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A Romance of the Republic by Lydia Maria Francis Child

Part 5 out of 7

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with the desolation, when Mr. Jacobs came back with a mule and a small
cart, which he said was the best conveyance he could procure. The
jolting over hillocks, and the occasional grunts of the mule, made it
an amusing ride; but it was a fruitless one. The plantation negroes
were sowing cotton, but all Mr. Fitzgerald's household servants were
leased out in Savannah during his absence in Europe. The white villa
at Magnolia Lawn peeped out from its green surroundings; but the
jalousies were closed, and the tracks on the carriage-road were
obliterated by rains.

Hiring a negro to go with them to take back the cart, they made the
best of their way to the boat, which was waiting for them. Fatigued
and disconsolate with their fruitless search, they felt little
inclined to talk as they glided over the bright waters. The negro
boatmen frequently broke in upon the silence with some simple, wild
melody, which they sang in perfect unison, dipping their oars in
rhythm. When Savannah came in sight, they urged the boat faster,
and, improvising words to suit the occasion, they sang in brisker
strains:--

"Row, darkies, row!
See de sun down dar am creepin';
Row, darkies, row!
Hab white ladies in yer keepin';
Row, darkies, row!"

With the business they had on hand, Mrs. Delano preferred not to seek
her friends in the city, and they took lodgings at a hotel. Early the
next morning, Mr. Jacobs was sent out to ascertain the whereabouts of
Mr. Fitzgerald's servants; and Mrs. Delano proposed that, during his
absence, they should drive to The Pines, which she described as an
extremely pleasant ride. Flora assented, with the indifference of a
preoccupied mind. But scarcely had the horses stepped on the thick
carpet of pine foliage with which the ground was strewn, when she
eagerly exclaimed, "Tom! Tom!" A black man, mounted on the seat of a
carriage that was passing them, reined in his horses and stopped.

"Keep quiet, my dear," whispered Mrs. Delano to her companion, "till I
can ascertain who is in the carriage."

"Are you Mr. Fitzgerald's Tom?" she inquired.

"Yes, Missis," replied the negro, touching his hat.

She beckoned him to come and open her carriage-door, and, speaking in
a low voice, she said: "I want to ask you about a Spanish lady who
used to live in a cottage, not far from Mr. Fitzgerald's plantation.
She had a black servant named Tulee, who used to call her Missy Rosy.
We went to the cottage yesterday, and found it shut up. Can you tell
us where they have gone?"

Tom looked at them very inquisitively, and answered, "Dunno, Missis."

"We are Missy Rosy's friends, and have come to bring her some good
news. If you can tell us anything about her, I will give you this gold
piece."

Tom half stretched forth his hand to take the coin, then drew it back,
and repeated, "Dunno, Missis."

Flora, who felt her heart rising in her throat, tossed back her veil,
and said, "Tom, don't you know me?"

The negro started as if a ghost had risen before him.

"Now tell me where Missy Rosy has gone, and who went with her," said
she, coaxingly.

"Bress yer, Missy Flory! _am_ yer alive!" exclaimed the bewildered
negro.

Flora laughed, and, drawing off her glove, shook hands with him. "Now
you know I'm alive, Tom. But don't tell anybody. Where's Missy Rosy
gone."

"O Missy," replied Tom, "dar am heap ob tings to tell."

Mrs. Delano suggested that it was not a suitable place; and Tom said
he must go home with his master's carriage. He told them he had
obtained leave to go and see his wife Chloe that evening; and
he promised to come to their hotel first. So, with the general
information that Missy Rosy and Tulee were safe, they parted for the
present.

Tom's communication in the evening was very long, and intensely
interesting to his auditors; but it did not extend beyond a certain
point. He told of Rosa's long and dangerous illness; of Chloe's and
Tulee's patient praying and nursing; of the birth of the baby; of the
sale to Mr. Bruteman; and of the process by which she escaped with Mr.
Duroy. Further than that he knew nothing. He had never been in New
Orleans afterward, and had never heard Mr. Fitzgerald speak of Rosa.

At that crisis in the conversation, Mrs. Delano summoned Mr. Jacobs,
and requested him to ascertain when a steamboat would go to New
Orleans. Flora kissed her hand, with a glance full of gratitude. Tom
looked at her in a very earnest, embarrassed way, and said: "Missis,
am yer one ob dem Ab-lish-nishts dar in de Norf, dat Massa swars
'bout?"

Mrs. Delano turned toward Flora with a look of perplexity, and,
having received an interpretation of the question, she smiled as she
answered: "I rather think I am half an Abolitionist, Tom. But why do
you wish to know?"

Tom went on to state, in "lingo" that had to be frequently explained,
that he wanted to run away to the North, and that he could manage to
do it if it were not for Chloe and the children. He had been in hopes
that Mrs. Fitzgerald would have taken her to the North to nurse her
baby while she was gone to Europe. In that case, he intended to follow
after; and he thought some good people would lend them money to buy
their little ones, and, both together, they could soon work off the
debt. But this project had been defeated by Mrs. Bell, who brought a
white nurse from Boston, and carried her infant grandson back with
her.

"Yer see, Missis," said Tom, with a sly look, "dey tinks de niggers
don't none ob 'em wants dare freedom, so dey nebber totes 'em whar it
be."

Ever since that disappointment had occurred, he and his wife had
resolved themselves into a committee of ways and means, but they had
not yet devised any feasible mode of escape. And now they were thrown
into great consternation by the fact that a slave-trader had been to
look at Chloe, because Mr. Fitzgerald wanted money to spend in Europe,
and had sent orders to have some of his negroes sold.

Mrs. Delano told him she didn't see how she could help him, but she
would think about it; and Flora, with a sideway inclination of the
head toward her, gave Tom an expressive glance, which he understood as
a promise to persuade her. He urged the matter no further, but asked
what time it was. Being told it was near nine o'clock, he said he must
hasten to Chloe, for it was not allowable for negroes to be in the
street after that hour.

He had scarcely closed the door, before Mrs. Delano said, "If Chloe is
sold, I must buy her."

"I thought you would say so," rejoined Flora.

A discussion then took place as to ways and means, and a strictly
confidential letter was written to a lawyer from the North, with whom
Mrs. Delano was acquainted, requesting him to buy the woman and her
children for her, if they were to be sold.

It happened fortunately that a steamer was going to New Orleans the
next day. Just as they were going on board, a negro woman with two
children came near, and, dropping a courtesy, said: "Skuse, Missis.
Dis ere's Chloe. Please say Ise yer nigger! Do, Missis!"

Flora seized the black woman's hand, and pressed it, while she
whispered: "Do, Mamita! They're going to sell her, you know."

She took the children by the hand, and hurried forward without waiting
for an answer. They were all on board before Mrs. Delano had time to
reflect. Tom was nowhere to be seen. On one side of her stood
Chloe, with two little ones clinging to her skirts, looking at her
imploringly with those great fervid eyes, and saying in suppressed
tones, "Missis, dey's gwine to sell me away from de chillen"; and on
the other side was Flora, pressing her hand, and entreating, "Don't
send her back, Mamita! She was _so_ good to poor Rosa."

"But, my dear, if they should trace her to me, it would be a very
troublesome affair," said the perplexed lady.

"They won't look for her in New Orleans. They'll think she's gone
North," urged Flora.

During this whispered consultation, Mr. Jacobs approached with some of
their baggage. Mrs. Delano stopped him, and said: "When you register
our names, add a negro servant and her two children."

He looked surprised, but bowed and asked no questions. She was
scarcely less surprised at herself. In the midst of her anxiety to
have the boat start, she called to mind her former censures upon those
who helped servants to escape from Southern masters, and she could not
help smiling at the new dilemma in which she found herself.

The search in New Orleans availed little. They alighted from their
carriage a few minutes to look at the house where Flora was born. She
pointed out to Mrs. Delano the spot whence her father had last spoken
to her on that merry morning, and the grove where she used to pelt him
with oranges; but neither of them cared to enter the house, now that
everything was so changed. Madame's house was occupied by strangers,
who knew nothing of the previous tenants, except that they were said
to have gone to Europe to live. They drove to Mr. Duroy's, and found
strangers there, who said the former occupants had all died of
yellow-fever,--the lady and gentleman, a negro woman, and a white
baby. Flora was bewildered to find every link with her past broken
and gone. She had not lived long enough to realize that the traces of
human lives often disappear from cities as quickly as the ocean closes
over the tracks of vessels. Mr. Jacobs proposed searching for some
one who had been in Mr. Duroy's employ; and with that intention, they
returned to the city. As they were passing a house where a large
bird-cage hung in the open window, Flora heard the words, "_Petit
blanc, mon bon frere! Ha! ha_!"

She called out to Mr. Jacobs, "Stop! Stop!" and pushed at the carriage
door, in her impatience to get out.

"What _is_ the matter, my child?" inquired Mrs. Delano.

"That's Madame's parrot," replied she; and an instant after she was
ringing at the door of the house. She told the servant they wished to
make some inquiries concerning Signor and Madame Papanti, and Monsieur
Duroy; and she and Mrs. Delano were shown in to wait for the lady of
the house. They had no sooner entered, than the parrot flapped her
wings and cried out, "_Bon jour, joli petit diable_!" And then she
began to whistle and warble, twitter and crow, through a ludicrous
series of noisy variations. Flora burst into peals of laughter, in the
midst of which the lady of the house entered the room. "Excuse me,
Madame," said she. "This parrot is an old acquaintance of mine. I
taught her to imitate all sorts of birds, and she is showing me that
she has not forgotten my lessons."

"It will be impossible to hear ourselves speak, unless I cover the
cage," replied the lady.

"Allow me to quiet her, if you please," rejoined Flora. She opened the
door of the cage, and the bird hopped on her arm, flapping her wings,
and crying, "_Bon jour! Ha! ha_!"

"_Taisez vous, jolie Manon_," said Flora soothingly, while she stroked
the feathery head. The bird nestled close and was silent.

When their errand was explained, the lady repeated the same story they
had already heard about Mr. Duroy's family.

"Was the black woman who died there named Tulee?" inquired Flora.

"I never heard her name but once or twice," replied the lady. "It was
not a common negro name, and I think that was it. Madame Papanti had
put her and the baby there to board. After Mr. Duroy died, his son
came home from Arkansas to settle his affairs. My husband, who was one
of Mr. Duroy's clerks, bought some of the things at auction; and among
them was that parrot."

"And what has become of Signor and Madame Papanti?" asked Mrs. Delano.

The lady could give no information, except that they had returned to
Europe. Having obtained directions where to find her husband, they
thanked her, and wished her good morning.

Flora held the parrot up to the cage, and said, "_Bon jour, jolie
Manon_!"

"_Bon jour_!" repeated the bird, and hopped upon her perch.

After they had entered the carriage, Flora said: "How melancholy it
seems that everybody is gone, except _Jolie Manon_! How glad the poor
thing seemed to be to see me! I wish I could take her home."

"I will send to inquire whether the lady will sell her," replied her
friend.

"O Mamita, you will spoil me, you indulge me so much," rejoined Flora.

Mrs. Delano smiled affectionately, as she answered: "If you were very
spoilable, dear, I think that would have been done already."

"But it will be such a bother to take care of Manon," said Flora.

"Our new servant Chloe can do that," replied Mrs. Delano. "But I
really hope we shall get home without any further increase of our
retinue."

From the clerk information was obtained that he heard Mr. Duroy tell
Mr. Bruteman that a lady named Rosabella Royal had sailed to Europe
with Signor and Madame Papanti in the ship Mermaid. He added that news
afterward arrived that the vessel foundered at sea, and all on board
were lost.

With this sorrow on her heart, Flora returned to Boston. Mr. Percival
was immediately informed of their arrival, and hastened to meet them.
When the result of their researches was told, he said: "I shouldn't be
disheartened yet. Perhaps they didn't sail in the Mermaid. I will send
to the New York Custom-House for a list of the passengers."

Flora eagerly caught at that suggestion; and Mrs. Delano said, with a
smile: "We have some other business in which we need your help. You
must know that I am involved in another slave case. If ever a quiet
and peace-loving individual was caught up and whirled about by a
tempest of events, I am surely that individual. Before I met this dear
little Flora, I had a fair prospect of living and dying a respectable
and respected old fogy, as you irreverent reformers call discreet
people. But now I find myself drawn into the vortex of abolition to
the extent of helping off four fugitive slaves. In Flora's case, I
acted deliberately, from affection and a sense of duty; but in this
second instance I was taken by storm, as it were. The poor woman was
aboard before I knew it, and I found myself too weak to withstand her
imploring looks and Flora's pleading tones." She went on to describe
the services Chloe had rendered to Rosa, and added: "I will pay any
expenses necessary for conveying this woman to a place of safety, and
supplying all that is necessary for her and her children, until she
can support them; but I do not feel as if she were safe here."

"If you will order a carriage, I will take them directly to the house
of Francis Jackson, in Hollis Street," said Mr. Percival. "They will
be safe enough under the protection of that honest, sturdy friend of
freedom. His house is the depot of various subterranean railroads; and
I pity the slaveholder who tries to get on any of his tracks. He finds
himself 'like a toad under a harrow, where ilka tooth gies him a tug,'
as the Scotch say."

While waiting for the carriage, Chloe and her children were brought
in. Flora took the little ones under her care, and soon had their
aprons filled with cakes and sugarplums. Chloe, unable to restrain her
feelings, dropped down on her knees in the midst of the questions they
were asking her, and poured forth an eloquent prayer that the Lord
would bless these good friends of her down-trodden people.

When the carriage arrived, she rose, and, taking Mrs. Delano's hand,
said solemnly: "De Lord bress yer, Missis! De Lord bress yer! I seed
yer once fore ebber I knowed yer. I seed yer in a vision, when I war
prayin' to de Lord to open de free door fur me an' my chillen. Ye war
an angel wid white shiny wings. Bress de Lord! 'T war Him dat sent
yer.--An' now, Missy Flory, de Lord bress yer! Ye war allers good to
poor Chloe, down dar in de prison-house. Let me gib yer a kiss, little
Missy."

Flora threw her arms round the bended neck, and promised to go and see
her wherever she was.

When the carriage rolled away, emotion kept them both silent for a few
minutes. "How strange it seems to me now," said Mrs. Delano, "that
I lived so many years without thinking of the wrongs of these poor
people! I used to think prayer-meetings for slaves were very fanatical
and foolish. It seemed to me enough that they were included in our
prayer for 'all classes and conditions of men'; but after listening to
poor Chloe's eloquent outpouring, I am afraid such generalizing will
sound rather cold."

"Mamita," said Flora, "you know you gave me some money to buy a silk
dress. Are you willing I should use it to buy clothes for Chloe and
her children?"

"More than willing, my child," she replied. "There is no clothing so
beautiful as the raiment of righteousness."

The next morning, Flora went out to make her purchases. Some time
after, Mrs. Delano, hearing voices near the door, looked out, and saw
her in earnest conversation with Florimond Blumenthal, who had a large
parcel in his arms. When she came in, Mrs. Delano said, "So you had an
escort home?"

"Yes, Mamita," she replied; "Florimond would bring the parcel, and so
we walked together."

"He was very polite," said Mrs. Delano; "but ladies are not accustomed
to stand on the doorstep talking with clerks who bring bundles for
them."

"I didn't think anything about that," rejoined Flora. "He wanted to
know about Rosa, and I wanted to tell him. Florimond seems just like
a piece of my old home, because he loved papa so much. Mamita Lila,
didn't you say papa was a poor clerk when you and he first began to
love one another?"

"Yes, my child," she replied; and she kissed the bright, innocent face
that came bending over her, looking so frankly into hers.

When she had gone out of the room, Mrs. Delano said to herself,
"That darling child, with her strange history and unworldly ways, is
educating me more than I can educate her."

A week later, Mr. and Mrs. Percival came, with tidings that no such
persons as Signor and Madame Papanti were on board the Mermaid; and
they proposed writing letters of inquiry forthwith to consuls in
various parts of Italy and France.

Flora began to hop and skip and clap her hands. But she soon paused,
and said, laughingly: "Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. Mamita often
tells me I was brought up in a bird-cage; and I ask her how then can
she expect me to do anything but hop and sing. Excuse me. I forgot
Mamita and I were not alone."

"You pay us the greatest possible compliment," rejoined Mr. Percival.

And Mrs. Percival added, "I hope you will always forget it when we are
here."

"Do you really wish it?" asked Flora, earnestly. "Then I will."

And so, with a few genial friends, an ever-deepening attachment
between her and her adopted mother, a hopeful feeling at her heart
about Rosa, Tulee's likeness by her bedside, and Madame's parrot to
wish her _Bon jour_! Boston came to seem to her like a happy home.

CHAPTER XXIII.

About two months after their return from the South, Mr. Percival
called one evening, and said: "Do you know Mr. Brick, the
police-officer? I met him just now, and he stopped me. 'There's plenty
of work for you Abolitionists now-a-days,' said he. 'There are five
Southerners at the Tremont, inquiring for runaways, and cursing
Garrison. An agent arrived last night from Fitzgerald's
plantation,--he that married Bell's daughter, you know. He sent for me
to give me a description of a nigger that had gone off in a mysterious
way to parts unknown. He wanted me to try to find the fellow, and,
of course, I did; for I always calculate to do my duty, as the law
directs. So I went immediately to Father Snowdon, and described the
black man, and informed him that his master had sent for him, in
a great hurry. I told him I thought it very likely he was lurking
somewhere in Belknap Street; and if he would have the goodness to hunt
him up, I would call, in the course of an hour or two, to see what
luck he had.'"

"Who is Father Snowdon?" inquired Mrs. Delano.

"He is the colored preacher in Belknap Street Church," replied Mr.
Percival, "and a remarkable man in his way. He fully equals Chloe in
prayer; and he is apt to command the ship Buzzard to the especial
attention of the Lord. The first time I entered his meeting, he was
saying, in a loud voice, 'We pray thee, O Lord, to bless her Majesty's
good ship, the Buzzard; and if there's a slave-trader now on the coast
of Africa, we pray thee, O Lord, to blow her straight under the lee of
the Buzzard.' He has been a slave himself, and he has perhaps helped
off more slaves than any man in the country. I doubt whether
Garrick himself had greater power to disguise his countenance. If a
slaveholder asks him about a slave, he is the most stolid-looking
creature imaginable. You wouldn't suppose he understood anything, or
ever _could_ understand anything. But if he meets an Abolitionist a
minute after, his black face laughs all over, and his roguish eyes
twinkle like diamonds, while he recounts how he 'come it' over the
Southern gentleman. That bright soul of his is a jewel set in ebony."

"It seems odd that the police-officer should apply to _him_ to catch a
runaway," said Mrs. Delano.

"That's the fun of it," responded Mr. Percival. "The extinguishers
are themselves taking fire. The fact is, Boston policemen don't feel
exactly in their element as slave-hunters. They are too near Bunker
Hill; and on the Fourth of July they are reminded of the Declaration
of Independence, which, though it is going out of fashion, is still
regarded by a majority of the people as a venerable document. Then
they have Whittier's trumpet-tones ringing in their ears,--

"'No slave hunt in _our_ borders! no pirate on _our_ strand!
No fetters in the Bay State! no slave upon _our_ land!'"

"How did Mr. Brick describe Mr. Fitzgerald's runaway slave?" inquired
Flora.

"He said he was tall and very black, with a white scar over his right
eye."

"That's Tom!" exclaimed she. "How glad Chloe will be! But I wonder he
didn't come here the first thing. We could have told him how well she
was getting on in New Bedford."

"Father Snowdon will tell him all about that," rejoined Mr. Percival.
"If Tom was in the city, he probably kept him closely hidden, on
account of the number of Southerners who have recently arrived; and
after the hint the police-officer gave him, he doubtless hustled him
out of town in the quickest manner."

"I want to hurrah for that policeman," said Flora; "but Mamita would
think I was a very rude young lady, or rather that I was no lady at
all. But perhaps you'll let me _sing_ hurrah, Mamita?"

Receiving a smile for answer, she flew to the piano, and, improvising
an accompaniment to herself, she began to sing hurrah! through all
manner of variations, high and low, rapidly trilled and slowly
prolonged, now bursting full upon the ear, now receding in the
distance. It was such a lively fantasia, that it made Mr. Percival
laugh, while Mrs. Delano's face was illuminated by a quiet smile.

In the midst of the merriment, the door-bell rang. Flora started from
the piano, seized her worsted-work, and said, "Now, Mamita, I'm ready
to receive company like a pink of propriety." But the change was so
sudden, that her eyes were still laughing when Mr. Green entered an
instant after; and he again caught that archly demure expression which
seemed to him so fascinating. The earnestness of his salutation was so
different from his usual formal politeness, that Mrs. Delano could not
fail to observe it. The conversation turned upon incidents of travel
after they had parted so suddenly. "I shall never cease to regret,"
said he, "that you missed hearing La Senorita Campaneo. She was a
most extraordinary creature. Superbly handsome; and do you know, Miss
Delano, I now and then caught a look that reminded me very much of
you. Unfortunately, you have lost your chance to hear her. For Mr.
King, the son of our Boston millionnaire, who has lately been piling
up money in the East, persuaded her to quit the stage when she had but
just started in her grand career. All the musical world in Rome were
vexed with him for preventing her re-engagement. As for Fitzgerald, I
believe he would have shot him if he could have found him. It was a
purely musical disappointment, for he was never introduced to the
fascinating Senorita; but he fairly pined upon it. I told him the best
way to drive off the blue devils would be to go with me and a few
friends to the Grotta Azzura. So off we started to Naples, and thence
to Capri. The grotto was one of the few novelties remaining for me
in Italy. I had heard much of it, but the reality exceeded all
descriptions. We seemed to be actually under the sea in a palace of
gems. Our boat glided over a lake of glowing sapphire, and our oars
dropped rubies. High above our heads were great rocks of sapphire,
deepening to lapis-lazuli at the base, with here and there a streak of
malachite."

"It seems like Aladdin's Cave," remarked Flora.

"Yes," replied Mr. Green; "only it was Aladdin's Cave undergoing a
wondrous 'sea change.' A poetess, who writes for the papers under the
name of Melissa Mayflower, had fastened herself upon our party in some
way; and I suppose she felt bound to sustain the reputation of the
quill. She said the Nereids must have built that marine palace, and
decorated it for a visit from fairies of the rainbow."

"That was a pretty thought," said Flora. "It sounds like 'Lalla
Rookh.'"

"It was a pretty thought," rejoined the gentleman, "but can give you
no idea of the unearthly splendor. I thought how you would have been
delighted if you had been with our party. I regretted your absence
almost as much as I did at the opera. But the Blue Grotto, wonderful
as it was, didn't quite drive away Fitzgerald's blue devils, though it
made him forget his vexations for the time. The fact is, just as we
started he received a letter from his agent, informing him of the
escape of a negro woman and her two children; and he spent most of the
way back to Naples swearing at the Abolitionists."

Flora, the side of whose face was toward him, gave Mrs. Delano a
furtive glance full of fun; but he saw nothing of the mischief in her
expressive face, except a little whirlpool of a dimple, which played
about her mouth for an instant, and then subsided. A very broad smile
was on Mr. Percival's face, as he sat examining some magnificent
illustrations of the Alhambra. Mr. Green, quite unconscious of the
by-play in their thoughts, went on to say, "It is really becoming a
serious evil that Southern gentlemen have so little security for that
species of property."

"Then you consider women and children _property_?" inquired Mr.
Percival, looking up from his book.

Mr. Green bowed with a sort of mock deference, and replied: "Pardon
me, Mr. Percival, it is so unusual for gentlemen of your birth and
position to belong to the Abolition troop of rough-riders, that I may
be excused for not recollecting it."

"I should consider my birth and position great misfortunes, if they
blinded me to the plainest principles of truth and justice," rejoined
Mr. Percival.

The highly conservative gentleman made no reply, but rose to take
leave.

"Did your friends the Fitzgeralds return with you?" inquired Mrs.
Delano.

"No," replied he. "They intend to remain until October, Good evening,
ladies. I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you again." And
with an inclination of the head toward Mr. Percival, he departed.

"Why did you ask him that question?" said Flora. "Are you afraid of
anything?"

"Not in the slightest degree," answered Mrs. Delano. "If, without
taking much trouble, we can avoid your being recognized by Mr.
Fitzgerald, I should prefer it, because I do not wish to have any
conversation with him. But now that your sister's happiness is no
longer implicated, there is no need of caution. If he happens to see
you, I shall tell him you sought my protection, and that he has no
legal power over you."

The conversation diverged to the Alhambra and Washington Irving; and
Flora ended the evening by singing the Moorish ballad of "Xarifa,"
which she said always brought a picture of Rosabella before her eyes.

The next morning, Mr. Green called earlier than usual. He did not
ask for Flora, whom he had in fact seen in the street a few minutes
before. "Excuse me, Mrs. Delano, for intruding upon you at such an
unseasonable hour," said he. "I chose it because I wished to be
sure of seeing you alone. You must have observed that I am greatly
interested in your adopted daughter."

"The thought has crossed my mind," replied the lady; "but I was by no
means certain that she interested you more than a very pretty girl
must necessarily interest a gentleman of taste."

"Pretty!" repeated he. "That is a very inadequate word to describe
the most fascinating young lady I have ever met. She attracts me so
strongly, that I have called to ask your permission to seek her for a
wife."

Mrs. Delano hesitated for a moment, and then answered, "It is my duty
to inform you that she is not of high family on the father's side; and
on the mother's, she is scarcely what you would deem respectable."

"Has she vulgar, disagreeable relations, who would be likely to be
intrusive?" he asked.

"She has no relative, near or distant, that I know of," replied the
lady.

"Then her birth is of no consequence," he answered. "My family would
be satisfied to receive her as your daughter. I am impatient to
introduce her to my mother and sisters, who I am sure will be charmed
with her."

Mrs. Delano was embarrassed, much to the surprise of her visitor, who
was accustomed to consider his wealth and social position a prize that
would be eagerly grasped at. After watching her countenance for an
instant, he said, somewhat proudly: "You do not seem to receive my
proposal very cordially, Mrs. Delano. Have you anything to object to
my character or family?"

"Certainly not," replied the lady. "My doubts are concerning my
daughter."

"Is she engaged, or partially engaged, to another?" he inquired.

"She is not," rejoined Mrs. Delano; "though I imagine she is not quite
'fancy free.'"

"Would it be a breach of confidence to tell me who has been so
fortunate as to attract her?"

"Nothing of the kind has ever been confided to me." answered the
lady. "It is merely an imagination of my own, and relates to a person
unknown to you."

"Then I will enter the lists with my rival, if there is one," said he.
"Such a prize is not to be given up without an effort. But you have
not yet said that I have your consent."

"Since you are so persistent," rejoined Mrs. Delano, "I will tell you
a secret, if you will pledge your honor, as a gentleman, never to
repeat it, or hint at it, to any mortal."

"I pledge my honor," he replied, "that whatever you choose to tell me
shall be sacred between us."

"It is not pleasant to tell the story of Flora's birth," responded
she; "but under present circumstances it seems to be a duty. When I
have informed you of the facts, you are free to engage her affections
if you can. On the paternal side, she descends from the French gentry
and the Spanish nobility; but her mother was a quadroon slave, and she
herself was sold as a slave."

Mr. Green bowed his head upon his hand, and spoke no word. Drilled to
conceal his emotions, he seemed outwardly calm, though it cost him a
pang to relinquish the captivating young creature, who he felt would
have made his life musical, though by piquant contrast rather than by
harmony. After a brief, troubled silence, he rose and walked toward
the window, as if desirous to avoid looking the lady in the face.
After a while, he said, slowly, "Do you deem it quite right, Mrs.
Delano, to pass such a counterfeit on society?"

"I have attempted to pass no counterfeit on society," she replied,
with dignity. "Flora is a blameless and accomplished young lady.
Her beauty and vivacity captivated me before I knew anything of her
origin; and in the same way they have captivated you. She was alone in
the world, and I was alone; and we adopted each other. I have never
sought to introduce her into society; and so far as relates to
yourself, I should have told you these facts sooner if I had known the
state of your feelings; but so long as they were not expressed, it
would scarcely have been delicate for me to take them for granted."

"Very true," rejoined the disenchanted lover. "You certainly had a
right to choose a daughter for yourself; though I could hardly have
imagined that any amount of attraction would have overcome _such_
obstacles in the mind of a lady of your education and refined views of
life. Excuse my using the word 'counterfeit.' I was slightly disturbed
when it escaped me."

"It requires no apology," she replied. "I am aware that society would
take the same view of my proceeding that you do. As for my education,
I have learned to consider it as, in many respects, false. As for my
views, they have been greatly modified by this experience. I have
learned to estimate people and things according to their real value,
not according to any merely external accidents."

Mr. Green extended his hand, saying: "I will bid you farewell, Mrs.
Delano; for, under existing circumstances, it becomes necessary to
deny myself the pleasure of again calling upon you. I must seek to
divert my mind by new travels, I hardly know where. I have exhausted
Europe, having been there three times. I have often thought I should
like to look on the Oriental gardens and bright waters of Damascus.
Everything is so wretchedly new, and so disagreeably fast, in this
country! It must be refreshing to see a place that has known no
changes for three thousand years."

They clasped hands with mutual adieus; and the unfortunate son of
wealth, not knowing what to do in a country full of noble work, went
forth to seek a new sensation in the slow-moving caravans of the East.

A few days afterward, when Flora returned from taking a lesson in
oil-colors, she said: "How do you suppose I have offended Mr. Green?
When I met him just now, he touched his hat in a very formal way, and
passed on, though I was about to speak to him."

"Perhaps he was in a hurry," suggested Mrs. Delano.

"No, it wasn't that," rejoined Flora. "He did just so day before
yesterday, and he can't always be in a hurry. Besides, you know he is
never in a hurry; he is too much of a gentleman."

Her friend smiled as she answered, "You are getting to be quite a
judge of aristocratic manners, considering you were brought up in a
bird-cage."

The young girl was not quite so ready as usual with a responsive
smile. She went on to say, in a tone of perplexity: "What _can_
have occasioned such a change in his manner? You say I am sometimes
thoughtless about politeness. Do you think I have offended him in any
way?"

"Would it trouble you very much if you had?" inquired Mrs. Delano.

"Not _very_ much," she replied; "but I should be sorry if he thought
me rude to him, when he was so very polite to us in Europe. What is
it, Mamita? I think you know something about it."

"I did not tell you, my child," replied she, "because I thought it
would be unpleasant. But you keep no secrets from me, and it is right
that I should be equally open-hearted with you. Did you never suspect
that Mr. Green was in love with you?"

"The thought never occurred to me till he called here that first
evening after his return from Europe. Then, when he took my hand, he
pressed it a little. I thought it was rather strange in such a formal
gentleman; but I did not mention it to you, because I feared you would
think me vain. But if he is in love with me, why don't he tell me so?
And why does he pass me without speaking?"

Her friend replied: "He deemed it proper to tell me first, and ask my
consent to pay his addresses to you. As he persisted very urgently, I
thought it my duty to tell him, under the seal of secrecy, that you
were remotely connected with the colored race. The announcement
somewhat disturbed his habitual composure. He said he must deny
himself the pleasure of calling again. He proposes to go to Damascus,
and there I hope he will forget his disappointment."

Flora flared up as Mrs. Delano had never seen her. She reddened to
the temples, and her lip curled scornfully. "He is a mean man!" she
exclaimed. "If he thought that I myself was a suitable wife for his
serene highness, what had my great-grandmother to do with it? I wish
he had asked me to marry him. I should like to have him know I never
cared a button about him; and that, if I didn't care for him, I should
consider it more shameful to sell myself for his diamonds, than it
would have been to have been sold for a slave by papa's creditors
when I couldn't help myself. I am glad you don't feel like going into
parties, Mamita; and if you ever do feel like it, I hope you will
leave me at home. I don't want to be introduced to any of these cold,
aristocratic Bostonians."

"Not all of them cold and aristocratic, darling," replied Mrs. Delano.
"Your Mamita is one of them; and she is becoming less cold and
aristocratic every day, thanks to a little Cinderella who came to her
singing through the woods, two years ago."

"And who found a fairy godmother," responded Flora, subsiding into
a tenderer tone. "It _is_ ungrateful for me to say anything against
Boston; and with such friends as the Percivals too. But it does seem
mean that Mr. Green, if he really liked me, should decline speaking to
me because my great-grandmother had a dark complexion. I never knew
the old lady, though I dare say I should love her if I did know
her. Madame used to say Rosabella inherited pride from our Spanish
grandfather. I think I have some of it, too; and it makes me shy of
being introduced to your stylish acquaintance, who might blame you if
they knew all about me. I like people who do know all about me, and
who like me because I am I. That's one reason why I like Florimond. He
admired my mother, and loved my father; and he thinks just as well of
me as if I had never been sold for a slave."

"Do you always call him Florimond?" inquired Mrs. Delano.

"I call him Mr. Blumenthal before folks, and he calls me Miss Delano.
But when no one is by, he sometimes calls me Miss Royal, because he
says he loves that name, for the sake of old times; and then I call
him Blumen, partly for short, and partly because his cheeks are so
pink, it comes natural. He likes to have me call him so. He says Flora
is the _Goettinn der Blumen_ in German, and so I am the Goddess of
Blumen."

Mrs. Delano smiled at these small scintillations of wit, which in the
talk of lovers sparkle to them like diamond-dust in the sunshine.

"Has he ever told you that he loved _you_ as well as your name?" asked
she.

"He never said so, Mamita; but I think he does," rejoined Flora.

"What reason have you to think so?" inquired her friend.

"He wants very much to come here," replied the young lady; "but he is
extremely modest. He says he knows he is not suitable company for such
a rich, educated lady as you are. He is taking dancing-lessons, and
lessons on the piano, and he is studying French and Italian and
history, and all sorts of things. And he says he means to make a mint
of money, and then perhaps he can come here sometimes to see me dance,
and hear me play on the piano."

"I by no means require that all my acquaintance should make a mint of
money," answered Mrs. Delano. "I am very much pleased with the account
you give of this young Blumenthal. When you next see him, give him my
compliments, and tell him I should be happy to become acquainted with
him."

Flora dropped on her knees and hid her face in her friend's lap. She
didn't express her thanks in words, but she cried a little.

"This is more serious than I supposed," thought Mrs. Delano.

A fortnight afterward, she obtained an interview with Mr. Goldwin, and
asked, "What is your estimate of that young Mr. Blumenthal, who has
been for some time in your employ?"

"He is a modest young man, of good habits," answered the merchant;
"and of more than common business capacity."

"Would you be willing to receive him as a partner?" she inquired.

"The young man is poor," rejoined Mr. Goldwin; "and we have many
applications from those who can advance some capital."

"If a friend would loan him ten thousand dollars for twenty years, and
leave it to him by will in case she should die meanwhile, would that
be sufficient to induce you?" said the lady.

"I should be glad to do it, particularly if it obliges you, Mrs.
Delano," responded the merchant; "for I really think him a very worthy
young man."

"Then consider it settled," she replied. "But let it be an affair
between ourselves, if you please; and to him you may merely say that a
friend of his former employer and benefactor wishes to assist him."

When Blumenthal informed Flora of this unexpected good-fortune, they
of course suspected from whom it came; and they looked at each other,
and blushed.

Mrs. Delano did not escape gossiping remarks. "How she has changed!"
said Mrs. Ton to Mrs. Style. "She used to be the most fastidious of
exclusives; and now she has adopted nobody knows whom, and one of Mr.
Goldwin's clerks seems to be on the most familiar footing there. I
should have no objection to invite the girl to my parties, for she is
Mrs. Delano's _adoptee_, and she would really be an ornament to my
rooms, besides being very convenient and an accomplished musician;
but, of course, I don't wish my daughters to be introduced to that
nobody of a clerk."

"She has taken up several of the Abolitionists too," rejoined Mrs.
Style. "My husband looked into an anti-slavery meeting the other
evening, partly out of curiosity to hear what Garrison had to say, and
partly in hopes of obtaining some clew to a fugitive slave that one of
his Southern friends had written to him about. And who should he see
there, of all people in the world, but Mrs. Delano and her _adoptee_,
escorted by that young clerk. Think of her, with her dove-colored
silks and violet gloves, crowded and jostled by Dinah and Sambo! I
expect the next thing we shall hear will be that she has given a negro
party."

"In that case, I presume she will choose to perfume her embroidered
handkerchiefs with musk, or pachouli, instead of her favorite breath
of violets," responded Mrs. Ton.

And, smiling at their wit, the fashionable ladies parted, to quote it
from each other as among the good things they had recently heard.

Only the faint echoes of such remarks reached Mrs. Delano; though she
was made to feel, in many small ways, that she had become a black
sheep in aristocratic circles. But these indications passed by her
almost unnoticed, occupied as she was in earnestly striving to redeem
the mistakes of the past by making the best possible use of the
present.

PART SECOND.

CHAPTER XXIV.

An interval of nineteen years elapsed, bringing with them various
changes to the personages of this story. A year after Mr.
Fitzgerald's return from Europe, a feud sprang up between him and his
father-in-law, Mr. Bell, growing out of his dissipated and spendthrift
habits. His intercourse with Boston was consequently suspended, and
the fact of Flora's existence remained unknown to him. He died nine
years after he witnessed the dazzling apparition of Rosa in Rome, and
the history of his former relation to her was buried with him, as were
several other similar secrets. There was generally supposed to be
something mysterious about his exit. Those who were acquainted with
Mr. Bell's family were aware that the marriage had been an unhappy
one, and that there was an obvious disposition to hush inquiries
concerning it. Mrs. Fitzgerald had always continued to spend her
summers with her parents; and having lost her mother about the time of
her widowhood, she became permanently established at the head of her
father's household. She never in any way alluded to her married life,
and always dismissed the subject as briefly as possible, if any
stranger touched upon it. Of three children, only one, her eldest,
remained. Time had wrought changes in her person. Her once fairy-like
figure was now too short for its fulness, and the blue eyes were
somewhat dulled in expression; but the fair face and the paly-gold
tresses were still very pretty.

When she had at last succeeded in obtaining an introduction to Flora,
during one of her summer visits to Boston, she had been very much
captivated by her, and was disposed to rally Mr. Green about his
diminished enthusiasm, after he had fallen in love with a fair cousin
of hers; but that gentleman was discreetly silent concerning the real
cause of his disenchantment.

Mrs. Delano's nature was so much deeper than that of her pretty
neighbor, that nothing like friendship could grow up between them; but
Mrs. Fitzgerald called occasionally, to retail gossip of the outer
world, or to have what she termed a musical treat.

Flora had long been Mrs. Blumenthal. At the time of her marriage, Mrs.
Delano said she was willing to adopt a son, but not to part with a
daughter; consequently, they formed one household. As years passed on,
infant faces and lisping voices came into the domestic circle,--fresh
little flowers in the floral garland of Mamita Lila's life. Alfred
Royal, the eldest, was a complete reproduction, in person and
character, of the grandfather whose name he bore. Rosa, three years
younger, was quite as striking a likeness of her namesake. Then came
two little ones, who soon went to live with the angels. And, lastly,
there was the five-year-old pet, Lila, who inherited her father's blue
eyes, pink cheeks, and flaxen hair.

These children were told that their grandfather was a rich American
merchant in New Orleans, and their grandmother a beautiful and
accomplished Spanish lady; that their grandfather failed in business
and died poor; that his friend Mrs. Delano adopted their mother; and
that they had a very handsome Aunt Rosa, who went to Europe with some
good friends, and was lost at sea. It was not deemed wise to inform
them of any further particulars, till time and experience had matured
their characters and views of life.

Applications to American consuls, in various places, for information
concerning Signor and Madame Papanti had proved unavailing, in
consequence of the Signor's change of name; and Rosabella had long
ceased to be anything but a very tender memory to her sister, whose
heart was now completely filled with new objects of affection. The
bond between her and her adopted mother strengthened with time,
because their influence on each other was mutually improving to their
characters. The affection and gayety of the young folks produced a
glowing atmosphere in Mrs. Delano's inner life, as their mother's
tropical taste warmed up the interior aspect of her dwelling. The
fawn-colored damask curtains had given place to crimson; and in lieu
of the silvery paper, the walls were covered with bird-of-paradise
color, touched with golden gleams. The centre-table was covered with
crimson, embroidered with a gold-colored garland; and the screen
of the gas-light was a gorgeous assemblage of bright flowers. Mrs.
Delano's lovely face was even more placid than it had been in earlier
years; but there was a sunset brightness about it, as of one growing
old in an atmosphere of love. The ash-colored hair, which Flora had
fancied to be violet-tinged, was of a silky whiteness now, and fell in
soft curls about the pale face.

On the day when I again take up the thread of this story, she
was seated in her parlor, in a dress of silvery gray silk, which
contrasted pleasantly with the crimson chair. Under her collar of
Honiton lace was an amethystine ribbon, fastened with a pearl pin. Her
cap of rich white lace, made in the fashion of Mary Queen of Scots,
was very slightly trimmed with ribbon of the same color, and fastened
in front with a small amethyst set with pearls. For fanciful Flora had
said: "Dear Mamita Lila, don't have _every_thing about your dress cold
white or gray. Do let something violet or lilac peep out from the
snow, for the sake of 'auld lang syne.'"

The lady was busy with some crochet-work, when a girl, apparently
about twelve years old, came through the half-opened folding-doors,
and settled on an ottoman at her feet. She had large, luminous dark
eyes, very deeply fringed, and her cheeks were like ripened peaches.
The dark mass of her wavy hair was gathered behind into what was
called a Greek cap, composed of brown network strewn with gold beads.
Here and there very small, thin dark curls strayed from under it, like
the tendrils of a delicate vine; and nestling close to each ear was a
little dark, downy crescent, which papa called her whisker when he was
playfully inclined to excite her juvenile indignation.

"See!" said she. "This pattern comes all in a tangle. I have done the
stitches wrong. Will you please to help me, Mamita Lila?"

Mrs. Delano looked up, smiling as she answered, "Let me see what the
trouble is, Rosy Posy."

Mrs. Blumenthal, who was sitting opposite, noticed with artistic eye
what a charming contrast of beauty there was between that richly
colored young face, with its crown of dark hair, and that pale,
refined, symmetrical face, in its frame of silver. "What a pretty
picture I could make, if I had my crayons here," thought she. "How
gracefully the glossy folds of Mamita's gray dress fall over Rosa's
crimson merino."

She was not aware that she herself made quite as charming a picture.
The spirit of laughter still flitted over her face, from eyes to
dimples; her shining black curls were lighted up with a rope of
cherry-colored chenille, hanging in a tassel at her ear; and her
graceful little figure showed to advantage in a neatly fitting dress
of soft brown merino, embroidered with cherry-colored silk. On her
lap was little Lila, dressed in white and azure, with her fine flaxen
curls tossed about by the motion of riding to "Banbury Cross." The
child laughed and clapped her hands at every caper; and if her steed
rested for a moment, she called out impatiently, "More agin, mamma!"

But mamma was thinking of the picture she wanted to make, and at last
she said: "We sha'n't get to Banbury Cross to-day, Lila Blumen; so you
must fall off your horse, darling, and nursey will take you, while I
go to fetch my crayons." She had just taken her little pet by the
hand to lead her from the room, when the door-bell rang. "That's
Mrs. Fitzgerald," said she. "I know, because she always rings an
_appoggiatura_. Rosen Blumen, take sissy to the nursery, please."

While the ladies were interchanging salutations with their visitor,
Rosa passed out of the room, leading her little sister by the hand. "I
declare," said Mrs. Fitzgerald, "that oldest daughter of yours, Mrs.
Blumenthal, bears a striking resemblance to the _cantatrice_ who was
turning everybody's head when I was in Rome. You missed hearing her, I
remember. Let me see, what was her _nomme de guerre_? I forget; but
it was something that signified a bell, because there was a peculiar
ringing in her voice. When I first saw your daughter, she reminded me
of somebody I had seen; but I never thought who it was till now. I
came to tell you some news about the fascinating Senorita; and I
suppose that brought the likeness to my mind. You know Mr. King, the
son of our rich old merchant, persuaded her to leave the stage to
marry him. They have been living in the South of France for some
years, but he has just returned to Boston. They have taken rooms at
the Revere House, while his father's house is being fitted up in grand
style for their reception. The lady will of course be a great lioness.
She is to make her first appearance at the party of my cousin, Mrs.
Green. The winter is so nearly at an end, that I doubt whether there
will be any more large parties this season; and I wouldn't fail of
attending this one on any account, if it were only for the sake of
seeing her. She was the handsomest creature I ever beheld. If you had
ever seen her, you would consider it a compliment indeed to be told
that your Rosa resembles her."

"I should like to get a glimpse of her, if I could without the trouble
of going to a party," replied Mrs. Blumenthal.

"I will come the day after," rejoined Mrs. Fitzgerald, "and tell you
how she was dressed, and whether she looks as handsome in the parlor
as she did on the stage."

After some more chat about reported engagements, and the probable
fashions for the coming season, the lady took her leave.

When she was gone, Mrs. Delano remarked: "Mrs. King must be very
handsome if she resembles our Rosa. But I hope Mrs. Fitzgerald will
not be so injudicious as to talk about it before the child. She is
free from vanity, and I earnestly wish she may remain so. By the way,
Flora, this Mr. King is your father's namesake,--the one who, you told
me, called at your house in New Orleans, when you were a little girl."

"I was thinking of that very thing," rejoined Mrs. Blumenthal, "and I
was just going to ask you his Christian name. I should like to call
there to take a peep at his handsome lady, and see whether he would
recollect me. If he did, it would be no matter. So many years have
passed, and I am such an old story in Boston, that nobody will concern
themselves about me."

"I also should be rather pleased to call," said Mrs. Delano. "His
father was a friend of mine; and it was through him that I became
acquainted with your father. They were inseparable companions when
they were young men. Ah, how long ago that seems! No wonder my hair is
white. But please ring for Rosa, dear. I want to arrange her pattern
before dinner."

"There's the door-bell again, Mamita!" exclaimed Flora; "and a very
energetic ring it is, too. Perhaps you had better wait a minute."

The servant came in to say that a person from the country wanted to
speak with Mrs. Delano; and a tall, stout man, with a broad face, full
of fun, soon entered. Having made a short bow, he said, "Mrs. Delano,
I suppose?"

The lady signified assent by an inclination of the head.

"My name's Joe Bright," continued he. "No relation of John Bright, the
bright Englishman. Wish I was. I come from Northampton, ma'am. The
keeper of the Mansion House told me you wanted to get board there in
some private family next summer; and I called to tell you that I can
let you have half of my house, furnished or not, just as you like. As
I'm plain Joe Bright the blacksmith, of course you won't find lace and
damask, and such things as you have here."

"All we wish for," rejoined Mrs. Delano, "is healthy air and wholesome
food for the children."

"Plenty of both, ma'am," replied the blacksmith. "And I guess you'll
like my wife. She ain't one of the kind that raises a great dust when
she sweeps. She's a still sort of body; but she knows a deal more than
she tells for."

After a description of the accommodations he had to offer, and a
promise from Mrs. Delano to inform him of her decision in a few days,
he rose to go. But he stood, hat in hand, looking wistfully toward the
piano. "Would it be too great a liberty, ma'am, to ask which of you
ladies plays?" said he.

"I seldom play," rejoined Mrs. Delano, "because my daughter, Mrs.
Blumenthal, plays so much better."

Turning toward Flora, he said, "I suppose it would be too much trouble
to play me a tune?"

"Certainty not," she replied; and, seating herself at the piano, she
dashed off, with voice and instrument, "The Campbells are coming, Oho!
Oho!"

"By George!" exclaimed the blacksmith. "You was born to it, ma'am;
that's plain enough. Well, it was just so with me. I took to music as
a Newfoundland pup takes to the water. When my brother Sam and I were
boys, we were let out to work for a blacksmith. We wanted a fiddle
dreadfully; but we were too poor to buy one; and we couldn't have got
much time to play on't if we had had one, for our boss watched us as
a weasel watches mice. But we were bent on getting music somehow. The
boss always had plenty of iron links of all sizes, hanging in a row,
ready to be made into chains when wanted. One day, I happened to hit
one of the links with a piece of iron I had in my hand. 'By George!
Sam,' said I, 'that was Do.' 'Strike again,' says he. 'Blow! Sam,
blow!' said I. I was afraid the boss would come in and find the iron
cooling in the fire. So he kept blowing away, and I struck the link
again. 'That's Do, just as plain as my name's Sam,' said he. A few
days after, I said, 'By George! Sam, I've found Sol.' 'So you have,'
said he. 'Now let _me_ try. Blow, Joe, blow!' Sam, he found Re and La.
And in the course of two months we got so we could play Old Hundred. I
don't pretend to say we could do it as glib as you run over the ivory,
ma'am; but it was Old Hundred, and no mistake. And we played Yankee
Doodle, first rate. We called our instrument the Harmolinks; and we
enjoyed it all the more because it was our own invention. I tell you
what, ma'am, there's music hid away in everything, only we don't know
how to bring it out."

"I think so," rejoined Mrs. Blumenthal. "Music is a sleeping beauty,
that needs the touch of a prince to waken her. Perhaps you will play
something for us, Mr. Bright?" She rose and vacated the music-stool as
she spoke.

"I should be ashamed to try my clumsy fingers in your presence,
ladies," he replied. "But I'll sing the Star-spangled Banner, if you
will have the goodness to accompany me."

She reseated herself, and he lifted up his voice and sang. When he had
done, he drew a long breath, wiped the perspiration from his face with
a bandana handkerchief, and laughed as he said: "I made the screen of
your gas-light shake, ma'am. The fact is, when I sing _that_, I _have_
to put all my heart into it."

"And all your voice, too," rejoined Mrs. Blumenthal.

"O, no," answered he, "I could have put on a good deal more steam, if
I hadn't been afraid of drowning the piano. I'm greatly obliged to
you, ladies; and I hope I shall have the pleasure of hearing you again
in my own house. I should like to hear some more now, but I've stayed
too long. My wife agreed to meet me at a store, and I don't know what
she'll say to me."

"Tell her we detained you by playing to you," said Mrs. Blumenthal.

"O, that would be too much like Adam," rejoined he. "I always feel
ashamed to look a woman in the face, after reading that story. I
always thought Adam was a mean cuss to throw off all the blame on
Eve." With a short bow, and a hasty "Good morning, ladies," he went
out.

His parting remark amused Flora so much, that she burst into one of
her musical peals of laughter; while her more cautious friend raised
her handkerchief to her mouth, lest their visitor should hear some
sound of mirth, and mistake its import.

"What a great, beaming face!" exclaimed Flora. "It looks like a
sunflower. I have a fancy for calling him Monsieur Girasol. What a
pity Mr. Green hadn't longed for a musical instrument, and been
too poor to buy one. It would have done him so much good to have
astonished himself by waking up a tune in the Harmolinks."

"Yes," responded Mrs. Delano, "it might have saved him the trouble of
going to Arabia Petraea or Damascus, in search of something new. What
do you think about accepting Mr. Bright's offer?" "O, I hope we shall
go, Mamita. The children would be delighted with him. If Alfred had
been here this morning, he would have exclaimed, 'Isn't he jolly?'"

"I think things must go cheerfully where such a sunflower spirit
presides," responded Mrs. Delano. "And he is certainly sufficiently
_au naturel_ to suit you and Florimond."

"Yes, he bubbles over," rejoined Flora. "It isn't the fashion; but I
like folks that bubble over."

Mrs. Delano smiled as she answered: "So do I. And perhaps you can
guess who it was that made me in love with bubbling over?"

Flora gave a knowing smile, and dotted one of her comic little
courtesies. "I don't see what makes you and Florimond like me so
well," said she. "I'm sure I'm neither wise nor witty."

"But something better than either," replied Mamita.

The vivacious little woman said truly that she was neither very wise
nor very witty; but she was a transparent medium of sunshine; and the
commonest glass, filled with sunbeams, becomes prismatic as a diamond.

CHAPTER XXV.

Mrs. Green's ball was _the_ party of the season. Five hundred
invitations were sent out, all of them to people unexceptionable for
wealth, or fashion, or some sort of high distinction, political,
literary, or artistic. Smith had received _carte blanche_ to prepare
the most luxurious and elegant supper possible. Mrs. Green was
resplendent with diamonds; and the house was so brilliantly
illuminated, that the windows of carriages traversing that part of
Beacon Street glittered as if touched by the noonday sun. A crowd
collected on the Common, listening to the band of music, and watching
the windows of the princely mansion, to obtain glimpses through its
lace curtains of graceful figures revolving in the dance, like a
vision of fairy-land seen through a veil of mist.

In that brilliant assemblage, Mrs. King was the centre of attraction.
She was still a Rose Royal, as Gerald Fitzgerald had called her
twenty-three years before. A very close observer would have noticed
that time had slightly touched her head; but the general effect of
the wavy hair was as dark and glossy as ever. She had grown somewhat
stouter, but that only rendered her tall figure more majestic. It
still seemed as if the fluid Art, whose harmonies were always flowing
through her soul, had fashioned her form and was swaying all its
motions; and to this natural gracefulness was now added that peculiar
stylishness of manner, which can be acquired only by familiar
intercourse with elegant society. There was nothing foreign in her
accent, but the modulations of her voice were so musical, that
English, as she spoke it, seemed all vowels and liquid consonants.
She had been heralded as La Senorita, and her dress was appropriately
Spanish. It was of cherry-colored satin, profusely trimmed with black
lace. A mantilla of very rich transparent black lace was thrown over
her head, and fastened on one side with a cluster of red fuchsias,
the golden stamens of which were tipped with small diamonds. The lace
trimming on the corsage was looped up with a diamond star, and her
massive gold bracelets were clasped with, diamonds.

Mr. Green received her with great _empressement_; evidently
considering her the "bright particular star" of the evening. She
accepted her distinguished position with the quietude of one
accustomed to homage. With a slight bow she gave Mr. Green the desired
promise to open the ball with him, and then turned to answer another
gentleman, who wished to obtain her for the second dance. She would
have observed her host a little more curiously, had she been aware
that he once proposed to place her darling Floracita at the head of
that stylish mansion.

Mrs. King's peculiar style of beauty and rich foreign dress attracted
universal attention; but still greater admiration was excited by her
dancing, which was the very soul of music taking form in motion; and
as the tremulous diamond drops of the fuchsias kept time with her
graceful movements, they sparkled among the waving folds of her black
lace mantilla, like fire-flies in a dark night. She was, of course,
the prevailing topic of conversation; and when Mr. Green was not
dancing, he was called upon to repeat, again and again, the account
of her wonderful _debut_ in the opera at Rome. In the midst of one of
these recitals, Mrs. Fitzgerald and her son entered; and a group soon
gathered round that lady, to listen to the same story from her lips.
It was familiar to her son; but he listened to it with quickened
interest, while he gazed at the beautiful opera-singer winding about
so gracefully in the evolutions of the dance.

Mr. King was in the same set with his lady, and had just touched her
hand, as the partners crossed over, when he noticed a sudden flush on
her countenance, succeeded by deadly pallor. Following the direction
her eye had taken, he saw a slender, elegant young man, who, with
some variation in the fashion of dress, seemed the veritable Gerald
Fitzgerald to whom he had been introduced in the flowery parlor so
many years ago. His first feeling was pain, that this vision of her
first lover had power to excite such lively emotion in his wife; but
his second thought was, "He recalls her first-born son."

Young Fitzgerald eagerly sought out Mr. Green, and said: "Please
introduce me the instant this dance is ended, that I may ask her for
the next. There will be so many trying to engage her, you know."

He was introduced accordingly. The lady politely acceded to his
request, and the quick flush on her face was attributed by all, except
Mr. King, to the heat produced by dancing.

When her young partner took her hand to lead her to the next dance,
she stole a glance toward her husband, and he saw that her soul was
troubled. The handsome couple were "the observed of all observers";
and the youth was so entirely absorbed with his mature partner, that
not a little jealousy was excited in the minds of young ladies. When
he led her to a seat, she declined the numerous invitations that
crowded upon her, saying she should dance no more that evening. Young
Fitzgerald at once professed a disinclination to dance, and begged
that, when she was sufficiently rested, she would allow him to lead
her to the piano, that he might hear her sing something from Norma, by
which she had so delighted his mother, in Rome.

"Your son seems to be entirely devoted to the queen of the evening,"
said Mr. Green to his cousin.

"How can you wonder at it?" replied Mrs. Fitzgerald. "She is such a
superb creature!"

"What was her character in Rome?" inquired a lady who had joined the
group.

"Her stay there was very short," answered Mrs. Fitzgerald. "Her
manners were said to be unexceptionable. The gentlemen were quite
vexed because she made herself so inaccessible."

The conversation was interrupted by La Campaneo's voice, singing,
"_Ah, bello a me ritorno_." The orchestra hushed at once, and the
dancing was suspended, while the company gathered round the piano,
curious to hear the remarkable singer. Mrs. Fitzgerald had long
ceased to allude to what was once her favorite topic,--the wonderful
resemblance between La Senorita's voice and a mysterious voice she had
once heard on her husband's plantation. But she grew somewhat pale as
she listened; for the tones recalled that adventure in her bridal home
at Magnolia Lawn, and the fair moonlight vision was followed by dismal
spectres of succeeding years. Ah, if all the secret histories and sad
memories assembled in a ball-room should be at once revealed, what a
judgment night it would be!

Mrs. King had politely complied with the request to sing, because she
was aware that her host and the company would be disappointed if she
refused; but it was known only to her own soul how much the effort
cost her. She bowed rather languidly to the profuse compliments which
followed-her performance, and used her fan as if she felt oppressed.

"Fall back!" said one of the gentlemen, in a low voice. "There is too
great a crowd round her."

The hint was immediately obeyed, and a servant was requested to bring
iced lemonade. She soon breathed more freely, and tried to rally
her spirits to talk with Mr. Green and others concerning European
reminiscences. Mrs. Fitzgerald drew near, and signified to her cousin
a wish to be introduced; for it would have mortified her vanity, when
she afterward retailed the gossip of the ball-room, if she had been
obliged to acknowledge that she was not presented to _la belle
lionne_.

"If you are not too much fatigued," said she, "I hope you will allow
my son to sing a duet with you. He would esteem it such an honor! I
assure you he has a fine voice, and he is thought to sing with great
expression, especially '_M'odi! Ah, m'odi_!'"

The young gentleman modestly disclaimed the compliment to his musical
powers, but eagerly urged his mother's request. As he bent near the
_cantatrice_, waiting for her reply, her watchful husband again
noticed a quick flush suffusing her face, succeeded by deadly pallor.
Gently moving young Fitzgerald aside, he said in a low tone, "Are you
not well, my dear?"

She raised her eyes to his with a look of distress, and replied: "No,
I am not well. Please order the carriage."

He took her arm within his, and as they made their way through the
crowd she bowed gracefully to the right and left, in answer to the
lamentations occasioned by her departure. Young Fitzgerald followed
to the hall door to offer, in the name of Mrs. Green, a beautiful
bouquet, enclosed within an arum lily of silver filigree. She bowed
her thanks, and, drawing from it a delicate tea-rose, presented it to
him. He wore it as a trophy the remainder of the evening; and none of
the young ladies who teased him for it succeeded in obtaining it.

When Mr. and Mrs. King were in the carriage, he took her hand
tenderly, and said, "My dear, that young man recalled to mind your
infant son, who died with poor Tulee."

With a heavy sigh she answered, "Yes, I am thinking of that poor
little baby."

He held her hand clasped in his; but deeming it most kind not to
intrude into the sanctum of that sad and tender memory, he remained
silent. She spoke no other word as they rode toward their hotel. She
was seeing a vision of those two babes, lying side by side, on that
dreadful night when her tortured soul was for a while filled with
bitter hatred for the man she had loved so truly.

Mrs. Fitzgerald and her son were the earliest among the callers the
next day. Mrs. King happened to rest her hand lightly on the back of
a chair, while she exchanged salutations with them, and her husband
noticed that the lace of her hanging sleeve trembled violently.

"You took everybody by storm last evening, Mrs. King, just as you
did when you first appeared as Norma," said the loquacious Mrs.
Fitzgerald. "As for you, Mr. King, I don't know but you would have
received a hundred challenges, if gentlemen had known you were going
to carry off the prize. So sly of you, too! For I always heard you
were entirely indifferent to ladies."

"Ah, well, the world don't always know what it's talking about,"
rejoined Mr. King, smiling. Further remarks were interrupted by the
entrance of a young girl, whom he took by the hand, and introduced as
"My daughter Eulalia."

Nature is very capricious in the varieties she produces by mixing
flowers with each other. Sometimes the different tints of each are
blended in a new color, compounded of both; sometimes the color of one
is delicately shaded into the other; sometimes one color is marked in
distinct stripes or rings upon the other; and sometimes the separate
hues are mottled and clouded. Nature had indulged in one of her freaks
in the production of Eulalia, a maiden of fifteen summers, the only
surviving child of Mr. and Mrs. King. She inherited her mother's tall,
flexile form, and her long dark eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair; but she
had her father's large blue eyes, and his rose-and-white complexion.
The combination was peculiar, and very handsome; especially the serene
eyes, which, looked out from their dark surroundings like clear blue
water deeply shaded by shrubbery around its edges. Her manners were a
little shy, for her parents had wisely forborne an early introduction
to society. But she entered pleasantly enough into some small talk
with Fitzgerald about the skating parties of the winter, and a new
polka that he thought she would like to practise.

Callers began to arrive rapidly. There was a line of carriages at
the door, and still it lengthened. Mrs. King received them all with
graceful courtesy, and endeavored to say something pleasing to each;
but in the midst of it all, she never lost sight of Gerald and
Eulalia. After a short time she beckoned to her daughter with a slight
motion of her fan, and spoke a few words to her aside. The young
girl left the room, and did not return to it. Fitzgerald, after
interchanging some brief remarks with Mr. King about the classes at
Cambridge, approached the _cantatrice_, and said in lowered tones:
"I tried to call early with the hope of hearing you sing. But I was
detained by business for grandfather; and even if you were graciously
inclined to gratify my presumptuous wish, you will not be released
from company this morning. May I say, _Au revoir_?"

"Certainly," she replied, looking up at him with an expression in her
beautiful eyes that produced a glow of gratified vanity. He bowed good
morning, with the smiling conviction that he was a great favorite with
the distinguished lady.

When the last caller had retired, Mrs. King, after exchanging some
general observations with her husband concerning her impressions of
Boston and its people, seated herself at the window, with a number of
Harper's Weekly in her hand; but the paper soon dropped on her lap,
and she seemed gazing into infinity. The people passing and repassing
were invisible to her. She was away in that lonely island home, with
two dark-haired babies lying near her, side by side.

Her husband looked at her over his newspaper, now and then; and
observing her intense abstraction, he stepped softly across the room,
and, laying his hand gently upon her head, said: "Rosa, dear, do
memories trouble you so much that you regret having returned to
America?"

Without change of posture, she answered: "It matters not where we
are. We must always carry ourselves with us." Then, as if reproaching
herself for so cold a response to his kind inquiry, she looked up at
him, and, kissing his hand, said: "Dear Alfred! Good angel of my life!
I do not deserve such a heart as yours."

He had never seen such a melancholy expression in her eyes since the
day she first encouraged him to hope for her affection. He made no
direct allusion to the subject of her thoughts, for the painful
history of her early love was a theme they mutually avoided; but he
sought, by the most assiduous tenderness, to chase away the gloomy
phantoms that were taking possession of her soul. In answer to his
urgent entreaty that she would express to him unreservedly any wish
she might form, she said, as if thinking aloud: "Of course they buried
poor Tulee among the negroes; but perhaps they buried the baby
with Mr. and Mrs. Duroy, and inscribed something about him on the
gravestone."

"It is hardly probable," he replied; "but if it would give you
satisfaction to search, we will go to New Orleans."

"Thank you," rejoined she; "and I should like it very much if you
could leave orders to engage lodgings for the summer somewhere distant
from Boston, that we might go and take possession as soon as we
return."

He promised compliance with her wishes; but the thought flitted
through his mind, "Can it be possible the young man fascinates her,
that she wants to fly from him?"

"I am going to Eulalia now," said she, with one of her sweet smiles.
"It will be pleasanter for the dear child when we get out of this
whirl of society, which so much disturbs our domestic companionship."

As she kissed her hand to him at the door, he thought to himself,
"Whatever this inward struggle may be, she will remain true to her
pure and noble character."

Mrs. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, quite unconscious that the flowery surface
she had witnessed covered such agitated depths, hastened to keep her
promise of describing the party to Mrs. Delano and her daughter.

"I assure you," said she, "La Senorita looked quite as handsome in the
ball-room as she did on the stage. She is stouter than she was then,
but not so; 'fat and forty' as I am. Large proportions suit her
stately figure. As for her dress, I wish you could have seen it. It
was splendid, and wonderfully becoming to her rich complexion. It was
completely Spanish, from the mantilla on her head to the black satin
slippers with red bows and brilliants. She was all cherry-colored
satin, black lace, and diamonds."

"How I should like to have seen her!" exclaimed Mrs. Blumenthal, whose
fancy was at once taken by the bright color and strong contrast of the
costume.

But Mrs. Delano remarked: "I should think her style of dress rather
too _prononce_ and theatrical; too suggestive of Fanny Elsler and the
Bolero."

"Doubtless it would be so for you or I," rejoined Mrs. Fitzgerald.
"Mother used to say you had a poet lover, who called you the twilight
cloud, violet dissolving into lilac. And when I was a young lady, some
of my admirers compared me to the new moon, which must, of course,
appear in azure and silver. But I assure you Mrs. King's conspicuous
dress was extremely becoming to her style of face and figure. I wish I
had counted how many gentlemen quoted, 'She walks in beauty like the
night' It became really ridiculous at last. Gerald and I called upon
her this morning, and we found her handsome in the parlor by daylight,
which is a trying test to the forties, you know. We were introduced
to their only daughter, Eulalia,--a very peculiar-looking young miss,
with sky-blue eyes and black eyelashes, like some of the Circassian
beauties I have read off. Gerald thinks her almost as handsome as her
mother. What a fortune that girl will be! But I have promised ever so
many people to tell them about the party; so I must bid you good by."

When the door closed after her, Flora remarked, "I never heard of
anybody but my Mamita who was named Eulalia."

"Eulalia was a Spanish saint," responded Mrs. Delano; "and her name
is so very musical that it would naturally please the ear of La
Senorita."

"My curiosity is considerably excited to see this stylish lady," said
Flora.

"We will wait a little, till the first rush of visitors has somewhat
subsided, and then we will call," rejoined Mrs. Delano.

They called three days after, and were informed that Mr. and Mrs. King
had gone to New Orleans.

CHAPTER XXVI.

Strange contrasts occur in human society, even where there is such
a strong tendency toward equality as there is in New England. A few
hours before Queen Fashion held her splendid court in Beacon Street, a
vessel from New Orleans called "The King Cotton" approached Long Wharf
in Boston. Before she touched the pier, a young man jumped on board
from another vessel close by. He went directly up to the captain, and
said, in a low, hurried tone: "Let nobody land. You have slaves on
board. Mr. Bell is in a carriage on the wharf waiting to speak to
you."

Having delivered this message, he disappeared in the same direction
that he came.

This brief interview was uneasily watched by one of the passengers, a
young man apparently nineteen or twenty years old. He whispered to
a yellow lad, who was his servant, and both attempted to land by
crossing the adjoining vessel. But the captain intercepted them,
saying, "All must remain on board till we draw up to the wharf."

With desperate leaps, they sprang past him. He tried to seize them,
calling aloud, "Stop thief! Stop thief!" Some of his sailors rushed
after them. As they ran up State Street, lads and boys, always ready
to hunt anything, joined in the pursuit. A young black man, who was
passing down the street as the crowd rushed up, saw the yellow lad
race by him, panting for breath, and heard him cry, "Help me!"

The crowd soon turned backward, having caught the fugitives. The black
man hurried after, and as they were putting them on board the vessel
he pushed his way close to the yellow lad, and again heard him say,
"Help me! I am a slave."

The black man paused only to look at the name of the vessel, and then
hastened with all speed to the house of Mr. Willard Percival. Almost
out of breath with his hurry, he said to that gentleman: "A vessel
from New Orleans, named 'The King Cotton,' has come up to Long Wharf.
They've got two slaves aboard. They was chasing 'em up State Street,
calling out, 'Stop thief!' and I heard a mulatto lad cry, 'Help me!'
I run after 'em; and just as they was going to put the mulatto lad
aboard the vessel, I pushed my way close up to him, and he said, 'Help
me! I'm a slave.' So I run fast as I could to tell you."

"Wait a moment till I write a note to Francis Jackson, which you must
carry as quick as you can," said Mr. Percival. "I will go to Mr.
Sewall for a writ of _habeas corpus_"

While this was going on, the captain had locked the fugitives in the
hold of his vessel, and hastened to the carriage, which had been
waiting for him at a short distance from the wharf.

"Good evening, Mr. Bell," said he, raising his hat as he approached
the carriage door.

"Good evening, Captain Kane," replied the gentleman inside. "You've
kept me waiting so long, I was nearly out of patience."

"I sent you word they'd escaped, sir," rejoined the captain. "They
gave us a run; but we've got 'em fast enough in the hold. One of 'em
seems to be a white man. Perhaps he's an Abolitionist, that's been
helping the nigger off. It's good enough for him to be sent back to
the South. If they get hold of him there, he'll never have a chance to
meddle with gentlemen's property again."

"They're both slaves," replied Mr. Bell. "The telegram I received
informed me that one would pass himself for a white man. But, captain,
you must take 'em directly to Castle Island. One of the officers there
will lock 'em up, if you tell them I sent you. And you can't be off
too quick; for as likely as not the Abolitionists will get wind of it,
and be raising a row before morning. There's no safety for property
now-a-days."

Having given these orders, the wealthy merchant bade the captain good
evening, and his carriage rolled away.

The unhappy fugitives were immediately taken from the hold of the
vessel, pinioned fast, and hustled on board a boat, which urged its
swift way through the waters to Castle Island, where they were safely
locked up till further orders.

"O George, they'll send us back," said the younger one. "I wish we war
dead."

George answered, with a deep groan: "O how I have watched the North
Star! thinking always it pointed to a land of freedom. O my God, is
there _no_ place of refuge for the slave?"

"_You_ are so white, you could have got off, if you hadn't brought
_me_ with you," sobbed the other.

"And what good would freedom do me without you, Henny?" responded the
young man, drawing his companion closer to his breast. "Cheer up,
honey! I'll try again; and perhaps we'll make out better next time."

He tried to talk hopefully; but when yellow Henny, in her boy's dress,
cried herself to sleep on his shoulder, his tears dropped slowly on
her head, while he sat there gazing at the glittering stars, with a
feeling of utter discouragement and desolation.

That same evening, the merchant who was sending them back to bondage,
without the slightest inquiry into their case, was smoking his
amber-lipped meerschaum, in an embroidered dressing-gown, on a
luxurious lounge; his daughter, Mrs. Fitzgerald, in azure satin
and pearls, was meandering through the mazes of the dance; and his
exquisitely dressed grandson, Gerald, was paying nearly equal homage
to Mrs. King's lambent eyes and the sparkle of her diamonds.

When young Fitzgerald descended to a late breakfast, the morning after
the great party, his grandfather was lolling back in his arm-chair,
his feet ensconced in embroidered slippers, and resting on the
register, while he read the Boston Courier.

"Good morning, Gerald," said he, "if it be not past that time of day.
If you are sufficiently rested from last night's dissipation, I should
like to have you attend to a little business for me."

"I hope it won't take very long, grandfather," replied Gerald; "for I
want to call on Mrs. King early, before her rooms are thronged with
visitors."

"That opera-singer seems to have turned your head, though she is old
enough to be your mother," rejoined Mr. Bell.

"I don't know that my head was any more turned than others," answered
the young man, in a slightly offended tone. "If you call to see her,
sir, as mother says you intend to do, perhaps she will make _you_ feel
as if you had a young head on your shoulders."

"Likely as not, likely as not," responded the old gentleman, smiling
complacently at the idea of re-enacting the beau. "But I wish you
to do an errand for me this morning, which I had rather not put in
writing, for fear of accidents, and which I cannot trust verbally to a
servant. I got somewhat chilled waiting in a carriage near the wharf,
last evening, and I feel some rheumatic twinges in consequence. Under
these circumstances, I trust you will excuse me if I ask the use of
your young limbs to save my own."

"Certainly, sir," replied Gerald, with thinly disguised impatience.
"What is it you want me to do?"

"Two slaves belonging to Mr. Bruteman of New Orleans, formerly a
friend of your father, have escaped in my ship, 'The King Cotton,' The
oldest, it seems, is a head carpenter, and would bring a high price,
Bruteman values them at twenty-five hundred dollars. He is my debtor
to a considerable amount, and those negroes are mortgaged to me. But
independently of that circumstance, it would be very poor policy,
dealing with the South as I do, to allow negroes to be brought away in
my vessels with impunity. Besides, there is a heavy penalty in all the
Southern States, if the thing is proved. You see, Gerald, it is every
way for my interest to make sure of returning those negroes; and
your interest is somewhat connected with mine, seeing that the small
pittance saved from the wreck of your father's property is quite
insufficient to supply your rather expensive wants."

"I think I have been reminded of that often enough, sir, to be in no
danger of forgetting it," retorted the youth, reddening as he spoke.

"Then you will perhaps think it no great hardship to transact a little
business for me now and then," coolly rejoined the grandfather. "I
shall send orders to have these negroes sold as soon as they arrive,
and the money transmitted to me; for when they once begin to run away,
the disease is apt to become chronic."

"Have you seen them, sir," inquired Gerald.

"No," replied the merchant. "That would have been unpleasant, without
being of any use. When a disagreeable duty is to be done, the quicker
it is done the better. Captain Kane took 'em down to Castle Island
last night; but it won't do for them to stay there. The Abolitionists
will ferret 'em out, and be down there with their devilish _habeas
corpus_. I want you to go on board 'The King Cotton,' take the captain
aside, and tell him, from me, to remove them forthwith from Castle
Island, keep them under strong guard, and skulk round with them in the
best hiding-places he can find, until a ship passes that will take
them to New Orleans. Of course, I need not caution you to be silent
about this affair, especially concerning the slaves being mortgaged to
me. If that is whispered abroad, it will soon get into the
Abolition papers that I am a man-stealer, as those rascals call the
slaveholders."

The young man obeyed his instructions to the letter; and having had
some difficulty in finding Captain Kane, he was unable to dress for
quite so early a call at the Revere House as he had intended. "How
much trouble these niggers give us!" thought he, as he adjusted his
embroidered cravat, and took his fresh kid gloves from the box.

* * * * *

When Mr. Blumenthal went home to dine that day, the ladies of the
household noticed that he was unusually serious. As he sat after
dinner, absently playing a silent tune on the table-cloth, his wife
touched his hand with her napkin, and said, "_What_ was it so long
ago, Florimond?"

He turned and smiled upon her, as he answered: "So my fingers were
moving to the tune of 'Long, long ago,' were they? I was not conscious
of it, but my thoughts were with the long ago. Yesterday afternoon, as
I was passing across State Street, I heard a cry of 'Stop thief!' and
I saw them seize a young man, who looked like an Italian. I gave no
further thought to the matter, and pursued the business I had in hand.
But to-day I have learned that he was a slave, who escaped in 'The
King Cotton' from New Orleans. I seem to see the poor fellow's
terrified look now; and it brings vividly to mind something dreadful
that came very near happening, long ago, to a person whose complexion
is similar to his. I was thinking how willingly I would then have
given the services of my whole life for a portion of the money which
our best friend here has enabled me to acquire."

"What _was_ the dreadful thing that was going to happen, papa?"
inquired Rosa.

"That is a secret between mamma and I," he replied. "It is something
not exactly suitable to talk with little girls about, Rosy Posy." He
took her hand, as it lay on the table, and pressed it affectionately,
by way of apology for refusing his confidence.

Then, looking at Mrs. Delano, he said: "If I had only known the poor
fellow was a slave, I might, perhaps, have done something to rescue
him. But the Abolitionists are doing what can be done. They procured a
writ of _habeas corpus_, and went on board 'The King Cotton'; but they
could neither find the slaves nor obtain any information from the
captain. They are keeping watch on all vessels bound South, in which
Mr. Goldwin and I are assisting them. There are at least twenty spies
out on the wharves."

"I heartily wish you as much success as I have had in that kind of
business," replied Mrs. Delano with a smile.

"O, I do hope they'll be rescued," exclaimed Flora. "How shameful it
is to have such laws, while we keep singing, in the face of the world,
about 'the land of the free, and the home of the brave.' I don't mean
to sing that again; for it's false."

"There'll come an end to this some time or other, as surely as God
reigns in the heavens," rejoined Blumenthal.

* * * * *

Two days passed, and the unremitting efforts of Mr. Percival and Mr.
Jackson proved unavailing to obtain any clew to the fugitives. After
an anxious consultation with Samuel E. Sewall, the wisest and kindest
legal adviser in such cases, they reluctantly came to the conclusion
that nothing more could be done without further information. As a last
resort, Mr. Percival suggested a personal appeal to Mr. Bell.

"Rather a forlorn hope that," replied Francis Jackson. "He has named
his ship for the king that rules over us all, trampling on freedom of
petition, freedom of debate, and even on freedom of locomotion."

"We will try," said Mr. Percival. "It is barely possible we may obtain
some light on the subject."

Early in the evening they accordingly waited upon the merchant at his
residence. When the servant informed him that two gentlemen wished to
see him on business, he laid aside his meerschaum and the Courier, and
said, "Show them in."

Captain Kane had informed him that the Abolitionists were "trying to
get up a row"; but he had not anticipated that they would call upon
him, and it was an unpleasant surprise when he saw who his visitors
were. He bowed stiffly, and waited in silence for them to explain
their business.

"We have called," said Mr. Percival, "to make some inquiries
concerning two fugitives from slavery, who, it is said, were found on
board your ship, 'The King Cotton.'"

"I know nothing about it," replied Mr. Bell. "My captains understand
the laws of the ports they sail from; and it is their business to see
that those laws are respected."

"But," urged Mr. Percival "that a man is _claimed_ as a slave by no
means proves that he _is_ a slave. The law presumes that every man
has a right to personal liberty, until it is proved otherwise; and
in order to secure a fair trial of the question, the writ of _habeas
corpus_ has been provided."

"It's a great disgrace to Massachusetts, sir, that she puts so many
obstacles in the way of enforcing the laws of the United States,"
replied Mr. Bell.

"If your grandson should be claimed as a slave, I rather think you
would consider the writ of _habeas corpus_ a wise and just provision,"
said the plain-speaking Francis Jackson. "It is said that this young
stranger, whom they chased as a thief, and carried off as a slave, had
a complexion no darker than his."

"I take it for granted," added Mr. Percival, "that you do not wish for
a state of things that would make every man and woman in Massachusetts
liable to be carried off as slaves, without a chance to prove their
right to freedom."

Mr. Bell answered, in tones of suppressed anger, his face all ablaze
with excitement, "If I could choose _who_ should be thus carried off,
I would do the Commonwealth a service by ridding her of a swarm of
malignant fanatics."

"If you were to try that game," quietly rejoined Francis Jackson, "I
apprehend you would find some of the fire of '76 still alive under the
ashes."

"A man is strongly tempted to argue," said Mr. Percival, "when he
knows that all the laws of truth and justice and freedom are on his
side; but we did not come here to discuss the subject of slavery, Mr.
Bell. We came to appeal to your own good sense, whether it is right
or safe that men should be forcibly carried from the city of Boston
without any process of law."

"I stand by the Constitution," answered Mr. Bell, doggedly. "I don't
presume to be wiser than the framers of that venerable document."

"That is evading the question," responded Mr. Percival. "There is no
question before us concerning the framers of the Constitution. The
simple proposition is, whether it is right or safe for men to be
forcibly carried from Boston without process of law. Two strangers
_have_ been thus abducted; and you say it is your captain's business.
You know perfectly well that a single line from you would induce your
captain to give those men a chance for a fair trial. Is it not your
duty so to instruct him?"

A little thrown off his guard, Mr. Bell exclaimed: "And give an
Abolition mob a chance to rescue them? I shall do no such thing."

"It is not the Abolitionists who get up mobs," rejoined Francis
Jackson. "Garrison was dragged through the streets for writing against
slavery; but when Yancey of Alabama had the use of Faneuil Hall, for
the purpose of defending slavery, no Abolitionist attempted to disturb
his speaking."

A slight smile hovered about Mr. Percival's lips; for it was well
known that State Street and Ann Street clasped hands when mobs were
wanted, and that money changed palms on such occasions; and the common
rumor was that Mr. Bell's purse had been freely used.

The merchant probably considered it an offensive insinuation, for his
face, usually rubicund from the effects of champagne and oysters,
became redder, and his lips were tightly compressed; but he merely
reiterated, "I stand by the Constitution, sir."

"Mr. Bell, I must again urge it upon your conscience," said Mr.
Percival, "that you are more responsible than the captain in this
matter. Your captains, of course, act under your orders, and would
do nothing contrary to your expressed wishes. Captain Kane has,
doubtless, consulted you in this business."

"That's none of your concern, sir," retorted the irascible merchant.
"My captains know that I think Southern gentlemen ought to be
protected in their property; and that is sufficient. I stand by the
Constitution, sir. I honor the reverend gentleman who said he was
ready to send his mother or his brother into slavery, if the laws
required it. That's the proper spirit, sir. You fanatics, with your
useless abstractions about human rights, are injuring trade, and
endangering the peace of the country. You are doing all you can to
incite the slaves to insurrection. I don't pretend, to be wiser than
the framers of the Constitution, sir. I don't pretend to be wiser than
Daniel Webster, sir, who said in Congress that he; would support, to
the fullest extent, any law Southern gentlemen chose to frame for the
recovery of fugitive slaves."

"I wish you a better conscience-keeper," rejoined Francis Jackson,
rising as he spoke. "I don't see, my friend, that there's any use in
staying here to talk any longer. There's none so deaf as those that
_won't_ hear."

Mr. Percival rose at this suggestion, and "Good evening" was
exchanged, with formal bows on both sides. But sturdy Francis Jackson
made no bow, and uttered no "Good evening." When they were in the
street, and the subject was alluded to by his companion, he simply
replied: "I've pretty much done with saying or doing what I don't
mean. It's a pity that dark-complexioned grandson of his couldn't be
carried off as a slave. That might, perhaps, bring him to a realizing
sense of the state of things."

CHAPTER XXVII.

A few days past the middle of the following May, a carriage stopped
before the house of Mr. Joseph Bright, in Northampton, and Mrs.
Delano, with all the Blumenthal family, descended from it. Mr. Bright
received them at the gate, his face smiling all over. "You're welcome,
ladies," said he. "Walk in! walk in! Betsey, this is Mrs. Delano. This
is Mrs. Bright, ladies. Things ain't so stylish here as at your house;
but I hope you'll find 'em comfortable."

Mrs. Bright, a sensible-looking woman, with great moderation of
manner, showed them into a plainly furnished, but very neat parlor.

"O, how pleasant this is!" exclaimed Mrs. Blumenthal, as she looked
out of one of the side-windows.

The children ran up to her repeating: "How pleasant! What a nice
hedge, mamma! And see that wall all covered with pretty flowers!"

"Those are moss-pinks," said Mrs. Bright. "I think they are very
ornamental to a wall."

"Did you plant them?" inquired Rosa.

"O, no," said Mr. Bright, who was bringing in various baskets and
shawls. "That's not our garden; but we have just as much pleasure
looking at it as if it was. A great Southern nabob lives there. He
made a heap o' money selling women and children, and he's come North
to spend it. He's a very pious man, and deacon of the church." The
children began to laugh; for Mr. Bright drawled out his words in
solemn tones, and made his broad face look very comical by trying to
lengthen it. "His name is Stillham," added he, "but I call him Deacon
Steal'em."

As he passed out, Rosa whispered to her mother, "What does he mean
about a deacon's selling women and children?"

Before an answer could be given, Mr. Bright reappeared with a
bird-cage. "I guess this is a pretty old parrot," said he.

"Yes, she is quite old," replied Mrs. Delano. "But we are all attached
to her; and our house being shut up for the summer, we were unwilling
to trust her with strangers."

The parrot, conscious of being talked about, turned up her head
sideways, and winked her eye, without stirring from the corner of
the cage, where she was rolled up like a ball of feathers. Then she
croaked out an English phrase, which she had learned of the children,
"Polly wants a cacker."

"She shall have a cracker," said good-natured Mr. Bright; and Rosa and
little Lila were soon furnished with a cracker and a lump of sugar for
Poll.

In a short time they were summoned to tea; and after enjoying Mrs.
Bright's light bread and sweet butter, they saw no more of their host
and hostess for the evening. In the morning the whole family were up
before the hour appointed for breakfast, and were out in the garden,
taking a look at the environments of their new abode. As Mrs.
Blumenthal was walking among the bushes, Mr. Bright's beaming face
suddenly uprose before her, from where he was stooping to pluck up
some weeds.

"Good morning, ma'am," said he. "Do hear that old thief trying to come
Paddy over the Lord!"

As he spoke, he pointed his thumb backward toward Deacon Stillham's
house, whence proceeded a very loud and monotonous voice of prayer.

Mrs. Blumenthal smiled as she inquired, "What did you mean by saying
he sold women and children?"

"Made his money by slave-trading down in Carolina, ma'am. I reckon a
man has to pray a deal to get himself out of that scrape; needs to
pray pretty loud too, or the voice of women screaming for their babies
would get to the throne afore him. He don't like us over and above
well, 'cause we're Abolitionists. But there's Betsey calling me; I
mustn't stop here talking."

Mrs. Blumenthal amused her companions by a repetition of his remarks
concerning the Deacon. She was much entertained by their host's
original style of bubbling over, as she termed it. After breakfast
she said: "There he is in the garden. Let's go and talk with him,
Florimond."

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