will show you plums that look as if they had been

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